STV302 Information Technology and Society (Fall 2007)

1 Introduction

1.1 Calendar Description

The course has been designed to provide a framework or set of intellectual tools to help students understand and evaluate technological change. These tools will be applied to the development of information technology, its interaction with society, and possible future scenarios. Selected topics include understanding digitization as culture, visions of the future and perils of prediction, as well as issues related to application areas such as the home, manufacturing, office work, design and services, education, and law. The course will also consider some of the privacy and personal dignity issues associated with information technology.

Credit weight: 0.5

Pre-requisite: Level at least 3A or one of STV 100, 202, 203, or 205

1.2 Location and Time

RCH 207, Thursday 7-10pm

1.3 Instructor

Dr. Scott Campbell
E3 3174, Ext. 35635

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-3 or by appointment

2 Course Details

2.1 Website

Use UW-ACE for access to lecture slides, assignment drop boxes, and readings. There is also a discussion forum.

2.2 Policies

Attendance will not be recorded but more than a few missed classes will effect your participation grade. It is your responsibility to contact the instructor ahead of time if you are sick.

Late assignments will be penalized 1% from your final overall grade per day, to a maximum of the assignment value. Consideration will be granted if you contact the instructor before the due date. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due before 7pm on the due date.

Exceptions will require documentation and, if possible, considerable warning.

Plagiarism, cheating, copying and other forms of intellectual dishonesty will be punished to the fullest extent of the appropriate University of Waterloo Student Academic Discipline Policies (see The penalties can be quite severe and ignorance is rarely a good excuse.

Regrading of assignments will require written justification; the entire assignment or test will be regraded.

Excessive Disruptions that affect other students will not be tolerated.

Feedback Anonymous course feedback is available at all times through UW-ACE.

2.3 Readings

Readings will be provided by the instructor as the course progresses, on paper or on UW-ACE. You are expected to read them in advance and be prepared to discuss them each week.

In additions, as part of your major research project (see below) you will be expected to find your own readings.

2.4 Major Research Project

One the of the over-arching goals of this course is to encourage you to reflect on the relationship between information technology (IT) and society. Is it a determinist relationship where changes in one domain have immediate consequences in the other, or is it a more subtle and flexible give-and-take? As we apparently move towards an information society, what are the consequences of this activity and what new moral dilemmas do we face?

All assignments must be submitted electronically by 6pm on the due date, unless otherwise noted. If you attach a document, it should be 12-point, Times Roman font, 1" margins, and double-spaced. This corresponds roughly with 250 words per page. Always include your name, student ID, date, and a title. References and a bibliography should employ a known citation style (MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc).

Choose an issue, 20 September 2007, 2% For this project, you are to consider an issue that lies at the intersection between information technology and society. For example:

Choose one of the above, or suggest one of your own. Pick something that interests you or that you feel will be challenging; avoid something that strikes you as easy or duplicates work done in another course.

Early Progress Report, 4 October 2007, 3% At this lecture, you will be asked to discuss your progress in class and present any early thoughts you have about the direction of your project. Students are expected to help each other by sharing ideas on how to approach the issue and possible sources. Submit your informal progress report to UW-ACE the next day, including any ideas you may have gained during the discussion.

Annotated Bibliography, 11 October 2007: 10% Provide an annotated bibliography of sources such as websites, articles, books (fiction or non-fiction), movies, short stories, etc that are relevant to your issue. Include at least 10 sources, but no more than 12.

For each source, include a full reference, and in one paragraph summarize the item. In most cases, describe the thesis, what evidence is used, and your own assessment of the argument. Don't use more than three sources of the same type (i.e.: no more than three websites, no more than three books). Your grade will be based on the quality of both your selections and your evaluations.

Book Review, 25 October 2007: 10% Write a formal book review (750-1000 words, not including references and the bibliography) of a book you have chosen related to your issue. Again, examine the thesis of the book, the evidence, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses. You should probably make reference to material found on your annotated bibliography for comparison or contrast. You can use a book that already appeared on your annotated bibliography, or select a new one.

Submit Reading, 1 November 2007 In advance of your presentation (see below) you must submit to the instructor a single copy of a reading (less that 20 pages!) that the rest of the class will read in advance of your presentation. I will distribute copies the following week.

Choose something representative, which evaluates the issue in a fair and comprehensive manner. Alternatively, find something provocative that engages the issue from a novel or strong position. Again, you can choose something from your annotated bibliography or something new, or entirely different. A short film or documentary is possible! All students will be responsible for completing these readings and preparing at least one discussion question before the presentations.

Presentation, 15 and 22 November 2007: 10% For your presentation, summarize your readings and the main argument of your upcoming essay, and provide a one-page handout for the rest of the class. Be prepared to answer questions and in your talk try to avoid duplicating what we have already discussed in class. 15-20 minutes should be sufficient, so practice to ensure you don't exceed that amount. Audio/visual aids are permitted.

A portion of your participation grade (see below) will be based on your overall respect given over to the other presenters and your active participation.

The order of the presentations will be determined randomly, in class on the first day of presentations, so prepared to speak on the first day!

Major Research Paper, 29 November 2007: 25% By this time, you should be an expert on your chosen topic. Write a 2500 word essay that analyzes a particular aspect of the issue. This is not a summary of the issue or an "opinion" essay -- you must analyze the issue, develop an original thesis and provide evidence to support your argument. Include a full bibliography and references. More details will follow.

2.5 Other Grades

Participation: 15% This will be based on a combination of your regular attendance and active participation in discussions. The latter component reflects both your willingness to answer questions, and your efforts to generate interesting discussion. Come to class each week prepared to talk!

Final test, in-class, 29 November 2007: 25% A two hour in-class test will be held on 29 November 2007. Part will be short-answer, and part will be short-essay. Sample questions will be discussed in advance.

2.6 Writing Assistance

UW Counselling services offers series of Writing Workshops every fall. See

The English Language Proficiency Program also offers help for students who need extra assistance. See

2.7 Schedule

DateEvent or DeadlineLecture No.
Sept. 13First class0
Sept. 20Chose your topic (2%)1
Sept. 272
Oct. 4Early Progress Report (in class)3
Oct. 5Submit Progress Report (3%)
Oct. 11Annotated Bibliography due (10%)4
Oct. 185
Oct. 25Book review due (10%)6
Nov. 1Submit Reading for Presentation7
Nov. 88
Nov. 15Presentations (15%)
Nov. 22Finish Presentations + Review
Nov. 29Major research paper (25%) due
In-class test (25%)

See for more information regarding University of Waterloo dates.

Author: Scott Campbell <>

Date: 2007/09/12 12:18:28 PM