The Social Impact of Information and Computer Technologies

Prof. Sha Xin Wei

Computer Science

Concordia University


This is a readings-based discussion seminar focussing on some of the most urgent debates today concerning computer technology.   These include military research, medical care, state and local terrorism, surveillance, sex, privacy and expression, opensource economics and ideology, cultural contexts, and community.   The goal of the course is to help students to develop critical approaches to their own professional practices, and to the social, ethical, legal, and economic consequences of computer technologies.


Students will organize and present papers in a miniature conference on these themes.  Guest lecturers may be invited.




History of the computing and the Internet

           World War Two: Cybernetics, Communication, and Control

           The Cold War: Coding and Closing the World

           From Englebart to the World Wide Web


Intellectual Property

              Open Source

              Gift Economy vs. capitalism

              Free Software Foundation


Professional Ethics

              Teaching and learning

              Industry, professionalism

              Research: Human subjects

              CIPS (Canadian Information Processing Society)

Simulation, Games, and Presentations of Self


              Sex vs. pornography

              Play vs. e ntertainment


Computer-augmented medicine

              Visualization to mediation



Ubiquitous computing, sensors and Surveillance

              Security, civil liberties and permanent war



Politics of Presence

              WWW, Blog, YouTube

              Theater and Spectacle: Artaud, Debord

              Phenomenology: Heidegger On Technology



              Community technologies

              Technologies of performance



Related References

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Ivan da Costa Marques





DIAC Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing Conference



Technology and Culture


MIT Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier



Anthropology of Computing, Fall 2004


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Science and Technology Studies


UC Davis



UC Irvine



Stanford University

Computers, Ethics, and Social Responsibility



CS 492 The Social Implications of Computing



University of Saskatchewan

CMPT 408 Ethics and Computer Science


Queen's University

CISC 497 Social,  Ethical,  and Legal Issues, in Computing