Untangling the Web:

A Social Analysis of the Internet

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Instructor: Jeannie Albrecht
Phone: x4251
Office: TCL 304
Class Meeting Times: MWTh 1:00pm - 3:00pm in TCL 206

Course Description

Do BitTorrent and YouTube violate copyright laws? Should you be held accountable for incriminating pictures that your friends post on Facebook or MySpace? The Internet, which began in the late 1960s as a small government-funded project connecting four computers, now connects billions of computers world-wide. It has undoubtedly become an integral part of our lives, and has provided new ways for people to communicate and share information. Certainly any network with billions of computers requires some centralized control in order to function. So who controls the Internet? Or more importantly, who should control the Internet? This class will examine the complex public policy issues involved in answering these questions from both a technical and social standpoint, and discuss how the decisions we make today will impact the design of the future Internet. Topics covered will include a brief history of the Internet, net neutrality, Internet governance and control, copyright and patent law, peer-to-peer file sharing legality, privacy and security, spyware and phishing, and the future of the Internet.

Format and Evaluation

Class meetings will consist primarily of discussions and debates based on reading assignments. Students will write a short (1 page) summary of the assigned readings before each class, and will take turns leading discussions. Assignments will include creating a simple personal webpage, writing a short (2 page) position paper, and a longer (8-10 page) research paper on a topic of the student's choice. Class attendance and participation will be mandatory to receive a passing grade.

More information about your research papers/projects including potential topics can be found here.

Class webpages:
Sean Barker Jing Cao
Thomas Coleman Ikenna Iheoma
Sam Jackson Greg Kim
Mike Nguyen Vince Powell-Newman
Joe Skitka Steve Van Wert


Course Syllabus
Department Honor Code

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