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Computer Technology and Social Issues

Computer Technology and Social Issues

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Interconnected political, economic. Social and human factors are paramount in determining the success of information technology. As global economic competition has become ever more important, the social issues of computing combine to make public policymaking more urgent in computer-related domains. Though often perceived in purely technological terms, when it comes to computing, political issues are pervasive.

The book starts by examining charges that computing threatens democratic values. Is computing creating a technological elite? Does it foster dehumanization and a de-skilled workforce? And what of the opposite claim that computing will foster a new era of electronic democracy--a network nation in which participatory team approaches and electronic civic democracy displace hierarchical models of the past? Empirical data and case studies on both sides of these and other related questions are examined from a social science viewpoint.

Subsequent chapters deal with computing as a threat to privacy, intellectual property rights in a computer era, computer crime by individuals and organizations, gender and race inequity, technostress and health issues, liability for the effects of computing and numerous related topics. Discussion of the social issues and problems of computing leads into chapters which examine employee resistance to computing, sociotechnical change, information cultures and success factors in computing implementation. Final chapters of the book deal with arguments that information technology investment may not lead to productivity gains. The call for establishment of a national information technology policy to meet the demands of global competition is then taken up. Public goods theory is discussed as a background to reviewing governmental efforts to regulate or promote information technology up through the current proposals of the Clinton Administration. A concluding section on computing and public policy accountability argues for a focus which takes account of the social factors behind successful technological implementation and is not blind hardware-oriented subsidy of all forms of information technology investment.