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UNIT 1. Introduction
1. Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, Neil Postman, Address to New Tech ’98 conference, March 27, 1998
Neil Postman, a well-known cultural critic, suggests that computer technology is too important to be left entirely to the technologists. “Embedded in every technology,” he says, “is a powerful idea….”
2. Slouching Toward the Ordinary, Susan C. Herring, New Media & Society, February 2004
Contrary to what we read, changes in the ecology of the computing “will continue to make the internet a simpler, safer and—for better or worse—less fascinating communication environment.”
3. On the Nature of Computing, Jon Crowcroft, Communications of the ACM, February 2005
The author states, “Occupying a third place in human intellectual culture, computing is not bound by the need to describe what does exist (as in natural science) or what can be built in the real world (as in engineering).”UNIT 2. The Economy
4. The Subprime Loan Machine, Lynnley Browning, The New York Times, March 23, 2007
“The rise and fall of the subprime market has been told as a story of a flood of Wall Street money and the desire of Americans desperate to be part of the housing boom,” says Lynnley Browning. Yet, the boom was made possible “by a little-noticed tool of automatic underwriting software.”
5. Click Fraud, Brian Grow and Ben Elgin, Business Week, October 2, 2006
Internet advertisers think they pay only when an interested customer clicks on their ads. Martin Fleischman, an Atlanta businessman, “noticed a growing number of puzzling clicks coming from such places as Botswana, Mongolia, and Syria.”
6. The Big Band Era, Christopher Swope, Governing, January 2005
Even as cities like Philadelphia are working to transform the entire city into a wireless hot spot—with government as the internet service provider of last resort—communications companies are fighting to keep local governments out of the broadband business.
7. The Beauty of Simplicity, Linda Tischler, Fast Company, November 2005
A simple tale about simplicity. One company hired an editor from People Magazine to translate accounting lingo into everyday language, “pared back 125 setup screens to three,” and “sold 100,000 units in its first year on the market.”
8. The Software Wars, Paul De Palma, American Scholar, Winter 2005
The article argues that software development is like military procurement, and suffers many of the same woes, including excessive complexity and cost overruns.
9. Scan This Book!, Kevin Kelly, The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2006
What will happen to libraries, books on paper, and copyright protections if Google’s plans to scan the books of five major research libraries succeeds?UNIT 3. Work and the Workplace
10. National ID, Ryan Singel, Wired, May 15, 2007
Immigration is in the news again. One proposal before Congress is to issue American workers tamper-proof biometric Social Security cards. These would replace the text-only design that’s been issued to Americans almost without change for more than 70 years.
11. Brain Circulation, AnnaLee Saxenian, Brookings Review, Winter 2002
Do immigrants displace native workers? Is the United States siphoning off talent from countries that can ill afford to lose it? This Berkeley professor argues that high-skill immigration is more complex than that.
12. The New Face of the Silicon Age, Daniel H. Pink, Wired, February 12, 2004
This piece on Indian programmers should be enough to keep chairs of American computer science departments awake at night.
13. Computer Software Engineers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006/07 Edition
Here is one official source that acknowledges the effect of shipping high tech jobs abroad, but still predicts that “software engineers are projected to be one of the fastest-growing occupations from 2004 to 2014.”
14. The Computer Evolution, Rob Valletta and Geoffrey MacDonald, FRBSF Economic Letter, July 23, 2004
This article uses data from several surveys “to examine two key aspects of the computer evolution: the spread of PCs at work and the evolving wage differentials between individuals who use them and those who do not.”
15. Making Yourself Understood, Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove, Across the Board, May/June 2004
In a business environment where half of surveyed managers report spending more than two hours each day answering e-mail, “it’s never been so easy to be misunderstood.”
16. Privacy, Legislation, and Surveillance Software, G. Daryl Nord, Tipton F. McCubbins, and Jeretta Horn Nord, Communications of the ACM, August 2006
The authors tell us that the assumption of employee privacy in the workplace “may be naïve.” Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure “usually apply only to state actions.”UNIT 4. Computers, People, and Social Participation
17. Romance in the Information Age, Christine Rosen, The New Atlantis, Winter 2004
According to Christine Rosen, “our technologies enable and often promote two detrimental forces in modern relationships: the demand for total transparency and a bias toward the over sharing of personal information.”
18. How Do I Love Thee?, Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, March 2006
Some Internet dating sites now use social scientists to “develop a new science of attraction.” Says the author, “My matches included a film editor wearing a kilt—and not in an ironic way. Was this the best science could do?”
19. The Perfect Mark, Mitchell Zuckoff, The New Yorker, May 15, 2006
A cautionary tale about an African scam and two years in prison for bank fraud and money laundering.
20. Back-to-School Blogging, Brock Read, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 3, 2004
It should surprise no one that entering freshmen, who grew up using the Internet, should turn to university-sponsored blogs to ease the transition to college life.
21. E-Mail Is for Old People, Dan Carnevale, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 6, 2006
Reaching students through email has become more difficult as students turn to text-messaging and social networking sites.UNIT 5. Societal Institutions: Law, Politics, Education, and the Military
22. The Copyright Paradox, Jonathan Band, Brookings Review, Winter 2001
According to the author, “the problem with piracy is not the inadequacy of existing laws, but the high cost of enforcing any law against the large universe of infringers.”
23. Piracy, Computer Crime, and IS Misuse at the University, Timothy Paul Cronan, C. Bryan Foltz, and Thomas W. Jones, Communications of the ACM, June 2006
Who are the students who “openly admit to illegally installing software on home computers or otherwise misusing computer information systems?” This article provides some clues.
24. Facing Down the E-Maelstrom, Jeffrey Selingo, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 29, 2005
Never an easy job, leading a college in the age of the Internet requires sifting through e-mail, reading blogs, and fending off criticism, the volume of which would be inconceivable without networked computers.
25. Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics?, Lakshmi Chaudhry, In These Times, February 2006
Liberals have been envious ever since Richard Viguerie’s computer-generated mailing lists contributed to Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980. At a time when even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a blog, some Democrats hope that the computer is finally on their side.
26. Center Stage, Carl Sessions Stepp, American Journalism Review, April/May 2006
How do a newspaper’s web and print versions differ? Unlike the print version of a newspaper, the Web version receives little editing.
27. The Coming Robot Army, Steve Featherstone, Harper’s Magazine, February 2007
“Within our lifetime,” says Featherstone, “robots will give us the ability to wage war without committing ourselves to the human cost of actually fighting a war.” Sgt. Jason Mero concurs: “These things are amazing…. They don’t complain…. They don’t cry. They’re not scared. This robot here has no fear.”UNIT 6. Risk and Avoiding Risk
28. Why Spyware Poses Multiple Threats to Security, Roger Thompson, Communications of the ACM, August 2005
Harm caused by spyware ranges from gobbling up computer speed on your PC to enlisting your machine in attacks that can disrupt major businesses or the government.
29. Terror’s Server, David Talbot, Technology Review, February 2005
“Most experts agree,” says the author, “that the Internet is not just a tool of terrorist organizations, but is central to their operations.”
30. The Virus Underground, Clive Thompson, The New York Times Magazine, February 8, 2004
Clive Thompson states, “when Mario is bored…he likes to sit at his laptop and create computer viruses and worms.”
31. Secrets of the Digital Detectives, The Economist, September 23, 2006
It’s nice to learn that the good guys have some tricks of their own.
32. Data on the Elderly, Marketed to Thieves, Charles Duhigg, The New York Times, May 20, 2007
Thieves purchase lists of the elderly from consumer databases, then pose as government workers trying to update their files on World War II veterans and retired school teachers. Some seniors find themselves with empty bank accounts.
33. The Fading Memory of the State, David Talbot, Technology Review, July 2005
Government documents, from the 38 million emails generated by the Clinton administration to electronic records of the 1989 invasion of Panama, are on disintegrating electronic media, stored using now-obsolete formats.
34. False Reporting on the Internet and the Spread of Rumors, Paul Hitlin, Gnovis, April 26, 2004
Internet news sources can sometimes be unreliable. Paul Hitlin examines Internet coverage of the Vince Foster suicide along with other stories to understand why this is so.UNIT 7. International Perspectives and Issues
35. China’s Tech Generation Finds a New Chairman to Venerate, Kevin Holden, Wired, May 24, 2007
The new China is not a place that would have made Chairman Mao comfortable. One indication is the popularity of Bill Gates.
36. Is the Crouching Tiger a Threat?, Robert L. Glass, Communications of the ACM, March 2006
All indications suggest that the U.S. domination of computing is about to be eclipsed. Here is one commentator who is not quite convinced.
37. Restoring the Popularity of Computer Science, David A. Patterson, Communications of the ACM, September 2005
While India turns out more and more programmers willing to work for a fraction of their American counterparts, enrollment in computer science classes across the United States is dropping. The author believes that “inaccurate impressions of opportunities” are behind the decline.
38. China’s Computer Wasteland, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, The Progressive, January 30, 2005
What to do with the detritus of the digital age is a growing problem. Shipping it to China seems to be one solution.
39. Cat and Mouse, on the Web, The Economist, December 2, 2006
This article examines censorship on the Internet and the extraordinary steps taken by the anti-censorship community to thwart the efforts of censors.
40. In Search of a PC for the People, Bruce Einhorn, Business Week, June 12, 2006
"What features get included in a $200.00 PC marketed to developing nations?" and “I think of digital access for kids as a human right,” says Nicholas Negroponte of MIT are two issues explored in this article.UNIT 8. The Frontier of Computing
41. A Nascent Robotics Culture, Sherry Turkle, AAAI Technical Report, July 2006
“What is a robot kind of love?” and “What will we be like, what kind of people are we becoming as we develop increasingly intimate relationships with machines?” MIT’s pioneering sociologist tries to answer both questions
42. March of the Robolawyers, The Economist, March 11, 2006
Australian researchers have developed a program that helps divorcing couples divide their property.
43. Best-Kept Secrets, Gary Stix, Scientific American, January 2005
Public-key cryptography keeps e-commerce secure for now. Quantum cryptography might take its place.
44. Toward Nature-Inspired Computing, Jiming Liu and K.C. Tsui, Communications of the ACM, October 2006
Computer scientists are turning to biology as a source of inspiration for models of complex systems. These biological models change the rules governing systems behavior.
45. The Intelligent Internet, William E. Halal, The Futurist, March/April 2004
The author claims the Internet will be the “main method used in 30% of courses” by 2014. As with all predictions, enjoy, but read critically.
46. Mind Control, Richard Martin, Wired, March 2005
What does a quadriplegic young man who plays pong have in common with a monkey mentally moving a joy stick and “soldier-controlled killer robots?” The answer: Brain Computer Interface or BCI.