Utopia / Dystopia Project – Online

Frans Francken II (1581 - 1642) Man choosing between Virtue and Vice


We’ll seek to understand various new media technologies and topics by exploring both all the amazing things that technology could lead to (Utopia) and all the horrible things that could come from it (Dystopia).

Your group can pick a target year between 5-20 years from now (2026-2041)—far enough out that we’re beyond the obvious and have enough time for social change to accompany technological changes, but not so far out that we’re into the realm of science fiction.

Grading (15 points total)

Presentation video, 6 points

Create a 5-minute or less video.

  • 6: Polished, practiced, and creative / engaging
  • 5: Lacking in one or more of the above
  • 4: Lacking in two or more of the above
  • 3: Coherent, but barely
  • 0: Hard to watch

Submission: Google Form

Online artifact, 6 points

Make an online thing (Medium.com post, Google Doc / Slides, etc.) that presents your work in a compelling, polished fashion.

  • 6: Super-polished + super-thoughtful
  • 5: Still good, but lacking in either polish or thoughtfulness
  • 4: Complete, but not terribly polished or thoughtful
  • 3: Something’s there, but it’s super rough
  • 0: Nothing turned in

Submission: Google Form

Peer evaluations, 3 points

Everyone within your group will complete a brief online peer evaluation of everyone else in your group.

  • 3: All good, no complaints
  • 2: Mostly good, but some issues
  • Participated, but barely
  • 0: Who was s/he again?

Submission: Google Form

Criteria for success

Successful projects will, in both the presentation video and the online artifact, demonstrate:

  • Thorough research1 into the current state and future trajectory of your selected topic
  • Clear thinking about the future of your topic supported by your research alongside information and concepts from class
  • Analysis from multiple perspectives (technological, social, cultural, ethical, economic, etc.)
  • Integration between all portions of the project2
  • A sufficient level of polish3
  • A sense of fun, play, and creativity

Group roles

You’ll be working in a group of about 10. The following are suggested—but not required—roles. How you divvy up the work is up to you.

Project coordinator: Works with everyone in the group to coordinate everything that happens into a single, cohesive project.

Research coordinator: Working with project coordinator, divvies up, coordinates, and pulls together research

Researcher: Carries out and reports back project research

Online thing coordinator: Responsible for ultimate success of the online thing. Coordinates research, original thought, and more.

Online thing editor: Responsible for final quality of written portion of online thing.

Online thing writer: There might be more than one of these. Responsible for writing a portion of the online thing.

Video presentation creative director: Responsible for pulling together the entirety of the video presentation.

Video presentation producer: Responsible for coordinating the logistics of the video production process (who’s filming / creating what when, editing, etc.).

Video presentation talent: Acts in the video, records a voiceover, creates graphics, etc.

Director of fun: Adds fun to all of the above.


Wednesday 7/21 at 12pm Eastern: Group topic selected

Wednesday 7/28 at 12pm Eastern: Rough Draft due

About the rough draft:
The rough draft is ungraded but is designed to provide some lightweight accountability. The goal is to have everything for your project done, even if done poorly—every paragraph written / slide created / video shot attempted / rough edited, etc. You'll submit your drafts through this Google Form.

Monday 8/2: Projects due by 12pm Eastern

Monday 8/2: Video screenings live during class at 1pm

Potential topics

Augmented / virtual reality
AI (Artificial Intelligence) + ML (Machine Learning)
Facebook + social media
Startups + Unicorns
Amazon (+ commerce)
The cloud + big data
Voice + smart home / Internet of Things

Selected topics


  1. Using both hyperlinked sources and signal phrases

  2. I.e., the presentation video and online artifact read as an integrated whole, not disparate elements duct taped together at the last minute

  3. The presentation video has clearly been rehearsed and considered as a whole, while the online artifact has been edited, consistently designed, etc.