7/25: You can try to re-claim some points on Questions 2 and 5 of Part A of Test 1 only. We will go over the rest of the test on Friday morning. To re-claim points, write on paper your new (and improved!) solution AND how your original solution was wrong. We need to see that you really have a better understanding now before we can give you back some points! Use our office hours to get help and to submit your solution/explanation. Deadline is Monday, 7/30, at 5:45pm (Eric's office hour).

7/18: Remember that consultants are in the RPCC computer lab 7:30-9pm Sunday through Thursday to help you with the course material, especially programming.

Overview: CS/INFO 153 - Computation and Culture in a Digital Age

Computing and information science is relevant to many aspects of our lives, from explorations in science and medicine, the arts, to commerce and entertainment. This course explores some ideas and technologies of computing and information science as well as their role in society from the ethical, legal, historical, and cultural perspectives. Students are introduced to the user-centered development life cycle for web site design with a focus on critique and usability testing. Students are exposed to some of the underpinnings of modern artificial intelligence and they learn fundamental computer programming concepts through the manipulation of digital media. Through discussion, debate, and writing, this course also explores the rewards, challenges, and opportunities presented by the rapid evolution and adoption of computing and information technologies.

See activities organized by topics.

Lectures are held in Hollister 366 (HO in the schedule) and the ACCEL lab (AC in the schedule).

The lecturer is Professor Daisy Fan

There are two Teaching Assistants (TAs) for this course:

Office hours are as follows:

  • Monday and Wednesday - Eric Breck 4:45-5:45pm in the "blue room" (downstairs from the ACCEL lab)
  • Tuesday and Thursday - Blazej Kot 4:45-5:45pm in the "blue room" (downstairs from the ACCEL lab)
  • Friday - Professor Daisy Fan 12-1pm in Upson 5141

Consultants are at the RPCC computer lab 7:30-9pm, Sunday to Thursday, to help you with course material, especially programming.


If you are in the ACCEL lab, use Firefox to download the files. Internet Explorer will not work.

      Loc Class Homework Assigned Homework Due
(at 9:30pm)
16 M 9:00-10:15 HO What is CIS? Computing & Society Essay 1 Essay 1  
    10:30-11:15 HO Social Informatics, Ethics & Law Read Chapter 1    
    1:30-2:45 HO Introduction to programming     diffArea.m
    3:00-4:45 AC Lab 1: Matlab env, log spiral, built-in functions     spiral.m

17 T 9:00-10:15 HO Discuss: ethical frameworks Essay 2
Read Chapter 2
    10:30-11:45 HO Introduction to Artificial Intelligence      
    1:15-2:45 HO Prog: branching, nested statements     roots.m
    3:00-4:45 AC Lab 2: graphics, random #, branching Exercise 1   rectangle.m, clickFigure.m
18 W 9:00-10:15 HO Guest lecture: law in the Internet (Mitrano)      
    10:30-11:45 HO Discuss: how to govern the Internet? Read Chapter 4   NYT Music Sharing Opinion Essay
    1:15-2:45 HO Prog: iteration using FOR; function     area.m,
    3:00-4:45 AC Lab 3: FOR, function      
19 R 9:00-10:15 HO Discuss: intellectual property Read Chapter 3 Term paper B survey instrument  
    10:30-11:45 HO Introduction to Natural Language Processing      
    1:15-2:45 HO Machine translation      
    3:00-4:45 AC Lab: work on Exercise 2 or other homework Exercise 2 (NACLO problems were handed out in lab) Exercise 1  
20 F 9:00-10:15 HO Discuss: free speech on cyberspace Interview re. music sharing    
    10:30-11:45 HO Review      
21 Sa         Exercise 2  
22 Su            
23 M 9:00-10:15 HO Information Retrieval (IR) Exercise 3 Exercise 3  
    10:30-11:45 HO Web Search   Interview data (submit in class at 12:45pm)  
    12:45-2:15 AC IR Lab      
    2:30-3:45 ? College Admissions Workshop      
24 T 9:00-10:15 HO Test 1 Read Chapter 5    
    10:30-11:45 HO Prog: Sound and vectors      
    1:15-2:45 HO Prog: simulation and computing issues      
    3:00-4:45 AC Lab 4: sound and vectors     pianoNotes.m, piano.wav
25 W 9:00-10:15 HO Discuss: Is there privacy in cyberspace?   Essay 2  
    10:30-11:45 HO Prog: Images and matrices     flipLtRt.m
    1:15-2:45 AC Lab 5: programming with images & sound Exercise 4: media programming    
    3:00-4:45 AC Review/work      
26 R 9:00-10:15 HO Machine learning      
    10:30-11:45 HO Spam classification / Na´ve Bayes      
    1:15-2:45 AC Spam classifier project (Exercise 5)      
    3:00-4:45 AC Spam classifier project      
27 F 9:00-10:15 HO Information Architecture (IA)      
    10:30-11:45 HO IA: web design; review Test 1      
28 Sa            
29 Su            
30 M 9:00-10:15 HO Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)      
    10:30-11:45 HO HCI: usability      
    1:15-2:45 AC Lab6 : webpage critique, plan usability test Lab 6 Term Paper A Due  
    3:00-4:45 AC Talk/tour: eye tracking; CAVE   Exercise 4  
31 T 9:15-10:15 HO Test 2      
    10:30-11:45 HO Q&A: Role of the government in the Internet; License agreement (Mitrano)      
    1:15-2:45 HO CS/IS majors; student panel   Term Paper B Due  
    3:00-4:45 AC CL3 lab tour; time to complete Lab 6   Lab 6  
1 W 9:00-10:30 HO Student presentations (history of computing)      
    10:45-11:45 HO Guest Lecture: computer graphics (Marschner)      
    1:15-2:45 HO Guest lecture: evoluntionary robotics (Lipson)      
    3:00-4:45 HO Talk/tour: eye tracking; CAVE   Term Paper C Due  
2 R 9:00-10:15 Upson 5130 Web usability test      
    10:30-11:45 Upson 5130 Web usability test Ex 6: Usability report    
    1:15-2:45 HO Student presentations (file sharing; EULA)      
    3:00-4:45 AC Preparation for debate   Usability report  
3 F 9:00-10:15 HO Debate      
    10:30-11:45 HO Debate      
4 Sa         Debate observations  


Submit your files on-line in CMS before the deadline.

  • Essay 1 Due Monday, 7/16, at 9:30pm

    In your opinion, should music sharing be allowed? Why? Write a 1-page (double spaced) essay.

  • Essay 2 Due Wednesday, 7/25, at 9:30pm

    Analyze the issue of music sharing based on the ethical frameworks and principles covered in Chapter 1. Make explicit connections to the reading and our discussion in class. Write a 2-page (double spaced) essay.


In addition to the assignments listed above in the Schedule, you will write one term paper and give a presentation. You will be given one of the following three topics for your term paper. If you wish, submit your "bid" for your two top choices on Tuesday, 7/17!

  • Paper A: Write a biography of an important individual in the history of computing, focusing on the individual's contribution and the impact of the contribution. Complete bibliography must be included and the quality of your references will be considered in the grade. Due Monday, 7/30.
  • Paper B: Should music sharing be allowed? Design a survey, interview people, analyze the aggregate opinions, and report on your findings. Does the "public opinion" agree with the law? What are the implications? Data collection will be done by the entire class. The survey instrument is due Thursday, 7/19; the paper is due Tuesday, 7/31.
  • Paper C: Translate a software license into plain English that is understandable to the general public! Have you ever wondered what exactly you are agreeing to when you download a software and click "I agree" to the license agreement? Are the conditions of the license "fair" based on the ethical frameworks discussed in class? Consult our guest speaker on copyright laws in an Q&A session on 7/31. Due Wednesday, August 1.

Academic Integrity

Violations of the Cornell University Code of Academic Integrity occurring in Computer Science courses are taken very seriously by the Computer Science faculty. Therefore, it is necessary to impress upon students the gravity of violations of the Code. The following are excerpts from a longer version of the Cornell University Code of Academic Integrity. The exclusion of any part does not excuse ignorance of the Code.


Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student in all academic undertakings; he/she must in no way misrepresent his/her work fraudulently or unfairly advance his/her academic status, or be a party to another student;s failure to maintain academic integrity. The maintenance of an atmosphere of academic honor and the fulfillment of the provisions of this Code are the responsibilities of the students and faculty of Cornell University. Therefore, all students and faculty members shall refrain from any action that would violate the basic principles of this Code.

General Responsibilities

  1. A student assumes responsibility for the content and integrity of the academic work he/she submits, such as papers, examinations, or reports.
  2. A student shall be guilty of violating the Code and subject to proceedings under it if he/she:
    • knowingly represents the work of others as his/her own.
    • uses or obtains unauthorized assistance in any academic work.
    • gives fraudulent assistance to another student.
    • fabricates data in support of laboratory or field work.
    • forges a signature to certify completion or approval of a course assignment.
    • in any other manner violates the principle of absolute integrity.

Specific Remarks for Students in CS Courses

Note: "You" in the following refers to "you and your partner" should you work with a partner.

The work you do in Computer Science courses is expected to be the result of your individual effort - the use of a computer in no way modifies the normal standards of the above Code. You may discuss work with other students, and give or receive "consulting" help from other students, but such permissible cooperation should never involve one student having in his or her possession a copy of all or part of another student's assignment - regardless of whether that copy is on paper, on a computer disk, or in a computer file. This implies that there is no legitimate reason to send a copy of a program from one computer account to another, or to be logged-on to another student's account.

Discussion of general strategy or algorithms is permissible, but you may not collaborate in the detailed development or actual writing of an assignment. It is also your responsibility to protect your work from unauthorized access. It is inadvisable to discard copies of your programs in public places. Students who live in dormitories  are advised to be extra careful about leaving computers on and copies of output lying around.

Our experience has been that students tend to think less clearly about Academic Integrity when

  • they start a programming assignment late and a sense of panic sets in.
  • they see a desperate friend seeking inappropriate levels of help.

Be aware of the social forces that underlie these situations.

Penalties are administered on a case-by-case basis. However, here are some guidelines:

  • First-time violation on a programming assignment results in a score that is the negative of the full credit score for the entire assignment. 
  • If there is a violation and it is determined that your partner is entirely to blame, then you will nevertheless receive a zero for the assignment because you and your partner have a joint responsibility to the Code.
  • If you resubmit a program or a prelim for regrading and alter the original submission, then you will receive a course grade of F. (Note: a randomly selected subset of graded programs and exams will be photocopied  before they are made available for pick-up.)
  • Solution output must be consistent with the submitted solution program. If not, the entire assignment will receive the grade of zero. There are no acceptable excuses for the inadvertent submission of the wrong program. (E.g., "I was in a rush and just forgot to print out the final version."

Second violations result in a course grade of F.

Remember that you may end up with a permanent mark on your transcript and be subject to University disciplinary action should you violate the Code.

Contact a member of the course staff immediately if you suspect that there may be a Code violation associated with your programming assignment submission. It is FAR better to tell us about a possible infraction beforehand than for us to discover it during the grading process.