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Facebook, Fairness, and Forgery
ID1 - Section 3 - Fall 2008

TR 11-12:15 in Edmunds 217
Prof. Chen
7/5/2011: I've archived all of the notes and assignments (ie, most of the links below don't work) and am only leaving up the syllabus for reference. If you're looking for the material, you may be able to find a link to a more recent offering of the class here or here.


Please check here regularly for general announcements/thoughts/etc
  • 12/4/2008: Everyone should feel free to take an automatic extension on the final draft of the final paper. The final version must be uploaded to the dropbox on Sakai by 10PM on Wednesday 12/10.
  • 11/1/2008: The revised handout for the final project is available: <pdf>
  • 10/16/2008: The optional third/final draft for the "faster computers" essay has been moved to 12:01AM on Sunday, October 26th.
  • 10/7/2008: I've posted the assignments for discussion-leading. Also remember that on Thursday October 9th we're going to meet at 11AM in the lobby of Honnold Mudd library.
  • 9/4/2008: I've posted the first assignment and the first sentences from class. I've also posted who's responsible for the Sakai forums for each day.
  • Information

    The increasing presence and power of computers have changed the way we acquire knowledge, think about privacy, keep in touch with friends, and even find love. But how are moral, social, and political issues formulated in terms that allow a computer to find the answer? What does it mean for a computer to "solve" these problems? And are there problems that computers can't (yet) solve? In this class we'll both explore the ways in which computers have expanded our horizons and debate whether there are, or should be, limits on what we approach computationally. Along the way we'll read fiction and non-fiction, we'll learn about current research in computer science, and we'll see how these ideas are used by individuals, companies, and governments.

    Here's the administrivia: <pdf>

    Most of the readings in this class will be articles and excerpts from books, on-line sources, news media, etc. As a result, the following is the only book I'm requiring you to have. I've placed an order through Huntley bookstore so you should be able to find it there:

  • The Best of Technology Writing 2007, Edited by Steven Levy.
  • This book is referred to as "BTW" in the syllabus.

    In addition, I, as well as many (most?) of the other ID1 professors, will be referring to the following writing reference which is therefore strongly recommended, but not required. You can get a copy at Huntley bookstore.

  • Rules for Writers, Sixth Edition, Diana Hacker.
  • Syllabus

    Any topics or assignments that are listed for dates in the future should be taken as (potentially very) tentative. Anything for a date at least 2 days in the past will accurately reflect what actually happened in the class.

    Reading assignments should be completed by 11AM on the day they're listed (i.e. you should bring the readings to, and be prepared to discuss them in, class that day). Writing assignments are due at 12:01AM the day they're listed (i.e. so that I have a chance to look them over in preparation for discussion in class that day).

    Week Date In class Reading for class Writing due Sakai forums
    1 (Tue) 9/2 *** no class, go to convocation ***
    (Thu) 9/4 introduction to course and each other
    first sentences <pdf>
    • waterballoons &
    2 (Tue) 9/9 computational thinking
    brute force solutions
    thesis, motive, audience
    • first chapter of Feynman book (on sakai)
    • Wing's CACM article <pdf>
    • opinion essay
    • explanation essay
    Maribel, Yi
    (Thu) 9/11 brute force solutions
    word games
    evidence, analysis
    • explore some internet anagram servers:
          • I, Rearrangement Servant
          • Anagram Finder
          • Anagram Engine
    • Gaffney's "the ultimate crossword smackdown" (BTW)
    • Asimov's "9 billion names of god"
    Finch, Mackenzie
    3 (Tue) 9/16 pairings
    peer review
    • Gale and Shapley's "college admissions and the stability of marriage"
    • Marison's "the stable marriage problem"
    • Hurt's "from the mystery of the algorithm to the indignity of the scramble"
    • Robinson's "tweaking the math to make happier medical marriages"
    • analysis essay, 1st draft Uday, Tina
    (Thu) 9/18 pairings • Gottlieb's "how do I love thee" (BTW)
    • Smith's "the worst date ever" (BTW)
    • Dowd's "an ideal husband"
    • peer reviews Ian, Max
    4 (Tue) 9/23 plagiarism
    using/citing sources
    • Harris's Anti-plagiarism strategies for research papers
    • CMC's Examining anti-plagiarism software (first 14 pages)
    • Niezgoda and Way's SNITCH: a software tool for detecting cut and paste plagiarism
    • Rimer: A campus fad that's being copied
    • Martin's Plagiarism: policy against cheating or policy for learning?
    Sandra, Leigh
    (Thu) 9/25 plagiarism
    user-generated content
    evaluating sources
    • Dionne Jr.: Biden admits plagiarism in school
    • Barry et. al: Times reporter who resigned leaves long trail of deception
    • Zhou: Student's novel faces plagiarism controversy
    • wikipedia entry on user-generated content
    • Lanier's "digital Maoism" (BTW)
    • analysis essay, 2nd draft Dustin, Elena
    5 (Tue) 9/30 user-generated content
    finding topics, free writing
    Harnessing the wisdom of crowds
    The death of wikipedia
    • look through some issues of ACM TechNews, note what titles interest you and why
    • faster computers essay - 1st draft Leigh, Finch
    (Thu) 10/2 *** no class *** , spend time on your own thinking about topics of interest • peer reviews of two first drafts
    • 10/4: analysis essay, 3rd (opt) draft
    6 (Tue) 10/7 how to find a thesis
    discussion topic pairing
    Max, Uday
    (Thu) 10/9 *Library session in Honnold Mudd* (handout in doc format) • faster computers essay - 2nd draft
    7 (Tue) 10/14 search • wikipedia article on pagerank
    • Goldman's Google sued over rankings
    • Flynn's Amazon says technology, not ideology, skewed results
    • 500 word general essay on discussion topic Albert, Ian
    (Thu) 10/16 privacy
    evaluating intro paragraphs
    aol's data release
    • Pass et al's a picture of search
    • Read about the aftermath of AOL's decision to release search data in August 2006. The New York Times published several articles, but you might also look around for more information: (1, 2, 3)
    • Boutin's "you are what you search" (BTW)
    Aaron, Dustin
    8 (Tue) 10/21
    *** No class - fall recess ***
    (Thu) 10/23 data mining • Grossman's Data Mining FAQ
    • O'Brien's "you're so predictable" (BTW)
    • AAAI's page on Detecting fraud
    • Cauley's NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
    • Gorman's NSA's domestic spying grows as agency sweeps up data
    giant database plan Orwellian
    • Schneier's Why data mining won't stop terror
    • 10/26: faster computers essay, 3rd (opt) draft Mackenzie, Jin Lin
    9 (Tue) 10/28 writing seminar (Maribel) Tina, Jess
    (Thu) 10/30 automated driving
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai • 1-page free response Ian, Mackenzie
    10 (Tue) 11/4 computer mediated communication
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai • 1-page free response Jess, Sandra
    (Thu) 11/6 censorship
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai• 1-page free response Dustin, Jinlin
    11 (Tue) 11/11 globalization
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai • 1-page free response
    • 500 word draft of final paper
    Leigh, Max
    (Thu) 11/13 facebook - privacy/communication
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai• 1-page free response Elena, Tina
    meetings to discuss 500 word draft - schedule
    12 (Tue) 11/18 parental control / privacy
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai • 1-page free response
    • 1000 word draft of final paper
    Aaron, Uday
    (Thu) 11/20 open source
    (student-led discussion)
    • readings are on Sakai• 1-page free response
    • peer reviews of 1000 word drafts
    Finch, Albert
    13 (Tue) 11/25 discussing discussions • full 10-12 page draft due 8AM on 11/26 Jin Lin, Albert
    (Thu) 11/27
    *** No class - Thanksgiving ***
    14 (Tue) 12/2 human computation • Howe's "The rise of crowdsourcing" (BTW)
    • Mieszkowski's "I make $1.45 a week and I love it" (BTW)
    • Robinson's Human or computer? Take this test
    • von Ahn et al's Telling humans and computers apart automatically
    • von Ahn et al's reCAPTCHA: human-based character recognition via web security measures
    • look at www.captcha.net website
    Jess, Aaron
    (Thu) 12/4 course evals, limits of computing • Trefil's "Are there problems that can't be solved?" (on sakai)
    • Look up the following:
    • undecidability
    • halting problem
    • P=NP problem
    • Ian Stewart on Minesweeper
    Elena, Sandra
    15 (Tue) 12/9 summary, looking ahead • Thompson's "A head for detail" (btw)
    • Kurzweil's The coming merging of mind and machine
    • Look up biographies on the following two people:
    • Ray Kurzweil
    • Gordon Bell
    • final draft due by 10PM on 12/10 Maribel, Yi

    Writing Assignments

  • Opinion & Explanation essays
  • handout <pdf>
  • first sentences for the opinion piece <pdf>
  • Analysis essay
  • handout <pdf>
  • Essay on the speed of computers
  • handout <pdf>
  • Deadlines for the final project
  • revised handout (10/30): <pdf>
  • handout <pdf>
  • Links

  • Writing:
  • References:
  • Rules for Writers, the web companion for the recommended writing guide.
  • Elements of Style, William Strunk. This is the original 1918 version. The 4th edition by Strunk and White came out in 2000.
  • Merriam-Webster Online. Access to both their dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Using Web Resources:
  • Evaluating web resources. Checklists for various types of websearches.
  • Thinking critically about www resources. Checklist by librarian at UCLA.
  • Other Resources:
  • The libraries at the Claremont Colleges.

  • "Computers do not solve problems, they execute solutions"
    --Laurent Gasser