14.0680 prurient interest & political science, or a question about the curriculum

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Sun Feb 18 2001 - 03:05:59 EST

  • Next message: by way of Willard McCarty: "14.0681 function follows form, or not"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 680.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 08:04:45 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: prurient interest & political science

    A recent unsolicited piece of e-mail testifies to the democratisation of
    Big Brother, or at least to its appeal:

    >Internet Investigator
    >New for 2001 -- Internet Software Program for Online Investigations
    >- Find Out Anything about Anyone Online -
    >Uncover Information about: neighbors, enemies, friends, debtors,
    >employees, your boss, yourself, relatives, former school or military
    >buddies, even a new love interest!
    >Become an "Internet Investigator" and explore an exciting new world
    >of valuable information.
    >With Internet Investigator You Can Investigate:
    >People, credit records, social security numbers, employment records,
    >school records, criminal records, driving records, addresses, phone
    >numbers (even some unlisted), hidden assets, family trees

    Once upon a time, in the era of mainframes, the dystopic vision of
    computing was Orwellian; evil was oligarchic, clearly separate from the
    common man and woman (except, of course, for the fellow travelers, spies
    and defectors). Now, with the edenic taste of personal computing liberation
    still on our tongues, we are reminded in yet another way that the hard bits
    are up to us. As I recall the political counter-argument, however, we fight
    fire with fire: many little people with personal computers can, the
    argument runs, successfully oppose the few with their big machines. I
    wonder, is there a political science for the networked world as well as an
    ethics? Should we in thinking about the curriculum of humanities computing
    include aspects of political science? There are CS courses in the area of
    computing and society; can we learn anything from these?


    Dr Willard McCarty / Senior Lecturer /
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities / King's College London /
    Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/

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