Paper Two Podcast -- Transcript


This podcast is for the students in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog, at


Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and today is Wednesday, March 19th, 2014.  I'm speaking to you today from my home office in Champaign, IL.  Today's podcast is about the second paper in our online class, which is due on Friday, May 9th, by noon central time.  And, according to my calendar, that's just over seven weeks from now.

For this assignment, which is really the capstone assignment for our class, you are to discuss laws and public policies related to some aspect of the Internet that we have covered, or that we will cover, in our course this semester, and how these laws and public policies impact one or more segments of society.  Possible topics include the digital divide, spam, online privacy, online identity theft, Internet sales taxes, cyber-bullying, sexting, digital democracy, such as online voting, the Internet and terrorism, and illegal music downloading.  Actually, many of the topics from our course syllabus can probably be made to work for this assignment.  I have a list of possible topics linked from our main course website - the handout is called "Paper Two Topics".  (well, I guess that is kind of obvious, huh?)  Many of these topics are currently in the news, so you might want to look at Google News to see if any topics jump out at you.

I know that a number of students are going to ask what I mean by a public policy issue.  For a broad definition, I went to the Wikipedia article at:

This article included the following definitions:

I think that those are pretty good definitions.  So let's now look at a specific topic.  For example, online shopping - where in many cases, we don't pay sales tax on our online purchases.  Why?  Why don't we pay sales taxes?  What are the "public policies", that is, why have governments decided not to tax some sales that are made online, and what are the laws that implement this public policy?  And, in the case of Internet sales taxes, is there a movement to change this public policy - and if so, what new laws are being proposed or are currently pending in this area?  How does this public policy impact various communities?  For example, the City of Champaign, where I live, doesn't collect any sales tax if I buy a digital camera online from a store in New York City, instead of buying it at the local Best Buy store here in north Champaign.  How will this loss of sales taxes impact the City of Champaign when it comes to providing services, such as fire and police protection, to its citizens?

By communities, I also mean social communities - that is, groups of people organized around common values or common traits - so you can think of the various communities we have encountered in the Pew studies - rural vs. urban, young vs. old, dial-up vs. broadband, the various socio-economic communities, and so on.

OK, now, back to the assignment.

Your paper should cover all aspects of your selected topic, including how this topic impacts American society today and the laws and public policies that are related to this topic.  Since this paper is to include laws and public policies and their impacts on various communities, you will have to conduct sufficient research to write a thorough and complete paper on your selected topic Ė and for most of you, this research will be done online.  You will want to refer to articles written about your topic Ė articles that you bring in from reputable online sources.  Are there new policies or laws pending in any state or at the federal level?  Unlike your first paper in our class, the second paper is most definitely a research paper.  And you will need to provide references to support the statements you will make in the paper.

You will have to conduct very thorough research, so that you cover ALL the important laws and public policies about your selected topic.  You most certainly don't want to omit any obvious legislation.

As with the first paper, youíll write your second paper in two phases.  In Phase One, you will propose your topic, discuss it with me and your fellow classmates, and through this process, refine your topic, conduct research, and begin to organize your paper.  You also are required to assist at least three other students with their papers during Phase One -- remember, you can write a great paper, but lose points for not assisting other students in the Phase One discussions.  In Phase Two -- the actual writing and submission phase -- you will write your paper using a word processor, submit it to Turn-It-In (the plagiarism detection website), and also submit it to a forum in Blackboard, so that others in the class can read and discuss it, and of course, so that I can evaluate it.

It must be very clear to me that you have incorporated the resources and ideas contributed by your fellow classmates into your paper.  As with the first paper, Iíll be reading your paper from back to front -- that is, Iíll begin by looking at your references -- are they from reputable sources?  Do they cover all aspects of your topic?  Did you include input from other classmates?  And, of course, are the references formatted properly?  As an aside, you should only use primary sources for your references - this means that you shouldn't use online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, since they aren't primary sources.

Iíll be looking for a thorough, in-depth analysis of the topic.  Remember, this is a research paper, which must discuss laws and public policies related to some aspect of the Internet, and how these laws and policies impact various communities.  You need to make sure that you cover your topic in detail.  And you must provide sufficient references consistent with a thorough treatment of the subject.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all about this assignment.  I hope that by writing this paper, and by reading other studentsí papers, you will gain a deeper understanding of how the Internet is impacting American life today.


Well, that wraps up this podcast.  So until next time, this is Burks, signing off.