You may not be able to major in underwater basket weaving, but at least you can now take a class titled "Wasting time on the Internet." Your extensive and hard-won experience with blowing hours on watching videos of Japanese cats in boxes, crafting vague Facebook updates and seeking out the perfect doge meme may finally pay off.
The course is being offering for the spring 2015 semester through the English department at the University of Pennsylvania, a college known for its Ivy League status. The class is aimed at creative-writing students and English majors. The professor in charge of the class is noted poet Kenneth Goldsmith. You might recall Goldsmith's efforts last year toin honor of Aaron Swartz.
If you're looking for an easy "A," you might be disappointed. The class isn't just about sitting around and taking Buzzfeed quizzes, it actually aims to challenge students to turn what's perceived as wasted time into something productive.
"What if these activities -- clicking, SMSing, status-updating, and random surfing -- were used as raw material for creating compelling and emotional works of literature? Could we reconstruct our autobiography using only Facebook? Could we write a great novella by plundering our Twitter feed? Could we reframe the internet as the greatest poem ever written?" the course description asks.
Class participants are required to bring a laptop so they can "stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs." The syllabus will also include required reading from intellectual luminaries like John Cage, Siegfried Kracauer and Betty Friedan. "Distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory," the course description notes.
Students will be expected to turn their Internet meanderings into works of literature. If this class catches on, then perhaps the next great American novel will be called "Zen and the Art of Meme Maintenance."