MW 2:40-3:55
501 Northwest Corner Building

Computers are heavily entwined in almost everything we do. Their use is not an unmixed blessing. For example, we can get our news from many free, online sources—but their existence is threatening the existence of the newspapers that employ the reporters who gather the news. Social media are a great way to interact—but they can threaten personal privacy. This course will explore such issues and more. It will be a combination of lecture and seminar; discussion and opinions are strongly encouraged.


The text is
A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Internet, Sara Baase, Prentice-Hall. Some readings will be from primary sources.

My blog will often be relevant.

The Risks Digest

Please become a regular reader of the Risks Digest, using any of the mechanisms listed. Note that it appears irregularly; you can't poll it once a week or some such.

TAs and Office Hours

Monday: Matt Piccolella 4-5
Tuesday: Sarah Green 3-4
Wednesday: Léopold Mebazaa 10a-11
Thursday: Zoe Wood 11a-12
Friday: Nikhil Mitra 3-4

All office hours are in the TA room: Mudd 122A


No computer science background is required, other than the usual familiarity with the Internet. An open mind and a willing to discuss things are strongly preferred.

Homework Policy

There will be one paper for each major unit. The lowest grade will be dropped.

Late assignments are subject to increasing penalties. There are no grace days or "free lates". See the slides from the first class for details.


There are no exams. Final grades are curved.


Unless there is significant sentiment to the contrary, I will not use Courseworks except for the gradebook and the discussion list. All lectures and homework assignments will be posted on this web site.