InfoGlut: Deal With It
Spring 2004

Course Introduction

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Course Objectives

"InfoGlut" is a course about information. Although we will be talking about technology and other issues, the focus of our discussions and work will always be contextualized around information: its organization, retrieval, dissemination, and use.

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • describe the characteristics of data, information, and knowledge
  • understand and describe the life cycle of information
  • analyze how storage formats/media impact the distribution of information
  • understand and evaluate how technologies impact access to and delivery of information
  • describe and analyze the impact of technology on the use of information
  • define copyright and intellectual property rights, understand relevant laws and regulations, and analyze implications for the ownership and use of information
  • identify and describe other legal, social, cultural, and economic issues surrounding information ownership, transmission, storage, retrieval
  • understand the global nature of information
  • understand ethical issues surrounding the use of information and technology

The theme that we will be exploring this semester is digital rights management (DRM). DRM is an example of a technology which is forcing us to think about and reconsider what information is, who owns it, and how (and why) we use it. As such, it is the ideal theme for providing context for this course.

Many of you are may be familiar with the controversy and debate surrounding Napster and other music and file sharing services and industry attempts to control the distribution of their products. While we will be exploring issues related to the music and video industries, we will also be considering DRM's impact on text-based media.

Remember--this is not a technology course. We will explore the details of the various technologies used for DRM only to the extent necessary to understand how they impact information. Rather our focus and emphasis will be on how DRM effects the organization, distribution, and use of information. For example: does the management and control of information restrict its access? or make it more available? does DRM create a polarized system of information haves vs. have-nots? what is the economic impact of DRM--on industry, individuals, society as a whole? what about the role of DRM in research and development? what international or global factors are at play?

As we try to answer these and other questions this semester, keep in mind that DRM is a developing topic. There are no right or wrong answers although there are most decidedly some very strong opinions. Our quest is not to come to definitive conclusions or to come up with "the" answer. Our quest is to learn how these technologies are changing the way we as individuals and as a society interact with and use information along with the potential consequences.

However, we will need to first explore some foundational topics and issues. Some you may have encountered in other classes. Others you may be familiar with from your own experience or other studies. In all cases, I challenge you to think about the topics and issues we will be exploring from a different perspective. And to always remember that our context will be information.

Course Evaluation

Weekly Discussion and Activities
Blog assignment

Students Registered for TWC598: Additional coursework is required for students registered for graduate credit. Please see TWC598 in the Assignment section for additional information and grading criteria.

Please continue on to Course Guidelines and Policies.

Email Barbara | TWC 494/598
Last Updated: 15 January 2004