7. Evaluating and Controlling Technology

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Parade of crazy people (desfile de los locos) celebrated in San Miguel Allende, Mexico.
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Who designs innovative technology? Who needs internet access? Who decides? - This week we will be looking at some broader issues. There are many issues that are less well defined than some we have explored. What are the implications for a global society as more of the world's population have access to technology and computing, while many other people do not? Will this imbalance lead to unrest or encourage the have-not's to work harder to close the gap? What technologies are being developed? Who decides what we "need"?

Learning outcomes

  • investigate broader issues on the impact and control of technology
  • search for web resources that address the future of technologies and society
  • evaluate the sources and content
  • compare and contrast the issues discussed in the resources
  • critically examine an issue and provide a detailed analysis


information sources, reliability, authentication, community, digital divide, knowledge sharing, machine learning, control systems, evaluation, automation, feedback, net neutrality

Study notes

  • Can communities exist in cyberspace? What makes a community? Is it lonely in cyberspace?
  • Is "addiction" to the internet real? Is it a problem?
  • Is there a "digital divide"? What if anything should be done to resolve or eliminate the problem?
  • What are the implications for a global society when some of the world population have access to technoloy, while many other people do not? Will this imbalance lead to unrest or encourage the have-nots to work harder to close the gap?
  • Is "free" email really free?
  • What skills are being lost? What new skills are being learned or developed? Is this a reasonable trade-off?
  • What changes in human life styles are emerging? What are "good"? What are "bad"?


  1. Before you start the reading and the assignments, take a few minutes to think about what you already know about the topic - Evaluating and Controlling Technology. Write a sentence or two about this in the I know... discussion.

  2. Read the Study notes for an overview for the topics that will be covered.

  3. Read, view, listen to several of the selections in the Media list.

  4. Choose ONE (1) KEYWORD from the Keywords list for this module. Find two (2) resources that provide information about the word and how it relates to the course. Rate each resource on a scale of 1 to 5. To determine the score, identify 5 characteristics of each resource (good and bad). If there are 3 good things and 2 not-so-good things, give it a rating of 3/5. Do this for both resources you select. Post the word, links to your selected resources, the scores and the lists of good and not-so-good characteristics, and a brief description about your selection for each, to the discussion Evaluating and Controlling Technology keywords. Follow links provided by 2 others, review their suggested articles, and write a brief reply to the author for each.

    REMINDER: Your responses to this and all other assignments will be graded for college-level writing. Spelling and grammar errors will result in deductions. Late submissions will be accepted but points will be deducted. Your submission must include complete and thoughtful replies that demonstrate original thinking and personal experience.

    These should be brief summaries of the references you provide. In most cases this is 2-3 sentences unless otherwise stated in the description.

  5. Machine learning and AI for good. There is much more to these topics than world domination by autonomous technology and armies of Terminators. View the Machine Learning and AI for Social Impact video (12:29) or review one of the Machine learning articles in the Media selections below. Is this more optimistic view of machine learning and AI likely to succeed? Do the projects outlined suggest other applications for machine learning that you think will be acceptable and beneficial to society in general or specific communities? Post a brief summary of your thoughts to the Machine Learning and AI discussion. Review and comment on two others.

  6. Technology Ethics - Lawyers and doctors have a code of ethics. Teachers have them. So why not the tech sector, and the people who create and design the technologies we use everyday? Are technologies including values and actions that are "ethical"? Who is responsible for these decisions? How are they impacting society? Listen to one of the podcasts or videos in the Ethics list in the Media selections below or find an example that addresses the issues of technology and ethics. What are two key points that stand out to you? How does this impact you as a global citizen and internet user? Is this new information to you? Post a link to your selection and your comments to the Technology and Ethics discussion. Review the post of 2 others. Post at least one question to another post that will help your understanding of the issues.

  7. For most of this course, information is not just in text format. Select a YouTube or a TED Talk video http://www.youtube.com that has some relevance to the course. Post a link to your selection and brief description to the Computers and Society video discussion.

  8. Simulations are great learning tools. Find an example of a simulation on the web. There are lots of simulations listed in the educational resource MERLOT http://www.merlot.org web site. Post the web address and brief description to Simulations discussion.

  9. Visitor and Resident - Read the Mapping the Internet post. Most internet users today are sometimes Visitors and sometimes Residents, depending on their interests and needs. How would you represent yourself with these descriptions? Post a brief summary of YOUR Visitor / Resident profile to the Visitor and Residents discussion. Review 2 others.

  10. Test-drive Scratch. Scratch is a web project editor that can be used to create all kinds of applications for the web. Intended as a way to introduce kids to coding, Scratch has grown to be used by more the 3 million people world wide. Have a look. There are games to play and web apps to use or Remix (use, adapt, modify). Explore the site. Check out the See Inside link for one or more of the Scratch projects. Post your comments and links to any Scratch projects that you tested to the Scratch Test Drive discussion.
  11. Optional - Now it is your turn to be a web developer with Scratch. Learn the basics with Scratch Getting Started Tutorial to learn more about the tools. Create a Scratch account. Create a Scratch project. Post the provided sharing link for your Scratch project display to the Scratch Test Drive discussion. Is this the first time you have created an online program? If you have used other web creation tools, did you think Scratch was easy for a beginner to use? Do you think everyone should have a web creation experience? Why or why not? Review the work of 3 others.

  12. Learning Literacies - Share it - Communication and Collaboration are becoming more important as we are expanding our personal and professional networks of contacts and businesses. Review 2-3 articles in the Share it media selections or search the web to find another good resource on the topic. Post a link and a brief summary of 1 to the Learning Literacies - Share it discussion.

  13. Great Technologies - There are many web services and technologies available for free. Find 2-3 technologies that would be useful to you and to others. Post a link and a brief description of each to the Great Technologies discussion.

  14. Project Groups Discussions - Learning to work in online groups and practicing these skills are important preparation for careers in any field. If you find this difficult, please ask. If you already have experience working in groups online, help the others, offer some suggestions. Post your reply to your Project Groups Discussions.

  15. Reflection - There are plenty of scary stories and movies about computers harming humans. Do you think this is possible? What are some of the important contributions that technology has contributed to improve the lives of large numbers of people? What have you learned in this class that has influenced your thinking about the beneficial as well as the harmful? Has your thinking changed? This should be 3-4 sentences. Submit your response in the I think... assignment.

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-- from a review of A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing Technology previously used as the textbook for CIS2 Computers and the Internet in Society

"how to evaluate and control technology ... Baase writes of the inherent conflict between a democracy and open Internet, while dealing with the plethora of incorrect, foolish and biased information. She makes note of some totalitarian regimes that prohibit anti-government use of social media. She illustrates cases where these countries (China and Syria are just two of them) that create bogus dissident sites, find out which people are sympathetic to the cause, and then arrests these people."


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