INFOSYS 204: Information Users and Society
Fall, 2002

updated 12/5/02 small changes


Instructor:  Prof. Nancy Van House

510-642-0855; 307A South Hall

office hours  Tues 2:45-4:30

This course is taught in two parts.   The  second part will be taught by  Prof. Pamela Samuelson.


1.  This book is in the bookstore:

John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information, Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
We won't be reading as much of this book as I had thought when I ordered it for the bookstore (many months ago) -- but chapters from this are not in the reader, and the entire book is recommended.

2. There is a reader at Copycentral on Bancroft.


There will be a major midterm paper and 2-3 small papers during the semester. Description of the midterm paper will be posted shortly; interim assignments will follow.

Guidelines for written assignments.

Resources for written assignments. added 9/5/02


All these are in the reader except those from Brown and Duguid.

1-- Aug 27 & 29

Brown & Duguid (B&D): Intro; ch. 3

Read sometime in the next two weeks: DiMaggio, et al, Social Implications of the Internet, Ann Rev Sociology 2001: 307-36. We won't cover all their topics, and they don't cover all ours, but it is useful overview.

Assn 1 due Sept. 3 Slides 8/29

2-- Sept. 3 & 5
Is technology neutral?

Winner, Langdon. "Do artifacts have politics?" In: Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wacjman, eds. The Social Shaping of Technology, 2nd ed., Open University Press, 1995; pp. 28-40. 12/02

Friedman, Batya, ed. Human Values and the Design of Computer Technology. Cambridge Univ Press, 1997.

Friedman, Introduction, pp. 1-18

Friedman, Batya, and Helen Nissenbaum, "Bias in computer systems," pp. 21-40


Kline, Ronald, and Trevor Pinch, "The social construction of technology." In: Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wacjman, eds. The Social Shaping of Technology, 2nd ed., Open University Press, 1995; pp. 113-115.

Bijker, Wiebe. Sociohistorical technology studies," In: Jasanoff, Sheila, and others, eds. Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, rev. ed. Sage, 1995; p. 251-2.


3-- Sept. 10 & 12 ORGANIZATIONS:
Use of IT, including CSCW

B&D ch. 4

Orlikowski, Wanda J. "Learning from Notes: organizational issues in groupware implementation." The Information Society 9 (1993) pp. 237-250.

Orlikowski, Wanda J. "Improvising Organizational Transformation over Time: a Situated Change Perspective." Information Systems Research 7:1 (March 1996) pp. 63-92. Pay attention to the case study and how this organization is similar to or different from the one in the other article.

The following may be useful in understanding the cases above:

Ackerman, Mark. "The intellectual challenge of CSCW: the gap between social requirements and technical feasibility." Human-Computer Interaction, 15, 2000, We will focus on pp. 181-184, although the rest of the article is useful, too. Online at

Erickson, T., Halverson, C., Kellogg, W. A., Laff, M. and Wolf, T. " Social Translucence: Designing Social Infrastructures that Make Collective Activity Visible." Communications of the ACM , 45:4 April 2002, pp. 40-44.


Useful site: Usablity First:



4--Sept. 17 & 19
Group & Community Dynamics in Computer Mediated Communication

Olson, Gary M. and Judith S. Olson. "Distance matters." Human-Computer Interaction 15, 2000, pp. 139-178.
They focus on synchronous communication; think about the implications of their findings for asynchronous communication, too. Focus mostly on sections 5 & 6.

Wellman and Gulia, "Virtual Communities: net surfers don't ride alone." In Kollock and Smith, Communities in Cyberspace, 1999, p. 167-194.

Wallace, Psychology of the Internet, ch. 4 & 5 (This is a fast read for people familiar with the internet, but is useful for its social psychological insights.)

We won't have time to discuss in class, but at some point read the following: Wallace, Psychology of the Internet

ch. 2, Online Persona
ch. 3, Online Masks and Masquerades


Slides 9/17

Slides 9/19

more slides

5-- Sept. 24 & 26
Internet use; digital divide

US. NTIA. A NATION ONLINE: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet, February 2002

Executive Summary
Ch. 1: Overview
ch. 2: Computer and Internet Use
ch. 3: Online Activities
Full report is on informal reserve in computer lab.

Link to methods and questionnaire. added 9/19

Link to charts. added 9/19



UCLA Internet project

Pew Internet and American Life Project

internet rejectors

Stanford internet and society study  link fixed 9/24
more: IT&Society (new journal) v. 1 no. 1 added 9/24

US digital divide reports thru 2000 (not updated)

The Digital Divide Network - a variety of reports and resources, sponsored by the Benton Foundation:

Bringing a Nation Online: The Importance of Federal Leadership disputes Bush admin assessment of dig divide. (Should be at but this site is dead. Link above is an alternate.)

6-- Oct. 1 & 3
User-centered design; Usability

Review the following, all internet-accessible:

Overview of IS214 - Usability and Needs Assessment

Table of Contents of Barnum, Usability Testing and Research Follow links "About the Book" to "Contents"

Powerpoint presentation by Carol Barnum

The Alertbox: Current Issues in Web Usability, Jakob Nielsen Browse topics; review some that interest you.




Assignment 2 due 10/1


7A-- Oct. 8

Josephson Institute of Ethics, Making Ethical Decisions.

ACM Code of Ethics



Berkeley's ethics site: "Your Online Home for Academic Inquiry into Ethics"

ALA Code of Ethics
SAA Code of Ethics
ACM Code of Ethics
IEEE Code of Ethics

Journal of Information Ethics
oriented more to professionals

Ethics and Information Technology
oriented more toward researchers

International Center for Information Ethics

The Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
1st issue will be Jan, 2003, issue published in Nov., 2002

7B-- Oct. 10
Critical Technical Practice

Selections from Philip Agre, Computation and human experience, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997. In reader.  

Intro to the book -- much of what's photocopied is from this chapter.


Week 8A-- Oct. 15
course recap