CSE 190B: Social and Ethical Issues in Information Technology
Paper Suggestions

It may be possible for some small number of students to substitute a long paper for the final examination. However, you must obtain permission from me to do so, based on a detailed written proposal on a very specific topic. Some suggested topics are given below, but you may propose others; projects that are mainly programming are not suitable for this course.

  1. Discuss wireless telephony as a social phenomenon using actor-network theory: who are the actors, how are they connected, what translations must be done to get and keep them involved? Or apply a similar approach to some other technology, such as electric cars, the Strategic Defense Initiative (also called "Star Wars"), Java or Netscape. Include details.
     
  2. Discuss the science, technology, sociology and ethics of some emerging hot topic in bio-technology, such as cloning.
     
  3. Discuss the ethical aspects of some information technology, such as large databases, encryption, or web browsers; some specific issues to consider include privacy, crime, and political and commercial manipulations; use actor-network theory.
     
  4. Study the role of technological determinism in arguments for using computers in education. Do a careful analysis of at least three documents that promote particular products or technologies, such as press releases, newspaper articles, magazine articles, or websites.
     
  5. Write an essay comparing the views of Marshall McLuhan and Jacques Ellul on technological determinism, and contrasting them with the more holistic views of technological evolution presented in class.
     
  6. Write an essay on how the social aspects of some technology are intertwined with that technology; examples might be cellphones, computer games, webTV, Linux, or genomics; make significant use of actor-network theory, and perhaps other topics covered in this course.
     
  7. Discuss some applications of information technology to education; be sure to include some information on the history of this area; use actor-network theory, and perhaps other topics covered in this course.
     
  8. If you have the expertise, discuss economic aspects of some information technology, such as ISPs, video games, web browsers, or email; be sure to discuss social aspects as well.
     
  9. Discuss the management of risky technology and the role of institutions, using the case study of NASA by Diane Vaughan (Chicago 1996) as a source; she brings in actor-network theory in relevant and interesting ways.

Guidelines for Writing your Term Paper

Your written report should conform to the usual standards of good academic computer science publications.


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