LIS-4410 Syllabus

LIS-4410 - Societal Implications of the Information Age
Summer 2017, Thurs, 6p - 8pm
Mode of Instruction: Synchronous Online

Instructor: John R. Marks, IV
Office: William Johnston Building (WJB 2027)
Course website -
Office Hours (in office, online or via phone): Tuesdays: 4-6 pm or by appointment

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the rapidly evolving roles of technology and information in the present era, with a focus on the legal and public policy matters that serve as both cause and effect to these roles.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to learn about some of the key issues and debates about society's current relationship to technology, and how the law and public policy influence these issues. The course is designed to separate much of the "hype" from the reality about the computer revolution, understand the extent to which the technology itself may or may not be the most influental factor within particular issues, and explore the ethical dimensions of information technology. We examine the social, political, and economic consequences of introducing information and computer technologies in our daily lives and the public and private worlds we inhabit. We explore how technology shapes our conception of ourselves as well as the world around us.

Topics covered

- The fundamental changes in law, politics, economics, and culture brought about by the the advent of near-ubiquitous communication technology .
- The relationships between rights and restrictions, from both legal and technical loci of control.
- The structure of debates that currently surround key information technology issues.
- Selected policy issues and the legal frameworks that influence their development .

Learning outcomes:

Students will develop and improve their command of the following skills:

- Understanding a diverse literature: develop an understanding of terms, concepts and theories used in different disciplines.
- Gaining understanding in law and policy development: becoming familiar with selected aspects of legal theory and public policy.
- Debating issues in an organized and coherent way, relying on authoritative sources and empirical data to support a position, and recognizing that all positions depend on ethical and social principles
- Writing succinctly and well.
- Working effectively and respectfully with fellow students.

Course Requirements/Materials

There are no pre-requisites for this course, and there are no textbooks required. All materials will be made available online.

Course Format

We will be using Elluminate for the class (just the audio and chat), so please make sure your computer is up to speed. No major downloads are necessary except Java, and you will not need a webcam, but you should have functioning speakers or headset. Microphones are recommended, but ultimately optional.

We also recommend that you use a wired connection, or at least a very strong, uninterrupted wireless connection.

This is the link to class; save it elsewhere as a backup.

Go here to configure your computer.

Finally, bug these people if you still have problems with Elluminate/Collaborate in particular: 866.388.8674; option 2

Course Procedure

The format of the class will be as follows. I will post each classes readings and other materials (e.g. video and audio presentations) to the “Assignments” section days before class, to give you time to complete the reading/viewing/listening assignments.

For the first hour of our meeting, I will lecture to the class on the week's topic. Be sure to have the reading done well in advance, and be ready to ask and answer questions during lecture.

For the second hour, each member of the class will meet with her team in a “breakout” session. Teams will be 3 to 4 people and be assigned randomly by me. In your breakout session you will spend some time discussing the week's topics, and subsequently work towards completing your Discussion Summary.

In the event that Blackboard is down, class should still continue normally. Consult if this should happen.


All assignments for the term of the course will be written prose assignments. Students are expected to:

- Write effectively. Clarity and organization are a must, as well as proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. All of these factors will comprise a significant part of your grade.
- Research and draw from a variety of resources in developing a thesis; no source is forbidden, but ALL sources must be implicitly or explicitly evaluated with regards to accuracy and reliability, and cited to properly.
- Turn in her own (or the group's own) work. Citation and quoting of other sources is permissible, but only as a supplement to the student's original work, and must be clearly distinguished as such. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden.
- Adhere to the specifications of the assignment, such as format and word count.

There will be three basic types of assignments: Discussion Summaries, Short Essays and Long Papers.

Discussion Summaries

After I lecture, you will break out into chat rooms to discuss the week's topic. I will provide discussion questions as a guide, and the TA and myself will drop in periodically to see how the discussion is going.

Each Discussion Summary is a weekly wrap-up of your group discussion; a slightly more formalized “meeting minutes.” That is, after you have taken some time to discuss the week's topic in your breakout room, as a team, you will summarize your group's ideas and conclusions.

What is most important is that I see that you are really wrestling with the ideas presented to you. To this end, your Discussion Summary may be topically disjointed, as long as it is clear and well-organized. Similarly, it is quite okay if two or more team members disagree. (indeed, it would be questionable if everyone were to agree all the time.)

You should post a team summary, though individuals may reply to that post to continue or clarify the discussion. Please title the team summary in the following format.


These should be 300 words at a (very) minimum. These will be due 72 hours from the end of class, though it will almost certainly be easiest for you to complete them during classtime.

These will be graded "quasi pass/fail" in order to (hopefully) stimulate interesting conversation and to minimize students' seeking to "please the instructor." For the first 3 weeks, we may evaluate and comment on your content, but such evaluation will NOT be applied to your grade, you merely need to complete the assignment for credit. However, after 3 weeks, I will begin to take off points (up to 3 final grade points per assignment) for sloppiness and/or laziness.

The precise procedure for turning these in will be detailed later.

Short Essays

One or two short essays will be assigned, and should be completed by students individually. These should be approximately 500 words in length. These are essentially short "summary papers." You will respond to a general essay-type question about recent class topics; the question will give you an opportunity to "show off" what you have learned in class.

These will be graded in a standard manner. Procedures for turning in will be detailed later.

Long papers

Two longer papers will be assigned as well. These should be of a specific topic of your choosing, but should be related to material we have covered in that particular portion of the class. One thousand words, one clear, original idea, supported by facts. Unlike the Short Essays, in the longer papers you will be expected to focus on a specific topic, and evaluate or argue a narrowly defined position. I will review proposed topics if requested, but unfortunately I will not be able to evaluate first drafts.

Citation is necessary if you are relying heavily on the cited work, or quoting or responding to another work. You may use any citation style you prefer, so long as it is clear and understandable.

Like the Short Essays, these will be graded in a standard manner. Procedures for turning in will be detailed later.


Short Essays and Long Papers must be turned in via a fully open, non-proprietary format. These include but are not limited to:

Text (.txt)
Rich Text (.rtf)
OpenOffice (.odt, .odf, .sxw.)
AbiWord (.abw)
HTML or XML (.htm, .html, .xml)

Closed formats such as Microsoft Office, Word, Works, and Wordperfect are all UNACCEPTABLE. This policy may be unorthodox; however, it is the only way to guarantee that I will be able to open and possibly modify your classwork. Note that merely changing the extension of the filename does not change the format of the actual file. Ask me if you have problems.

It is perfectly acceptable (and probably the best and easiest idea) to simply submit your assignment as plain text directly in Blackboard's comments, or as plain text, in the case of having to email your assignment.


40% - Attendance/Participation/Discussion Summaries

(assuming 1 short essay)
10% - Short Essays
50% - Long Papers

Outline of topics. (Tentative and may change in the future. Visit the Blackboard Site for updates)

Unit I: Introduction to the Internet

The Infrastructure and Economics of the Internet
Introduction to Legal Theory and Internet Law

Unit II: Intellectual Property

Theory; Trademark and Trade Secret
Copyright and Patent
Modern Problems in IP
Solutions in IP

Unit III: Internet Regulation revisited

Older Models of Media Regulation
Internet Regulation

Unit IV: Private and Public Spheres

The Law and Tech of Privacy
The Law and Tech of Anonymity
Assembly in the Internet Age: Spontaneous and Anonymous Communities
The current state of privacy
Our data, ourselves: Reclaiming Privacy

Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises, call to
active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. These absences
will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students who have a valid excuse.
Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.
Corroborating documentation for all excuses must be submitted in writing, must be signed by
the excusing authority, and must include complete contact information for the authority,
including telephone numbers and address.It is the student's responsibility to verify course drops and check that fees are adjusted.
In addition, the course requires that attendance in distance and in-class classes shall mean regular
access to the course web site via, regular participation in class discussion forums, as
well as proper submission of assignments and timely review of grades. Here, "regular" shall mean a
substantial amount of time on a weekly basis.

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the
integrity of students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those
expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the
process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their
pledge to “. . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at
Florida State University.” (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:
(1) register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
(2) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be
done during the first week of class.
This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.
For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the:
Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

"Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this
syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.”

Some of the materials in this course are possibly copyrighted. They are intended for use only by
students registered and enrolled in this course and only for instructional activities associated with, and
for the duration of, the course. They may not be retained in another medium or disseminated further.
They are provided in compliance with the provisions of the Technology, Education, And Copyright
Harmonization (TEACH) Act (refer to the 3/7/2001 TEACH Act at ).

It is the policy of the University that its employees and students neither commit nor condone sexual
harassment in any form.

A list of all hardware and software requirements for students participating in the School of Library and
Information Studies (SLIS) courses can be found at the following location:

Incomplete (“I”) grades will not be assigned, except in the case of exceptional unforeseen
circumstances that occur within the last three weeks of the semester and your work has otherwise been
satisfactory (C average).

Backlinks: FSU Courses:LIS4410