CSE 275: Social Aspects of Technology and Science - Fall 2000
Reading Assignments
  1. Due 4 October:
    1. Webpage on Technological Determinism UK Technology Education Centre. You may also enjoy browsing some of the other related material on this site.
    2. Lecture Notes on Technological Determinism, by Daniel Chandler, of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK.
    3. CSE 275 course notes, Section 1, Section 2, and Section 3.
  2. Due 11 October:
    1. Effects of Technology on Family and Community, by J.A. English-Lueck; a report on a study of the effects of technology on family life in Silicon Valley. Also read the followup report from November 2000.
    2. Two news reports on the crash of EgyptAir flight 990, one on the American investigation and the other on Egyptian reactions.
    3. Social Issues in Requirements Engineering, from Proceedings, Requirements Engineering '93, edited by Stephen Fickas and Anthony Finkelstein, IEEE Computer Society, 1993, pages 194-195. A brief classification and enumeration of some of the social issues that arise in requirements engineering.
    4. CSE 275 course notes, Section 4 and reread Section 3.
    5. Notes on Narrative.
  3. Due 18 October:
    1. Webpage on Descartes and Mind/Body Dualism, by Serendip at Bryn Mawr. Read all six parts, of which this is the first.
    2. An Outline of Descartes' thought. Im not sure where this outline for some introductory philosophy course is from, but it is mistaken in asserting that God is a substance for Descartes.
    3. A Sketch of the Kuhnian Philosophy of Science, by Silvio Chibeni. A brief summary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn (Chicago, 1962).
    4. Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice, by Thomas Kuhn. This fills in some points that are not so clear in Kuhn's book.
    5. Profile: Reluctant Revolutionary, by John Horgan, Scientific American, May 1991, pp.40-49. An interview with Kuhn containing much pertinent information.
    6. A Bayesian Critique of Statistics in Health, by Robert Matthews. A controversial discussion of statistical issues in medical research.
    7. CSE 275 course notes, Section 5, and reread Section 4.
  4. Due 25 October:
    1. Two short webpages on Giordano Bruno, one each by SETI and by Wendt, plus a short webpage each on Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes.
    2. Read carefully at least the homepage of the St Andrews website on Galileo.
    3. A short clarification of Kuhn's definition of "paradigm", by Cunningham.
    4. How things (actor-net)work: Classification, magic and the ubiquity of standards, by Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star. Although this paper may be difficult for many of you, I think it is the most interesting paper we have had so far; you should read it at least twice; you will need some help with the actor-network theory, which is covered in the Section 6.1 of the class notes, and the paper Traduction / Trahison - Notes on ANT by John Law to be required later, may also help.
    5. CSE 275 course notes, Section 6, on social theories of technology and science.
    6. Online Voting, by Gary Chapman. An L.A. Times column on some difficulties with computer-based voting.
    7. Optional: Al Gore and Inventing the Internet.
  5. Due 1 November:
    1. Database Metatheory: Asking the Big Queries by Christos Papadimitriou. Application of Kuhn, falsifiability, social networks, and even the Volterra equation to database theory, by a former CSE faculty member who is now at Berkeley.
    2. Some examples applying ANT, with some comparative discussion, are in Traduction / Trahison - Notes on ANT, by John Law, Univeristy of Lancaster.
    3. CSE 275 course notes, Section 7, on case studies applying ANT and other theories.
    4. Technology as Traitor, a case study of introducing new IT in a large Norwegian company, by Ole Hanseth and Kristin Braa, of the University of Oslo.
    5. Reread How things (actor-net)work: Classification, magic and the ubiquity of standards, by Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star.
    6. What's Wrong with Relativism?, by Harry Collins, in Physics World, vol. 11, no. 4 (1998).
    7. A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies, by Alan Sokal, in Lingua Franca, vol. 4, May/June 1996, pp. 62-64.
  6. Due 8 November:
    1. Read Section 8 of CSE 275 course notes, and reread Section 7, especially sections 7.2 and 7.5.
    2. The Market and the Net, by Phil Agre. A dense but fascinating discussion of economic and mythological theories about the internet; we will have to spend some time in class going over parts of this (and we will have to ignore some other parts).
    3. For background in economics, read chapter 2, The Neoclassical Perspective, from Essentials of Economics: A Hypermedia Text by Roger McCain of Drexel University. Chapter 1 provides background for the background, and most of you should probably read that too.
  7. Due 15 November:
    1. Reread The Market and the Net by Phil Agre, and be prepared to discuss it in class; also read Agre's short Review of Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance by Douglass North, and The Political Economy of Convergence, a short call for papers for a conference, by Colin Sparks.
    2. The Preface to The Friction Free Economy by Ted Lewis, and an excerpt from and some advertising for the book.
    3. All 11 sections of Alice in Wired World by Ted Lewis (note that section 4. is empty - I think I know why, and will discuss this in class).
    4. Chapter 3, Supply and Demand, from Roger McCain's webtext; this is a bit long and even repetative, so you may want to skim parts. Also read Chapter 1, if you haven't already.
  8. Due 22 November: This week's readings go deeper into economic issues for the internet, including ecommerce, more economic background, and some current issues, like ecash, security vs. risk for ecash, the commercial strategies of Microsoft, and open source software. I hope you will find it exciting!
    1. Reread Section 8 of CSE 275 course notes, especially Section 8.4.
    2. Risk Management is where the Money is by Dan Geer. A strong argument that risk is the key issue for ecommerce, not security as such.
    3. The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Homesteading the Noosphere, and The Magic Cauldron, all three by Eric Raymond. These papers try to explain how and why open source development works; I found the discussion of gift culture, the complexity agrument behind parallel debugging, the open source business models, and the open source myths, to be especially interesting.
    4. Halloween II by Jamie Love; gives URLs to a confidential Microsoft strategy document and commentaries; the so called halloween documents themselves are optional, but are fascinating. (This material mainly concerns Linux, but the economics and sociology of Open Source Software in general are also discussed.) The direct URL for this and related information is www.opensource.org/halloween/.
    5. Quality of Service, an interview with Andrew Odlyzko by Dan Tebbutt; the raw interview transcription is optional. Some interesting economic arguments about quality of service on the internet. Odlyzko argues that there is at most a minor role for ATM style protocols. From an engineering viewpoint, the most interesting claim concerns the actual statistical distribution of traffic on the internet vs. that expected by ATM style protocols.
    6. Information and Libraries, an example of how politics and other social factors can conspire with mythology about information technology and economics to produce a startlingly bad decision.
    7. Editorial on Internet Businesses, by Phil Agre; the included email by Robert Hettinga is optional (interesting, but full of technical business jargon).
  9. Due 29 November:
    1. Read as much of Section 9 as exists.
    2. Read about DigiCash, a failed online cash service.
    3. Look over the publications, software and products and data and statistics sections of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (part of the US government).
    4. Medical Database Security Guidelines, from University of Plymouth ISHTAR project; please be sure to also read the linked "Security Glossary."
    5. Data Fusion for the Multi-media Medical Database, from the Fraunhofer Center for Research in Computer Graphics (Hamburg, Germany). (The original of this webpage, now missing several of its parts, has been moved to www.crcg.edu/projects/medvis/medviswww/mmmdb.html.)
    6. The Multiple Bodies of the Medical Record, by Marc Berg and Geoff Bowker, and Situations vs. Standards in Long-term, Wide-scale Decision Making, the case of the ICD, also by Bowker and Star.
    7. Reread A Bayesian Critique of Statistics in Health, by Robert Matthews. A controversial discussion of statistical issues in medical research. Although the author's Bayesian stance is dubious, the reports about failed medical studies are significant.
    8. Understanding Net Users Attitudes about Online Privacy, by Lorrie Faith Cranor. A report on a survey of users attitudes towards privacy.
    9. Identity and Choice: The Implications of Market Power for the Technologies of Privacy, by Phil Agre. An essay on technologies of privacy, with an interesting critique of some arguments based on neo-classical economics.

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    Last modified 1 December 2000