Tuesday, December 12, 2006

BU students ponder the Internet and social epidemics

Yesterday was the last day of classes for the Fall 2006 semester at Boston University. Thus concludes the journey of creating the new course, "Online Social Networks," with my wonderful first group of students. I miss them already.

Their last homework assignment was writing a short essay on how the Internet affects social epidemics in America. During the semester we explored this question in many ways--by blogging and programming with HTML and JavaScript, by studying the mathematics of information diffusion and economic externalities, and by experiencing social epidemics within our own classroom (of 62 students) and reflecting.

The following two student essays do a great job of digesting the material of the semester and addressing the question, "does the Internet make future social epidemics more or less likely?"
  1. Those of you who wonder why such a question is even worth asking should start with this essay on how the Internet limits epidemics, written by Drew Phillips '09;
  2. Here is an excellent essay on how the Internet increases epidemics, written by A Garrett Robertson.
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