Note: This is now a retrospective
This course represents an interdisciplinary approach to questions like the following: How can computers and computer networks be used to democratize decision making in both society and smaller groupings of people? What are the motivations for trying to do so? What are the barriers? What have people tried to do in this area, and what has happened as a result? We will review theories and empirical findings and attempt to apply these to the real-world challenges of democracy. In addition to readings, informal lectures, and a final exam, the course will involve each student in a service-learning project that will span most of the quarter. This project should make at least some of the issues in the design of social decision systems more apparent, and help students to see how research questions can both inform and be informed by practical interventions.
Weeks 1 & 2 (4/3,10) - Introduction/Overview
New versus old media, historical challenges involved in democracy and social decision making, and assumptions and motivations underlying the course.
Lecture: Background on Internet and Democracy
(a) Benjamin R. Barber (Winter,1998-99), "Three Scenarios for the Future of Technology and Strong Democracy", Political Science Quarterly, 113(4):573-589 [pdf file]
(b) Howard Rheingold (November 1999), "The New Interactivism", Voxcap.com
Project assignment announced
Weeks 2 & 3 (4/10,17) - The Internet and Deliberative
Habermas and the "public sphere", theories of deliberative democracy, and deliberative polling. The Internet and community: digital divides and online communities.
Film Screening: Secrets of Silicon Valley (2001, 60 minutes)
Lecture: U.S. Politics, Deliberative Democracy, and the Internet
(a) James S. Fishkin; Robert C. Luskin; and Roger Jowell (October 2000), "Deliberative Polling and Public Consultation", Parliamentary Affairs, 53(4):657-666
(b) Cass Sunstein (Summer 2001), "The Daily We", Boston Review (replies optional)
*Guest speaker (4/17): Magda Escobar, Plugged In, East Palo Alto
Weeks 3 & 4 (4/17,24) - The Psychology of Social
Psychology of persuasion: techniques of influence and coercion, group processes, and conformity. Framing and political psychology.
Lecture: Psychology of Social Decisions: Influence
George A Quattrone and Amos Tversky (September 1988), "Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice", American Political Science Review, 82(3):719-736 [requires Stanford address]
Film Screening (4/24): Groupthink (1991, 25 minutes)
Project feedback session
Weeks 4 & 5 (4/24,5/1) - Decision Theory: Autonomous
Utility theory, game theory, bargainiing, and social dilemmas. Market mechanisms, Pareto efficiency, and auctions.
Lecture: Utility Theory and Game Theory
Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Martin Hollis, Bruce Lyons, Robert Sugden, and Albert Weale (1992), The Theory of Choice: A Critical Guide, Oxford:Blackwell Publishers, pp. 94-154
*Guest speaker (5/1): Barclay Corbus, W.R. Hambrecht and Company, San Francisco
Weeks 5 & 6 (5/1,8) - Decision Theory: Collective Action
Social choice theory and political economy. Electoral systems and attempts at systemic change.
Lecture: Social Choice Theory and Electoral Systems
Joe B. Stevens (1993), The Economics of Collective Choice, Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 133-167
*Guest speaker (5/8): Caleb Kleppner, The Center for Voting and Democracy, Western Regional Office, San Francisco
Weeks 6 & 7 (5/8,15) - Voting Technology
Voting system design, online voting, and security. Contested elections (e.g., 2000 in Florida) and ballot design.
Peter G. Neumann (September 1993), "Security Criteria for Electronic Voting", 16th National Computer Security Conference, Baltimore, Maryland
*Guest speaker (5/15): Peter G. Neumann, Computer Science Laboratory, SRI International, Menlo Park
Weeks 7 & 8 (5/15,22) - The Psychology of Social
Biased assimilation, prejudice, attribution biases, selfishness and in-group favoritism. Fairness norms and cultural effects on values.
Lecture: Psychology of Social Decisions: Biases and Hope
Jonathan Baron (2000), Thinking and Deciding (3rd Edition), Cambridge University Press, pp. 409-461
Project discussion session
Weeks 8 & 9 (5/22,29) - The Internet and Political
Alternative/independent media. Uses of the Internet for political and labor organizing. Consensus decision making and collective action.
Lecture: Market Failure and the Internet
(a) Dorothy Kidd (2001), "Introduction" to special issue on the Internet and Social Movements, Peace Review, 13(3):325-329 (pick one other article from contents to discuss in class) [NOTE: requires Stanford address - you may need to access this through searching Socrates at library.stanford.edu]
(b) War Resisters League (1989), description of "Consensus Decision Making", Handbook for Nonviolent Action
*Guest speaker (5/29): Dorothy Kidd, Department of Media Studies, University of San Francisco
Weeks 9 & 10 (5/29,6/5) - Internet Law and Governance
Privacy, copyright, and censorship. ICANN and other aspects of Internet governance.
Suggested LInk: Association for Computing Machinery's Internet Governance project
Suggested Link: Consumer Project on Technology's page on the Hague Conference on Private International Law
(a) Lawrence Lessig (November/December 2001), "The Internet Under Siege", Foreign Policy Magazine
(b) Jeffrey Rosen (April 30, 2000), "The Eroded Self", The New York Times Sunday Magazine
*Guest speaker (6/5): Will Doherty, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Online Policy Group, San Francisco
Week 10 (6/5) - Group Project Presentations
1. A multi-stage project (60%)
2. Final exam (40%)
3. Borderline grades will be influenced by attendance and participation (both quality and quantity)
ABOUT THE PROJECTS
This is a service learning course, and each student is expected to participate in a project designed to serve some greater community interest.
Final project writeups:
(1) Survey of Community Web Sites, by Sarah Dimson, Laura Hiatt, and Brendan O'Connor (Client: East Palo Alto Community Network Project) [.doc file]
(2) Using the Internet as a tool for Activism: Building the Stanford Labor Action Coalition website and measuring its impact on the campus, by Bill Bowen and Benjamin Sywulka (Client: Stanford Labor Action Coalition) [.doc file]
(3) Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Alternative Electoral Systems by Richard Lengsavath and Raja Shah (Client: U.S. voters) [.doc file]