Interdisciplinary Studies Field

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

Agar, Jon. 2003. The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 

Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised edition. London, England: Verso.

Askew, Kelly, and Richard R. Wilk, eds. 2002. The Anthropology of Media: A Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Baron, Sabrina Alcorn, Eric N. Lindquist, and Eleanor F. Shevlin, eds. 2007. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Bayly, C. A. 2000. Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Bell, Daniel. 1976. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books.

Berners-Lee, Tim. 2000. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web. New York: HarperCollins.

Blair, Ann M. 2011. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Bolter, J. David. 1984. Turing’s Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. 2014. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Bunt, Gary R. 2009. iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Campbell-Kelly, Martin, William Aspray, Nathan Ensmenger, and Jeffrey R. Yost. 2013. Computer: A History of the Information Machine. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Castells, Manuel. 2010. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. 3 Vols. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Castells, Manuel. 2012. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press.

Castells, Manuel. 2013. Communication Power. 2 edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Chadwick, Andrew, and Philip N. Howard, eds. 2008. Handbook of Internet Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

Coleman, E. Gabriella. 2013. Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Crowley, David, and Paul Heyer. 2010. Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. 6th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Darnton, Robert. 2000. “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” 105(1):1–35.

De Certau, Michel. 1984. “General Introduction.” Pp. xi – xxiv in The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

DiMaggio, Paul, Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman, and John P. Robinson. 2001. “Social Implications of the Internet.” Annual Review of Sociology 27:307–36.

Dutton, William H., ed. 2014. Politics and the Internet. New York: Routledge.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1982. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 2012. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Finkelstein, David, and Alistair McCleery, eds. 2006. The Book History Reader. New York: Routledge.

Fischer, Claude S. 1994. America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Giddens, Anthony. 1981. “Surveillance and the Capitalist State.” Pp. 169–76 in A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism. Power, Property and the State, vol. 1. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Gitlin, Todd. 2007. Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives. Revised edition. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Hayek, F. A. 1945. “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The American Economic Review 35(4):519–30.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1991. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Headrick, Daniel R. 2002. When Information Came of Age: Technologies of Knowledge in the Age of Reason and Revolution, 1700-1850. New York: Oxford University Press.

Heidegger, Martin. 1977. “The Question Concerning Technology.” Pp. 3–35 in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Henkin, David M. 2008. The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Heilbroner, Robert L. 1967. “Do Machines Make History?” Technology and Culture 8(3):335–45.

Hirshleifer, J. 1973. “Where Are We in the Theory of Information?” The American Economic Review 63(2):31–39.

Howard, Nicole. 2009. The Book: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Juris, Jeffrey S. n.d. “The New Digital Media and Activist Networking within Anti-Corporate Globalization Movements.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (597):189–208.

Marlin, Randall. 2013. “History of Propaganda.” Pp. 62–94 in Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press.

Lawrence, Regina G. 2000. The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. [1848]1994. “The Communist Manifesto.” Pp. 157–86 in Karl Marx. Selected Writings, edited by Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Marx, Karl. [1859]1994. “Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.” Pp.209-213. In Karl Marx Selected Writings, edited by Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

McArthur, Tom. 1988. Worlds of Reference. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

McLuhan, Marshall, and Q. Fiore. 1967. The Medium Is the Message. New York: Random House.

Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Yuan Kui Shen, Aviva Presser Aiden, Adrian Veres, Matthew K. Gray,

The Google Books Team, Joseph P. Pickett, Dale Hoiberg, Dan Clancy, Peter Norvig, Jon Orwant, Steven Pinker, Martin A. Nowak, and Erez Lieberman Aiden. 2011. “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books.” Science331(6014):176–82.

Misa, Thomas J., Philip Brey, and Andrew Feenberg, eds. 2004. Modernity and Technology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Nixon, Paul, Rajash Rawal, and Dan Mercea, eds. 2013. Politics and the Internet in Comparative Context: Views from the Cloud. New York: Routledge.

Nunberg, Geoffrey, ed. 1996. The Future of the Book. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Porter, Theodore M. 1986. The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Schudson, Michael. 2011. “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism.” Pp. 64–89 in The Sociology of News. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Smith, Merritt Roe, and Leo Marx, eds. 1994. Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Solove, Daniel J. 2010. Understanding Privacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2002. “Information and the Change in the Paradigm in Economics.” The American Economic Review92(3):460–501.

Suarez, Michael F., and H. R. Woudhuysen. 2013. The Book: A Global History. First Edition edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Takhteyev, Yuri. 2012. Coding Places: Software Practice in a South American City. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Turkle, Sherry. 1997. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Reprint edition. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Turkle, Sherry. 2012. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.

Valentino, Nichoals A., and Yioryos Nardis. 2013. “Political Communication: Form and Consequence of the Information Environment.” Pp. 559–90 in Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, edited by Leonie Huddy, David O. Sears, and Jack S. Levy. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Wildavsky, Aaron. 1983. “Information as an Organizational Problem.” Journal of Management Studies 20(1):29–40.

Williams, Raymond. 2004. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. 3 edition. London and New York: Routledge.

Campus Resources