Counter-technologies for Digital Literacy

In this unit we will inquire deeper into the forces affecting digital literacy, shifting to understand the social, cultural, and economic trends in technology that have increasingly required such savvy fact-checking strategies in the first place. In assigned teams of 3-4, you will identify and research these forces, select readings for the class, and lead us in a large-group discussion that spans our classroom and Twitter. Because some of these forces threaten the foundations of our democracy, our discussions risk becoming a bit depressing; as such, a significant and essential part of your time will also be spent teaching us about one effective counter-technology — a tool or practice that can help writers and researchers resist, expose, or otherwise mitigate these forces. Once your group has concluded, you will summarize and archive our conversation for future publics.

Your Task

  1. Define your phenomenon. What is the technological force that has led to the post-truth condition? How can it be broadened and made more specific?
  2. Research. Find texts that help you better understand this phenomenon. Start with Wikipedia and work your way to news and features, then perhaps to scholarship. As you collect readings, develop a bibliography using Zotero groups that you can share with us.
  3. Pick 1 or 2 online readings for the class. Readings will total 2,500-3,500 words (not sure what the word count is? check out the Word Count Tool) and get at the complexity, history, and newsworthiness of the phenomena.
  4. Host a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are basically online discussions on certain topics led by moderators or hosts who are somewhat knowledgable about them. For our purposes you’ll post, 2-3 questions about your readings, which will begin to be tackled online. You’ll post your bibliography, readings, and discussion questions on Twitter at least two days before using the hashtag #WRTf17 and your chosen topic (for example, “Here’s our bibliography on fake news filters <link> #WRTf17 #FNfilters). As a classmate/audience member, you will be expected to tweet before, during, and after each discussion.
  5. Continue discussion in class. I’ll give your group ~10 minutes at the start of class to quickly review the Twitter chat posts.
  6. Present your counter-technology. You can do this any number of ways — through a step-by-step tutorial, a demo, or a workshop. It’s up to you, Ultimately, however, we should have a deliverable (handout, website, zine) that we can take home after. Above all, be clear about how this technology helps us!
  7. After discussion, reflect on the entire process on a Google Doc that you’ll submit to your WRT folder. More on this in class.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

Tweets [20 points]. You are expected to tweet at least 40 times from your account. This includes original tweets and responses; retweets count only if you comment on the material. Each Tweet is worth .5 points.

Panel discussion [50 points]. Your group will be evaluated by the class using a Google Form, which will assess the degree to which your panel was interesting, detailed, and organized and how valuable the class found your counter-technology.

Individual contribution [30 points]. You will be assessed by your collaborators through an Internal Assessment Form that will be based on how much you contributed to the group’s successes and failures. You will also be graded by me based on your final reflection.