Information Technology and Digital Media Studies
Prof. David Golumbia
University of Virginia
Fall 2005

Lab Assignment 3. Case Study

In this project, you will create a case study using internet sources. The project has several goals: to have you learn to assess the credibility of sources and establish some guidelines for doing so; to have you research a topic of particular interest to you; to work in a collaborative way with classmates. The project has three steps. Your grade will be based mostly on the final stage which you will write yourself, but you will want to document the other two stages as part of that final statement.

Week of October 31: Weird topics, hard questions, and web research
In lab you will do web-based research on the most improbable and weird topics you can come up with to see how “credible” the source materials are that can be mustered to support a weird thesis (human life originated from spores that arrived from outer space, we are all descended from starfish, the common cold is caused by evil thoughts from a secret underground cult group, babies come from storks, and other such things). How can you tell when the sources are credible or not? Now try a topic that you really want information about – such as the quality of your water supply, the health risks of eating some favorite food, etc.

Week of November 7: Case study groups and research
Propose topics, and then form small groups to work together. In lab you will spend an hour trying to locate relevant and substantive materials as well as to find those “statistical outliers” – questionable sources—for creating your case study. Be sure you are grounding your research in a through search of the sources. All of your group should work on the same topic, but explore different sources. At the end of the session, pool sources.

Week of November 14: Review sources and make statements
Come in with a final list of the sources for your case study. The group does not have to agree. You might each make use of the same materials, or chose to include different ones within your final resource list. Or you might decide that your topic needs to be divided into sub-topics. You’ll each present a statement about the core issue in the case study. Again, you need not agree. Each of you will write your own statement based on the shared resources you’ve assembled. This statement will synthesize your research.


You can link your individual final projects together using a central page, but you will be graded based on your individual site only. Eveyrone's individual site should be entirely different from each other. For example, you might all work on a topic like "Circuses"; one person might do "Early 20th Century US Circuses," another might do "19th Century Chinese Circuses," another might do "Ancient Roman Circuses," another might do "The Role of the Elephant Dance in Circus Semiotics."

Your individual assignment should include at least an index page and 3 other pages and total 500 words of written text (this refers to your own prose commentary written into the web page, not quotations and samples of which you make use).

As in the other Lab Assignments, the index page for the site should be located in a subdirectory of your mdst110 directory, so that the index.html reads as follows:

Give the other files any names you wish. All these files should be linked on the index.html page.

Project timeline: Your Case Study is to be finished and submitted by the beginning of lab during the week of November 28.