LIB 3040: Information and Society - Prof. Francoeur

November 22, 2019

Surveillance capitalism

  • Channel 4 News. "Shoshana Zuboff on 'Surveillance Capitalism' and How Tech Companies Are Always Watching Us." YouTube, 23 Sep. 2019, Accessed 22 Nov. 2019.
    • Write a blog post in which you discuss which steps you individually or you as part of a collective effort should take to protect privacy.

Group project work

For next class (Dec. 6)

  • Blog post #13
  • Group presentations

November 15, 2019

Blog post #11

  • New due date: Sunday night (by midnight on Nov. 17)
  • Discussion of what kinds of things count for the ten things

Social media and democracy

Thomas Jefferson quote

Slide presentations

Group project work

November 8, 2019

Blog posts #8 and #9

  • If I didn't hand back a printed copy of your blog posts today, it's because one of these conditions applies:
    • Your blog post was well done and received the full 10 points of credit
    • Your blog post was 1-4 days late and rather than grade it for content, I just took 2 points off for each day it was late

How to make direct quotes in your writing

Annotated bibliography assignment

  • What is a book?
  • For this assignment
    • You can use a book that is:
      • a print book or an ebook
      • a work of non-fiction
      • a chapter from a book
      • an entry from an encyclopedia or other reference book as long as that entry is at greater than one page in length

Blog post #10

  • Discussion of how everyone determined the authority and reliability of the videos they found.

Search basics with AND, OR, and quotation marks

    • Using this Google Doc and a paper handout distributed in class, each student will run searches, record the answers on the handout, and answer the questions at the bottom of the handout

Freedom of speech and censorship

For next week

November 1, 2019

Blog post #9

  • Still seeing things posted that aren't scholarly journal articles
  • Tips about search
    • Extracting nouns for set of search terms
    • AND vs OR
    • quotation marks for phrases

Big data and the internet of things

  • Watch videos
  • Discussion
    • What is big data?
    • How are big data and the internet of things related topics?
    • What is an example of big data here at Baruch? What is a system or service that is gathering massive amounts of data on a regular basis?
    • What is an example of how big data might be used in ways that would directly and negatively affect something you do or want to do?
    • Each person will write a blog post that answers this question: what connection can you make between the topic that your group is working on and the topics discussed in these two videos?
    • Explain in detail in at least 4 or more sentences.

Working with data

  • Google spreadsheets
      • We will build a spreadsheet in a shared Google spreadsheet and then add our data
        • Add headers
          • Name
          • Average commuting time to Baruch
          • Number of classes taken this fall
          • Live in NYC (yes or no)
        • Add your own data on a row
  • Excel spreadsheets
      • Each student will export the shared Google spreadsheet and open in in Excel
      • We will cover how to:
        • Clean up data (normalize it)
        • Change column widths
        • Manually enter formulas to add cells together
        • Use SUM formula to add columns together
        • Format column headers
        • Freeze rows
        • Filter data
        • Sort data

Group project work

  • Please use your team worksheet to document the work your team is doing

For next week

October 25, 2019

Assignments due in November and December

  • milestone essay #2
  • annotated bibliography
  • group presentation

Group project work

  • Each team should have been emailed a link to a shared Google Doc ("Group Project Team Worksheet") they can use to share info as they work
  • Template of that shared Google Doc
    • Each team works on their topic and policy idea using their shared worksheet

Scholarly publishing: case study in the economics of information

    • In a shared Google Doc, the class will list the features/elements in a journal article that distinguish it from other kinds of articles

For next week

October 18, 2019

Discussion of Milestone Essay #1

Social informatics analysis of plagiarism


  • Watch “Introduction to Copyright Law” video
  • Watch DVD of "Copyright Criminals"
    1. Each student will search Google News for a story from the past 3 years about a copyright controversy here in the United States
    2. Each student will write a brief summary of the controversy in a blog post

Group projects

  • Groups will meet up and discuss policy ideas that they want to recommend

For next week

October 11, 2019

Scholarly sources

The BEAM model for how we use sources

Quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarism

Digital knowledge quiz

Group project team time

For next week

  • Blog post #6 is due if you didn't turn it in today
  • Blog post #7 is due  (see the "Assignments" page for details)

October 4, 2019

Due dates for blog posts

If you’re late, you get 2 points off for every day late, so if you turn it in:

  • 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

Rules for capitalization


  • If you plagiarize the work of someone else (intentionally or unintentionally), you will get a zero for that assignment

The social informatics model (review)

Technological determinism and the social shaping of technology

    1. Each group project team will assemble and come up with an ICT that has clearly been shaped by social forces.
    2. In a team blog post, each team will describe that ICT and the social forces that shaped it .

Scholarly sources

For next week

September 27, 2019


  • As per classroom policy, you get 2 excused absences for the semester. If you know you'll be out, contact me before class starts.

Blog post  #3

Group projects

  • Teams will meet and discuss project ideas

The social informatics model

For next week

  • Blog post #4
  • Reading due (make sure you bring printed copies to class)
    • Wikipedia contributors. "Technological determinism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Sep. 2019. Web. 26 Sep. 2019.
    • Wikipedia contributors. "Social shaping of technology." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 May. 2019. Web. 26 Sep. 2019.
  • Milestone essay #1 is not due next week. It's been pushed back to October 11 and essay #2 is now due November 8

September 20, 2019

Blog posts

  • My comments on your posts
  • Early impressions on post #3

Assignment of teams for group projects

  • Meet with your team, exchange contact information, and discuss topics you might pursue

Relevance and other criteria for evaluating sources

  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Currency
  • Evaluation criteria are always contextual

When authoritative information isn't accepted by all

    • Class will listen to the 2016 episode of the NPR podcast, Hidden Brain, that discusses climate change denial
    • As you listen, follow along in the printed transcript and underline any sections where they are discussing why people might not accept information
    • After the podcast, each group project team will assemble and discuss what are the reasons why some people might resist accepting the role of humans in climate change or accepting the idea that the climate change is really even a problem to worry about?
    • Then, one person in each team will log into the blog and compose with the help of the rest of the team a post that shares their answer to the question above.

Finding information that fits your needs

    • Pretend that our class has been asked by the president of Baruch College to create a list of high-quality sources to inform the Baruch community about climate change. We’ve been asked to find sources that will bring the community up to speed on the causes of climate change and solutions to it. Once this set of sources has been assembled, the president will then email copies of it to all students and faculty. Faculty will be expected to incorporate a discussion or class unit on climate change in every course they teach.
    • Each student will contribute at least 3 unique sources to this shared Google Doc

​For next week

  • Blog post #4 (see the Assignments page)
  • Milestone essay #1 due date has been moved back one week. It is now due October 4. See Assignments page for more details.

September 13, 2019

Discussion of blog post #2

  • Grade will be emailed to you over the weekend. Look for additional feedback in a comment to your post.
  • For blog post #3, I'll be taking points off if there are numerous errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization. Also points off for being way off topic for the assignment or being late.

Discussion of reading for today

  • Webster, Frank. "Information Society." International Encyclopedia of Communication. Ed. Wolfgang Donsbach. Wiley Online Library, 2008. 
    • Each student will pair up with another. One person in each pair will log into the course blog. In a blog post that both students in each pair will have composed, you will answer the following questions:
      • How would you characterize Webster's embrace of the idea of an "information society?"
      • Which of the five definitions did you find useful? Eye-opening? Most compelling? Explain why.
      • Why is Webster being so critical about the ideas of other scholars? What is he so worked up about? He makes many specific critiques about each of the five definitions. What do all those critiques seem to have in common? What is he demanding of the definitions in general that isn’t there?

How to fix blog posts that are assigned to the "uncategorized" category

Evaluating the relevance of sources

  • Pretend that we’re researching a policy that might require Baruch to provide Chromebooks to all incoming first-year students and transfer students.
  • Each student is given a sheet of paper with a made-up source that they need to lay out on the table to indicate how relevant it is. One end of table is marked "relevant" and the other ends marked "not relevant." The space in between the two ends represents a spectrum of relevancy.
  • After each student has placed an article, then each student will take a turn moving one of the articles on the table and explaining why they moved it.
  • Each student writes a blog post about the general rules they use for evaluating relevance.

For next week

  • No assigned reading
  • Teams will be assigned
  • Blog post #3 (see the "Assignments" page for details)

September 6, 2019

DIKW pyramid

Origins of information policy in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights


Intro to the group project

Using Google News

  • Google News home
    • Use Google News to search for "censorship"
    • Each news story in your search results comes from a different source. Go to Wikipedia, search for the source name, and see what Wikipedia has to say about the history of that source and whether there are any controversies with its coverage of the news.

For next week

  • Blog post #2 due
    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.
  • Reading

August 30, 2019


Overview of the class

  • Learning goals
  • Assignments
  • Grading policy
  • Attendance policy
  • General class policies
  • Course guide vs. Blackboard
  • Course blog

BREAK (10 minutes)

Course Blog

  • Role of the blog for the course
  • DEMO
    • How to log in
    • How to write a post
    • How to comment
    • How to modify your online presence
    • Each student will write and publish a post about social networking sites and services. Do you have a network of friends or family that you interact with in Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.? If you do or don't, please explain what you do or don't like about such sites and services.
    • Then, each student will read at least two posts published by their classmates and write a comment on those two posts that responds to the original post or one of the other comments.

Introduction to Library Databases

  • What are library databases
  • How to use them

For Next Week

  • Read  the Wikipedia entry on the “DIKW Pyramid” and be ready to answer these questions in class based on what you got from the reading:
    • How do you define data?
    • How do you define information?
    • How do you define knowledge?
    • Should "wisdom" be a part of the model? Why or why not?
  • Read the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights
  • First weekly blog post due
    • 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.