Meeting Time:Tu 2-5pm 110 South Hall
InstructorAssistant Professor Deirdre K. Mulligan (
Office HoursMon 2-4 212 South Hall
Course Blog

Course Description

We live in an information society. The use of technology to support a wide array of social, economic and political interaction is generating an increasing amount of information about who, what and where we are. Through self documentation (sousveillance), state sponsored surveillance, and documentation of interaction with others (coveillance) a vast store of information--varied in content and form--about daily life is spread across private and public data systems where it is subject to various forms of processing, used for a range of purposes (some envisioned and intended, others not), and subject to various rules that meet or upend social values including security, privacy and accountability. This course will explore the complex ways in which these varied forms of data generation, collection, processing and use interact with norms, markets and laws to produce security, fear, control, vulnerability. Some of the areas covered include close-circuit television (CCTV) in public places, radio frequency identification tags in everyday objects, digital rights management technologies, the smart grid, and biometrics. Readings will be drawn from law, computer science, social sciences, literature, and, art and media studies.

Assignments and Grading

Your grade is based on class participation and a course deliverable, research proposal or project that may be done individually or with a classmate.

Class participation accounts for 50% of your grade. It includes your oral participation in class discussion, targeted participation as called for in the syllabus below, as well as participation on the class listserv and/or blog. This class is designed to hone your critical inquiry skills. You are expected to fully participate--present, actively listen, engage with your classmates and the materials, bring your own insights to the discussion, share your experience and knowledge. Please come prepared to argue, explain, revise, borrow, refine, and of course junk your ideas. Thinking out loud is encouraged. This is how one learns. The success of this class depends upon student's diligent preparation and active participation--both listening and speaking--in class. The topics of discussion are likely to elicit strong emotions and views. You are encouraged to express them and to listen to others equally charged opinions in a respectful manner. I expect that you will "try-on" and "try-out" new, novel and controversial concepts, including many that do not reflect your view. Within class we will aim to create an environment in which you are free to express opinions and make contributions for the sake of advancing the discussion and without fear that the views and opinions you offer during class will be permanently attributed to you in other contexts.

You will be responsible for working with me to assemble readings to support a class session (1-1.5 hr), which you will lead, on the topic of your final course deliverable. This may be done in a team. Student teams will be formed early in the semester. Each team will facilitate a discussion related to their course deliverable during the semester. It is expected that individuals/teams will engage in significant outside research and preparation.

Course Deliverable: final paper, research proposal or project. Drawing on the readings and insights gained through class discussion you will prepare a paper applying the theories and concepts of the course to an area of interest, a research proposal (potentially for your masters final project), or develop design requirements or a prototype. During our first few classes we will discuss your interests, potential topics, and identify opportunities for collaboration in an effort to kick-start your final project.

Your Course Deliverable is due Monday, December 14, 2009 at 11:59 pm. It comprises the remaining 50% of your grade.

Late assignments will be penalized: each day an assignment is late will result in a half a grade deduction. Recognizing that emergencies arise, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.


In an effort to respect increasing fiscal constraints on students, I've aimed to use readings that are readily accessible for free to UCB students.

Links to articles are provided in the syllabus. A few short pieces are from the following two books:

David Lyons, Surveillance Studies: An Overview

Levin et al. CTRL [SPACE]

Excerpts required below will be available online and/or in the folder outside my office (212 South Hall)