An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)


What implication of computing do you most want to consider this semester? Why?

Adan

....well, it has been a real long time since I have been "up-to-date" with computer technology. The speed at which it grows is enormous. I would like to know what sort of implications this rapid growth is having on the consumer and the producer.

Naturally, I do know some things (I think). Because of the fierce competition in the technology market, producers (software and hardware) spend millions on research and development. Their goal is build the faster, most efficient, most reliable product possible at a lower cost/price. While in search of this, I was curious as to what kind of toll this is taking on the producers. Look at IBM, weren't they at the top of their field 10-20 years ago? Look at them now.

I am also guessing, based on my limited knowledge of economics, that those producers that don't set the par or keep up with it, eventually lose out. Is this really necessary. It seems so, if we want and expect the fastest, most efficient, most reliable product at the lowest price. What ever happened to good customer service? Which company is the Saturn (that is because Saturn is supposedly really good with customer service, or so I've heard) of computers technology? It can't be Microsoft. Secondly, this rapid growth rate must also be taking a toll on consumers as well. I PC purchased 2 months ago is already considered out-dated. How can producers expect (even though consumers supposedly demand it) consumers to keep up with this high paced growth rate, let alone understand it? The average computer user, as Ivy pointed out, probably only uses the basic features because he doesn't understand advanced features.

Also, what does one do with an "obsolete" computer? I have a computer at home that has a 25 mgz processor and a little itty bitty hard drive. Is this piece of technology that was revolutionary 10-11 years ago, not just a hunk of scrap metal? The only service that it sees now is the one hour it usually takes my dad to play a couple games of tetris before bed time. So, before I hear any more about how far we have come along with technology and the great many things that have been done with computers, i would like to know what is going to happen to all of those displaced computers. THAT REMINDS ME! Last year during finals week someone left an entire computer console outside for an entire week.

It sat outside on one of the benches for almost an entire week before it got thrown away. It did not appear to have any physical damages, the contents, CD drive and FDC seemed to be intact. interesting huh?

Cathy

I don't know if there is one thing that I really "most" want to consider. All of the information in the news about computer crime seems pretty interesting, especially since I've always had the impression that some computer hackers aren't out to make money, they're just out to mess things up. I wonder, do computers and the internet encourage this kind of anarchist behavior, or just make it easier?

Plus, I keep hearing about the debate about how freely distributed software or operating systems with their 'nuts and bolts' made public are 'better' because then lots of people can work on improving them. "Linux is better!" Everyone seems to be saying, but I don't totally understand why - is it just from a business standpoint (i.e. it is not of the evil empire Microsoft) or is there something about such a program or system that makes it innately more desirable?

Then there's the issue of whether computers 'bring people closer together' or 'keep them apart.' I'm pretty sure that there are possibilities for both, and always will be, but it's an interesting issue to think about anyway.

Ivy

well, this question would probably be easier to answer if i'd done the reading first, but i haven't and i may not get to a computer again tonight, so here goes...

i guess i most want to consider the implications of computing for children and the next generation. i'm thinking about my experiences growing up and going to school and how much things have changed in even the last four years. when i applied to college, for instance, the newest greatest thing was that some schools were coming out with applications on disk, where they sent you the disk, you filled it out on your computer, and then sent it back. today you can simply apply on-line. that's amazing to me. i could have saved so much in overnight mail fees!

i also think about research as it applied to grade school, junior high, and high school. when i was in high school, children who had those encyclopedias on cd-rom were the lucky ones (encarta, was that the name of the popular one?). now anyone who doesn't have internet access is at a huge disadvantage. you don't have to go to the library to do research anymore. not for reports at that level. but what does that teach children about how to use a library and planning ahead? having to go to the library to check out books taught me to plan in advance, not only to make sure i had enough time to read the books, but to make sure i got the books before someone else checked them out. today, all the information you need is on the internet, available for use to one and all (with computers with internet access that is). my brother, a junior in high school, can get away with starting his research the night before his papers are due. not that i never did that, but i'd at least had to make sure i got to the library before it closed. i wonder how little things like that will influence and shape the face of future generations. i wonder how the things i had and have have influenced me. for instance, i can't imagine having to write a thesis on a typewriter, much less by hand. how have computers changed writing? so many implications... so little time.

Jae

I would most want to consider the implication of privacy in computing, and issues of computer security. I think it is the most interesting question, especially with the various forms of computer crime the article for today's class brings up. I really hate it when netscape advertisements take over during searches, and I think it is an interesting question what infringement this might mean to individuals. I am also interested in format restrictions that may be imposed on websites and issues of censorship on the web.

Jeana

I think that the issue of security is probably the component of computing that I'm most interested in. There probably isn't a company, whether big or small, anywhere (well, at least in the industrialized world), that doesn't depend on computers to manage or execute some component of their business, nor an effective government anywhere that doesn't either. People rely on them to store and find so much information (often sensitive), to do business, to communicate, even to shop. It's a little frightening just how computer-reliant our society has become, so I can't help but wonder how safe and reliable these systems that we rely so heavily upon actually are. As some of the articles in the last Risks Digest pointed out, there are plenty of people out there who seem to recognize this, and are looking to somehow profit from being able to crack security codes and break into systems. Theoretically, as all computer systems have been constructed by people, can't they also be 'deconstructed,' so to speak, by people as well?

I'm also kind of interested in networking. I was wondering just how linked up computer systems are, particularly governmental ones, and how plausible it is to just cause a complete crash. And if it's possible to make the world wide web crash completely. Just curious.

Jeff

Of the topics covered in the text, should confident records be stored on the Internet? If my medical records were available on the Internet, hospitals around the world would be able to access my medical records. Is the possible invasion of privacy worth the increase in quality of medical care? What measures could be taken to prevent an invasion of privacy?

This issue is very relevant to my life. I would be willing to allow my medical records to be available to medical staff around the world assuming there is a secure network to store the information on. I am interested in the advantages and disadvantages technological developments bring.

If topic that are not covered in the text are acceptable, what skills are/should be expected of the 21st Century worker? There are already 46 million Americans (pg. 9) who work with computers. Many future employment opportunities will require computer skills. This is the knowledge could be important for career planning and development.

Joel

I think the Internet, specifically the World Wide Web, is one of the fastest growing, most impacting and influential aspects of computing now and in the future. I think that it is one of the most used aspects of computing for the average person, which is another reason why it is so important to our society. Therefore, I would like to consider the implications of the internet and WWW now and predicted implications to come.

Kevin

I'm very interested in implications of the Web and its continuing influence on society. However, since I've already taken a class on that subject, I'll put out something different. I think the implication I'm most concerned with in this course is the effect a computer's reliability has on our society. Just reading the first chapter of Forester and Morrison has reminded me of how one small computer glitch can completely turn around society. If we humans are becoming more dependent upon computers, as we seem to be, and if programs on those computers are becoming more and more complex, then even the slightest error in one program can shut down an entire city for days at a time. What happens when "if" is misspelled as "in" and our computer-dependent planet loses power while programmers search through the thousands of pages of code involved? I don't think this makes computers a bad thing, but I wonder how society will cope with such things.

Liz

I think the idea of information control is very important. For example, I think there should be guidelines to keep children from stumbling into things that are not appropriate, but that does not mean people should be restricted from what they want to produce. Also, I think the idea of responsibility is a major one. Whenever anything goes wrong, the question is "Who's fault is it?" and this can get hard if not impossible to answer. When a child stumbles onto an inappropriate website, who takes the blame? Should the sponsor of the site have censored it? Or should the child's parents exercise greater control over what their child is exposed to?

Sam

One of the issues that I am most concerned with are the socio-economic class implications that the expansion of computers carries. This is something that Forrester and Morrison didn't really touch on in chapter 1. What I mean by this is that computers are not realistically a universally accessible tool. There is still an affordability issue and computers are still a priveleged item. So as fast as technology is changing, some people are left completely unattached to it. Even as computers begin running more of their lives, the relationship is one sided. I assume that someday computers will be woven into everyone's everyday life, but will the large gap only continue to increase till this point?

Basically, I wonder if computers will further stratify society along class lines or whether they can help to bridge the gap?


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