Special Topic: Socio-Technical Issues in Computer Networks

CSC 295, Fall 2010
Grinnell College
Friday, noon - 1:05 p.m., JRC 224A (the first private dining room, upstairs in the dining hall)
Instructor: Janet Davis, Department of Computer Science (SCI 3809; office hours as posted)

About this course

This semester in CS Table, we will consider current issues in computer networks that straddle the boundary between technical and social problems. Topics are selected with an eye towards considering a range of social issues (from spam to surveillance to the digital divide) and key ideas spanning the network stack (from the "political layer" to applications down to wireless networks).

For many technical topics, we will be taking advantage of Wikipedia's extensive and generally accurate coverage of the Internet Protocol Suite. Articles with a more social focus are drawn from a variety of sources.

Discussions will be student-driven. Students who are registered for CSC 295 will collaborate in small groups of 2-3 to lead discussions (discussed below) on 2-3 topics over the course of the semester. Any student with an interest in computing may participate in our discussions. 


*If you have only 15 minutes to read, then focus on the starred articles. (This should apply to only to students who are not registered for credit!)

August 27: Overview

We'll consider metaphors as a way to consolidate our prior knowledge of how the Internet works (and perhaps learn some new things as well). Registered students will sign up for the first round of presentations.

Presenter: Ms. Davis

September 3: Protocols & Standardization

*P. Borsook, How Anarchy WorksWired 3.10, Oct 1995.
Communications Protocol, Internet Protocol Suite (Wikipedia).

Presenters: Alex & Jordan

September 10: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, SMTP, and Spam

*E. Allman, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, the FTC, and Spam, ACM Queue, Oct 2003.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (Wikipedia).

Presenters: Jesse & Shitanshu

September 17: DNS & Denial of Service

*United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks, November 4, 2004.
*R. Singel, Twitter, Facebook attacks no surprise to security experts, Wired.com, August 6, 2009.
*R. Singel, Is there rhyme or reason to the attacks on Twitter?, Wired.com, August 6, 2009.
Domain Name System (Wikipedia).
ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), DNS Distributed Denial of Service, March 2006.

Also worth reading, not required: J. Davis (not me), Secret Geek A-Team Hacks Back, Defends Worldwide Web, Wired 16.12, November 24, 2008.

Presenters: Martin & Max

September 24: Quality of Service & Net Neutrality

*Nate Anderson, FCC proposes network neutrality rules (and big exemptions)Ars Technica, Oct 22, 2009.
*Declan McCullagh, Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutralityCNET News, April 6, 2010.
*Matthew Lasar, Few neutrals in debate over third way net neutrality plan, Ars Technica, July 19, 2010.
Best Effort Delivery, Quality of Service (Wikipedia).

Presenters: Isaac and Josh

October 1: Password reuse; Is Google evil?

Presenter: Mr. Rebelsky, Ms. Davis

October 8: Surveillance & TCP/IP Packet Structure

*ResNet Guidelines and Policies
*Ellen Nakashinma, US seeks ways to wiretap the InternetWashington Post, Sept 27, 2010.
*Paul Ohm, When Network Neutrality Met Privacy, CACM 53(4):30-32, April 2010.
Kristina Irion, International Communications Surveillance, CACM 52(2):26-28, Feb 2009.
TCP Protocol Layers Explained, Dru Lavigne, ONLamp.com, March 14, 2001.
Capturing TCP Packets, Dru Lavigne, ONLamp.com, March 21, 2001.
IP Packets Revealed, Dru Lavigne, ONLamp.com, March 28, 2001.

Presenters: Simon & Jeff

October 15: Informal Discussion; Online voting

Presenter: Mr. Stone

Have a relaxing fall break!

October 29: IPv4 Address Space Depletion and the IPv6 Transition

*Iljitsch van Beijnum, There is no Plan B: why the IPv4-to-IPv6 transition will be ugly, Ars Technica, October 1, 2010.
IP address, IPv4 address exhaustion (Wikipedia).
XKCD, Map of the Internet: IPv4 Address Space, 2006.

Presenters: Jesse (?), (?)

November 5: Internet Censorship in China

*Migel Helft and David Barbazoa, Google Shuts China Site in Dispute over Censorship, New York Times, March 22, 2010.
*Robert Saiget, China defends Internet 'Great Firewall', AFP, June 7, 2010.
*David Barboza and Miguel Helft, Beijing Renews Google's License in China, New York Times, July 9, 2010.
Jonathan Bittrain and Benjamin Adelman, Empirical analysis of Internet filtering in China (plus the technical appendix), March 2003.
Stan Shroeder, Google Fights Censorship with Transparency Report, Mashable, September 21, 2010.

Presenters: Jeff, Simon (?)

November 12: Onion Routing & Anonymity

*Clark Boyd, WikiLeaks tech challenges 'top secret' securityDiscovery News, July 27, 2010.
*Paul Marks, How Wikileaks became a whistleblower's haven, New Scientist, July 2010.
*David Goldschlag, Michael Reed, and Paul Syverson. Onion Routing for Anonymous and Private Internet Connections, Communications of the ACM, vol. 42, num. 2, February 1999.
Tor: overview, Who uses Tor? (torproject.com)

Presenters: Martin, Max

November 19: "Free Wi-Fi" & Mesh Networking

*Terry Schmidt and Anthony Townsend, Why wi-fi wants to be free, CACM 46(5):47-52, May 2003.
*Tomas Krag and Sebastian BŁettrich, Wireless mesh networking, O'Reilly Wireless DevCenter, Jan 22, 2004.
Wireless Mesh Network, Wikipedia.
AODV Description (UCSB CS)

Presenters: Isaac, Josh

November 26: Thanksgiving

Have a great Thanksgiving break!

December 3: Rural Education & Networking without a Network

*R. Wang, et al., Digital network going postal and a tale of three schools, Winter 2005.
*M. Trucano, Mobile Phones and Literacy in Rural Communities, World Bank EduTech blog, April 23, 2010.
R. Wang, Turning the postal system into a generic digital communication mechanism, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review 34(4):159-166, October 2004.
An Exploratory Study of Unsupervised Mobile Learning in Rural India. Anuj Kumar, Anuj Tewari, Geeta Shroff, Deepti Chittamuru, Matthew Kam, and John Canny. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’10), Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-15, 2010. Best Paper Honorable Mention. (paper)

Presenters: Jordan, Alex

December 10: Final Reflections

We'll reflect on the following questions: What is the most memorable thing you learned this semester? What's a question you still have? What does the future hold?

Presenter: Ms. Davis

Leading a discussion

At the start of the semester, and again halfway through the semester, registered students will sign up in groups to lead discussions of particular papers on particular dates (see Schedule below). 

When you are leading a discussion, you should prepare as follows.

Thus to prepare for leading a discussion, you should take the following steps.

Grading policy

This is a one-credit course, graded as S/D/F only.

Janet Davis (davisjan@cs.grinnell.edu)

Created July 27, 2010
Last revised December 1, 2010