Syllabus Fall 2016

Syllabus for Fall 2016
Generally Mondays 9:00-12:00
Juan Pablo Alperin,


PUB802 asks the fundamental question: what happens to publishing in an era where the vast majority of publishing and reading happens on the Web? More broadly, it is intended to encourage a critical examination of the intersection of technology and publishing. After a discussion of the Web’s relationship to publishing, the course discusses (in roughly this order) how technology has affected making , discovering, and consuming textThis discussion includes (but is not limited to) producing with digital tools, making works available in the marketplace (both digital and physical), and the digital reading experience. Throughout the term we will move through these acts to suss out how digital technologies are redefining the very meaning of publishing.

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. We will use the specifics to understand the dynamics of today, but also to extrapolate far into the future.


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.

Pre-course read: Shirky, Clay. 2014, September 9. Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away. Medium.

Sept 12: Introduction to the course

Sept 22 (Thurs): The Web changes things


Sept 26: The Internet business model


Oct 3: Copyright


  • Creative Commons

Oct 10: (Thanksgiving)

  • no class

Oct 17: Production processes


Tech Lesson

  • Pandoc

Oct 24: Production concepts


Tech Lesson:

  • RegEx

Oct 31: Distribution & Discovery


Tech Lesson:

  • Twitter network analysis

Nov 7: Guest Speaker

  • metadata and book distribution

Nov 14: Measuring & Tracking


Tech Lesson:

  • Altmetrics

Nov 21: Digital reading


Nov 28: Interacting & socializing with text

Dec 5: Possibilities and new models



All seminar materials and 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% – 2 essays. due before Nov 28.
  • 10% – 2 peer review of student essays. due week after essay submitted. (5% each)
  • 5-10% – Participation (in classroom)
  • 10-15% – Participation (
  • 0-5% – Lead class discussion (at most two people per week)
  • 0-5% – Mini-lesson on a tech topic
  • 0-10% – Wikipedia page edit and summary
  • 0-5% – Something you propose

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 the percentage total of each of your essays, as well as the dates when you choose to submit them. The first essay should tackle the relationship between the Web and the area of the publishing industry that you are most interested in. The second essay topic is 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.

Peer Reviews

You must do two peer reviews of a colleague’s essay (randomly assigned). Note that 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 an academic book review. As with essays, there are no word limits for 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 this version of 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.

Class Leadership (optional)

To facilitate discussion in the classroom, one or two students must lead the discussion each week. This might involve summarizing some of the readings for the week, preparing some discussion questions, or just monitoring and encouraging conversation in class. Sign up for a week by leaving an annotation on the week you wish to lead.

Tech Mini-lessons (optional)

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 10-20 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.

Wikipedia Summary + Edit (optional)

Wikipedia is one of the most successful crowd-sourced  projects of all time. It is a terrific resource, but it could be better at being inclusive (to put it nicely). Get first-hand experience at making a significant contribution to a topic of your choice (preferably related to the course content). Make edits/additions to a page on Wikipedia and then summarize the page in a short presentation in class. Those who choose to make this component worth 10% should be writing a significant portion of an entry, or editing/modifying multiple pages on a related topic.

University Policy

The program expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy T10.02 with respect to “Intellectual Honesty,” and “Academic Discipline” (see the current Calendar, General Regulations Section).