Students will also take part in a personal presentation. Research for this presentation will also be used to write a paper of about 8 double spaced pages. Each student will present the results of their work (presentations to last 10-15 minutes) which will then discussed by the class. Between them these count for 20% of the overall class credit. This will in general be evenly split between the paper and the presentation.
Topic. All assignments will involve some kind of research on a topic related to the class. Examples include learning how to program an early microcomputer and producing a simple demonstration program, research on press coverage of the introduction of the VAX minicomputer, and an exploration of the controversy over the attempt of the Computer Decency Act to impose censorship on the Internet. Multimedia and computer facilities may be used in these presentations. Make the topic interesting but also keep it narrow enough that you can actually get a grip on it.
Scheduling: Once a topic has been selected, each student will be added to the course schedule. The precise date will be set by the instructor in consultation with the student so as to complement the material being discussed that week.
Due Date: The paper is due one week after your presentation. Extensions are available if asked for in advance -- but don't let this drag on to the end of the semester.
Presentation: Practice and time your presentation carefully 10 minutes can be over a lot sooner than you think. Be careful to introduce your topic and explain how it fits in with the themes of the class and the material we have all read. PowerPoint and video capabilities are available, but use these only if you think they will help your presentation. Speak clearly, explain any unfamiliar topics.
Research: Successful projects will involve some original research. This does not necessarily mean papers in academic journals, but it does require a hunt for relevant material and careful footnoting. Use of original documents (newspaper articles, popular books, manuals etc) from the period you are discussing is strongly encouraged. Treat material from the web with caution -- don't assume that all facts and opinions on a personal or corporate website are well researched or that a Google search will bring all you need to know. On the other hand, on-line newspaper archives are invaluable -- just be aware of what you are dealing with.
Papers: Papers should be about 8 double-spaced pages. Credit for papers is awarded roughly 20% for elegance of writing, 30% for organization and argument and 50% for research. Footnote all your sources! Here are some hints I have produced on the writing of a successful paper.