Ilya Levin (Tel Aviv University)


Digital technologies affect not only the everyday life, but all aspects of humans' existence - culture, safety, personal identity. It becomes increasingly important to recognize impact of the digital technologies on people as individuals, as well on societal repercussions.
In this course, emphasis will be placed on understanding the process of forming the Digital Society, from the very beginning of digitalization up to creation of cyberspace. The course will also refer to a broad spectrum of phenomena and problems related to the Digital Society, such as: privacy, information management, identity, relationships, government interfaces, virtual worlds, and mass media.
Each student, upon completion of this course, should be able to recognize, understand and define the core cultural issues of the Digital Society.
Due to the broad scope of aspects and phenomena of the Digital Society, the students will be encouraged to creatively determine and pursue their individual areas of interest in the topic. Additionally, the students will gain working knowledge on the critical, key elements within the content selected by them for learning.
The format of the course will include lectures, home-works and participation of the students in discussions taking place both in the class and in the Web.
The course will focus on the cultural aspects of Digital Society. The students will be given a possibility to understand various cultural implications of Digital Technologies, by developing their analytical and methodological skills when studying various situations related to the digital culture.
The structure of the course is as follows.
The introductory part of the course defines the general concept of Culture and will refer to historical forms of culture, different cultural paradigms, evolution of the mankind culture. The introductory part will also address methodology of cultural studies.
The Digital Society will be determined as the end of Modernity, bringing a number of specific changes in various spheres of the human life: sociology, history, anthropology, ethics, etc.
The culture of the Digital Society will be presented using the original model of a three-dimensional space defining three types of the Culture: Social, Spiritual and Technological. Each of the above types of culture will be separately addressed in the course, which will refer to new cultural phenomena related to the three types of the Digital Culture: to social media, personal identity online, and big data.
The course will be concluded by discussing ways of evolution of the Digital Society. The concept of Digital Enlightenment - which is an expected future of the Digital Society – will be presented as an actual problem of the digital culture.

1. Introduction. The concept of culture. Definitions of Culture. Cultural Studies. Different approaches to Cultural Studies. Culture vs. Nature. Evolution of the mankind culture.
2. The space of culture. Three axes of culture: knowledge, value, regulations. Three faces of culture: Spiritual culture, Social Culture, Technological Culture. Paradigms of Culture. Forms of culture.
3. Historical forms of culture. The culture of Enlightenment. Roots of Enlightenment culture. Fundamental values of the Enlightenment. Spiritual Culture of Enlightenment. Scientific and technological culture of Enlightenment. Social culture of Enlightenment. Civil Society.
4. The Concept of Information Society. Evolution of the concept. Crisis of the concept. The concept of Virtualization. Virtual Society. De-reification of the Society.
5. Digital Society. Characteristics of Digital Society. Society transformations. The end of Modernity. Distributed responsibility. From History to Hyper History. Blurring of the distinction between reality and virtuality. Blurring of the distinctions between human, machine and nature. Shift to multiple-agent system.
6. Anthropology of Digital Society. To be human in a hyper-connected era. Physical Person, Legal Person, Digital Person.
7. Transformations of human consciousness in digital age. Changes in humans’ worldview as symptoms of the digital revolution.
8. Western Society in Digital era. Fundamental contradictions between Digital technologies and Enlightenment principles. Digital Feudalism
9. Social Culture of Digital Society. Forming Social Consciousness in Digital Society. Social Media. Digital Person vs. Legal Person.
10. Social Culture of Digital Society. Distributed responsibility. Rethinking government structures. Fears and risks in hyper-connected era. Reversal from information scarcity to information abundance. Shift from the primacy of entities to the primacy of interactions.
11. Scientific Technological Culture of Digital Society. Evolution of computing. Data domination computing. Context aware computing. Socially Aware Computing. Big Data. Data Intensive Science. The Forth paradigm of Science.
12. Spiritual Culture of Digital Society. Identity in the web. Personal Identity on-line. Partial Identity. Multiple Identity. Digital Self. Magnetization of Personal Data. Social Digital Curation. Personal media.
13. Eve of Digital Enlightenment. Contradictions between values of Modern Society and Digital Society.

Required reading
Floridi, L. (2014). The fourth revolution: How the infosphere is reshaping human reality. OUP Oxford.

Creeber, G., & Martin, R. (Eds.). (2009). Digital culture: Understanding new media. McGraw- Hill International.
Floridi, L. (2015). The onlife manifesto. Springer-Verlag GmbH.
Hildebrandt, M., O’Hara, K., & Waidner, M. (Eds.). (2013). Digital Enlightenment Yearbook 2013: The Value of Personal Data. IOS Press.
Palfrey, John, & Urs Gasser. (2008) Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. Basic Books.
Rose, D. (2014). Enchanted objects: Design, human desire, and the Internet of things. Simon and Schuster.
Tegmark, M. (2017). Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Knopf.


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