Syllabus 2016

Syllabus for “Spring” 2016
Mondays & Wednesdays, 1pm – 4pm
Juan Pablo Alperin,


PUB802 asks the fundamental question: what happens to publishing in an era where the vast majority of reading happens on the Web? More broadly, it is intended to encourage a critical examination of the intersection of technology and publishing. This examination is divided intro three acts, with a prologue, and an epilogue. The acts are obvious enough: making , discovering, consuming. These naturally correspond (although they are not limited to) producing with digital tools, making works available in the marketplace (both digital and physical), and the digital reading experience. PUB802 is a seminar. This means that the course is organized around discussion, not around the instructor presenting content. As such, you should expect to come to class each day well informed on the topic at hand and, more importantly, having thought critically about it. Expect and be prepared to be challenged, but also to challenge others—without discussion, there is no seminar. PUB802 is also a graduate course. This means the discussions are based around ideas, not around specific technologies or moments in time. We will, however, ground these ideas in with concrete examples and case studies. In combination with PUB607, you will also have the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience with specific technologies that are of interest to you. We will use the specifics to understand the dynamics of today, but also to extrapolate far into the future.

The course is split between Mondays and Wednesdays. Mondays will generally be practical or technical, and should provide us with the background materials for Wednesday’s discussions. In contrast, Wednesday’s discussions will generally be broad in scope and lofty in ambitions.


The following is a rough outline of the course’s coverage. In reality, we will be much more flexible around dates and topics to allow our discussions to go on as long as we feel is necessary and to cover topics as they come up.

Prologue: Setting the scene

Jan 11 & 13: Introduction to the course


Jan 18 & 20: The Web changes things


Jan 25: No class

Jan 27: The Internet business model


Act 1: The act of making

Feb 1 & Feb 3: Production processes



  • Daryn on XML

Feb 8 & 10: (Reading Break)

  • no class

Feb 15 & 17: Production concepts

Assuming you’ve already read:



  • Natalie

Act 2: The act of discovering

Feb 22: Distribution & Discovery

Feb 24: No class



  • Kathleen on SEO (mini-lesson)

Feb 29 & March 2: Information flows



  • Maggie?

Act 3: The act of consuming

Mar 7: No class

Mar 9: Digital reading



  • Zoe T on Stories in Games
  • David
  • Sarah

Mar 15 & 16: Interacting & socializing with text


  • Daryn
  • Kathleen (on essay topic)

PUB 607 Kicks off

Mar 21 & 23: Measuring & Tracking



  • Alice

Epilogue: What  is next?

Mar 30  — Possibilities and new models


Apr 4 & 6: Wrap-up

  • Summary from Tech Forum
  • Student presentations
    • Josh to present
    • Erik on his paper

April 11:

  • PUB802 board game?
  • Student presentations


All seminar materials, resources will be publicly accessible. Similarly, all student writing must be made publicly available and openly licensed. Some written work will be openly peer-reviewed online as well, and all readings will be openly annotated. Feedback on written work will also be provided through open annotations and comments. In short, this class does everything in the open, and wherever possible, it licenses any content produced with open licenses.


Assessment is based on a combination of assignments, as follows.

  • 40-60% – 1-2 essays. due before March 31.
  • 5-15% – 1-2 reading responses (5% each). due before class when reading assigned.
  • 5-10% – 1-2 peer review of essay. due week after essay submitted.
  • 10-20% – Participation
  • 0-20% – 0-1 presentation (class leadership, essay summary, random topic, or wrap-up presentation).
  • 0-5% – Mini-lesson on tech topic

You must decide on your personal percentage breakdowns and due dates before submission. The percentage points must obviously total 100%.

You must submit all work in the form of a post/publication on any website of your choosing. This may be your own blog, someone else’s blog, this site, The Winnower, or any other web-accessible location. There is no exam. Essay topics should be negotiated in advance.


You can decide if you want to write one or two essays, the percentage total of each, and the dates when you choose to submit them. Essay topics are entirely up to you, but must be negotiated with the instructor in advance. To negotiate a topic, submit a 350 word abstract (will not be graded) that summarizes your core idea. If necessarily, the instructor will contact you to arrange a time to discuss your abstract. Essays must put forward a core idea or thesis, they must substantiate that idea, and they must be compelling. Essays have no word limits, although essays must be long enough to warrant the percentage weight you’ve chosen. (As a very rough guide, it is suggested to allot 75-100 words per percentage point.) All essays, but especially longer ones, will likely involve a research component. The use of good Web practices (i.e., hyperlinks, images, etc.) are expected. Citations do not need to follow a particular style, but must be hyperlinked in both the body of the text and in the reference section.

Reading Responses & Peer Reviews

You must do at least one written responses to the course readings, and one peer review of a colleague’s essay (and at most two of each). You may choose any week’s reading, and can choose to an individual or set of readings (peer reviews will be assigned randomly). Note that reading responses/reviews are not summaries, but are commentaries, elaborations, or reactions to the ideas of the reading. In this sense, they are much more akin to a book review. As with essays, there are no word limits for responses/reviews, but they are suggested to be around 400-600 words.


You can both earn and lose participation marks. You will earn marks by making meaningful contributions to our class discussions. However, you will lose marks if you cannot contribute because of insufficient familiarity with the readings (i.e., if you have not actually read them fully and carefully) or because of class absences.

Participation must be both online and in-class. To participate online, install the Chrome Extension or bookmarklet and join this group. Then start making annotations (you’re encouraged to add tags as appropriate).

Good participation, both online and in-class, includes (but is not limited to): inserting new ideas for discussion, responding to other’s ideas, posing questions, highlighting interesting passages, explaining a tricky concept, offering an informed opinion, and bringing in additional resources.


You are not required to present, but if you wish to do so, you can do only one from the following options: lead a week’s class (maximum two students per topic), present your essay topic (conference style), on a topic of your choosing (must be pre-approved by instructor), or as a wrap-up to the course (not a summary, but some concluding thoughts). Presentations should be between 20-30 minutes, and will be evaluated on both content and form.


If there is a tech skill you think your class would find useful, or a topic that you would like to introduce to the class, you can do so in a 10 minute lesson. You can opt to assign readings or “homework” to your classmates. You will be evaluated on the appropriateness of your topic, and how well your lesson was conveyed/understood.