There is a range of required assignments for this course. None of them are optional, and all must be completed by their stated due date. If you are unable, to complete an assignment by its due date, you are responsible for making arrangements to complete that assignment prior to the due date.

  • All assigned readings and materials
  • Class participation (10 points)
  • Five Quizzes (3 points each — 15 points)
  • Four Reading Reflections of 300-500 words (5 points each — 20 points)
  • Mid-term (25 points)
  • Final (30 points)

Reading Reflections

Reading reflections should be between 300 and 500 words. A successful response involves a number of factors:

  • The writer should respond to the prompt by making an original argument.
  • That argument should be encapsulated in a clear thesis statement.
  • That thesis statement should be supported by evidence from and substantive engagement with the course materials. This engagement with the prompt and the course materials should go beyond summary.
  • In closing, the writer should raise issues for further exploration.
  • All engagement with outside materials should be accompanied by full and accurate citations.
  • Prose should make use of standard grammar and syntax.
  • All writing should be well proof-read and edited, prior to submission.

If you have concerns about your writing, you should consider making a visit to the Writing Center for assistance.

Prompt 1: Consider Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace’s work on calculating machines. Are their plans and discussions about the Analytical Engine justifiably identified by historians as clearly foreshadowing the potential of the electronic computer in the 20th Century? Why or Why not?

Prompt 2: Who computes? How does considering this question change our understanding of the history of computing?

Prompt 3: Make a case in favor of or against open access, open source software, or net neutrality, based on historical precedent.

Prompt 4: How do historically established stereotypes infuse the ways that commercial services organize information on the web? Are there parallel historical events that might provide some guidance on how to frame this issue for a public user? How? What steps would you council to make these perspectives more clear to a casual user who may see digital technologies as objective and value neutral? Draw on your group search experiment from Week 11 to shape your reflection.

Honors Option: Plan an Exhibit on Some Aspect of the History of Computing and the Culture of the Digital Age

Good exhibits introduce visitors to a topic about which they may have very little knowledge. The materials in the exhibit work together not only to share historical information, but also to help visitors begin to ask their own questions about the topic at hand and their own experience of the larger world. As such, each section of the exhibit needs to support the argument of the whole by asking, and trying to answer, related questions and showcasing artifacts, documents, stories, and biographical sketches to highlight multiple perspectives.

The exhibit plan should be prefaced by a justification for the significance of the topic selected, and a description of the target audience for the work (no more than 2 pages).

Each exhibit should include three to five sections. Think of them as rooms dedicated to addressing one sub-question or sub-topic of the larger exhibit. Each section should be introduced by a tightly written paragraph that frames the questions that the section is hoping to answer and the argument that the materials combine to support.

Each section should contain at least five elements. Each element in the section (artifact, person, document, etc.) should be carefully chosen and accompanied by a label that describes the element and its relevance to the section and the exhibit. Labels should be no more than 100 words, and be accompanied by a clear citation for the item.

Each exhibit should be accompanied by an annotated bibliography that presents the research that supports the exhibit.

Extra Credit

Select one of the following pairs of movies. View the movies and write a 2 page (up to 600 word) review of the pair in the context of the materials that we have read in class.

Each submission will be worth 2 points of extra credit and you may do up to two submissions.