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CHS H202 Section 300
Computers and Society
fall 2004

Instructor: Prof. Pamela E. Mack, Department of History,
Office: Hardin, telephone: 656-5356, E-Mail:  pammack@clemson.edu
Office Hours: MWF 11:15-12, 1:15-2 pm, and by appointment
Class meetings: MWF 9:05-9:55, Brackett 233

Objectives: The goal of this course is to explore the history and future of the impact of computers on society and how society seeks to understand the meaning of computers and robots.  We will seek to balance an understanding of the history of computers with theories about how computers are changing the way we think.   This is a laptop-required course and we will use laptops in class to experiment with computers as a social tool.

ABET Classification: CHS H202 is classified as "social science" under Clemson University's General Education requirement.  To satisfy requirements for curricular depth, as established by the College of Engineering and Science pursuant to guidelines of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Engineering majors may take this course in conjunction with a three-credit course in history or sociology.

Requirements: The reading for this course will take thought because they presents a variety of opinions in their original form, not just the conclusions of historians. Analyzing and drawing conclusions from the reading will be central to the course, so it is essential that you do the reading and come prepared to discuss it in class.

No one book provides an overview for this course; you will quickly find yourself lost if you do not attend class.  The attendance policy for this course is as follows. Instead of taking attendance I will show that attendance is expected by asking  students to explain all absences (either send me a "sorry I missed class" e-mail or speak to me after class when you return). I reserve the right to penalize students with excessive absences (which I would define as missing more than 6 classes).   If the professor or a substitute does not arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled starting time of the class students may leave.

There will be one open book in-class exam. The final exam will be a takehome.

Students will be asked to write a public weblog throughout the term.  This is a journal posted on the web, in which you reflect on the readings, the class discussions, and other topics relevant to the course.  You will be taught how to set up a weblog.  One place to start is: http://www.blogger.com/start  The professor's blog is at: http://csh202.blogspot.com/

The group project assignment will be decided in discussion with the class.

The term paper should be about 8 typed pages and should be documented with footnotes or endnotes.   I am looking for papers based on primary source research that deal with society's ideas about computers--see paper topic.  Papers must be analytical; that is, they must ask a question or state a thesis and then develop an argument using specific evidence to prove a point. Papers will be evaluated primarily on the basis of your ability to use evidence and argument to effectively prove your point. For more information see the Paper Assignment.  Late papers will be downgraded one point for each calendar day late.  They may be handed in as a Microsoft Word attachment to an e-mail to pammack@clemson.edu   

Academic Integrity: As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’  Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others.  Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree.  Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.  This includes representing someone else's work as your own or handing in the same paper to two different courses without permission of the instructors.


Numerical grades out of 100 will be converted to final letter grades by the system 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, below 60=F.  An assignment that meets all expectations will normally get a 95 (4.0) though grades above 95 will be given in the case of exceptionally fine work.


Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine
Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web
David Weinberger, Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web
Pat Cadigan, The Ultimate Cyberpunk
Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence


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This page written and copyright © Pamela E. Mack
Send me e-mail at: Pammack@clemson.edu
For my other pages see:  PEM Index Page
last updated Dec. 6, 2004