NCSU Department of Communication

COM487::Internet & Society
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva



Class schedule



Readings & resources


Contact information:
Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva
Assistant Professor
NCSU Department of Communication

Class meetings:
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Winston 209

Class website:

Winston 201K

Office hours:
Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and by appointment.

Course pre-requisites:
COM250 and COM257


Course Description:
The primary goal of this class is to investigate interconnections between the Internet and society focusing on the interfaces that allow us to connect to digital spaces. The course will be divided into three main parts.

  • Part I includes a historical overview of the development of the personal computer as an assemblage of material interfaces used to represent digital information, like the mouse, the keyboard, the screen, the operational system, and windows. In parallel we will investigate how the concept of the information space has been created, leading to the visualization of the computer and the Internet as social spaces. In this part of the class, we will focus on literary and science fiction views of cyberspace as an immaterial and virtual space. Furthermore, we will investigate how cybernetics theory and computers as simulation machines have influenced the perception of digital space as an informational and immaterial space.
  • Part II focuses on the Internet as a social space, investigating issues such as the visualization of communication environments, body, and identity. Special attention will be given to MUDs, also referred to as multiuser environments, and how these “digital spaces” can be used for sociability, learning, art, and gaming.
  • The last part of the class explores the shift from the fixed to the mobile Internet, facilitated by mobile phones as new connection interfaces. We will look into place-specific mobile Internet usage, mobile multiuser environments, and location-based mobile games.

The final goal of this class is to raise a discussion about the role of the Internet and digital interfaces in contemporary society.


Catalog Description:
Exploration of major issues involved in the growth of computer-mediated communication and information technologies, including: construction of self and body; relation of information technology to social, civic, and political life; gender, race, and class as continuing critical points; knowledge and intellectual property; the implications of software and design on the nature of communication, knowledge, and information.


Course objectives:
Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand major concepts related to cyberspace and the Internet
  • Identify historical developments related to the Internet, the personal computer, and the mobile internet
  • Analyze and compare current issues related to online social multiuser environments.
  • Analyze contemporary issues related to the use of mobile internet and site-specific cell phone usage.
  • Demonstrate general competency in the subject matter through the completion of a research project and presentations.


Attendance is mandatory and required for a successful completion of the course. Unexcused absences will affect your grade directly. Three unexcused absences will result in a reduction of your final grade by ½ letter (e.g., from A+ to A), four unexcused absences by 1 letter grade, and so forth. It is generally recommended to drop the course with more than three absences. Absences without the Professor’s prior permission are generally considered unexcused absences. Late arrivals are very disruptive for other students. Being more than 10 minutes late to class will count as one unexcused absence.

Absences are only considered as ‘excused’ with the Professor’s prior permission before the class meeting (accompanied by documentation). Also, students shall receive excused absences for a reasonable number of anticipated absences as well as for emergencies. Documentation for emergency excused absences shall be provided no later than one week after the absence. For detailed information, please see:

There will be a sign-up sheet for each class meeting; it is the students’ responsibility sign up in this list and to make sure that attendance is accounted for. The sign-up sheet is the basis to determine class attendance.

Every lecture and discussion from each class period will contain material covered on the tests and final paper. Consequently, you will need to be present in class, alert, and involved in order to grasp the material, ask questions about it when necessary, learn it, and pass the course. If you should miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and explanations from a classmate.


Participation entails not only attending the class but coming prepared having done all the readings, having made an honest attempt at understanding the author’s argument, and bringing reading notes and questions you’d like to ask. Participation grades will be given according to how much you contribute to the class with your ideas, comments and questions. It is expected that you are an active participant on the course, answering the instructor's questions and engaging in class discussions.


Assignments will be evaluated based on:

  • the originality and criativity of your ideas,
  • the quality of the sources you use to support your argument
  • how well you connect your assignment to the topics we are discussing in class,
  • the quality of your writing / speech

All assignments must be completed in order to pass the course. No late assignments will be accepted.


Participation: 10%
Weekly blog posts: 15%
Research presentation: 15%
Mid-term exam 1: 15%
Mid-term exam 2: 15%
Final paper: 30%

I will be grading on the University's A+/F scale, as follows:

  • 98-100 = A+
  • 93-97 = A
  • 90-92 = A-
  • 88-89 = B+
  • 83-87 = B
  • 80-82 = B-
  • 78-79 = C+
  • 73-77 = C
  • 70-72 = C-
  • 68-69 = D+
  • 63-67 = D
  • 60-62 = D-
  • below = F


Policy Statements


Plagiarism is an act of deceit that is taken very seriously by the Department of Communication and by the University. Plagiarism is writing using someone's works -- be it word or ideas -- without givin her or him credit. If you are found plagiarizing you risk failure and even more stringent disciplinary actions. This is particularly important with web-based materials. If you use someone else's image/words/audio, you must give approppriate credit. For an extended explanation of plagiarism, please go to:


Statement of equal opportunity

All persons, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation shall have equal opportunity without harassment in Communication Department courses and programs. Any harassment or discrimination should be reported immediately to either the classroom instructor or the Department Head.


Statement on Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

NC State is subject to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 provides that:

“No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States… shall, solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This regulation includes students with hearing, visual, motor, or learning disabilities and states that colleges and universities must make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that academic requirements are not discriminatory. Modifications may require rescheduling classes from inaccessible to accessible buildings, providing access to auxiliary aids such as tape recorders, special lab equipment, or other services such as readers, note takers, or interpreters. It further requires that exams actually evaluate students’ progress and achievements rather than reflect their impaired skills. This may require oral or taped tests, readers, scribes, separate testing rooms, or extension of time limits.

Section 84.47 (b) of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 deals in particular with academic and vocational counseling. When advising disabled students, advisers should be careful not to guide them, because of their handicap, toward a more restrictive program or career than would be appropriate for a non disabled student. Factual information, such as licensing requirements, etc., that may present obstacles to disabled students should they decide to pursue a particular career or program, may be presented in an objective fashion.

Source: NC State Handbook on Advising and Teaching (


Statement of academic integrity and dishonesty

Academic integrity: “The free exchange of ideas depends on the participants’ trust that they will be given credit for their work. Everyone in an academic community must be responsible for acknowledging, using the methods accepted by the various academic disciplines, their use of others’ words and ideas. Since intellectual workers’ words and ideas constitute a kind of property, plagiarism is theft. (…) Plagiarism and cheating are attacks on the very foundation of academic life, and cannot be tolerated within universities.”

Academic dishonesty: “Academic dishonesty is the giving, taking, or presenting of information or material by a student that unethically or fraudulently aids oneself or another on any work which is to be considered in the determination of a grade or the completion of academic requirements or the enhancement of that student's record or academic career.

A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he or she:

  • Represents the work of others as your own;
  • Obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in a situation in which you are expected to perform independently;
  • Gives assistance to another individual in a situation in which that individual is expected to perform independently;
  • Offers false data in support of laboratory or field work.”

If you are in doubt regarding any matter relating to the standards of academic integrity in this course or on an assignment, consult with me before presenting the work. By submitting an assignment to be evaluated, you are certifying that you have not received unauthorized help on assignment.

Source: NCSU code of Student Conduct, approved by the Board of Trustees on 2/17/90. Please review the full text of the code on the web at