15-290 / 19-211 Computers and Society

Homework 1 - due January 20, 2005

Reading assignment: Quinn 1

1. The following are three attempts at paraphrasing a paragraph from page 37 of your text book. For each one, decide whether or not it contains plagiarism and provide a brief explanation to justify your decision.

A. For many valuable items, making copies of the original is inexpensive. For example, while a record company may spend a lot of money to produce a CD, copies can be burned for just a few cents each. Once CDs have been ripped, the Internet provides an easy way to distribute them as MP3 files. As a result unauthorized copies of much content is proliferating. Is giving ownership rights to creators of intellectual property hopeless, and will creativity be stifled (Quinn 2005, p. 37)?
B. As a result of the ease with which copies of digital content can be propagated via the Internet, it has become difficult for creators of intellectual property to prevent inexpensive copies of their works from proliferating. Quinn asks whether continuing "to give ownership rights to creators of intellectual property" is "hopeless," and, if so, whether "creativity will be stifled" (Quinn 2005, p. 37).
C. For many items of value, making the original copy is expensive, but making copies of the original is inexpensive. As a result, unauthorized copies of songs, movies, and computer programs are proliferating (Quinn 2005, p. 37).

2. Write a short essay (roughly 300 words) about some topic related to computing and/or the Internet that interests you and has social or ethical implications. Describe the background; then identify the social or ethical issues, problems, or questions that you think are important. (Don't make your essay be just an argument for one point of view. You may express your views if you want to, but first explain what the issues are, and why there is a problem or a controversy.) [This question courtesy of Sara Baase.]

3. Keep a diary of all the different kinds of interactions you have this week that involve computers. (For example, class registration system, cash machine, supermarket checkout, instant messaging, etc.)

A. Provide a list of the different kinds of interactions you noted in your diary. Annotate each interaction to indicate whether it primarily involved business (or educational) computers or home (or other personal) computers.

B. Imagine that the interactions you listed in parts A took place without computers. Describe a few of the most significant changes to the way these interactions would take place without computers. Be sure to describe any interactions that would be unlikely to take place at all without computers.