Annenberg School for Communication

University of Pennsylvania


Spring, 2009


Tue 1:30-4:30 (Room ASC 224)


Prof. Keith Hampton




This upper level course provides an overview of recent research on the social implications of new media. The focus is on how recent technological innovations, including personal computing, the Internet and mobile phones may be changing the way we interact with our environments and those around us. This seminar takes students beyond basic questions of “are virtual communities real communities?” and “does the Internet destroy or save community?” to an in depth discussion of how networks of community relations are maintained and transformed on and offline as a result of new media. The course is based around the argument that computer networks are inherently social networks, linking people, organizations and communities. This subject is heavily weighted towards the evaluation of empirical studies, the use of social network analysis, and studies that address sociological research questions. Students will learn to critically examine the impact of new media on society through in-depth seminars and independent research.



Students are not expected to have personal experience with the technologies discussed in this course. A major component of the course will involve the development and use of a personal blog. Students will receive access to the necessary blogging software and will be provided with basic instruction on how to maintain a blog.


Final grades will be based on an evaluation of 10 blog postings on the subject of the weekly course readings (30%), 20 comments on other students’ blog postings (10%), four assignments (50%), and class participation (10%). Students are urged to pay close attention to due dates, late assignments will not be accepted.


Course readings and participation: Students are expected to have read the week’s readings in advance of the course meeting. Class meetings will be in a seminar format and students should be prepared to participate in a discussion based on the topic and readings of the week.


Blog Postings: Students are responsible for submitting short commentaries on 10 of the weeks’ readings (400-650 words). Commentaries should focus on all of the readings from each week and should consist of limited summary; focusing on an evaluation of the readings and identifying 2-3 questions for discussion during the class meeting (focus on the papers’ key issues, strengths and limitations, and a comparison to previous weeks’ readings). Each commentary should be submitted as a post to the student’s personal class blog by 5:00pm on the Sunday before the class meeting. To be clear, students should post commentaries to their blog on the Saturday before the topic is discussed in class.


Blog Comments: Each student is responsible for contributing comments to fellow students’ blogs. Comments should be a minimum of 150 words and offer a critique of that week’s posting, seek clarification, compare or contrast postings, or provide additional evidence or new information (such as a link to a related article, website, etc.). Each student must contribute a minimum of 20 comments, credit will be given for a maximum of two comments each week, students cannot comment on the same blog more than three times over the duration of the course. Comments must be posted by 6:00am on the day of class for posts related to that week’s readings.


Assignments: Students are responsible for completing all four of the following assignments. The following are intended as brief outlines of each assignment, detailed instructions will be provided in class and supporting material will be posted to the class Blackboard website.     

1) Important Matters (10%), Handout: February 3, Due: February 17. Listen to the radio interview featuring Prof. Lynn Smith-Lovin (Duke University) and Prof. Robert Putnam (Harvard University). Write a short blog posting (500-750 words) addressing the questions in the assignment handout.

2) Video Game Lab (15%), Handout: February 17, Due: March 31. Reserve time in the video game lab (apx 8 hours over five weeks). Each student will be responsible for playing a series of games on both the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft X-Box 360. Important: As part of this assignment you will be exposed to video games that require physical activity. In addition, the content of these games may include violence, nudity, strong language, and sexual content. Write a blog posting (1250-1500 words) addressing the questions in the assignment handout.

3) Surveillance (15%), Handout: March 31, Due: April 21. This project involves identifying and mapping all video cameras directed into public spaces within University City and the surrounding area. Your group will sign up for one of the map quadrants. Walk your quadrant and record the location of any cameras on your paper map. Visit the class website and use the provided interface to Google Maps to record your observations. Write a blog posting (1250-1500 words) addressing the questions in the assignment handout.   

4) Public Space (10%), Handout: April 7, Due: April 28. This project involves ethnographic observations of media use in public spaces. You must spend a total of 6 hours (3 hours on a weekday and 3 hours on a weekend) at one of the public spaces identified in the assignment handout (e.g., a park or coffee shop). Draw a diagram of the space. Make detailed notes of how people use electronic devices in this space. Write a blog posting (1000-1250 words) discussing your findings. Bring the project handout and observation notes to class.



Required book:  

Ling, R (2008). New Tech, New Ties. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.


All other readings, audio files, and grades will be available from the course Blackboard website:


Handouts, information on assignments, and other announcements will be available from the course blog:




WEEK 1 (Jan 20) - Introduction and Blogging 101


WEEK 2 (Jan 27) - Foundations

Hampton, K.N. (2005). Social ties and community in urban places. In Harry Hiller (Ed.) Urban Sociology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 95-108.

Rheingold, H. (1993). A slice of life in my virtual community. In L. M. Harasim (Ed.), Global Networks: Computers and International Communication (pp. 37-80). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wellman, B., and Gulia M. (1999). Net-Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communities as Communities.” Pp. 331-366 in Networks in the Global Village, edited by Barry Wellman. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.


WEEK 3 (FEB 3) - Dystopian

Kraut, R., Lunmark, V., Patterson, M., Kiesler, S., Mukopadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). “Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?” In American Psychologist 53(9): 1017-1031.

Block, J. J. (2008). Issues for Dsm-V: Internet Addiction. Am J Psychiatry, 165(3), 306-307.

Jang, K. S., Hwang, S. Y., & Choi, J. Y. (2008). Internet Addiction and Psychiatric Symptoms among Korean Adolescents. Journal of School Health, 78(3), 165-171.

Park, W. K. (2005). Mobile Phone Addiction. . In R. Ling & P. E. Pederson (Eds.), Mobile Communications (pp. 253-272). London: Springer.

Marwick, A. (2008). To catch a predator? The MySpace moral panic. First Monday 13(6).

McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Brashears, M. E. (2006). Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two decades. American Sociological Review, 71, 353-375.


WEEK 4 (Feb 10) - Relational Quality and Social Networks

Baym, N. K., Zhang, Y. B., Kunkel, A., Ledbetter, A., & Lin, M.-C. (2007). Relational Quality and Media Use in Interpersonal Relationships. New Media Society, 9(5), 735-752.

Zhao, S. (2006). Do Internet Users Have More Social Ties? A Call for Differentiated Analyses of Internet Use. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 11(3), article 8.

Haythornthwaite, C. (2005). Social Networks and Internet Connectivity Effects. Information, Communication & Society, 8(2), 125 - 147.

Boase, J. (2008). Personal networks and the personal communication system. Information, Communication & Society, 11(4), 490 - 508.


WEEK 5 (Feb 17) - Relationship Formation [Video Game Tutorial]

Andrew, T. F., & Judith, S. D. (2005). Homophily in Online Dating: When Do You Like Someone Like Yourself? Paper presented at the CHI '05 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems.

Toma, C., Hancock, J., & Ellison, N. (2008). Separating fact from fiction: An examination of deceptive self-presentation in online dating profiles. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34: 1023-1036.

McFarlane, M, Bull, SS, and Rietmeijer, CA. (2000). The Internet as a newly emerging risk environment for sexually transmitted diseases. JAMA 284(4): 443-6.

WEEK 6 (FEB 24) - Video Games Part 1

Yamaguchi, M. (October 23, 2008). Angry online divorcee ‘kills’ virtual ex-hubby. MSNBC.

Wortham, J. (December 23, 2008). World of Warcraft Players Need Not Apply. The New York Times.

Anderson, C., & Dill, K. (2000). Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(4), 772-790.

Lee, K. M., & Peng, W. (2006). What Do We Know About Social and Psychological Effects of Computer Games? A Comprehensive Review of the Current Literature. In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.), Playing Video Games (pp. 327-345). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dill, KE, Brown, BP, & Collins MA (2008). Effects of exposure to sex-stereotyped video game characters on tolerance of sexual harassment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44(5): 1402-1408.

Jenkins, H. (1999). Testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.


WEEK 7 (Mar 3) - Video Games Part II

Chan, E., & Vorderer, P. (2006). Massively Multiplayer Online Games. In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.), Playing Video Games (pp. 77-113). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bonis, J. (2007). Acute Wiitis. New England Journal of Medicine 356: 2431-2432.

Pate, R.R. (2008). Physically Active Video Gaming: An Effective Strategy for Obesity Prevention? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 162: 895-896.

Mellecker, R. R., & McManus, A. M. (2008). Energy Expenditure and Cardiovascular Responses to Seated and Active Gaming in Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 162(9), 886-891.

Graves, L., Stratton, G., Ridgers, N. D., & Cable, N. T. (2007). Comparison of Energy Expenditure in Adolescents When Playing New Generation and Sedentary Computer Games: Cross Sectional Study. BMJ, 335(7633), 1282-1284.


WEEK 8 (Mar 10) – Spring Break


WEEK 9 (Mar 17) – Video Game Lab [in-class – no reservations required]


WEEK 10 (Mar 24) - Neighborhoods

Hampton, K.N., & Wellman, B. (2003). Neighboring in Netville: How the Internet Supports Community and Social Capital in a Wired Suburb. City and Community 2(4), 277-311.

Hampton, K. N. (2007). Neighborhoods in the network society: The e-neighbors study. Information, Communication and Society, 10(5), 714-748.

Hampton, K.N. (2009). Internet Use and the Concentration of Disadvantage: Glocalization and the Urban Underclass.  Working paper.

Wellman, B. (2001). Physical Place and Cyberplace: The Rise of Networked Individualism. In L. Keeble & B. Loader (Eds.), Community Informatics: Shaping Computer-Mediated Social Relations. London: Routledge

WEEK 11 (Mar 31) - Surveillance / Privacy

Smith, G. J.D. (2004). Behind the Screens. Surveillance & Society 2(2/3): 376-395.

Salzberg, C. (August 8, 2008). Japan: Letter to Google about Street View.


WEEK 12 (April 7) - Mobile Life Part 1

Ling, R (2008). New Tech, New Ties. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.


WEEK 13 (April 14) - Mobile Life Part 2

Hampton, K.N., & Gupta, N. (2008). Grande Wi-Fi: Social Interaction in Wireless Coffee Shops.

Hampton, K.N., Livio, O., & Sessions, L (in press). The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces: Internet Use, Social Networks, and the Public Realm. Journal of Communication.

Madara, J. (2009). I Am Here. Wired Magazine, February. 70-75.

Humphreys, L. (2007). Mobile social networks and social practice: A case study of Dodgeball. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 17.


WEEK 14 (April 21) - Pervasive Awareness

Thompson, C. (Sept 5, 2008). Brave New World of Digital Intimacy. The New York Times Magazine.

Boyd, D., & Ellison, N.B. (2007). Social network sites: definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B, & Lampe, C. (2008). Social Capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: a longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 29: 434-445.

Huberman, B.A., D.M. Romero., F. Wu (2009). Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. First Monday 14(1).

Livingston, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation. New Media & Society 10(3), 393-411.


WEEK 15 (April 28) - Civic / Political Engagement

Rheingold, H. (2008). Mobile Media and Political Collective Action. In J. Katz (ed), Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies (pp. 225-239).

DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2006). From unequal access to differentiated use. In D. B. Grusky & S. Szelényi (Eds.), The Inequality Reader (pp. 549-565).