The Social Life of Information


Are we drowning in information, wading through it, surfing over it, or swimming in it? Is it coming at us like a fire hose or a wellspring? And what’s with all these water metaphors anyway?

Ubiquitous information is a dominant characteristic of our age. But what is “information”? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Understanding the nature and behaviour of information allows us to create, use, and manage it more effectively.

Students will examine and enhance their learning skills through a series of assignments and in-class activities. These skills will be applied in the exploration of the nature of information as part of research investigations and class discussions or activities. The course focuses on the development of both individual skills and team based learning.

The seminar will engage students in a way that will significantly enhance their success as students as they progress through their program. It will also reinforce the foundations of lifelong learning.

Possible Topic Areas

  • Google It: the Google search algorithm and how it shapes the Internet (and you).
  • Tracking the Trackers: how personal information is tracked, collected and used.
  • Downloading: what is intellectual property and why should I care?
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer: Personal data archiving and the digital self
  • The Digital Divide: Inequality is back, with a vengeance this time
  • Ethical Hackers: Who are these people? Should we trust them?
  • Digital Identities: Who are the many people you will be in cyberspace?
  • Crowdsourcing: Wisdom of the crowds or ignorance of the masses?
  • What does “hate watching” tell us about media, audience, and us?
  • Overheard at Guelph (Facebook): Why do people post? Why do they comment?
  • The “Instagram Rapture”: Bots and Spammer on Social Media
  • Rescue Time: Where Did the Time Go?
  • Internet Addiction: Is This a Thing?