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UC Berkeley


Information Technology and Social Media

Field Description

Revolutionary advances in the speed and capacity of information transmission can blind us to thinking that we are living in the first information revolution, but students studying IT and social media need to be aware of the earlier social and technological revolutions of the printed book, the telegraph, the radio, the telephone, and the television, among others.   Students interested in this research field should enroll in History and Information courses to understand both how the social character of information has changed across time and space, as well as the technical aspects of how information becomes encoded in specific technologies.  Students are also encouraged to take sociology courses that underscore the social contexts and dimensions of technological innovations; anthropology courses, where they can learn about the cultural frameworks that make technological revolutions possible. There are also relevant courses in education, economics, political science, and media studies.  Those interested in the impact of new technologies in the humanities and visual culture should explore relevant courses in Art History, Comparative Literature, and English.

New information technologies raise a series of exciting topical research questions: How are personality and human networks changing through the use of social media? How is mental life being externalized in new technologies and with what consequences for identity and memory? How are notions of privacy and forms of surveillance changing and how do different nation-states constitute the boundaries of privacy?  How have political activism and social movements been transformed by new media?  How are the new technologies affecting basic cognitive capabilities, distributing intelligence, and redrawing the boundaries between the real and the virtual?  How have new information technologies enabled changes in the operations of firms and the global division of labor?  What is the nature of the new digital divide and the consequences of asymmetrical access to information?

Library Resources is forthcoming; meanwhile, please contact Lynn Jones at


Recent ISF Senior Theses

  • The Wisdom of Crowdsourcing: Two Case Studies in Mass Collaboration
  • Comparing the Dynamics and Regulation of Cybershaming in South Korea and the US
  • How Do We Get Our Message Out? The Role of Propaganda in the 1991 Balkan Civil War Between Serbia and Croatia
  • Monitoring My Heartbeat on the Go: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution
  • Virtual Grassroots Organizing: The Role of Social Media in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election
  • The Fall of an Empire: Recreating the Music Industry in the Digital Age
  • Cultural Differences of Self-Disclosure Trends in Social Network Usage: A Comparison of the United States and France
  • If They Only Had More Cell Phones: The Impact of Cellular Technology on African Development
  • Human Work? The Nature and Social Implications of Progress in Computer Performance
  • The Semantic Web: An Inquiry Into the Multiple Meanings of Rationalized Presentations of Self in Social Media
  • Organizational Changes in the Business Intelligence Industry in the United States: An Application of Bijker’s Theory of the Social Construction of Technology

Relevant UC Berkeley Courses

  • History C192: History of Information
  • Media Studies 140: Media and Politics
  • Sociology 166: Society and Technology
  • Sociology 167: Virtual Communities/Social media
  • Rhetoric 114: Rhetoric of New Media
  • African American Studies C134: Information, Technology and Society
  • Information Management and Systems 146: Foundations of New Media
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 125: American Media and Global Politics
  • Anthropology 139: Control Processes
  • Letters & Sciences C180V: Self and Society

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