Intro to Information Science Technology

Spring 2011 
Vermont Technical College

Class Schedule:

Wednesdays, 8:30 - 9:45
Fridays, 1:00 - 2:55

Room 213

Readings schedule


Craig A. Damon (

Williston office: BLP 424 (across from the library)

Office Hours: Mon 4:00-4:30, Fri 9:00-9:30
Other hours by appointment. In general, I am in Williston MWF and in Randolph TT.

Leslie Damon (
Office: Room 240 in the 700 building (dorm building, second floor)
Office Hours: Tuesday, 11:00 - 1:00
Other hours by appointment.  In general, I am on campus all days except Thursday.

Course Overview:

This course looks at the historical, technological, mathematical and social context for modern information technology. This course will examine many threads of technology, looking at the historical development, an overview of the current state of the art, the basics of the mathematical underpinnings and the social impact of that trend. The course will spend about one week on each thread:

Modeling the natural world
counting and computing mechanisms
information storage and retrieval
secrecy and privacy
operations research
implementing intelligence - how both natural and artificial intelligence work
models of computation and thinking
games and automated toys

For additional information about each thread and its associated readings, see the readings page.

Course Objectives:

A student completing this course should understand the historical, technological, mathematical and social context of current and upcoming information technology.

Course Readings:

There is no textbook for this course.

Instead, readings will be posted on the web for each week, no later than Friday of the previous week. Each student is responsible for reading all the posted materials.

Course Information:

This course will make use of the blackboard system and the web. The readings for each week will be posted on the web, and blackboard will be used to post homework assignments, to post course announcements and to allow students to submit their completed assignments. Students are expected to regularly check the course site under blackboard and on the web server.


Many different activities will contribute to your overall grade in the class.

There will be weekly homework assignments every week except the first and last week of the semester. The assignments will be posted on blackboard every Wednesday. Assignments must be submitted using the blackboard drop box by 5PM the following Thursday. Late assignments are not accepted. Each assignment is worth 4% of your total course grade.

Each student will be responsible for turning in three 1-page short papers over the semester. Each paper will reflect on one of the course readings of the student’s choice. More details on the nature of these papers will be made available later. The first short paper must be submitted by February 11. The second short paper must be submitted by March 25. The third short paper must be submitted by the last day of classes, April 29. Each short paper is worth 4% of your total course grade.

Each student must write a book report on one of the books in the list below. Guidelines for the report are available on blackboard. The report must be submitted by the last day of classes, April 29. The report is worth 4% of your total course grade.

There will be three quizzes given in class during the semester, roughly after each 3-4 weeks. Each quiz will be worth 4% of your total course grade.
There will be a final exam for this course that will cover material from the entire course. The exam will be worth 20% of your total course grade.
Participation in class, including attendance, is worth 8% of your total course grade.

The lowest homework, short paper, report or quiz grade will be dropped OR your final exam will be worth only 16% of your grade, depending on which is more advantageous to you. If you have turned in every assignment, quiz, short paper and report AND you have a high grade average across all grades in this class, you do not need to take the final exam. The exact grade average required to skip the final exam will be announced late in the semester.

Grading summary:
Homework assignments        12 @ 4%     48%
Short papers                            3 @ 4%     12%
Book report                                                 4%
Quizzes                                    3 @ 4%    12%
Final exam                                                20%
Forgiveness                                                -4%
Participation                                                8%

Total                                                         100%

Candidate Books

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

any chapter of Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers by V. S. Ramachandran 

Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder
Chaos: Making a New Science, by James Gleick

The Race for a New Game Machine, by David Shippy and Mickie Phipps

Cuckoo’s Egg, by Clifford Stoll

Alan Turing: the Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Other Course Procedures

Students are encouraged to work with each other in many ways. Study groups are particularly encouraged. You may discuss approaches to assignments or papers. However, each student is responsible solely for completing their own work. Any copying of work, either from other students or from unacknowledged external sources, is cheating and will result in harsh penalties.

Students with disabilities, whether physical, psychological, or learning, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Learning Specialist as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. Please meet with Robin Goodall to verify your eligibility for accommodations and/or academic assistance related to your disability. She can be reached at the Judd Support Center, extension 728-1278, or by email (