Digital Revolutions

What are the costs of information technology, and how does the business of data sustainably, humanely, and ethically transpire? This course provides an essential foundation for students interested in understanding how the flow of digital information connects to almost every facet of our lives-- from bank accounts to medical records to social interactions and beyond. We will explore the origins of the internet, and investigate the ways in which digital technology both disrupts and empowers the realization of new practices, industries, and opportunities for individuals and communities around the globe.

Inside the Classroom

What exactly happens when we communicate? What happens when you compose, send, and publish message units? Where do those messages go, and what is their import in the greater sway of world events? Lastly, how are they stored, who can access them, and how could these stipulations change in the context of computer memory, the Cloud, and crowd-sourced information systems?

Throughout this course, students will also be encouraged to experience the historical trajectory of communicative technologies, considering the advent of writing, the printing press, the telegram, telephone, typewriter, computer, radio, etc., all of which eventually gave rise to the modern information age. How is it that physical inputs, such as our voices, likenesses, thoughts, etc., can be rendered in the digital environs of the internet? Humanity is inundated with information. How do we know what is most relevant, and where to find it?

This course will explore how the collection of and access to information enriches individuals, organizations, and nation states. While the course surveys the trajectory of theoretical concepts and the historical conceptualization of different scientific advances, it also reaches an obvious inflection point halfway in the semester to focus on the contemporaneous development of digital technology in specific industries and businesses. You will be asked to think analytically, and to organize class assignments from the perspectives of leadership positions in addressing real-world problems and challenges. Building, designing, and creating, consequently, comprise crucial components of the hands-on instructional philosophy. You will be tasked with nominating project managers and delegating tasks related to the documentation, publication, and realization of campaigns and components that will then come together in aggregate assembly and deployment. Although this is an educational simulation, you will be tasked with organizing yourselves into a productive team, and acting accordingly with the expectations of a company or organization, working collaboratively toward common goals and outcomes.  

Outside the Classroom

This course will equip students with skills, insights, and understandings involving digital media that will directly improve their prospects and abilities to excel in various professional fields across different disciplinary contexts. Data knowledge and versatility with digital media comprise highly-coveted areas of expertise in nearly every career. The cohort will travel to Silicon Valley to tour international corporations, educational organizations, data centers in and around the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, Stanford, Oakland, and Cupertino.

Excursions will feature a hands-on workshop at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, tours of major Fortune 100 company headquarters, and focus groups conducted with start-up entrepreneurs.

The SSIR experience will afford students the opportunity to connect directly with industry professionals, and survey information infrastructure in line with their own independent curiosities and interests.

Research and Capstone Project

This course encourages an applied investigation of digital information systems that will connect palpably to changes and challenges in different businesses, industries, and political contexts. The revolution of digital connectivity affects all spheres of life-- education, finance, healthcare, communication, but there are few courses that centrally interrogate the very vehicle of change- the internet itself as a vehicle that permits the near-instantaneous sharing of information, data, and opinion.

As a capstone project, students will be asked to develop a digital storytelling project as a case study for a particular company, negotiation, or application. Students would have intellectual and artistic license to craft an interactive digital experience in the form of an exhibit, business prospectus, documentary, or podcast, involving the synthesis of digital media to challenge the expectations of different audiences and raise awareness of key concerns regarding the transmission of data, information, currency, and power.