Telecommunication Services - Com634

Spring 2003- Tuesdays 3-5:30 – George 215

Dineh M. Davis, School of Communications

Office: Crawford Hall, Room 307

Phone:  956-3332                                                                  E-mail:

Office hours:  M: 5-6 pm; TR: 10:30 am -12; & by appointment

Catalog Description:


Systematic study from a social science perspective of current and emerging teleservices. Attention to user needs and impact, and to teleservice design.  Course emphasis is not on technological innovations, per se, but on understanding human information needs that are being met by telecommunication services. A variety of current and prototypical services will be examined within this context.




Although fundamental course objectives are identified here, each student is urged to make known his or her own objectives for this course.  Insofar as possible, emphasis will be placed on areas of specific interest to the class. The underlying theme of understanding the control mechanisms for information access, acquisition, and dissemination is highlighted by the choice of required readings for this course. Other objectives include:


   To examine the social, technical, and cultural underpinnings of information service industries.

   To determine the social impact of new telecommunication technologies.

   To introduce a range of new and emerging information and telecommunication services and to study several such services in-depth.

   To experience first-hand as many telecommunication services as possible.

   To enhance research, analysis, synthesis, writing, and oral presentation skills.


Required Readings:


Available at the bookstore:

*Adam Brate, Technomanifestos:  visions from the information revolutionaries, New York:  Texere, 2002.

*Jeremy Rifkin, The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life Is a Paid-for Experience. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000.*

*Marge Piercy He, She and It. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

*In addition, each student will examine several current books related to the class topic, choose one for review & critique and share the finding with others in-class and online. Several titles will be placed on reserve for this purpose, but students are free to choose their own titles as they wish.


Additional articles from a variety of sources will be handed out in class, placed online or on reserve at Sinclair. Students are urged to read the technology-related articles in ACM's Technews; The New York Times and, The Wall Street Journal - in hard copy or online.


Required readings in the past have included (and some will be placed on reserve for this year):

   *John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

   * James Burke, The Pinball Effect. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1996

   * Charles Jonscher, The Evolution of Wired Life. NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

   * Rob Kling, ed., Computerization and Controversy: Value conflicts and social choices, 2d ed. San Diego: Academic Press, 1996.

   * Howard Rheingold, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1993.

   * Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information. New York: Random House, 1992.

   * Peter G. W. Keen, Competing in Time: Using Telecommunications for Competitive Advantage. Ballinger, 1988.

   * Douglas Rushkoff, Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace. HarperSanfrancisco, 1994.

   * H. Skip Weitzen with William "Biff" Genda, Infopreneurs: Turning Data into Dollars. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1991.


It is the student's responsibility to obtain and keep up with readings assigned in any class session.  Students should also keep current with telecommunication services news through independent study of various print & electronic news media.




  Contributions to weekly class discussions

                  (consistent; in-class & on-line)



Oral, print &/or electronic reports:

  Book review & critique (paper & presentation)                      

  New service plan & presentation                                             

  Independent or group mini-case studies:                                

        (group work may be considered if individual responsibilities

          are well-defined and are commensurate with work expected of each

          individual if working alone) One of these studies may be used as

          the foundation for the new service plan.






   Overall evaluation (consistently positive contributions)    


   Final examination (oral) – optional



Policy on written assignments:  All written assignments (excluding in-class work and on-line entries) should be typed/word processed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins using 10 or 12 pitch/point type. All papers should be carefully proofread to reflect your high level of care and diligence in the preparation process.


There will be substantial grade penalties per day for late papers. To avoid confusion, just turn all of your assignments in early or on time!