Owning the Intangible: Possession, Theft, and (Mis)Appropriation of Ideas


Welcome to the Fall 2010 session of one of the offerings of Tutorial from Grinnell College's Department of Computer Science. The title of this particular tutorial is Owning the Intangible: Possession, Theft, and (Mis)Appropriation of Ideas. You can find out more about this particular tutorial from its blurb and about Tutorial itself from an explanatory document.

In short, this semester we'll be working on building your skills in thinking, writing, reading, speaking, and working with sources while studying intellectual property (IP) and considering a variety of perspectives of IP in the twenty-first century.

Because of the skills/subject pairing, we will split most class sessions into two parts: for the first forty or so minutes we'll discuss some issue pertaining to academic skills (e.g., a particular aspect of writing or editing); for the last fifty minutes, we'll discuss some issue pertaining to IP.

Although I am providing you with a wealth of printed information, some of that information may change. Hence, you should regularly check the course web, which you can find at http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Courses/Tutorial/2010F/.

As part of our consideration of intellectual property, you will be sharing the intellectual property you create in this class more widely. In particular, you or I will post much of your work online, probably using a form of Wiki. This requirement means that it will be accessible to your fellow students and to the broader Web community. If you have difficulty with this requirement, please discuss it with me.

Meets: TuTh 8:00-9:50 in a variety of places, including the CS commons, Saints Rest, the Marketplace, and maybe even our assigned classroom (Science 3818).

Instructor: Samuel A. Rebelsky, Science 2427. 269-4410 (office). 236-7445 (home). Office hours MTW 1:15-2:00, 2:15-3:05. Also available by appointment, for walk-ins, and via email. Tutee meetings Th 10:00-10:45, 1:15-3:15, F 1:15-2:00, 2:15-3:00.

Grade Components:

To compensate for the occasional lapse, I will drop the lowest of those ten grades. To reward particularly strong work, I will count the best of the grades (excluding convo and participation) twice.

Late Work: Because I have found that students who turn in work late tend to dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes and because many of our in-class exercises will require the work due that day, I impose fairly severe penalties for late work. All late work receives an immediate penalty of 20%. In addition, for every day late (beyond the first day), I impose another penalty of 10%. In case you can't tell, this means that you should always get your work in on time!

Attendance: I use a fairly straightforward technique for grading attendance and participation. I begin with the assumption that everyone deserves a 90 (on a 100 point scale) and then make modifications as appropriate. Particularly good participation leads to a higher grade. Less good participation (which can be inappropriate participation or too much participation as well as too little participation) leads to a lower grade. Students who miss two classes receive a 10 point penalty. Students who miss three classes receive a 15 point penalty. Students who miss four or five classes receive a 25 point penalty. Students who miss six or more classes receive a 50 point penalty.

Contract: I know that some of you are concerned about your ability to pass this Tutorial. Although I think you shouldn't be concerned, I also do my best to alleviate this concern by providing a form of contract. If you (a) miss no more than one class; (b) turn in all your work on time; (c) participate regularly in class; and (d) try hard on everything, then I will guarantee you at least a C in the class.

Disabilities: I encourage those of you with disabilities -- particularly hidden disabilities, such as learning or psychological disabilities -- to come see me about what I can do to make it easier for you to learn. In addition, if you have not already done so, you should discuss your disability with academic advising. Our academic advising staff have a lot of experience helping students with disbilities figure out the best way to learn (and helping faculty help those students learn), and you should take advantage of their experience and expertise. Some students are just discovering their disabilities (particularly learning and psychological disabilities). If you think that you may have an undocumented disability, please speak to both me and to academic advising.

Note that I find that the changes that I make for those with learning disabilities are often appropriate for all students. Hence (although it does not pertain in Tutorial), I rarely give timed exams and I tend to allow my students to use computers during exams.

As you may note from the bottom of my Web pages, I do my best to have these pages meet the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines. If you notice places in which I have failed, please let me know.



Sunday, 28 March 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Sunday, 8 August 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelksy]

Tuesday, 10 August 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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The source to the document was last modified on Tue Aug 24 10:50:17 2010.
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Copyright © 2005-2010 Samuel A. Rebelsky. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu