Computer-Mediated Communication
Course basics
What   Computer-Mediated Communication (IS290-12)
When   Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 to 2 pm
Where   110 South Hall
Instructors   Coye Cheshire (coye@ischool)
Andrew Fiore (atf@ischool)
Office hours   Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 3 pm, 305A South Hall
News and Announcements

Tue 2 Oct :: Assignment 2 and final project posted

We've just posted Assignment 2, interim report/project draft. It's due on Friday, Oct. 19th at 3 pm in Coye's mailbox, which is in the iSchool office, 102 South Hall. Also, we've posted the final project assignment. We'll discuss both of these in class on Thursday, but please feel free to email us with any questions.

Mon 10 Sep :: Assignment 1 posted

We've just posted Assignment 1, the research problem and justification memo. It's due on Tuesday, Sept. 18th.

Mon 27 Aug :: Reader available now at Copy Central

The course reader, which contains only those readings unavailable online, is now available at the Copy Central just south of campus (2560 Bancroft Way at Telegraph, 510-848-8649). Please note that one of the readings for the second meeting of class (Thu 30 Aug) is in there, so we hope you'll have a chance to pick it up soon. It costs $18.15.

Fri 24 Aug :: Subscribing to the class mailing list

The class mailing list is If you have an iSchool account, you can subscribe yourself to the list via the iSchool Intranet.

Alternatively, you can subscribe any address (not just an iSchool one) by sending email to with the line "subscribe cmc" (minus the quotation marks) in the body of the message. You will then have to respond to an authentication email to complete your subscription — this is a safeguard against other people subscribing you to mailing lists without your consent.

Course description

This course covers the practical and theoretical issues associated with computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems. CMC includes many different types of technologies such as email, newsgroups, chat, and online games. We will focus on the analysis of CMC practices, the social structures that emerge when people use these applications, and the design and implementation issues associated with constructing CMC technologies.

We will primarily take a social scientific approach to computer-mediated communication (including research from psychology, social psychology, economics, and sociology). We will investigate questions such as: How do we represent identity and perceive others in CMC environments? How are interfaces and visualizations used in CMC to help make sense of relationships? Why do some Wikis "succeed" while others do not? How is the production of open source software such as Linux similar to (and different from) a social movement? Why are reputations useful in some online environments, and not in others? Can we really develop meaningful relationships and perhaps even love-purely through CMC?

Grading and assignments
An overview is available on the Assignments page. We'll post more detailed information over the course of the semester and discuss the assignments in class.
Course readings

The readings in this course include current academic research articles, "classic" texts from the area of computer-mediated communication, book chapters, and some popular-press pieces. Students are expected to do the readings before the day for which they are assigned.

Most of the readings for the course are available online, usually through one of the many online journal subscriptions that are carried by UC-Berkeley. If you choose to read/print the articles yourself, you can follow the links provided (where applicable) and make your own copy. To access some of these links from off campus, you will need to use the Berkeley library proxy server. Please contact Andrew if you have any trouble accessing them.

There is a reader available from Copy Central with the materials that aren't online.