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CCN: 42709 
4 unit(s) 
Information Users and Society 

Instructors  Pamela Samuelson and Nancy Van House 
E-mail: pam@sims.berkeley.edu 
Office: 305B South Hall 
Office Hours: 4-6 pm Mondays and 2-4 pm Tuesdays 

On Mondays, office hours will be held in 341 North Addition at Boalt Hall. 

E-mail: vanhouse@sims.berkeley.edu 
Office: 307A South Hall 
Office Hours: 2-4 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays 


Time/Location  TTh 12:30 - 2:00 
202 South Hall 

Prerequisites  SIMS students only except with permission of instructor.

Readings & Assignments  Readings for part 1.  
Readings for part 2.  
Assignment 1. 
Assignment 2
Assignments for Second Half

Grading   50% 1st part of course; 50% 2nd part.

Course Description  Designing and managing effective information systems requires an understanding of the circumstances of their use: real people use them for specific purposes under specific circumstances. Information systems (computer-based and traditional) both shape and are shaped by their users and their context. In the first half of this course, we will consider the social nature of information and information systems, and their design and use as part of how people make sense out of their worlds, interact with one another, and coordinate action across time and space. We will consider such issues as the social construction of information; knowledge communities (including organizations) and the collaborative nature of knowledge; the self and community in an electronic world; assessing user needs; involving users in system design; and issues in human-computer interaction, and computer-supported cooperative work. 

Designing and managing effective information systems also requires having a larger understanding of law and policy issues arising from the uses of information. Sometimes, these laws, especially intellectual property laws, provide important sources of protection against unauthorized uses or appropriations of information. Sometimes, as with state privacy and federal encryption regulations, the law places limits on what uses can be made of information or what kinds of security systems can be used to protect information. Sometimes, codes of conduct within an industry also constrain the freedom of firms to do whatever they want with information. Because information law and policy is evolving at a fairly rapid pace in response to new technologies, it is important to have a sense of some of the larger information policy debates going on at national and international levels, such as those requiring libraries to filter content and those concerning privacy, because what is a policy debate now may turn out to be a regulation or a broader rule at a later time. As information becomes the principal commodity of the information economy, traditional "freedom of infomation" policies need to be adjusted. 

This course is required of all entering SIMS students and will serve as an introduction to other courses in the curriculum treating these issues in greater depth. 

Overview of information law and policy themes to be explored in the second half of the course.

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