The Assignment

A ten-minute in-class presentation submitted to the course website that tells the story of a particular aspect of Internet history through the lens of a particular little-known person whose contribution to a particular technology, technology feature, or website is important for understanding a particular ethical, legal, or social issue. This presentation must be accompanied by a Zotero collection in our Zotero group bibliography at that lists sources and media credits.

Update: Please try to post your sources to the Zotero group, publish your presentation online, and add a link to the Presentations page of this site before you give your presentation — that’ll make it easy for me to grade your presentation in class. If you can’t manage that, there won’t be a penalty, but I’ll wait to assign your grade until your presentation is public and your sources are in the Zotero group.

Grading Criteria

  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Have you engaged with other students’ presentations?
  • Have you added a link to your presentation in the comments on this page?

How to be interesting – 10%

  • Explain how this person helped cause, was the result of, and/or is a good example of a particular historical trend related to the issue you chose. For instance, I am going to argue that the Internet in general made the idea of distributed rather than centralized authority (my issue) much more acceptable and common, and that Chris Messina’s invention of the hashtag is a good example of this trend. He never worked for Twitter, yet he invented one of Twitter’s most important features.
  • Explain how this historical trend is or is not progressing at this moment. For instance, Twitter no longer lets just anyone develop features for Twitter and has placed greater restrictions on what kind of Twitter-related applications can be built; it may be that the early promise of the Internet to decentralize authority is just an illusion, a phase, and that eventually all decentralized services and products do eventually come under central control.
  • Explain this person’s perspective (and actions) related to the issue you chose and put it in context by comparing and contrasting it to other perspective and actions. Who has a different perspective on that issue, or no perspective at all? For instance, although Chris Messina and people like him are in favor of decentralized, non-hierarchical technologies and organizational structures, some very successful technologies and organizations (such as Apple) are very centralized.
  • During your presentation, speak clearly and with confidence. Use precise and stylish words: no clich├ęs. Use cool multimedia to illustrate your points — images, animated gifs, cool fonts and colors, unusual charts and graphs, perhaps even audio and video. Feel free to be funny. Stay within your ten minutes (shoot for 8-12).

How to be accurate – 10%

  • Do your research. Read (or watch, or listen to) as much material as you have time for.
  • Consider *what* you’re reading (or watching, or listening to). Who wrote it? Why? When? Is it the best possible source of information? If not, what is?
  • Make sure somehow that whoever hears or sees your presentation can find everything (EVERYTHING) you read (or watched, or listened to). Put everything you consult in your folder in our Zotero group. Then, if you’re using presentation software, you can add a slide at the end of your presentation that either contains a whole bibliography or has a link to your folder in our Zotero group.
  • Make sure, also, that whoever hears or sees your presentation can also find all the multimedia you used in your presentation. You can add images and other media directly to your folder in the Zotero group, or you can caption each separate object, or use whatever method you find best. Try your best to use only media that you have permission to use (such as what you can find from a Creative Commons search).
  • If the person is alive, consider trying to contact them.

How to engage with other students’ presentations – 5%

This is a new addition to the presentation assignment (really a spinoff assignment from it), but I have decided to reward you for engaging with other students’ presentations. I’m therefore requiring you to turn in five “QQC” forms, no more than one per day (that you can get credit for), in response to your classmates’ presentations. “QQC” stands for “Quote, Question, and Comment”: the form asks you to include one of each in response to a presentation. You’ll get one point per form. The QQC forms must be submitted during class time, between 12pm and 1:15pm on MW. Visit the page titled QQCs to submit the form and to see the responses.

Grading rubric

A – An A presentation will be interesting and accurate. It will make an original and focused historical argument. All sources will be cited, and they will be reliable and relevant sources of information. The presentation will be verbally and/or visually stylish and creative, and will be very close to ten minutes.

B – A B presentation will be fairly interesting and accurate, but it may be more of a biographical summary than a historical argument, tending just to relate the bare facts of a person’s contributions with only an occasional effort to put them in historical context. It may assume that because something happened, it had to happen in just that way. Still, the information it gives seems to be correct, although a few sources may not be the best or most relevant sources (“Bob’s Random Website”), and a few images or research sources may not be cited or traceable back to where the student found them.

C – A C presentation will not really try at all to make a historical argument and will be mostly summary, relating facts without explaining why they’re important. The presentation will rely on very little research, perhaps only one or two sources, and those sources will not be very good sources. Most research and multimedia is cited, but not all of it. The student may be missing one or more QQC forms.

D – A D presentation will not really try at all to make a historical argument and will be mostly summary, relating facts without explaining why they’re important. The presentation will rely on very little research, perhaps only one or two sources, and those sources will not be very good sources. Most research and multimedia is not cited, and the student is missing two or more QQC forms.

F – An F presentation wasn’t done at all.

Publishing your presentation

By the end of the day Before class on your scheduled presentation date, please add a comment on this page with a link to your presentation. You can upload it to a presentation-specific service like Slideshare, upload it to a general file service like Dropbox and share a link, or use any method you like to publish your presentation to the web. Contact me if you have trouble.

Update 10/28: It’ll be easier for me to grade your presentation if your presentation is published online and your sources are posted to the Zotero group by the time you give your presentation. If either task isn’t done by the time you give your presentation, I’ll wait to assign a grade until they are.

46 thoughts on “Presentations

  1. Thanks, Madalyn! Can you please make sure that the document is viewable by anyone? You might need to go to File –> Share and set the permissions there.

  2. The presentation published online is rushed due to the audio formatting. When presenting in class, the audio will only be played on the 4th slide. Also, there is information not provided in the slideshow which I will be addressing in class.

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