NATS 1700: Fall/Winter 2012-2013

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Oct 21, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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NATS 1700: Computers, Information, and Society



NATS 1700: Fall/Winter 2012
-
2013



Lecture schedule: Tu, Th, 14:30
--
16:00, LAS B



Instructor's office hours: Tu, Th, 13:30
-
14:30



Class representatives:

o

Amin Khajehnassiri, amin94@yorku.ca

o

Kevin Salt, ksalt@yorku.ca

o

Jewelle Diaz, earlyd@yorku.ca

Course description

When we reflect upon the impact of technology on society, computer and information
technologies represent canonical examples. Yet, no singular technological invention or event, n
o
matter how groundbreaking, can account for the creation of the digital electronic computer.
Similarly, no digital computer, no matter how powerful or versatile, can singularly explain the
rapid transition of our civilization into that of consumers of dig
ital information. The computer
and information technologies are examples of high technologies in constant motion, advancing at
a speed that makes projections of their future milestones and impact difficult without a
systematic approach grounded in their hi
story and in present technological social and scientific
context. Indeed, no invention occurs without such a context created in part by a chain of earlier
discoveries, inventions, or contributions, sometimes centuries in the making.

This course provides a

comprehensive look at the historical development, present state, and
possible future directions for the computer and information technologies. It examines the
continuous interplay between these technologies' advancement and social, economic, and cultural

changes and demands.

Computing and its impact on society is a vast subject that cannot be covered adequately in a
single course and, therefore, some selection of subjects have to made. The course will focus on
the central themes conjoining historical with

contemporary, technological with social, individual
with collective. Some of these themes are: the calculating machines and methods of the past, the
birth of modern computing, the evolution of hardware and software, the quest for artificial
intelligence a
nd the limits of computing, digital social networks, virtual reality, digital
entertainment, and many more.


Course Evaluation



Fall term test: 30%, date: December ?

Winter term test: 30%, date: ?

note:

there will be no makeup tests; if you miss the Fal
l term test for medical or
compassionate reasons (valid and documented without delay), the weight of the missed
test will be transfered to the Winter term test.


Your
SAMPLE Fall term test

will be available later.



two research papers: 20% each


Research papers

Students are required to write two research papers and submit them for evaluation
--

the first
paper should be completed in the Fall term and the other in Winter.

The Fall research paper

deals with a historical aspect of computing and soci
ety (any period
before 1980s). The subject of the paper can be the history of an artifact, a computer pioneer, a
company, an organization, or a significant event in the history of computing. The purpose of the
paper is to analyze the selected subject in th
e context of the mutual shaping of society and the
computer and information technologies. For instance, a student may choose to write about the
attention that the early home computer industry was paying to children. Or about the history of
computing at Yor
k University and the way the early computing resources at York were shaping
the university's academic life.

The Winter research paper

deals with any contemporary aspect of computing in relation to
selected social, cultural, economic, technological, or pol
itical issues, in the first decade of the 21
-
st century. For instance, a student may choose to write about a specific issue related to Open
source movement, One Laptop Per Child movement, Semantic Web, iTunes, or computers in
early childhood education.

Ea
ch research paper should be about 4,000 words in length. Although a student is free to select
her or his own research subjects, it is required that such selections be approved by the instructor.
To this end, for each paper the student is required to submit

the paper proposal which must
include: (1) the subject of the paper, (2) brief justification of the relevance of the selected subject
to the study of computing in relation to the processes of social, cultural, and/or political change.
The proposal should
also specify (3) the sources that a student is planning to use (e.g. scientific
journals, an interview with a pioneer of computing, trade literature of the period, York
University Computer Museum, or York University Special Collections resources, etc), and

(4)
expected outcome of the proposed research.

Each research paper will be judged with respect to its content, technical accuracy, and writing
quality, and will be evaluated as follows:



paper proposal: 2% of the final grade; paper 1 proposal deadline: S
eptember 25,
notification: no laterthan October 2; consult
sample paper proposal

before you submit
your proposal;



draft paper: 5% of the final grade; paper 1 draft deadline: Octob
er 24; consult the
paper
draft

before you begin writing your draft;



final paper: 13% of the final grade; paper 1 submission deadline: last lecture.



NOTE:

no electronic submissio
ns;



NOTE:

a student can submit neither the paper draft nor the final paper without an
approved proposal.




Course Schedule

(subject to small changes...)

Fall 201
2

o

week 1
: Course Overview


o

week 2
: Computing and Society
--

An Overview,

lecture notes:
lecture1.pdf.



o

week 3
: Where there is life, there are numbers: prehistory of computing.

lecture notes:
lectur
e2.pdf.


additional readings:



Tim Bergin's lectures 1 and 2 at
http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture n
otes.


o

week 4
: The mechanical calculating machines of the 17th century, Charles
Babbage's Analytical Engine

lecture notes:
lecture3.pdf.


additional readings:



Tim Bergin's lecture

3 at
http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture notes.





o

week 5
: The World of Calculators: from Office equipment to pocket gadgets

lecture notes:
lecture4.pdf


c_show.pdf


additional readings:



Tim Bergin's lecture 5b at
http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 6
:

The Dawn of Automatic Computing

lecture notes:
lecture5.pdf.


additional readings:



Tim Bergin's lectures 6b
-
8
http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 7
: The Birth of the Computer Industry

lecture notes:

additional readings:



Tim Bergin's lectures 8 and 9
http://www.com
putinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture notes.





o

week 8
: The Microchip

lecture notes:

additional readings



Tim Bergin's lectures 10a and 10b
http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Michael Williams,
A history of computing technology
, available from
Steacie Library.



references provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 9
: The rise of mi
crocomputers: the commercial microcomputers

lecture notes:

additional readings



Tim Bergin's lecture 11

http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Z. Stachniak,
Inventing PC: the MCM/70 Story
, McGill
-
Queen's
University Press (2011). check
this inteview.

Enjoy!



Z. Stachniak, The Making of the MCM/70 Microcomputer.
IEEE Annals
of the History of Computing
, April
-
June 2003

(vol. 25 no. 2), pp. 62
--
75.



Z. Stachniak, Microcomputers.
Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science
and Engineering
, Benjamin W. Wah, Editor, volume 5, Wiley (2009), pp.
1860
-
1868.


o

week 10
: Computer of my own: the computer hobby movement

lecture notes:

additional readings



Tim Bergin's lectures 12a and 12b

http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



P. Ceruzzi,
A History of Computing
, MIT Press (1998).



P. Freiberger and M. Swaine,
Fire in the Valley: The Making of The
Personal

Computer,

McGraw
-
Hill (1999).



Z. Stachniak, Microcomputers.
Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science
and Engineering
, Benjamin W. Wah, Editor, volume 5, Wiley (2009), pp.
1860
-
1868.


o

week 11
: Computer at home and personal computing paradigm

lecture notes
:

additional readings



Tim Bergin's lecture 12b

http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/teaching/lectures/lectures.htm



Z. Stachniak, Microcomputers.
Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science
and Engineering
, Benjamin W. Wah, Editor, volume 5, Wiley (2009), pp
.
1860
-
1868.



references provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 12
: Review



Winter 201
3

o

week 1
: Software

lecture notes:


o

week 2
: Computing in Canada Part 1: in the beginning

lecture notes:

additional readings:



J. Vardalas,
The

Computer Revolution in Canada: Building National
Technological Competence,

MIT Press, 2001.



References provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 3
:



Computing in Canada Part 2: the age of the microprocessor

lecture notes:



Computing in Canada Part 3: microco
mputers in schools

lecture notes:

additional readings: see references provided in the lecture notes.


o

week 4
: The limits of computing and the quest for Artificial Intelligence


additional readings: see references in lecture15.pdf and lecture16.pdf.


o

weeks 5, 6
: Joystick culture: video and computer games

lecture notes:

additional readings:



J.C. Hertz,
Joystick Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our
Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds
, Little Brown and Company (1997),



References provided in the l
ecture notes.


o

week 7
: Digital world without boundaries:from ARPANET to WWW

lecture notes:

additional readings: see references in lecture19.


o

week 8
: Computers in the wrong hands: Cyber Hackers, Criminals, and Warriors

lecture notes:

additional readings: see references in lecture20.


o

week 9
: Constant contact, constant absence(2): discussion on social media

Problems for discussion:


o

week 10
: Who is the boss: computer piracy, computer security

lecture notes:


o

week 11
: Review: A
Pictorial History of Computing and Society

Notes:


(2) The term "Constant Contact, constant absence" was used by Rebbecca Slayton







Course Readings

Given the range and var
iety of the material selected for this course as well as the speed
with which the research on Computers, Information, and Society is advancing, there is no
single textbook that could adequately cover all the subjects listed in the
Course Schedule

section.
Therefore, throughout the course, references to off
-

and on
-
line material will be
provided and divided into required and recommended readings. Furthermore, a list of
supplementary resources will be given and maintained throughout the course.

Required Read
ings


o

Campbell
-
Kelly, M. and Aspray, W.,
Computer: A History of the Information
Machine
, 2nd edition, Westview Press (2004). On
-
line version of this book is
available via York's eResources

o

Aspray, W. (editor),
Computing Before Computers
, http://ed
-
thelen.org/comp
-
hist/CBC.html

o

Stachniak, Z. and Campbell, S.,
Computing in Canada: Building a Digital Future
,
Transactions, 17, Canada Science and Technology Museum (2009).

Recommended Readings


o

Ceruzzi, P.,
A History of Computing
, MIT Press (
1998).

o

Stachniak, Z.,
Inventing PC: the MCM/70 Story
, McGill
-
Queen's University Press
(2011).

o

Vardalas, J.N.,
The Computer Revolution in Canada: Building National
Technological Competence
, MIT Press (2001)

Supplementary Resources


o

IEEE Annals of the His
tory of Computing
; this journal is the top rated publication
on the history of computing and an excellent educational resource; it's electronic
version is accessible view York Library eResources.

o

SIGCAS
-

the ACM Special Interest Group on Computers and So
ciety
,

http://www.sigcas.org

SIGCAS Newsletter

is accessible via York eResources

o

York University Computer Museum (YUCoM)

located in the department of
Computer Science and Engineering Building contains many collections and
documents on the Canadian histor
y of computing. See
YUCoM.