CS 329 Elements of Computing in Society  
Elaine Rich
Fall, 2012

Class Information








T, Th 11:00-12:15

PAI 3.14


Computer Science 303E or the equivalent with a grade of at least C-.






Office Hours


Elaine Rich                


ACES 2.442               

W 11:00 –12:00 and TH 3:30 – 4:30


Kim Houck


By appointment


·         Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis, Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.  (This book is available on the Amazon Kindle.)

·         Quinn, Michael, Ethics for the Information Age, 5th Edition. 

·         Ford, Martin, The Lights in the Tunnel  


This course carries both the Writing and the Ethics and Leadership flags.

Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing.  You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and to discuss your peers’ work.  You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work.

Ethics and Leadership courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life.  You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments involving ethical issues and the process of applying ethical reasoning to real-life situations.


We will use the i>clicker interactive response system in class.  (Click here to find out more about it.)  If you don’t already have an i>clicker, you need to get one from the Coop.  The i>clicker2 will give you more features, but the i>clicker1 will also work. Your i>clicker responses will form the bulk of your class participation grade.  Thus it is a serious violation of our academic integrity policy to let anyone else use your i>clicker.


Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask, answer, and explore 24/7.  Read more at http://www.piazza.com.   We will use Piazza for important class announcements.  In addition, you can use it for discussions with other students and with the instructors.  Once registration has settled down, we will enroll everyone in the class Piazza forum.


We all wish that we could have courses without grades. You hate worrying about grades.  We hate having to assign grades. But grades are essential to insuring that your degree has the value it deserves. So we have to have a grading system and that system has to have three essential properties:

·         It has to motivate everyone to learn as much as possible.

·         It has to be fair to everyone in the class.

·         It has to be a true measure of how much each student knows about the class material.

In this class, grades will be assigned as follows:

·         Project                        42%

·         Homeworks               40%

·         News articles              5%

·         Notecards                    6%

·         Class participation     7%


Everyone will choose a topic for a term project.  The project will have two parts:

·         A written report.

·         A class presentation.


Short homeworks will be assigned most weeks.  You can see what they are and when they are due by going to the Class Schedule page.  The following short documents describe how we will grade the homeworks and they offer tips for writing good papers:

·         A guide to the structure of a good paper

·         Tips for writing a good paper

·         How we will grade

News Articles

As you’re reading the news, be on the lookout for articles that touch on the issues that we are covering in class.  Every Thursday (unless otherwise announced), you should come to class with a printout of an article that you found interesting.  You should be prepared to present your article to the class.  You cannot get credit for turning in an article if you are not present in class.


It is important that you come to class having done the assigned reading.  To help assure that everyone has done so, you will often be asked to turn in, at the beginning of class, one 3 x 5 card on which you have written a short description of an idea that you found interesting as you were doing the reading.  Once you’ve chosen an idea, do a bit more research on it.  Come to class prepared to present what you have learned.  I will flip through the cards at the beginning of class and choose a few. 

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a documented disability (physical or cognitive) who requires academic accommodations should contact the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 471-4641 (TTY for users who are deaf or hard of hearing) or http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/ as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.

Academic Integrity

You should read carefully the class policy on academic integrity. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated and will result in a failing grade in the class.

Religious Holidays 

By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of your pending absence at least fourteen days prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day. If you must miss a class, an examination, or an assignment in order to observe a religious holy day, you will be given an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.

Additional Class Policies

You should read CS Department Code of Conduct. The policies described there will be followed in this class.