SPRING 2004 -- Information and Computer Science -- UC Irvine

ICS 131 Course Reference

Instructor: David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science (kay@uci.edu)

Teaching assistants: Keri Carpenter (keri@uci.edu) and Shubha Tandon (tandons@uci.edu).

Course goals: Technology doesn't exist in a vacuum; it is part of the real world. In this course, we look at the wide variety of ways that computer technology affects the world around us and vice versa. You will be a much more effective designer and user of technology when you can identify the broad consequences of the decisions you make.

Studying the social impact of technology is different from studying the technology itself. The field is much broader and the methods are less technically precise. This class will sharpen your critical reading skills and your ability to write clearly and persuasively about technical issues and their consequences.

This course will also set the stage for ICS 132 and ICS 135, more advanced courses on the impact of computing in organizations and society, as well as ICS 104 and ICS 105, which cover the more technical aspects of human-computer interaction.

Prerequisite courses and concepts: The prerequisites for ICS 131 are one course in computing, upper division standing, and satisfactory completion of the lower division writing requirement. We do expect each student to be able to write clear, cogent, grammatical English at the level expected in Writing 39C. We also expect you to have these basic computing skills: Searching and browsing the Web, reading and sending Email, downloading files, viewing and printing PDF (Adobe Acrobat) documents, and creating or saving documents for Email and other purposes in plain ASCII text form (not HTML or Word attachments).

Meeting place and times: Lecture meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:50 in Computer Science 174, with a discussion section on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays from 4:00 to 4:50 in ICF 101.

Office hours: The TAs will have office and consultation hours at times to be arranged. I will be in or near my office during these scheduled hours, during which course-related matters will have first priority: Tuesdays from 2:00 to 2:30 and Thursdays from 11:00 to 11:45. Of course emergencies may come up, but I will try to give advance notice of any change). If I'm not immersed in something else, I'll be glad to answer short questions whenever I'm in my office, so feel free to drop by any time. I'll also be happy to make appointments for other times during the week. The quickest and most effective way to reach me is by electronic mail, as described below.

Questions and announcements: You can usually get a response to your course-related questions within a few hours (perhaps a bit longer on the weekends) by sending electronic mail to the ID ics131@uci.edu. This goes to the TA and the instructor, so whoever reads it first can respond. If you need to reach one of us individually, our individual addresses appear above.

We may also send course announcements by Email to the official course mailing list, so you should check your Email regularly. Note that this mailing list goes to the Email address that the registrar has for you (your UCInet ID). If you prefer to read your Email on another account, you should set your UCInet account to forward your Email to your preferred account (you can do this on the web at http://phwww.cwis.uci.edu/cgi-bin/phupdate). Don't let this slide; if you miss official announcements, your grade could suffer. If you are not yet enrolled in the course, you should check the course Email periodically at the archive address given below; that's how you'll know if you've been given permission to add.

This course has a home page at http://e3.uci.edu/03y/36350 (which you can reach more mnemonically from http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay, the instructor's home page); http://e3.uci.edu/04s/w3m3/36350 holds an archive of official course Email; and a course Note Board for student-to-student discussions is available when you log on to eee.uci.edu . We don't use a news group for this course.

Textbook and course materials:
A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing, second edition, by Sara Baase. This will be our main text; note that it's a new edition. We listed this book as optional in the bookstore because exam questions won't be drawn specifically from it, but especially if you're not very familiar with social and legal issues, this book lays everything out very clearly.

Visual & Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Decision Making, by Edward R. Tufte. This reprint of Chapter 2 of Tufte's book, Visual Explanations, describes two situations where the way information was presented had life-or-death consequences.

A collection of other readings will be required; most will be available on line and others may be available at the Engineering Copy Center. This URL lists all the readings and gives some hints and annotations: http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/131/s04readings.html .

An English dictionary. Ideally you should have a paperback dictionary as well as a large, unabridged dictionary. The former has faster access time but the latter has greater capacity, so both are valuable.

Writing from A to Z (currently in the fourth edition) by Ebest, Alred, Brusaw, and Oliu. This is the writing reference for lower division writing at UCI. Everyone needs a general writing reference, and you should get this one if you don't have it or an equivalent. Earlier editions are fine.

Course structure:
Notebook of reactions to the readings (15% of the course grade)
Two writing assignments, (20% each, or 40% total)
Class participation (12.5%)
One optional project (see below)
One midterm, given in class on Thursday, May 6 (12.5%)
One final exam, on Thursday, June 17, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. (20%)

We will guarantee that overall scores over 90% will receive an A- or better, scores over 80% a B- or better, and scores over 70% a C or better, but the actual grade cutoffs may be lower. We're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these criteria could change, but we do not expect that to happen.

Add and drop policy: More students wish to add this class than we have the capacity to accommodate. Those wishing to add must fill out an enrollment request at the first class meeting; Following departmental and university guidelines, we will establish priorities for filling any seats that become available.

The absolute deadline for dropping the course is the end of class on Thursday, April 15. Because students who are enrolled occupy a seat that other students want, ICS does not allow students to drop after it's too late for another student to fill that seat. We will observe strictly the ICS policy of prohibiting drops after the second week of the course.

Course notebook: Every time you read an assigned article or paper outside of the Baase text, you will write down a brief summary of that article and your reaction to it; you will collect these in electronic form and submit them periodically for checking. For more details, see the separate page titled "Course Notebook" at http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/131/notebook.html.

Writing assignments: We will have two writing assignments that will ask you to explore some particular issue. The first will be about voting systems; the second, about campus file sharing policy. These will go through multiple iterations with a goal of producing clear, cogent analysis and grammatical English prose. Because the analysis we do in this course isn't familiar to most computer science students, it's important that you read each assignment sheet very carefully. For important advice that can affect your grade, see also the separate page at http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/139w/requirements.html. Read this Writing Assignment Requirements page now and check it again every time you start a new assignment. There are also mechanical details for submitting assignments; each major assignment is submitted in two ways: on paper (including all the previously submitted, marked versions) and electronically via Checkmate (see below).

Optional project: To give you the opportunity to explore an issue of particular interest to you, you may undertake an optional open-ended course project. You have broad latitude to choose the topic and the form of your project, but you must get it approved by us in advance (via Email to ics131@uci.edu).

This project can take many forms: It could be a review of a book, an entry in the CPSR Essay Contest (see www.cpsr.org), a survey or a study. Part (or all) of your project may involve making an oral presentation in class, but since the time available for such presentations is very limited, you should check with us soon if you're interested in presenting something in class.

This project is entirely optional. It doesn't have a direct effect on your course grade: There aren't any course points associated with it; it won't make up for weak performance on the assignments or exams. On the other hand, if you do reasonably well in the course, doing a good job on this project might give your course grade a small boost. In addition, a good job on this project lets me say something unique and positive about you if you ask me to be a job reference or to write a letter of recommendation; this means much more than a simple recitation of how good a grade you got in my class. Finally, the main reason to do it is that it's fun to learn about something new and unusual, and it's a gentle, manageable introduction to doing some independent research.

The project should be something that you're interested in and want to explore further, so that you'll be motivated to do it and its rewards to you will extend beyond any contribution to your grade in ICS 131. All projects must be completed and turned in by 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 10.

What you must do right now to get started in ICS 131:
-- If you do not have a UCInet ID (an account on the EA system for Email), get one. See
-- If you prefer to read your electronic mail on an account other than your UCInet account, redirect your mail at
-- Be sure to read the web-based notebook and requirements documents listed above; missing the material listed there will lower your grade.
-- Read the introduction to the reading list and start the first group of readings so you can get started on the first writing assignment; an outline is due next week.
-- If you will need off-campus access to the Web-based course readings, follow the directions on the Course Readings page to set up and test out your access via VPN.
-- On the Web, go to
checkmate.ics.uci.edu, log in with your UCInet ID, choose "Course Listing" for "Spring 2004," click "Go" next to ICS 131, and then click "List me for this course." You'll submit some of your work electronically; this step is necessary to set that up.
-- Give a snapshot of yourself (with your name written on the back) to your TA. This will help us learn your names quickly. (This is not just for fun--it's a course requirement.) Also turn in your signed Questionnaire to your TA in discussion section.
--If you aren't yet officially enrolled in the course, check the course Email archive regularly (see above) so you can keep up with official announcements (which may include announcements about enrollment).

Good advice and helpful hints:

Check your electronic mail regularly; this is an official channel for course announcements.

Attendance in class is essential; concepts and issues that come up in class will find their way onto the exams and class participation in various forms is worth one-eighth of the course grade.

Always keep your own copy of each assignment, both electronically and on paper; if an assignment should get lost in the shuffle (or if file server should crash, which has happened in the past), we'll expect you to be able to supply a replacement easily.

If you find yourself having trouble or getting behind, speak with a TA or the instructor. But never take the shortcut of copying someone else's work and turning it in; the consequences can be far worse than just a low score on one assignment. The ICS department takes academic honesty very seriously; for a more complete discussion, see the ICS departmental web page covering academic honesty issues: http://www.ics.uci.edu/~ucounsel/continuing_students/cheat.html.

Approximate course outline:


Topic (and corresponding
chapter(s) in the Baase text)

Due dates
1. 6 April Introduction to the course (Ch. 1)
  8 April Identifying and analyzing social issues
2. 13 April Introduction to the American legal system Voting Outline
  15 April Privacy (Ch. 2)
3. 20 April More on privacy Notebook Inst. 1
  22 April Safety and reliability (Ch. 4)
4. 27 April Intellectual property law (Ch. 6)
  29 April More on intellectual property law Voting Draft
5. 4 May Constitutional issues (Ch. 5) Notebook Inst. 2
  6 May Midterm exam
6. 11 May Computerization and work (Ch. 8) Voting Final
  13 May Computers and organizations
7. 18 May Computerization and social change (Ch.9) Wr.Asst.2 Outline
  20 May More on social change
8. 25 May Ethics and professional responsibility (Ch. 10) Notebook Inst. 3
  27 May Social aspects of technical questions Wr.Asst.2 Draft
9. 1 June Social aspects of technical questions
  3 June Human-computer interaction
10. 8 June Information architecture Notebook Inst. 4
  10 June Epilogue and review Wr.Asst.2 Final
F. 17 June Final exam, Thursday, 8:00-10:00