LIB 3040: Information and Society - Prof. Francoeur

Summary of Assignments

ITEM Points Due
Weekly blog posts 140 Start of class
In-class participation 56 In class
Milestone essay #1 202

October 11

October 13
(by midnight)

Milestone essay #2 202 November 15
Individual annotated bibliography 200 November 22
Group presentation 200 December 6
TOTAL 1000  

All assignments are due by the start of class (11:10 am).

Weekly Blog Posts

The course blog is at

Due: start of class each Friday


  • 10 points for each post (140 points total); 2 points off for each day late
    • any time on Friday after class, 2 points off
    • any time on Saturday, 4 points off
    • any time on Sunday, 6 points off
    • any time on Monday, 8 points off
    • any time on Tuesday or thereafter, 10 points off (i.e., a zero for the assignment)
  • Before considering your blog post "done," please do the following and edit/revise as needed:
    • Read the post aloud to yourself (a great way to catch awkward phrasing, typos, grammatical errors)
    • Spell check your blog post
    • Make sure you are answering the question(s) I asked and not going off topic for most of your post
    • 1-2 points may be deducted if it is clear that this work is not being done

Blog post #1 - Due September 6

  • Read the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights
  • Find at least 1 or more parts of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that touch on the creation or use of information in some way. It could refer to a system or rule or statement that has something to do with information and how it can be created, used, transmitted, or saved. In your blog post, describe what you found.
  • If you're having trouble with this assignment, feel free to do additional research to help find some clues. One great way to go is to find sources that talk about the role of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the history of information policy in the United States). One such source is a book that I put on reserve in the library called Foundations of Information Policy; stop by the circulation desk in the library and ask for the book by its title and the course number, LIB 3040.

Blog post #2 - Due September 13

  1. Use Google News to find at least one news article that is about the use of information. You're looking for ideas that may be useful for when your group eventually selects a topic to focus on for the group project.
  2. Research the source of that news story in Wikipedia (look up the name of the website or news organization that the story is from) to learn about the history of that site and any controversies about its coverage of the news. If for example the story came from the Washington Post, look up the entry in Wikipedia on the Washington Post to learn about its history and reputation.
  3. Write a blog post where you reflect on the news source you researched in Wikipedia and what insights you gained from Wikipedia about that source. Make sure you mention what the original article was you found and provide a link to it. Also, provide a link to the Wikipedia entry about the news source. Your blog post should identify what kind of a news source it is (is it the website for a newspaper that also has a print edition? is it the website for TV news station? a cable TV station? something else?) This blog post is to help reinforce the value for each of us to take a moment to consider the source of any news story we find and how knowing something about the source can help us determine how much we trust it.


Blog post #3 - Due September 20

  • The goal of this post is to look at how controversies around the use of information are addressed by various organizations. These organizations are all ones that are very interested in studying the use of information in our society and/or advocating for policies that address some controversies. 
  • Visit each of the websites for these groups using the embedded links:
  • Pick one of the issues or cases that the group talks about on its website that you find interesting. That issue or case must explicitly involve the creation of information, its use, or its sharing/dissemination. Your blog post should do all of the following:
    • Be free of errors of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.
    • Explain the basics of the issue or case. Provide a link to the page(s) where you found info on the organization website about this issue or case.
    • Include a news story from a reputable news source in which the issue or specific case is part of the story in some meaningful way. Give the basics of the story and a link to the article and explain how it relates to the issue or case you read about on the website of the organization. For example, if you found the information from the American Library Association about censorship interesting and then found a news story about how some school library was removing copies of Harry Potter books because the school was afraid about students casting "real spells" (yes, this is a true and recent story), then you will spell out to me in your post how the American Library Association information you found connects to the news story you found. 
    • Provide a link to a Wikipedia page in which the news source is described. Write a few sentences about the reputation of the news source based on what you found in Wikipedia.

Blog post #4 - Due September 27

  1. Read the #2 and #3 assignments of your teammates. Please note that on Friday, September 20, I sent everyone the same email with a list of the teams and links to each person's set of blog posts on the course blog.
  2. In your own new blog post (#4), write about what you think your team should do. Your answer might be limited to a broad issue you think would work for the group (such as privacy, copyright, net neutrality, the digital divide, censorship) or you might already have something even more specific in mind (the use of facial recognition cameras in sports arenas). Make sure your blog post mentions the information use issues that your team mates mentioned in their #2 and #3 blog posts. Remember not to be dismissive or overly critical in your discussion of what your team mates have been posting about.

Blog post #5 - Due October 4

  • Using the model we discussed in class on September 27 that breaks down an information policy issue into three parts (the ICT, the social aspects, and the people involved), use one of the news stories you found earlier this semester or one a classmate found or a new one to analyze the problem.
  • Your blog post should explain:
    • what do we know about the ICT
    • which groups of people are involved (be as specific as you can be as you name the groups or communities who are all any side of the controversy)
    • what social aspects are involved
      • norms (including any relevant laws, policies, rules, etc.)
      • values
      • economic aspects

Blog post #6 - Due October 11 or October 18 (your choice)

  • Find a scholarly journal article by someone you regard as authoritative on the subject your team is working on.
  • In your blog post, please detail:
    • which database(s) you searched in
    • the variety of different search terms you tried and why you changed from one set of search terms to another
    • why it might be a relevant source for your team
  • Your blog post must include a MLA style citation for the source. For help with MLA citations, see:

Blog post #7 - Due October 18

  • Use one of the following library databases to find a source that gives you a lot of background information on your topic. If for example, you are designing a policy that would change copyright law as it applies to the use of samples in music, then you would want to find background information on "copyright" or "copyright law" or "music sampling." The source can be an encyclopedia entry, a reference report, an overview essay, etc. You want to find a source that is meant to give you an overview, not one that only gets into a narrow part of the topic. With the example of music sampling, you would not want to use for this assignment an article that just gives you details on one particular case where a musician was in court for using a song sample without permission. You must use one of the following databases linked to from the library's A-Z list of databases:
    • Gale eBooks
    • Opposing Viewpoints in Context
    • CQ Researcher
  • Then, in a blog post, give an overview of the source you found (i.e., what did you learn from it). Your blog post should also:
    • Mention the name of the database where you found the source
    • Explain a bit about what your search experience was like (what was your strategy, what terms worked and didn't work, etc.)
    • MLA citation for the source you found

Blog post #8 - Due October 25

  • Write a post with ideas about what policy ideas you and your team have had. If there is one in particular you want to work on, which one is it? Explain why you want to pursue that policy.

Blog post #9 - Due November 1

  • As you did in blog post #6, find a scholarly journal article by someone you regard as authoritative on the subject your team is working on.
  • In your blog post, please detail:
    • which database(s) you searched in
    • the variety of different search terms you tried and why you changed from one set of search terms to another
    • why it might be a relevant source for your team
  • Your blog post must include a MLA style citation for the source. For help with MLA citations, see:

Blog post #10 - Due November 8

  • Using a general search on the web, find a video that is connected in some way on your topic. It could be an overview of one of the broad issues that you topic touches on (such as "privacy" or "censorship") or it could be more narrowly focused. The video should be as authoritative as possible (e.g., don't find a video by some random YouTuber who is going on a rant). Instead, try to find a video where the speaker or the creator of the video is as reputable a source as possible. It is perfectly acceptable to use a video on YouTube (or Vimeo) as long as you believe that it is authoritative and reliable. You do not need to use the library's databases to find a video.
  • In your blog post:
    • describe the video's content
    • explain how it relates to the project your team is working on
    • make as serious and thoughtful a defense at least 3-4 sentences as you can about how you know this video to be one that is authoritative and reliable (you might want to research who the speaker is or who the organization is that created the video and include that in your defense of why this video is one you think is authoritative)

Blog post #11 - Due November 15 November 17 (Sunday) by the end of the night

  • Each person should do ten different things in the course of the week to expand your team’s shared project document in Google. Examples of things you can count:
    • tweak the wording of the policy or topic or something else on the document
    • add a citation for any kind of source that your team may need
    • correct a citation (make sure it follows MLA style)
    • a details about a slide that needs to be included
    • expand your team’s social informatics model
      • add more specifics
      • clarify language
      • re-organize a set of bulleted items
  • In your blog post, make a list of what ten things you did. Add enough explanatory details so it’s clear what exactly you did.


Blog post #12 - Due November 22

  • Write in a post in which you answer these three questions:
    1. What was the hardest part of the annotated bibliography assignment?
    2. What was the easiest?
    3. If you had more time to work on this, what would you do?

Blog post #13 - Due December 6

  • What did you learn in this class that you can use outside of class? Think about this with respect to your other classes here at Baruch, your working life, your personal life, etc.

Blog post#14 - SURPRISE...there is no blog post 14. Y'all get 10 free bonus points.

Milestone Essays

Milestone Essay #1


October 11 (by start of class)

October 13 (by midnight)


Up to 202

5 points off for each day late.


In a 2-page essay, you will:

  • describe the topic you think your team is going to study for the group project
  • detail the background/introductory info to help your reader get up speed on your topic
  • include a section (using sentences and paragraphs that are seamlessly joined to the rest of the essay) in which you use the social informatics model to lay out the three key parts of the topic.

Please email me your essay as a Word file or a Google Doc (if you use Google Docs, please read these sharing instructions first). The top of the first page should include:

[your name]
LIB 3040
October 11, 2019

Please use MLA style to format your paper (including any citations you make). Your grade will be determined equally by your paper's:

  1. Organization
  2. Clarity of writing (readability, precision of word choice)
  3. Style and grammar (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.)

Milestone Essay #2

Due: November 15

Points: Up to 202

In a 1-2 page paper, explain how your policy that your group is working on is going to solve a problem regarding the use of information. Please make sure you cite at least 3 sources in your paper using MLA style (see this guide from Purdue University to MLA style).

For those of you who are worried about going over the page limit, please be assured that doing so is fine and signals that you've got a lot to say that's worth saying.

Individual Annotated Bibliography

Due: November 22 (5 points off for every day late)

Points: Up to 200

Each student will submit a list of all the sources they are thinking of using for their project. There must be at least 10 sources on the list. Format in APA or MLA style (pick one and stick with it). Your list of sources must include

  • At least 2 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles
  • At least 3 news sources (articles) from a well-known and reputable news organization
  • At least 1 video with an authoritative speaker or published by an authoritative source
  • At least 1 source that primarily gives background or introduction to your topic area (such as a "what is privacy" page from the Electronic Frontier Foundation website or an entry on "privacy" from an encyclopedia)
  • At least 1 book (print or ebook)

Your sources can be the same ones the other people in your team are using or they can be a slightly different set of sources. All annotations should be entirely your own work. As much as possible, avoid using quotations in your annotations. This is instead an activity where you are expected to paraphrase and put into your own words a description of what the article was about. There are other things you need to do in your annotation, but do make sure that the overview of what the work is about is put in your own words. Please do not share your annotations with your teammates; you are to do this work on your own.

Each annotation should be a long paragraph that contains the following information:

  • A clear identification of what kind of source it is. Please embed that identification as naturally as possible into a sentence. Here are some ways to do that:
    • "In this scholarly journal article, the authors argue that..."
    • "This book presents an overview of..."
    • "The creators of this video do an excellent job of ..."
  • Summary of what the source is about
  • Explanation of how the source is relevant and some assessment of just how relevant it is

The sources should be ordered in the bibliography alphabetically by author. Insert a space between the source citation and the paragraph with your annotation of that source.

You will be graded on:

  • the relevance of your sources (this is the most important thing)
  • the quality of your sources (2nd most important)
  • correct formatting of your citations
  • correct identification of what type of source it is
  • quality of your annotations that explain the relevance of each source to the topic

Group Presentations

Due: December 6

Points: Up to 200

Intro to the group project

Your 15-minute presentation must cover:

For the list above, don't try to cram each item into a single slides. Instead, use lots of slides. Space things out so your slides and the presentation has room to breathe. It's OK to have dozens of slides as long as you can keep your presentation to under 15 minutes.


In-Class Participation

Depending on your level of participation in class, you can earn up to 4 points each day. At a minimum, you should speak up in class at least once every day to ask a substantive question or to provide a useful comment or answer to a question in class.Additional points will be awarded based on your effort in classroom activities.

When we have reading assigned for the day, you will be expected to have brought in the reading in paper form. Not doing so will result in points being taken off. There will be quizzes on the reading before discussion of the reading begins. Your performance on these quizzes will also be part of your class participation grade.

Points: max of 56 per semester

Daily point breakdown (max of 4 points per class session)

  • points earned for:
    • showing up on time
    • asking a good question
    • responding in a substantive way to a question or something another person said
    • demonstrating familiarity with the assigned reading for the day
  • points taken off for:
    • being late
    • leaving early
    • being disruptive (including using phones and computers for activities not related to the class)
    • not participating in classroom activities
    • not demonstrating familiarity with the assigned reading for the day
    • not asking questions or making substantive comments