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Computers and Society
Evaluating the Impact of Technology
Chris Brooks Department of Computer Science University of San Francisco

Evaluating Technological Impact
It can be useful to think about the ways in which technology impacts the way we live our lives. Most computer scientists have a pretty positive view of technology. Is that view justified? How do we defend that view to other, more skeptical points of view?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.1/?

Research and scholarship on the Web
Having so much information available on the Web is a double-edged sword. What are some advantages to having the Web as a research tool? What are some disadvantages? What can be done to help address these disadvantages?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.2/?

Research and scholarship on the Web
Research challenges: Google ranks pages by popularity, not correctness There is no external editorial control or means to challenge incorrect information. Authors may have a hidden agenda or motives.

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.3/?

Wikipedia
Wikipedia is the best example of the challenges these issues present. Wikipedia has over 15 times as many words as Encyclopedia Brittanica. Vast coverage of a wide variety of issues. Worldwide group of contributors and editors providing expertise.

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.4/?

Advantages of Wikipedia
What advantages does the Wikipedia approach provide?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.5/?

Advantages of Wikipedia
What advantages does the Wikipedia approach provide? “Wisdom of crowds” Able to solicit articles on a much wider array of topics. Fast editing and updating Democratizes choice of topic and content.

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.6/?

Disadvantages of Wikipedia
What disadvantages does the Wikipedia approach provide?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.7/?

Disadvantages of Wikipedia
What disadvantages does the Wikipedia approach provide? Uneven coverage, emphasis on pop culture Inaccuracy, poor writing Hidden agendas Vandalism Neutral Point of View

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.8/?

Technology as a crutch
Computers encourage certain behaviors by making them easier Spell checking Calculators Garbage collection cut-and-paste

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.9/?

Changes in thinking
What skills are less useful due to the advent of computers? What ways of thinking are made easier? What sorts of dialogue/discussion are more common? What sorts are less common?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.10/?

Exercise
The ubiquity of calculators has changed the way that math is taught in school. Some would argue that it’s made it more difficult for people do perform and understand arithmetic. Give some advantages to incorporating calculators into an elementary school curriculum. Give some disadvantages to incorporating calculators into an elementary school curriculum. Should calculators be banned from elementary schools? Why? Should calculators be a mandatory part of the curriculum? why? What about laptops?

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.11/?

Technology and Education
The past generation has seen a huge push on integrating technology into education, both at the K-12 level and in college. Recognition that computer skills are essential to getting good jobs Desire to use technology to improve the educational experience.

Department of Computer Science — University of San Francisco – p.12/?

Issues
There are really two separate issues here: Making sure that students are tech-literate Incorporating computers into the teaching of other subjects

Department of Computer Science —...
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