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Unit outline_

ARIN2610: Internet Transformations

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The Internet is a communications and media infrastructure that supports constant economic and social change, as well as being integrated into the routines of our everyday life across the planet. Internet Transformations critically examines the online technologies, platforms and industries at the heart of these changes. It introduces key skills in analysis, evaluation and critique of these objects, situated in a historical context. It also interrogates the implications of emerging internetworked phenomena such as the internet of things, augmented reality and algorithmic cultures.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in the Digital Cultures major or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Media and Communications or (12 credit points at 1000 level or 2000 level in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship major) 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 Joanne Gray,
Tutor(s) Wenjia Tang,
James Baguley,
Manan Luthra,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Journal exercises
journal entries
20% Week 05
Due date: 04 Sep 2022 at 23:59
3 x 400 word
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
Assignment Hypertextual essay
Online essay
35% Week 09
Due date: 09 Oct 2022 at 23:59
1300 wds
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Critical analysis + infographic
Online analysis
45% Week 13
Due date: 06 Nov 2022 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 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 Introduction: The Internet as a Communications Medium and Socio-Technical Infrastructure Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 02 Internet Ideas and Imaginaries Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 Interests, Politics and Internet Economics Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Internet Institutions and Governance Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Digital Platforms and the Sharing Economy Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Governing the Internet: Content Moderation and Online Harms Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Governing the Internet: Policy & Regulation Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Augmented Reality - guest lecture Mark Pesce Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: Guest lecturer Prof. Jason Potts, Director, Blockchain Innovation Hub, RMIT Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 10 Networked Activism guest lecture Dr Olga Boichak Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 11 What are your digital rights? Guest lecturer Assoc. Prof. Fiona Martin Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 12 The Future is Now: Robotics, AI and the Internet of Things guest lecturer Josh Harle Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Review Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 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: All lectures 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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

Week 1. Introduction: Situating the Internet as a Communications Medium 

  1. Berners-Lee, Tim (2020) ’30 years on, what’s next #fortheweb’,
  2. Hafner, Katie and Lyon, Matthew (1998), Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet. New York: Touchstone, pp. 43-81.

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

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

Week 2. Ideas and Imaginaries about the Internet 

1.   Castells, Manuel (2001) ‘The Culture of the Internet’, in M. Castells, The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 36-64.

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. Karpf, Dave (2018) ’25 Years of WIRED Predictions: Why the Future Never Arrives’, WIRED, 9 October.

4. Lusoli, Alberto, and Turner, Fred (2021), ‘“It’s an Ongoing Bromance”: Counterculture and Cyberculture in Silicon Valley—An Interview with Fred Turner. Journal of Management Inquiry 30(2), pp. 235-242.

Week 3. Internet Interests, Politics and Economics  

  1. Popiel, Pawel (2018) ‘The Tech Lobby: Tracing the Contours of New Media Elite Lobbying Power’. Communication, Culture & Critique 11(4), pp. 566-585.
  2. Benkler, Yochai (2006), The Wealth of Networks, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 29-34.
  3. Quiggin, John, and Potts, Jason (2008), ‘Economics of Non-Market Innovation and Digital Literacy’, Media International Australia, 128, pp. 144-150.
  4. Mansell, Robin, and Steinmueller, W. Edward (2020), Advanced Introduction to Platform Economics. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp. 35-54.
  5. 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 4. Internet Institutions & Governance 

  1. Internet Society (2014) Who Makes the Internet Work? The Internet Ecosystem.
  2. Mueller, Milton (2017) Will The Internet Fragment? Sovereignty, Globalization and Cyberspace. Oxford: Polity Press, Ch. 5.
  3. Gillespie, Tarleton (2017) ‘Governance by and through Platforms’, in J. Burgess, A. Marwick & T. Poell (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Media, London: SAGE, pp. 254-278.
  4. O’Hara, K., & Hall, W. (2018). Four Internets: The Geopolitics of Digital Governance (No. 206). Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Week 5. Digital Platforms and the Sharing Economy 

  1. John, Nicholas A. (2018) Sharing Economies. In The Age of Sharing. Cambridge: Polity. pp. 69-97
  2. Martin, Fiona (2019) The Business of News Sharing, In Sharing News Online: Commendary Cultures and Social Media News Ecologies. F.Martin and T.Dwyer. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 91-127
  3. Van Dijck, J., Poell, T. & de Waal, M. (2018) The Platform Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 5-32 (‘The Platform Society as a Contested Concept’).
  4. de Kloet, J., Poell, T., Guohua, Z., & Yiu Fai, C. (2019). The platformization of Chinese Society: Infrastructure, governance, and practice. Chinese Journal of Communication: The Platformization of Chinese Society, 12(3), 249–256.

Week 6. Governing the Internet: Content Moderation and Online Harms

  1. Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. Yale University Press. pp. 1-23.
  2. Massanari, Adrienne (2017) #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3): 329–346.
  3. Roberts, Sarah T. (2019) Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 33-72.

Week 7. Governing the Internet: Policy and Regulation

  1. Picard, R. G., & Pickard, V. (2017a). Essential Principles for Contemporary Media and Communications Policymaking. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: University of Oxford.
  2. Flew, T. Martin, F. & Suzor, N. (2019) Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of Digital Media & Policy, 10(1), 33–50.
  3. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2019). Digital Platforms Inquiry: Final Report- Executive Summary. Canberra: ACCC, pp. 4-38.
  4. Schlesinger, P. (2020) After the post-public sphere. Media, Culture & Society, 42(7–8), 1545–1563.
  5. Napoli, P. (2019). What If More Speech Is No Longer the Solution? First Amendment Theory Meets Fake News and the Filter Bubble. Federal Communications Law Journal, 70(1), 57–104.

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.

Week 9. Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies (Jason Potts, RMIT)

  1. Jason Potts, Ellie Rennie and Ana Pochesneva (2019), ‘Blockchain and the Creative Industries’, Provocation Paper, RMIT University.
  2. Samer Hassan and Primavera De Filipi (2021) ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’, Internet Policy Review 10(2), DOI: 10.14763/2021.2.1556.
  3. Mitchell Clark (2021), ‘NFTs, explained’, The Verge, 11 March

Week 10. Networked Activism  

  1. Bennett, W. Lance and Segerberg, Alexandra (2012). ‘The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics’, Information, Communication & Society 15(5), pp. 739-768.
  2. Couldry, Nick (2015) ‘The myth of 'us': digital networks, political change and the production of collectivity’. Information, Communication & Society, 18 (6): 608-626.
  3. Carlson, Bronwyn (2019) ‘Disrupting the master narrative: Indigenous people and tweeting colonial history.’ Griffith Review, 64: 232-244.

Week 11. What Are Your Digital Rights?  (Fiona Martin)  

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 12. The Future is Now: Robotics, AI and the Internet of Things

1. Stark, Luke, Greene, Daniel and Hoffmann, Anna Lauren (2021) ‘Critical Perspectives on Governance Mechanisms for AI/ML Systems’, in Jonathan Roberge and Michael Castelle (eds) The Cultural Life of Machine Learning. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 257-280.

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

3. Bunz, M. & Meikle, G. (2018) Speaking Things. In The Internet of Things, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, pp 45-75.   

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 networked 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 in semester 2, 2021 to introduce new topics we have added video materials, and removed the social media participation requirement due to the difficulties for international students of accessing Western platforms, and concerns about student privacy and misuse of personal data. We have also updated and clarified the assignment task descriptions.


Readings that could prove useful for your assessment items include:

Albarran, Alan B. (2013) The Social Media Industries. New York: Routledge

Bruns, Axel (2018) Gatewatching and News Curation: journalism, social media and the public sphere. New York: Peter Lang. 

Bucher, Taina (2020) Facebook. Cambridge: Polity.

Bunz, Mercedes and Meikle, Graham (2020) The internet of Things. Cambridge: Polity.

Burgess, Jean, & Green, Joshua (2019) YouTube: online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity Press. Second Edition.

DuPont, Quinn (2019) Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains. Cambridge: Polity.

Farman, Jason (2014) The Mobile Story: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies. New York: Routledge.

Gillespie, Tarleton (2018) Custodians of the Internet. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gillespie, Tarleton, Boczkowksi Pablo and Foot, Kirsten A. (eds) (2015) Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Graham, Mark and Dutton, William (eds) (2014) Society and the Internet. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Greengard, Samuel (2015) The Internet of Things. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Hunsinger, Jeremy, and Senft, Theresa (2015) The Social Media Handbook. London: Routledge.

John, Nicholas A. (2017) The Age of Sharing. Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press

Leaver, Tama, Highfield, Tim and Abidin, Crystal (2019) Instagram. Cambridge: Polity.

Lievrouw, Leah and Loader, Brian (eds) (2020) Routledge Handbook of Digital Media and Communication. New York: Routledge.

Levy, Steven (2020) Facebook: The Inside Story. UK: Penguin Business.

Lovink, Geert (2016) Social Media Abyss, Critical Internet Cultures and the Force of Negation, Cambridge and Malden: Polity. 

Marolt, Peter and Herold, David Kurt (eds) (2017) China Online: Locating Society in Online Spaces. London: Routledge.

Murthy, Dhiraj (2018) Twitter. Cambridge: Polity.

Martin, Fiona and Dwyer, Tim (2019) Sharing News Online: Commendary Cultures and Social News Ecologies. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Molitorisz, Sacha (2020) Net Privacy: how we can be free in an age of surveillance. Kensington, NSW: New South Publishing.

Moore, Martin and Tambini, Damian (2018) (eds) Digital Dominance: The Power of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noble, Safiya Umoja (2018) Algorithms of Oppression. How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: New York University Press.

Phillips, Whitney (2014) This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Qiu, Jack Linchuan (2016) Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Sampson, Tony, Maddison, Stephen and Ellis, Darren (2018) Affect and Social Media: Emotion, Mediation, Anxiety and Contagion. Rowman and Littlefield

Thomas, Julian. et al., (2016) Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index. Swinburne University of Technology/Telstra, Melbourne.

Van Dijck, José (2013) The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press.

Van Dijck, Jose, Poell, Thomas and De Waal, Martijn (2018) The Platform Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Warf, Barney (ed) (2018) SAGE Encyclopedia of the Internet. London: SAGE.

Wilken, Rowan and Goggin, Gerard (2015) Locative Media. New York: Routledge.

Wu, Tim (2016) The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads. New York: Knopf.

Zuboff, Shoshana (2020) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. New York: Basic Books.


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