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Unit outline_

ARIN2610: Internet Transformations

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The Internet is at the heart of major digital transformations in industry, society and culture. This unit introduces key skills in analysis and critique of the technologies involved in networked change, exploring internet imaginaries, histories and emerging phenomena.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in Digital Cultures or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Media Studies or 18 credit points at 1000-level in any of Anthropology, Art History, Computer Science, Design Computing, English, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Information Systems, Information Technology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology or Sociology
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Fiona Martin,
Lecturer(s) Fiona Martin,
Tutor(s) Agata Stepnik,
Ayesha Hasan,
Harriet Flitcroft,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Tutorial exercises
journal entries
15% Week 05
Due date: 25 Sep 2020 at 23:59

Closing date: 16 Oct 2020
3 x 400 word
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
Assignment Short hypertext essay
short online essay
30% Week 09
Due date: 30 Oct 2020 at 23:59

Closing date: 13 Nov 2020
1300 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Critical analysis + industry ecosystem map
Online analysis
45% Week 12
Due date: 20 Nov 2020 at 23:59

Closing date: 04 Dec 2020
1800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Twitter participation
20 tweets/posts to build our online learning community
10% Week 12
Due date: 20 Nov 2020 at 23:00

Closing date: 20 Nov 2020
200+ words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

Detailed information can be found in Canvas

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Digital disruptions and internet imaginaries Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 02 The query society Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 A sharing ecology Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Invisible infrastructures Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Mediating the conversation Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Governing the internet Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Copyrights, copylefts, copywrongs Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Augmented Reality - guest lecture Mark Pesce Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 09 #FreeHK - networked activism Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 10 What are your digital rights? Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 11 (Not so) smart cities Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 12 The robots are coming Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Week 1. Digital Disruptions & Internet Imaginaries  

1.   Barlow, John Perry (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Electronic Frontier Foundation.

2.   Kelty, Christopher M. (2014) ‘The Fog of Freedom’. In T. Gillespie, P. J. Boczkowski and K. A. Foot (Eds.) Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. MIT Press. pp 196-220

3.  Abbate,  Janet (2017) What and where is the Internet? (Re)defining Internet histories, Internet Histories, 1 (1-2): 8-14

Week 2. The Query Society  

1.   Havalais, Alexander (2013) ‘The Engines’. In Search Engine Society. Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press. pp. 5-31

2.   Noble, Safiya U. (2018) A society, searching. In Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York: New York University. pp. 15-63.

3. Jarrett, Kylie (2014) A Database of Intention. In Society of the Query Reader: Reflections on Web Search. Konig R and Rasch M (eds). Amsterdam: Institute of Networked Cultures. pp.16-29

Week 3. A Sharing Ecology  

1.   Cadwallader, Carole and Graham-Harrison, Emma (2018) Revealed: 50 Million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach. The Guardian.

2.  John, Nicholas A. (2018) Sharing Economies. In The Age of Sharing. Cambridge: Polity. pp. 69-97

3.  Martin, Fiona (2019) The Business of News Sharing, In Fiona Martin and Tim Dwyer, Sharing News Online: Commendary Cultures and Social media News Ecologies. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 91-127

Week 4. Invisible Infrastructure 

1.  The Economist. (2018) Sailing the Wired Seas. March 10 2018.

2.   Winseck, Dwayne (2017) The Geopolitical Economy of the Global Internet Infrastructure. Journal of Information Policy, 7: 228-267

3. Anna Reading and Tanya Notley (2015) The materiality of globital memory: bringing the cloud to earth, Continuum, 29:4, 511-521, DOI: 10.1080/10304312.2015.1051807

Week 5. Mediating the Conversation  

1.   Booking, Emerson T and Singer, P.W. (2016) War Goes Viral: how social media is being weaponised. The Atlantic.  November 2016.

2.   Gillespie, Tarleton. (2018) All Platforms Moderate. In Custodians of the Internet : Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. Yale University Press. pp. 1-23.

3. Massanari, Adrienne (2017) #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3): 329–346.

Assignment 1 due  

26-29 September – Mid semester break

Week 6. Governing the Net  

1. Roberts, Margaret E. (2018) Excerpts 1.1-1.3 Introduction: Porous Censorship pp.1-10 and 2.5-2.6 What is Censorship and The Mechanism of Censorship 37-44. In Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall.  Princeton: Princeton University Press

2. Pickard, Victor and Berman (2019) Introduction and the Making of a Movement. After Net Neutrality: A New Deal for the Digital Age. Yale University Press.

Week 7. Copyrights, Copylefts, Copywrongs

1.    What is Creative Commons? (2013) Pooling Ideas. and other CC fact sheets.

2.    Bailey, Jonathon (2015) ‘Why I am backing away from Creative Commons.’ Plagiarism Today. August 12 2015.

3.   Suzor, Nicolas P. 2019. How Copyright Shaped the Internet. In Lawless: the secret rules that govern our lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 92-122.

Week 8. Augmented Reality (Mark Pesce)  

1.  Pesce, Mark (2020) Augmented Reality. Cambridge Polity – reading TBC

2. Jones, Nick 2020. Immersion: entering the screen, In Spaces Mapped and Monstrous: Digital 3D Cinema and Visual Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

Assignment 2 due

Week 9. #FreeHK: Networked activism  

1. Nicas, Jack (2019). Apple removes app that helps Hong Kong protestors track police. New York Times. October 9.

2. Li, Eric (2020). 280 Characters to Change the World. Harvard International Review. April 1.

3.  Couldry, Nick (2014) ‘The myth of 'us': digital networks, political change and the production of collectivity.’ Information, Communication & Society, 18 (6): 608-626.

Week 10. What Are Your Digital Rights?  

1.   Goggin, G., Vromen, A., Weatherall, K., Martin, F., Webb, A., Sunman, L., Bailo, F. (2017) Executive Summary and Digital Rights: What are they and why do they matter now? In Digital Rights in Australia. Sydney: University of Sydney.

2.   Karppinen, K. (2017) Human rights and the digital. In Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights. H. Tumber & S. Waisbord(eds) Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge pp 95-103.

Week 11. (Not So) Smart Cities  

1.   Woyke, Elizabeth (2016). A Smarter Smart City. MIT Technology Review. February 21 2018.

2.   Andrejevic, Mark and Burdon, Mark (2015) ‘Defining the Sensor Society.’ Television & New Media. 16(1): 19–36

3. Bunz, Mel and Meikle, Graham (2018) Speaking Things. In The Internet of Things, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, pp 45-75.   

Week 12. The Robots Are Coming

No Readings

Assignments 3 and 4 due

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of the history, politics, economics and cultures of the internet and internetworked technologies
  • LO2. demonstrate skills in, and professional orientation to, web, social media and mobile media production
  • LO3. understand the affordances and limitations of online media and communications production software
  • LO4. discuss social and cultural issues arising from networked change
  • LO5. analyse and critique emerging internet phenomena eg. mixed reality, internet of things, smart cities.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Thanks for your valuable feedback last semester, and especially for your appreciation of the real world relevance of this unit. As well as changing the lectures and tutorials for online delivery in semester 2, 2020 we have added more detail on the Twitter assignment, and updated some of the readings to reflect new publications in the field, and world events.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.