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ANNUAL EDITIONS : Computers In Society 03/04, Tenth Edition Buy the book now!

UNIT 1. Introduction

1. From Movable Type to Data Deluge, John Gehl and Suzanne Douglas, The World & I, January 1999
The authors discuss the societal transformation that began with the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century and speculate on some potential consequences of the “digital revolution.”

2. The Internet & Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia, Forbes ASAP, December 2, 1996
This article looks at the implications of the computer revolution as an expression of democracy that verges on anarchy, concluding that everyone should have equal access to the Internet and the infinite information available.

3. The Internet Produces a Global Village of Village Idiots, Richard John Neuhaus, Forbes ASAP, December 2, 1996
This author expresses skepticism about the value of the digital revolution. He puts the information explosion, fomented by the computer, into perspective by examining the value of instant information on society.

UNIT 2. The Economy

4. Beyond the Bar Code, Charlie Schmidt, Technology Review, March 2001
Charlie Schmidt explains how radio frequency identification tags may someday be able to track the location of “every single manufactured item” in real time. This will allow manufacturers to stay in sync with consumer demand, collect a wealth of data about individual consumer habits, and pose new challenges to privacy.

5. Driving the Info Highway, Steven Ashley, Scientific American, October 2001
Cars of the future will be equipped with advanced telematics systems connected to the Internet and global positioning systems (GPS). These systems will provide instant access to a vast array of information and services while on the road. They will also pose concerns about safety and privacy.

6. To the Rescue!, Daniel Eisenberg, Time, April 23, 2001
“No other major business relies so heavily—and so inefficiently—on old-fashioned pen and paper,” Daniel Eisenberg says, referring to the health-care industry. He explains that the growing uses of electronic prescription writing, comprehensive digital records, and other innovations are changing the practice and management of health care and raising new privacy concerns.

7. E-Commerce and the Information Market, Varun Grover and James T. C. Teng, Communications of the ACM, April 2001
The need to match buyers and sellers in the “virtual marketplace” has given rise to infomediaries—a new form of e-commerce company. The authors describe the various types of infomediaries and their growing role in orchestrating online transactions.

8. i2i Trust in E-Commerce, Judith S. Olson and Gary M. Olson, Communications of the ACM, December 2000
Many e-commerce activities depend on perceptions of trust and trustworthiness between individuals engaged in online interaction. In this article, Judith and Gary Olson discuss forms of online i2i relations and social, technological, and personal factors that build or inhibit trust.

9. Digital Cash Payoff, Evan I. Schwartz, Technology Review, December 2001
PayPal offers a person-to-person or P2P system for making digital payments for goods and services purchased online. Promoters claim that PayPal is convenient for buyers and sellers and drastically reduces the risk of online fraud. These benefits have caught the attention of investors and competitors.

UNIT 3. Work and the Workplace

10. The Great Prosperity Divide, Kevin Dobbs, Training, February 2000
“Two Americas” have emerged in the new economy. Investment in computers drove up the demand for high-tech workers, but the majority of the workforce was ill-prepared to benefit from new opportunities. Kevin Dobbs shows how new technologies lead to wider social inequality and asks whether publicly funded training can help those who are being left behind in the new economy.

11. “You’re Hired, Now Go Home”, Jeanne L. Allert, Training & Development, March 2001
Because virtual companies lack a physical place, they have to rewrite a lot of rules or make up new ones in hiring employees. Drawing from experience, Jeanne Allert offers advice on “how to hire virtual workers and keep them connected.”

12. Dealing With Tech Rage, Chris Wood, Maclean’s, March 19, 2001
If you ever feel like hurling your computer out the window, you are not alone. Chris Wood explains how quirky software, e-mail overload, and other technology-related irritations can lead to rage or techno-stress.

13. They’re Watching You, Sarah Boehle, Training, August 2000
A majority of U.S. firms record and review some form of employee communications, and the number is expanding rapidly. In this article, Sarah Boehle asks and answers the question, “What’s behind this rush to Orwellian oversight?”

14. Security vs. Privacy, Jonathan A. Segal, HR Magazine, February 2002
In this first of a two-part series, a lawyer advises employers about how to violate employee privacy within legal parameters. Jonathan Segal first offers guidance on how to design policies that give employers the right to “search” employees (including their electronic communications).

15. Searching for Answers, Jonathan A. Segal, HR Magazine, March 2002
In this second part of a two-part article, Jonathan Segal tells employers how to be “circumspect” and to respect employees’ privacy rights when implementing the right to search.

UNIT 4. Computers, People, and Social Participation

16. Broken Homepage, Peggy J. Farber, Harper’s, April 2001
Adoption agencies are using the Web to attract parents for hard-to-place children. As Peggy Farber points out, however, the cozy images and pull-down menus of the Web belie the “unsettling inexactitudes” of the foster care system. “After all, it’s far easier (and cheaper) to build a Web site than to rebuild a family.”

17. Why Women Avoid Computer Science, Paul De Palma, Communications of the ACM, June 2001
In this essay, Paul De Palma criticizes the view that women avoid computer science because of “math anxiety.” He argues, rather, that women “embrace” mathematics and that computer science programs would attract more women if they were more like math.

18. Mind Over Muscles, Victor D. Chase, Technology Review, March/April 2000
An estimated 200,000 Americans suffer from paralysis. While there is still no cure, neuroprosthetics and brain/computer interfaces could offer a more normal life for some patients. As Victor Chase explains, some promising technologies may allow paralysis victims to move their limbs “just by thinking about it.”

19. Cyber-Stars, Black Issues in Higher Education, February 28, 2002
This special report profiles 10 African Americans who are “making history in the arena of information technology.” These individuals are making major contributions in a wide range of academic fields as well as working to help disadvantaged minorities succeed in the digital revolution.

20. Trust, Authenticity, and Discursive Power in Cyberspace, Ananda Mitra, Communications of the ACM, March 2002
“Who has the power to speak for whom?” Ananda Mitra notes that cyberspace can allow marginalized groups to speak for themselves. But in a world of competing voices, Netizens are constantly forced to make decisions about which voices to trust.

UNIT 5. Societal Institutions—Law and Politics

21. Bad Documents Can Kill You, Valli Baldassano and Roy Speed, Across the Board, September/October 2001
Increasingly, companies that become targets of legal actions find that “Exhibit A against them is their own employees’ written correspondence … and in more and more cases, the starring role is played by e-mail. ” In this article, a former prosecutor and an expert on business writing offer advice on the do’s and don’ts of e-mail and how to legally prevent bad documents.

22. The Digital Dilemma, Randall Davis, Communications of the ACM, February 2001
Intellectual property laws, policies, and practices reflect a careful balancing of public good and private interests that is threatened by the changing information infrastructure. Focusing on publication, copyright, and licensing issues, Randall Davis identifies the origins and possible solutions to this emerging dilemma.

23. Software Patents Tangle the Web, Seth Shulman, Technology Review, March/April 2000
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives over 2,500 applications a year for “business method software” patents. In this article, Seth Shulman examines some of the premises and implications of granting patent (versus copyright ) protection for software. He also raises questions about the PTO’s ability to research “prior art” due to rapid advancements in the field.

24. Reconciling Research and the Patent System, Q. Todd Dickinson, Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2000
The U.S. commissioner of patents and trademarks responds to critics who oppose patents for software, business methods, and other innovations. Q. Todd Dickinson also defends the Patent and Trademark Office’s ability to research “prior art” and explains that a “properly calibrated intellectual property system” can balance two fundamental principles: protection and dissemination of new knowledge.

25. Democracy in an IT-Framed Society, Åke Grönlund, Communications of the ACM, January 2001
The January 2001 issue of the CACM featured several articles on electronic democracy. Here, guest editor Åke Grönlund gives readers an overview of the subject and highlights various authors’ contributions to understanding e-democracy in the areas of formal politics, administration, and civil society.

26. Should Democracy Online Be Quick, Strong, or Thin?, Joachim Åström, Communications of the ACM, January 2001
In this article, Joachim Åström outlines three models of democracy. Each model embodies different ideals and implies different interpretations of what an electronic manifestation of government by the people might look like.

UNIT 6. Societal Values: Crime, Ethics, Privacy, and Security

27. Toward an Ethics of Persuasive Technology, Daniel Berdichevsky and Erik Neunschwander, Communications of the ACM, May 1999
New technologies are emerging for the primary purpose of changing attitudes and behaviors. In this article, the authors inform us about persuasive applications of technology and provide a framework for the ethical scrutiny of the methods employed in persuasion.

28. Lying With Pixels, Ivan Amato, Technology Review, July/August 2000
“Seeing is no longer believing.” Ivan Amato explains how new video-manipulation technology makes it possible to alter video images in real time. The implications of such “pixel plasticity” are very wide-ranging. Some experts see few threats in the potential for video manipulation, but others have raised concerns about “the end of authenticity.”

29. Do You Know Who’s Watching You?, Chris Wood, Maclean’s, February 19, 2001
“Welcome to the age of anywhere, anytime, anybody surveillance.” As Chris Wood warns, spyware is getting more affordable and available. Your boss, government, spouse, or a sexual predator could be watching you, and the law cannot keep pace with abuses.

30. Code Red for the Web, Carolyn Meinel, Scientific American, October 2001
In July 2001, “more than 359,000 servers were infected with the Code Red Worm in less than 14 hours.” Carolyn Meinel explains how the worm was spread and the damage it caused. She also reports on more virulent plagues in the making and the possibilities of future cyberwars and their potential consequences.

31. Networking the Infrastructure, Wade Roush, Technology Review, December 2001
Post–September 11, 2001, several federal agencies and private industry partnerships are working to improve warning systems and reduce threats posed by terrorism. In this article, Wade Roush gives us an overview of developing innovations that will lead to intelligent cities that can better protect critical infrastructures.

32. Will Spyware Work?, Kevin Hogan, Technology Review, December 2001
The United States has the world’s most sophisticated intelligence-gathering technologies, yet “failed to discover a band of terrorists that plotted within its borders.” Kevin Hogan explains the limits of electronic surveillance. State-of-the-art spyware can be stymied by “embarassingly primitive” countermeasures, and technologies such as FBI Carnivore programs may not solve these problems. Moreover, these programs pose risks to civil rights.

33. The Shock of the Old, Edward Tenner, Technology Review, December 2001
Edward Tenner discusses the September 11, 2001, attacks in the context of other historical events. He argues that the focus on new technology as both a source of vulnerability and an answer to problems can go too far. Rather, we should concentrate on improving tacit knowledge and developing a better understanding of terrorists and their neighbors.

UNIT 7. International Perspectives and Issues

34. Immigration and the Global IT Work Force, Lawrence A. West and Walter A. Bogumil, Communications of the ACM, July 2001
There is a worldwide shortage of information technology (IT) workers. Wealthy nations offer attractive incentives to lure IT specialists from other countries, but this strategy can exacerbate IT labor shortages in disadvantaged parts of the world. Therefore, IT may contribute to a “pervasive gap in the wealth-creation potential between nations.”

35. A Privacy Divide?, Rohan Samarajiva, The UNESCO Courier, March 2001
In this short essay, a former privacy policymaker raises questions about privacy in “digitally deprived” nations. He reports that there is little public concern over privacy in poor nations and cites a “need to translate abstract privacy concerns into stories that relate to everyday lives.”

36. Wiring the Wilderness in Alaska and the Yukon, Seymour E. Goodman, James B. Gottstein, and Diane S. Goodman, Communications of the ACM, June 2001
In theory, wireless technologies have advanced to the point where Internet access could become available to the most isolated parts of the world. The authors consider the examples of communities in Alaska and the Yukon and discuss technical, political, social, and cost factors in providing Internet access to poor, small, remote villages.

37. Boot Camp for Engineers, Chandrani Ghosh, Forbes, April 16, 2001
The elite Indian Institute of Technology admits only the best of the best of 150,000 applicants each year. As Chandrani Ghosh explains, graduates of the Institute have come to play a prominent role in American business.
38. The Quiet Revolution, Suelette Dreyfus, The UNESCO Courier, March 2001
In many nations, human rights groups are learning the art of encryption. Other, more familiar computer applications are allowing organizations to track abuses with scientific rigor. As Suelette Dreyfus reports, such developments are subtly changing the balance of power between repressive governments and the human rights groups that watch them.
39. ACM’s Computing Professionals Face New Challenges, Ben Shneiderman, Communications of the ACM, February 2002
In light of September 11, 2001, a computer scientist challenges technologists to help find terrorism solutions that avoid sacrificing valued liberties. Ben Shneiderman encourages colleagues to work toward terror prevention, strengthening communities, broadening participation, and reducing global inequities that foster terrorism and violence.

UNIT 8. Philosophical Frontiers

40. Humanoid Robots, Rodney Brooks, Communications of the ACM, March 2002
“The future promises lots of robots in our everyday lives.” Many of them may look and behave like people. Rodney Brooks gives us a brief overview of robot history as well as current and future developments in humanoid robotics.

41. Toy Stories, Mark Pesce, The Sciences, September/October 2000
New interactive toys like Furby offer an illusion of consciousness and represent a “launchpad into a new chapter … of human relations with the artificial world.” They also serve as a reference point for Mark Pesce to sketch a brief conceptual history of artificial intelligence and to give his prediction for what the future holds.

42. Living Off the Land, Fred Hapgood, Smithsonian, July 2001
A new breed of robots may someday “feed” themselves. While they could be very useful inventions, some people worry that they might become autonomous or “develop a taste for meat.” Even without that concern, the possibility of such creatures illustrates the “deep trend toward blurring the ancient distinction between biology and engineering.”

43. Kurzweil vs. Dertouzos, Ray Kurzweil and Michael Dertouzos, Technology Review, January/February 2001
Two renowned commentators on the social implications of technology contribute to the debate about whether some kinds of knowledge are too dangerous to pursue. Both agree that we cannot judge where new technologies are headed. However, Ray Kurzweil insists that we must go forward “to advance our human values.” Michael Dertouzos argues that we will have to exercise spiritual and emotional power as well as reason in trying to cope with the “always near” potential dangers of new technology.

44. Hyperculture—Stress: How Fast Times Are Transforming America, Stephen Bertman, Vital Speeches of the Day, January 15, 1999
Modern technologies accelerate the pace of life, inducing speed-driven stress and altering the fundamental nature of existence. Stephen Bertman argues that both reality and our understanding of reality are being reshaped in harmful ways, but we may yet be able to reclaim our lives.

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