Technology in Our Changing Society Spring 2005 syllabus

U48 324—Technology in Our Changing Society
Washington University University College

Spring 2005
Wednesdays 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.

Instructor: Scott Granneman
Senior Consultant in Internet Services, Bryan Consulting
Columnist for SecurityFocus & Linux Magazine, & author ofDon't Click on the Blue E! for O'Reilly Media
Instructor, Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley
The Open Source Weblog

Course Description

We are said to live in an information society and work in an technological economy, but what does that mean? If we have indeed experienced a "paradigm shift" in what technology means to society, then how do we adapt to these changes and what do they mean for the traditional ways society functions? This course examines how we think about, communicate and use technology in a variety of contexts, including political, financial, historical, ethical, organizational, and educational. Guest lecturers from business, engineering, humanities and social sciences will provide these perspectives. Students must have an e-mail account and access to the Internet to take the course. Also note: Accelerated (ACTRAC) option: University College students have the option of taking this class for 4 units. For more information, contact University College (314) 935-6700, or visit

Required Texts

Readings will consist of articles, analyses, & ephemera from the Internet. If you ever want to pursue a topic further, you can look up further readings using Search (also located at the bottom of every page) or the Site Map.

In addition, students will need to IRC software for weekly chats at irc:// Recommended software:


Your grade will be based on the following factors:

Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

100 A+
94-99 A
89-93 A-
86-88 B+
83-85 B
79-82 B-
76-78 C+
73-75 C
69-72 C-
66-68 D+
63-65 D
59-62 D-
0-58 F

Policy regarding academic dishonesty: This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the URL, or Web address, for articles and resources found on the Internet.

Accommodation of disabilities: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to complete the required assignments, please contact me during the first week of class to discuss an accommodation.


It is paramount that we respect each other online, in both email and the discussion group. Follow this simple rule: disagree with the idea, but not the person. In other words, it's OK to say "That's a bad idea, because …", and it's not OK to say "You're a bad/stupid/inconsiderate person, because …". If you have an issue with a classmate's behavior online, please bring it to me privately by emailing me at If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to read The Core Rules of Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.

Tentative Schedule

Wed. Jan. 19 ~ Introductions. What's the most effective way to search & validate information on the Internet?

Wed. Jan. 26 ~ How do we retrieve and use information on the Web?
Assignments for 26 January 2005
"IRC Transcript from 26 January 2005

Wed. Feb. 2 ~ How is social software changing the way people communicate?
Guest: Robert Citek, Leader, Central West End Linux Users Group.
Assignments for 2 February 2005
"IRC Transcript from 2 February 2005

Wed. Feb. 9 ~ How is social software changing the way people communicate, part 2?
Guest: Ben Jones, WebSanity.
Assignments for 9 February 2005
"IRC Transcript from 9 February 2005

Wed. Feb. 16 ~ What happens to notions of identity & gender on the Internet??
Assignments for 16 February 2005

Wed. Feb. 23 ~ Who plays online games, why, and how does reality intrude?
Assignments for 23 February 2005

Wed. Mar. 2 ~ How do virtual worlds deal with property, government, & law?
Guest: Jans Carton, WebSanity.
Assignments for 2 March 2005

Wed. Mar. 9 ~ No class: SPRING BREAK!

Wed. Mar. 16 ~ How do we balance surveillance, privacy, & national security?
Assignments for 16 March 2005

Wed. Mar. 23 ~ What free speech rights do we really have on the Internet … and what should we have?
Guest: Denise Lieberman, Legal Director, ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
Assignments for 23 March 2005

Wed. Apr. 6 ~ How is open source changing the way software is created, used, and understood?
Guests: Robert Citek, Leader, Central West End Linux Users Group, & Craig Buchek, President, St. Louis Unix Users Group.
Assignments for 6 April 2005

Wed. Apr. 13 ~ How is technology changing the music, movie, & other entertainment industries?
Assignments for 13 April 2005

Wed. Apr. 20 ~ How is technology changing the laws and ethics involved with Intellectual Property?
Assignments for 20 April 2005

Wed. Apr. 27 ~ How is technology changing the way people understand & pursue work, love & sexuality?
Guest: Jerry Bryan, President, Bryan Consulting.
Assignments for 27 April 2005

Wed. May 4 ~ How is technology changing education?
Assignments for 4 May 2005

Wed. May 11 ~ How can we reconcile technology, ethics, & equity?
Wrap up & evaluations.
Assignments for 11 May 2005

WebSanity Top Secret