Soctech seminar, Spring 2005

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Society and technology seminar: SLN 9061 CSE 590 SO, Tue 12:30-1:20, CSE 403

Spring 2005: Ebooks

For several millenia, books have been the primary means used in society to attempt to permanently record and hand down knowledge. By the late 20th Century, books were part of a complex system involving readers, publishers, and authors, each of whose rights were balanced by two hundred years of copyright law. The massive growth of distribution of information in digital form at the end of the 20th Century, including electronic books or "ebooks," created a new environment which challenges the existing balance.

This seminar will explore the present issues surrounding ebooks, including the implications for readers, the law, and technology. No prior background in computer science or law is required. The first weeks of the quarter will focus on a framework for discussion, followed by several theme sessions on various topics.

See Ebook seminar for more information.

Contact information: This course is being organized by Josh Franklin (joshuadf at u), Keunwoo Lee (klee at cs), and Ben Dugan (brd at u).

If you would like to continue to receive news about ongoing soctech activities, then subscribe to the soctech@cs mailing list.

Schedule overview

  • 29 March Introduction (presenter: Josh)
  • David Levy "A Bit of Digital History" Scrolling Forward p. 137-157 (20 pages)
Recommended Optional Reading:
  • 5 April Conceptual Framework (presenter: Josh)
Read, prior to class:
  • 12 April Copyright Law Intro (presenter: Ben)
Read, prior to class:
  • 19 April Technology overview: DRM and the technology of copying (presenter: Keunwoo)
Read, prior to class:
  • 26 April Libraries and ebooks in practice (presenter: Angie Benedetti, from the King County Library System)
Read, prior to class:
  • 3 May Licensing (presenters: Shange Petrini and Brian Ferris)
Read, prior to class:
  • 10 May Licensing discussion (continued from previous week)
Read, prior to class: Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • 17 May Ebook usage models: licensing, cataloguing (presenter: Keunwoo)
Read, prior to class: Ontology is Overrated, by Clay Shirky
  • 24 May Digital documents in international development (presenter: Shange Petrini + possible guest)
Prior to class:
Please browse the following
Please read the following (very brief) articles
  • Use of wireless internet in Nepal among Yak farmers BBC Article
  • The Importance of Electronic Journal Publishing for Developing Countries INASP Article
Skim the following
  • Wireless Internet Opportunity for Developing Countries infoDEV article See especially the case studies begining on page 60 (page 43 of the print copy)
  • Economics, real costs and benefits of electronic publishing in science Oxford Conference Summary
  • 31 May Accessibility (presenter: Kate Deibel)
Please read the following:
Optional readings:

Mailing list


to sign up for the course mailing list. You will need a UW NetID. Contact Keunwoo if you have any difficulty signing up.

Administrative info

Course grading and credit-load policies: Subject to change, but variable credits are available to meet differing levels of participation:

  • Sign up for 1 credit if you plan to attend, do the readings, and participate in discussions.
  • Sign up for 2 credits if you wish to lead a discussion/present, OR write a short paper.
  • Sign up for 3 credits if you wish to either (a) lead a discussion/present, AND write a short paper, or (b) write one long paper.

Past seminars