This was definitely an interesting class to take for my first semester of graduate school. It was hard. I can’t say I wasn’t warned beforehand, because the expectations of the course were made clear from even before I signed up. The biggest paradigm shift for me was that there was far more reading and writing than I had ever had in any course ever. To put it in perspective, most of my courses in undergrad were technical in nature, so I spent much more time writing programs and making 3D models than dissecting research papers and writing literary analyses. Students in the liberal arts are probably giving me a very knowing look right now. Message received. Even though it seemed like a Sisyphean task, I managed to emerge on the other side with the knowledge that, like code and UIs, there are design patterns to research articles as well.
This course also didn’t disappoint in delivering on its titular subject: the social internet. Through the course of the semester, I was introduced to topics like crowdsourcing, the nature and composition of social networks, self-organization, identity in digital spaces, and contemplative computing. It was an inspiring whirlwind tour, and I learned, forgot, and re-learned an astonishing number of things. Don’t quiz me on them right now, though.
Another aspect of the course that interested me almost as much as the content was that the format was very firmly grounded in what I think is called an inverted classroom. People who know these things: here you have found someone who is probably wrong on the internet, so please set him straight. I was interested to see how such a class would actually be delivered, and I was both surprised and pleased. I very much enjoyed the focus on reflection, as it really forced me to extract the meaning behind the verbose and formidable disbursement of knowledge that I was reading. Making this activity take place in shifting configurations of small groups really helped develop a sense of community among the class, which was also something that I have rarely seen in other courses.
To my classmates who are reading this: keep on being awesome. We all know you are. Thank you for putting your best effort into making the class such a unique and fun experience. I hope that writing the final paper hasn’t driven you insane, because that would just be an ironic end for your pursuit of greater knowledge. Just don’t go there. Instead, tackle every day with the same wit and charm that you showed every monday night.