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Digital Writing: Privacy, Control, and Surveillance on the Internet

EMAC 4325-Fall 2010

Professor David Parry

University of Texas at Dallas


Photo of Banksy Graffiti.



Course Description:

    “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” -Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems C.E.O.


The average citizen in London is caught on camera 300 times each day. In a recent interview Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, proclaimed privacy is dead. China, as well as almost every other nation, restricts access to certain content on the internet. Cell phone carriers regularly track their customers movement. And, what content you access online is anything but anonymous. In the network age it would appear that the values of transparency, openness, sharing, and data collection have replaced those of anonymity and privacy. The ubiquitous presence of monitoring devices and seemingly never ending, and infinitely retained, amount of information being collected forces us to renegotiate our sense of the public and the private. Do people really not value privacy anymore? Who benefits from all this “publicness”? and who gets to decide? While many have suggested that the internet is the ultimate “panopticon,” it is perhaps more correct to suggest, as Siva Vaidhyanathan has, that the internet is a “Non-opticon”—it works precisely because you don’t know the extent to which you are being monitored and controlled. The goal of this class is to turn this “non-opticon” inside-out, to make viewable all the ways in which privacy, control, and surveillance are figured and refigured in the networked digital age.


What Are You Looking For?



Current Assignment (Due Dec 6th)


Readings for Dec 6th



  •  Start with this one: "" - Barbasi
  •     "Google predicts spread of flu using huge data search"


  •     "Google, CIA Invest in 'Future' of Web Monitoring"


  •     "Crime Prediction Software is Here"




  • final project proposals due this week 
  • final project itself is due on the 13th 




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