CSC 1010 Essay Assignments

General Guidelines

Many units in this course focus on a specific social or ethical issue. The issues are described later on this page. For each unit’s topic, you are to:

  1. Read any assigned readings, in the textbook or on the web, for that particular topic.
  2. Write a minimum 300 word essay discussing that topic, answering any questions or commenting on any specific points mentioned. You may include your personal opinions on the subject as well if you like. Cite any web sites that you yourself located on the indicated topic as a reference section. The paper must be typed, with no more than 1 inch margins and no larger than a 12 point font. No more than two lines should be used for a header, with the only required header information your name and the title of the essay. The reference section does not count in the minimum one page length.
  3. Papers should additionally follow the syllabus guidelines for assignments.

Each essay will be specifically assigned at some point during the semester. You do not need to work on that essay until it is explicitly assigned.

Historical Biography Essay

Choose ONE of the individuals listed below. Using the Internet, research that individual and discuss their contributions to the field of computing. What particularly impresses you about that person?

  • Blaise Pascal, mathematician and inventor of the first four-function mechanical calculator.
  • Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine.
  • Ada Augusta Byron, Countess of Lovelace, the first programmer.
  • Alan Turing, World War II-era cryptographer.
  • John von Neumann, creator of the first stored-program computer.
  • Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, inventor of the COBOL language and coiner of the term “bug”.
  • Ivan Sutherland, creator of the graphical user interface.
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc.
  • Tim Berners-Lee, developer of the World Wide Web.

Ergonomics and Computers

For this essay, read the Ergonomics PowerPoint presentation, the University of California at Berkeley Health Services “Computer Ergonomics” section (where you will find five links to various computer ergonomic issues), and Four Easy Tips to Reduce Screen Eyestrain. Then, write an essay describing how well your computer system at home fits these ergonomic criteria and what modifications you could make to it to improve its ergonomics for you. If you do not have a computer at home, write about the system you use at work. If you also do not use a computer system at work, write about the computers in our computer lab.

Hacking and Cracking

Read Eric Raymond’s treatise How to Become a Hacker, as well as the information on hacking in your textbook. You may also want to search the Internet for further clarification. Then, write an essay comparing and contrasting hacking and cracking. Briefly discuss the ethics of hacking and determine whether, in your opinion, hacking is ever ethically justifiable.

Universal Internet Access

Many individuals believe that Internet access is a fundamental human right. Others, while recognizing the importance of universal Internet access, regard it more as a tool in support of other more basic human rights. Research this issue using the Internet, and discuss the arguments for and against Internet access as a fundamental human right. Conclude your essay by stating your own stance on the issue. Be sure to cite your references for this essay.

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