Information and Telecommunications Protocols: Modeling and Policy Analysis, aka Design for Values

Instructor: Jean Camp, Asst. Professor of Public Policy, JFK School of Government

Offered Spring Semester, 2002

Required Text

Human Values and Computer Design by Batya Friedman


How are values embedded into technology? As software and computer networks become more complex policy makers are faced with a bewildering array of claims about the future. Simultaneously designers who seek to be good engineers and good citizens have little guidance beyond market pressure on how to embody human decency into machine-generated code.

This class examines how values are embedded into software. Code is not law, yet code can rule and limit.

The majority of this class consists of examinations of particular technologies which have been designed for particular values or have had those values assigned to them by social or technical critics. Technologies have been designed for privacy, to defeat censorship, to defeat censorware, and to provide anonymous platforms for speech. A significant portion of the class will focus on highly distributed or peer-to-peer systems.

Assignments & Grading

1. Class participation, 15%

Virtual and physical.

2. Two assignments during the semester 20%

3. Evaluation of another's final project based on their presentation, 10%

3. Research Final Project 55%

The project will be graded on content, sources, and quality of argument. The project will either be an analysis of a chosen technology or protocol on the basis of the values it embodies or a proposal of a new protocol which is designed with a specific value in mind.

Project Grading

Initial project plan 5%
Presentation 10%
Final written project 30%
Individual and group self-assessments 10%