Information Studies 30 -- Internet and Society

Phil Agre
Office: 229 GSE&IS Building
Phone: (310) 825-7154

Fall 2006
Monday and Wednesday 9:00am - 10:50am
Dodd Hall, room 78

IS 30 is an introduction to the ways in which the Internet and related technologies are helping to reorganize a wide variety of relationships in society. Topics include access to information, information technology in organizations and workplaces, electronic politics and education, intellectual property, the origins of the Internet, and new uses of wireless technology by the military. The course has no prerequisites and assumes no technical background beyond e-mail and the Web.

For the most part, Wednesdays will be theoretical lectures and discussion, and Mondays will be spent discussing how the ideas from the lectures and readings apply to particular applications of computing.

There will be three medium-length writing assignments rather than one big one, and no exams. Each writing assignment will be one third of the final grade. The writing assignments are online here:

There are four required texts. The first two will be available in the LuValle Commons bookstore and the other two are online:

William H. Dutton, Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Janet Abbate, Inventing the Internet, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, Swarming and the Future of Conflict, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2000.

Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, New York: Penguin, 2004.

The readings assigned for each class should be done after that week's lecture on Wednesday.

Week 1.

October 2nd (Monday). Introduction to the class.

October 4th (Wednesday). The general idea of information politics.

Read Dutton, pages 3-46.

Week 2.

October 9th (Monday). Discussion.

October 11th (Wednesday). The interaction between technology and society.

Read Dutton, pages 49-109.

Week 3.

October 16th (Monday). Discussion.

October 18th (Wednesday). Business, management, and work.

Read Dutton, pages 113-169.

Week 4.

October 23rd (Monday). Discussion.

October 25th (Wednesday). Politics, governance, and education.

Read Dutton, pages 173-224.

Week 5.

October 30th (Monday). Discussion.

November 1st (Wednesday). Information politics.

Hand in the first writing assignment.

Read Dutton, pages 285-337.

Week 6.

November 6th (Monday). Discussion.

November 8th (Wednesday). Intellectual property.

Read Lessig, chapter 10.

Week 7.

November 13th (Monday). Discussion.

November 15th (Wednesday). ARPANET.

Read Abbate, pages 1-111.

Week 8.

November 20th (Monday). Discussion.

November 22nd (Wednesday). Internet.

Hand in the second writing assignment.

Read Abbate, pages 113-220.

Week 9.

November 27th (Monday). Discussion.

November 29th (Wednesday). Information technology in the military.

Read Arquilla and Ronfeldt.

Week 10.

December 4th (Monday). Discussion.

December 6th (Wednesday). Conclusion.

The third writing assignment is due on December 13th.