Workshop on Semantic Network Analysis

One of the greatest challenges of our digital society is information overload. We are constantly required to make sense of the information coming from social media, “real” and “fake” news, the advertisement industry, or the different results for our search queries. In many cases the information we get is framed and tailored to promote obvious but also hidden aims and goals. In this course we introduce a new method for content analysis—textual network analysis—for detecting political and economic biases in the text. We first introduce the key concepts associated with the network theory, looking at various political, social, economic, technological and cultural perspectives. Then we look into a number of case study examples to illustrate aspects in the literature. Finally, we learn to use Visone, a software tool to conduct textual network analyses in order to identify the main themes in the text and its biases. As part of the course students will develop their own textual-related networks to identify the biases and framing in different texts.

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Information and Power in the Digital Age

In this course we use the political economy of communication approach to examine the complex and dynamic relationships between information and power. In particular, we look at the central position of global corporations such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, and try to assess how they shape our economy, politics, society and culture. In order to do so we adopt a unique theoretical framework that helps to analyze the ways information has been translated to power over history until today, and subsequently also new emerging problems such as interest conflicts of intellectual property, freedom of information, national security, and privacy.

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Introduction to Network Analysis

In this course we introduce the key concepts associated with network theory and social network analysis, looking at various political, social, economic, technological, and cultural perspectives of networks. We emphasise the bi-directional relationship between technology and society, employing a number of examples to illustrate key aspects in the literature. We look at social networks, political network, technological and information networks, economic and business network, terror networks, as well as the spread of viruses and epidemics. During the course students practice the use of several software tools for network analysis and develop a more advanced way of thinking and understanding the increasingly complex world.

Fundamentals in the Digital Age

What is unique to the network society that we live in? Where do all these technological changes lead us? The rapid growth and widespread of digital communication have brought about tremendous social, economic, political, and cultural implications. In this introductory course we examine the basic principles and theories related to cyberspace. We get familiar with the discourse on technological and social determinism and demonstrate how these contradicting approaches become the mainstream of our modern thought. We look at the history of information and power, but also the contemporary processes and influences of digital communication on our daily life.

While the first part of the semester is dedicated to the developing information and communication theories, the second part deals with various practices and emerging research in the field. Among the issues that will be dealt in the this part are the digital divide, digital natives and digital immigrants, politics and political economy on the internet, online news and the filter bubble, user generated content and the public sphere, infotainment, social networks and interpersonal communication, information search and monopolies of knowledge, diffusion of memes and the online memetic culture, online games, pornography and addiction, and finally, privacy, security and intellectual property in the digital age.

Internet Research Methods – Perspectives and Approaches

In this course we look at the various research approaches and methodologies taken by current scholars in the field of internet research. During this course students gain new skills in conducting their own Internet Research. This includes content analysis on the web, data mining, extracting relevant information, locating online databases, using web-based research tools, network analysis, and understanding the ethical issues related to internet research. As part of this course students are required to practice complex search tasks, develop websites and online questionnaires, analyze online content, and present findings in various visual means.

Issues in Communication Theory: Influence and Effects

In this course we discuss a selection of key theories in media research, with a particular focus on the impact of communication on the individual and society. We look at theories of power, democracy and information that serve as the basis for current media and communication research. We will deal with the nature of media influence, and the relationship between communication and socio-political processes, processes of globalization and cultural diversity. We explore contemporary issues in the field of communication and their relation to social responsibility and civic involvement. The discussions in this course are intended to encourage critical thinking, a deeper investigation of the underlying assumptions, and the broader implications of the theories on social, egalitarian institutions, and democracy.

Masters Thesis Workshop

The objective of the workshop is to create a forum for discussion, writing and collegial critique of research thesis proposals as well as to assist in the writing and editing of the theses. All participants will present their proposals orally and in writing and will write brief critiques of their colleagues' proposals. The workshop is required of all students in the thesis track following the approval of their proposals by their advisors. Attendance at all meetings is mandatory and a prerequisite for submitting the thesis.