From Comp 301 Fall '09
Comp 301 Working Syllabus
We will study the process, trade-offs and peculiarities of policymaking regarding information technology. All readings are to be completed by the date assigned as they are an integral component to the classroom experience. This is a discussion-based course - be prepared.
Any student with a documented disability seeking academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with either instructor during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain as confidential as possible. Students with disabilities will need to also contact Disability Support Services in the Ley Student Center.
Deborah Stone's Policy Paradox will be used to provide a framework on the crafting of public policy as applied to cyberlaw, government IT and other topics. It is also useful reading to frame arguments on all matters of public interest from taxation to trash pickup.
Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen and Harry Lewis's Blown to Bits serves as a politics of the information age primer, framing some of the course's major policy issues. It is well-written, but has a certain set of opinions conspicuously contained within.
Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning...was the Command Line explores the human computer interface at a philosophical level. It's a bit dated (like command lines), but is readable if you sub "MacOS" for "BeOS."
Each session there will be supplemental readings from news media, scholarly journals and other sources (maybe even the odd clip of video). Please view/read/digest before the assigned class. Pop quizzes may be given until this message is received.
There will be multiple homework assignments for the term. Three one-page writing assignments and three technical assignments will be completed by all students. Each will be graded on the check minus, check, check plus scale and each one will represent a maximum of ten points.
No exams will be given during the class, instead a group assignment involving the conduct of an in-class presentation regarding an issue in the IT policy domain. The accent in this exercise is on the employment of creativity in making a convincing and informative case on an issue (We've had everything from music videos to one-act plays - as in life there are big points to be scored for creativity). Equipment and facilities for creation of media for this assignment may be accessed at the Rice University Digital Media Center. Media presentations will be given in the final weeks of class and will feature a question and answer session. Each group will be given 25 minutes to present and 20 more for q & a.
Each student is required to produce a 12-15 page paper on their issue, explaining the technology involved, the policy matter and offering some prognostication or prescription regarding outcome. The paper shall be due on the first day of the exam period.
Although this is an unorthodox course, the attendance policy is extremely conventional. Roll will be taken in each meeting of the class and those students missing more than two sessions will place a strong grade in jeopardy, exceptional situations permitting.
While life is complex and subjective, the grading rubric is merely subjective.
The breakdown is as follows: Group Assignment (25%); Paper (25%); Homework (30%); Class Attendance and Participation (20%).
Note: Syllabus subject to change with regard to readings and homework assignments!
August 25: Introduction to the class
- Assignment - create wiki page
August 27: How the Internet works
- Abelson, Ledeen & Lewis, Chapter 1 & Appendix pp. 301-317
- Stone, Introduction
- Development of Computers till the 1960s, University of Leiden
September 1: Policy Basics - Where the Internet came from
- Homework1 (Internet Weather) Assigned
September 3: Constructing Cybersecurity: Protecting our Digital Infrastructure
- Note: Class will not meet, however, students are requested to attend the Baker Institute's Cybersecurity event at 4 p.m. on the day of class.
September 8: Building telephony - Ma Bell and the politics of universal service
- Stone, Chapter 2
- Mueller, Milton, "Universal Service Policies as Wealth Distribution,” Government Information Quarterly
- Adam Thierer, Unnatural Monopoly: Critical Moments in the Development of the Bell System Monopoly, Cato Institute
- Charles Goldfarb, "Telecommunications Act: Competition, Innovation, and Reform", Congressional Research Service
September 10: Internet Governance a.k.a. Net Neutrality
- Stone, Chapter 6 & 9
- Susan Harris Request for Comments: 3160 Networking Group, Internet Engineering Task Force
- Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
- Michael Froomkin, Wrong Turn in Cyberspace, Duke Law Journal (pdf pp. 20 – 63)
- Editoral, "The Verizon Warning," New York Times
- Homework 1 Due
September 15: Internet Sovereignty – What does international regulation look like?
- Working Group on Internet Governance, Report, World Summit of the Information Society
- Timothy Wu, Cyberspace Sovereignty? The Internet and the International System, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology
- Homework 2 (Traceroute) Assigned
September 17: Guest Lecturer - Technical standards: the over/under line on regulation
- Lecturer - Joel Thierstein, Associate Provost for Innovative Scholarly Communication, Rice University
- Everett Rogers, "Diffusion of Innovations," The Free Press, 1995
- Diffusion Theory Chart, Courtesy of Rogers 1995
- Dr. Thierstein requests that you the student find readings on the topic of technical standards regarding information technology and come ready to discuss. Be prepared to reinforce your points drawing from the readings you've located. Suggestion - check out the ITU web page.
September 22: Opting out of the Grid
- Abelson, Chapter 7
- Ronald Diebert, “Dark Guests and Great Firewalls: The Internet and Chinese Security Policy,” Journal of Social Issues
- Pulling the Plug: A Technical Review of the Internet Shutdown in Burma, OpenNet Initiative
- Jonathan Zittrain, Could Iran Shut Down Twitter? Future of the Internet
- Mike Musgrove, Twitter is a Player in Iran's Drama, Washington Post
- Homework 2 Due
September 24: e-government to data.gov
- Stone, Chapter 3
- Jeffrey Seifert, A Primer on E-Government: Sectors, Stages, Opportunities,and Challenges of Online Governance, Congressional Research Service
- Jane Fountain, Central Issues in the Political Development of the Virtual State, National Center for Digital Government
- Technology Enactment Framework, Courtesy of Fountain, 2005
- Key Actors in Technology Enactment, Courtesy of Fountain, 2005
- Open Up Government Data, Wired.com (Watch video of Vivek Kundra interview - other matter useful for homework assignment 3)
- Homework 3 (Data Visualization) Assigned
September 29: Introduction to security
- Stone, Chapter 4
- Abelson, Chapter 5
- Schneier, pp. 1-58
- Group Assignments Issued
October 1: Identity Theft
- Homework 3 Due
October 6: The Privacy/Security debate
- Abelson, Chapter 2
- Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, "Privacy Self-Regulation: A Decade of Disappointment," Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Gary Rivlin, "Keeping Your Enemies Close," New York Times
- Brad Stone "Tell-All PCs and Phones Transforming Divorce," New York Times
October 8: Cyberwar
- Finn, Peter, “Cyber Assaults on Estonia Typify a New Battle Tactic,” Washington Post
- Wilson, Clay, Information Operations and Cyberwar: Capabilities and Related Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service (pdf)
- Wang, Pufeng, “The Challenge of Information Warfare," Excerpted from China Military Science and hosted by the Federation of American Scientists
- Arquilla, John and David Ronfeldt, Cyberwar and Netwar: New Modes, Old Concepts, of Conflict, RAND
October 13: Midterm Recess
October 15: Command Line
- Neal Stephenson, In the beginning..., entire book
- Homework 4 (Encryption) Assigned
- Group Topics Due
October 20: Wikipedia
- Schiff, Stacey, "Know It All, Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" The New Yorker
- Ehmann, Large & Behesti, "Collaboration in context: Comparing article evolution among subject disciplines in Wikipedia," First Monday
- Jim Giles "Internet encyclopaedias go head to head," Nature
- Seigenthaler, John, Sr., "A false Wikipedia biography" USA Today
October 22: Social Networks
- IMMEDIATE BAN OF INTERNET SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES (SNS) ON MARINE CORPS ENTERPRISE NETWORK (MCEN) NIPRNET, United States Marine Corps
- Pasek, more & Hargittai, Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data," First Monday
- Bonneau, Preibusch, Anderson, Clayton, Anderson, "Democracy Theatre: Comments on Facebook's Proposed Governance Scheme," University of Cambridge (pdf)
- Homework 4 Due
October 27: Intellectual Property
- Abelson, Chapter 6
- Thomas Field, "Intellectual Property: The Practical and Legal Fundamentals," Franklin Piece Law Center
- David M. Berry and Giles Moss, "The politics of the libre commons," First Monday
- Cancelled Homework 5 (Policy Essay) Assigned
October 29: Guest Lecture – IP & Free Software
- Lecturer - Professor Greg Vetter, University of Houston Legal Center
- Please read Chris Kelty's Two Bits.
November 3: P2P, DRM, the RIAA and Pirate Bay
- Schroder, Fischback & Schmidt, "Core Concepts in Peer-to-Peer Networking," In: Subramanian, R.; Goodman, B. (eds.): P2P Computing: The Evolution of a Disruptive Technology (pdf)
- Shuman Ghosemajumder, "Advanced Peer-Based Technology Business Models: A new economic framework for the digital distribution of music, film, and other intellectual property works," MIT Sloan School of Management
November 5: What can a blogger do?
November 10: Guest Lecture - How Green IT?
- Lecturer - Avinash Lingamneni, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University
- Reading - SMART2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, The Climate Group, 2008
- Chapters 1, 3, & 4
- Homework 6 assigned
November 12: Guest Lecture - Serious Games
- Lecturer - Anthony Elam, Houston Serious Games Consortia
November 17: Digital diplomacy & deployment of the noösphere
- Nicholas Westcott, "Digital Diplomacy: The Impact of the Internet on International Relations," Oxford Internet Institute
- David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, "The Promise of Noöpolitik" First Monday
- Moises Naim, “Digital Diplomacy,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Homework 6 Assigned
November 19: Big “I” Little “t”
November 25: Student Presentations
November 27: Thanksgiving
December 1: Student Presentations
December 3: Student Presentations