Fall 2021 - CMNS 353 D100

Topics in Technology and Society (4)

Disruptive Tech. & Culture

Class Number: 5974

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 253W with a minimum grade of C- and one of CMNS 201W (201 or 260) or CMNS 202 (or 262), with a minimum grade of C-. Recommended: CMNS 362.



Examination of the emergence and shaping of information and communication technologies in the digital age. Explores new media and social change between everyday life, social institutions, and various enterprises. Emphasis is placed on social context and relations of power. This course can be repeated once for credit (up to a maximum of two times).


Topics in Technology and Society:
Disruptive Technologies and Culture

This  course  examines disruptive technologies and the information society to understand social change in culture, organizations, and  everyday  life.  Technologies like blockchain, big data, and social media   can  develop  into  seemingly  contradictory platforms  that  provide  opportunities  for  contestation  and  distraction,  or  political  mobilization  and commercialization.  While  we  chat  with  one  another  online  and  create  our Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok accounts,  companies  are  also  ‘watching’  what  we  post,  how we scroll through our feeds,  and  what we buy in  order  to understand  who  we  are  as  consumers and producers of media and customers.  At  times,  we  go  willingly  into  a surveillance  society  as  we  provide  our  personal  information  in  exchange  for  ‘free’  services.  More  often, however,  we  remain  unaware  of  the  global digital  networks  and  databases  through  which  our  personal  information flows.  There  are  a  myriad  of  expanding  opportunities  and  risks  in  social  media  and  big  data. Newer waves of disruptive innovations like blockchain, Bitcoin, and Ethereum are rapidly impacting money, decentralized finance, gaming, governance, art and music, among many other fields and industries. In  this  course,  we will explore how various stakeholders shape these sociotechnical spaces and how scholars are documenting and making sense of how these disruptive technologies are impacting our culture.


  • Achieve a command of current research and theory in Communication approaches to technology and society and disruptive technologies.
  • Achieve an understanding and command of blockchain, big data, and social media concepts, technologies, and practices
  • Constructively engage with controversies related to innovators and critics of the development and adoption of disruptive communication technologies.
  • Articulate differences and similarities between how various Communication scholars approach the study of the information society and digital media cultures.
  • Analyze how power, identity, and politics shape the development of the information society and the role of disruptive technologies and digital culture.


  • Weekly Participation 30%
  • Final Project – Early Pitch 15%
  • Final Project – Midpoint Presentation 20%
  • Final Project – Full Submission 35%


This  course  consists  of  a  weekly  lecture  and  a  weekly  tutorial.



A set of readings will be made available.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.