Technology in Our Changing Society Sample Syllabus

Note: This is a sample syllabus. The real, updated syllabus is located at, which is password-protected and is available for students and guests only.

U48 324—Technology in Our Changing Society
Washington University University College

Spring 2005
Thursdays 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Earth & Planetary Sciences 203

Instructor: Scott Granneman

Adjunct Professor
Washington University in St. Louis
Don’t Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox (O’Reilly: 2005)
Hacking Knoppix (Wiley & Sons: 2005)
Linux Phrasebook (Pearson: 2006)
Podcasting with Audacity: Creating a Podcast with Free Audio Software (Prentice Hall: 2007)
Google Apps Deciphered: Compute in the Cloud to Streamline Your Desktop (Prentice Hall: 2008)
Mac OS X Snow Leopard for Power Users: Advanced Capabilities and Techniques (Apress: 2010)
Contributor, Ubuntu Hacks (O’Reilly: 2006) & Microsoft Vista for IT Security Professionals (Syngress: 2007)
Former columnist for SecurityFocus & Linux Magazine
Former professional Blogger for The Open Source Weblog (also see personal blog)
Full list of publications at
Business Owner
Principal, WebSanity
Contact Info
scott at granneman dot com
314-644-4900 (office)
314-780-0489 (mobile)
Twitter: scottgranneman

Course Description

We are said to live in an information society and work in an technological economy, but what does that mean? If we have indeed experienced a "paradigm shift" in what technology means to society, then how do we adapt to these changes and what do they mean for the traditional ways society functions? This course examines how we think about, communicate and use technology in a variety of contexts, including political, financial, historical, ethical, organizational, and educational. Guest lecturers from business, engineering, humanities and social sciences will provide these perspectives. Students must have an e-mail account and access to the Internet to take the course. Also note: Accelerated (ACTRAC) option: University College students have the option of taking this class for 4 units. For more information, contact University College (314) 935-6700, or visit

Required Texts

Readings will consist of articles, analyses, & ephemera from the Internet. If you ever want to pursue a topic further, you can look up further readings using Search (also located at the bottom of every page) or the Site Map.


Your grade will be based on the following factors:

Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

100 A+
94-99 A
89-93 A-
86-88 B+
83-85 B
79-82 B-
76-78 C+
73-75 C
69-72 C-
66-68 D+
63-65 D
59-62 D-
0-58 F

Accommodation of disabilities: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to complete the required assignments, please contact me during the first week of class to discuss an accommodation.

Academic Integrity

Policy regarding academic dishonesty: This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty may result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the URL, or Web address, for articles and resources found on the Internet.


It is paramount that we respect each other online, in both email and the discussion group. Follow this simple rule: disagree with the idea, but not the person. In other words, it's OK to say "That's a bad idea, because …", and it's not OK to say "You're a bad/stupid/inconsiderate person, because …". If you have an issue with a classmate's behavior online, please bring it to me privately by emailing me at If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to read The Core Rules of Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.

Tentative Schedule

Thurs. Sept. 1 ~ Introductions. What's the most effective way to search & validate information on the Internet?

Thurs. Sept. 8 ~ How do we retrieve and use information on the Web?
"Assignments for 8 September 2005"

Thurs. Sept. 15 ~ How is social software changing the way people communicate?
Guest: Robert Citek, Leader, Central West End Linux Users Group.
"Assignments for 15 September 2005"

Thurs. Sept. 22 ~ How is social software changing the way people communicate, part 2?
Guest: Ben Jones, VeriTome.
"Assignments for 22 September 2005"

Thurs. Sept. 29 ~ What happens to notions of identity & gender on the Internet?
"Assignments for 29 September 2005"
NOTE: Joint class with Gender in American Politics and Law

Thurs. Oct. 6 ~ Who plays online games, why, and how does reality intrude?
Guest: Jans Carton, Principal, WebSanity.
"Assignments for 6 October 2005"

Thurs. Oct. 13 ~ How do virtual worlds deal with property, government, & law?
"Assignments for 13 October 2005"

Thurs. Oct. 20 ~ How do we balance surveillance, privacy, free speech, & national security?
Guest: Denise Lieberman, Legal Director, ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
"Assignments for 20 October 2005"

Thurs. Oct. 27 ~ How is technology changing food, drugs, & medicine?
Guest: Andy, Owner & Chef, Riddle Penultimate
"Assignments for 27 October 2005"

Thurs. Nov. 3 ~ How is open source changing the way software is created, used, and understood?
Guests: Robert Citek, Leader, Central West End Linux Users Group, & Craig Buchek, President, St. Louis Unix Users Group.
"Assignments for 3 November 2005"

Thurs. Nov. 10 ~ How is technology changing the music, movie, & other entertainment industries?
"Assignments for 10 November 2005"

Thurs. Nov. 17 ~ How is technology changing the laws and ethics involved with Intellectual Property?
"Assignments for 17 November 2005"


Thurs. Dec. 1 ~ How is technology changing the way people understand & pursue work, love & sexuality?
Guest: Jerry Bryan, Principal, WebSanity.
"Assignments for 1 December 2005"

Thurs. Dec. 8 ~ How is technology changing education?
"Assignments for 8 December 2005"

Thurs. Dec. 15 ~ How can we reconcile technology, ethics, & equity?
"Assignments for 15 December 2005"

Thurs. Dec. 22 ~ Wrap up & evaluations
"Assignments for 22 December 2005"

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