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IN NFOR RMA ATIC
School of Distan
nce Educatio
on IN
NFOR
RMA
ATIC
CS & PHI
HILOS
SOP
PHY
Y
CO
ORE CO
OURSE For BA
B PHILO
OSOP
PHY
IIII SEME
ESTER
(20
011 Adm
mission))
UN
NIVERSSITY O
OF CA
ALICUT SC
CHOOL OF DISTAN
NCE EDUC
CATION
CALIC
, MALAPPU
URAM, KERALA, IND
DIA ‐ 673 6
635
CUT UNIVE
ERSITY PO
Informatiics & Philoso
ophy
Pagee 1 School of Distance Education UNIVERSITY OF CALICUT SCHOOL OF DISTANCE EDUCATION STUDY MATERIAL Core Course B A Philosophy III Semester INFORMATICS & PHILOSOPHY
Prepared by Dr. Smitha .T. M, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Maharajas College, Ernakulam. Module I & II Module III & IV Dr. Biju. K.P, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur. Scrutinised by: Dr. V. Prabhakaran,
(Co-ordinator),
Principal,
EKNM Govt. College,
Elerithattu, Kasargod. Layout: Computer Section, SDE ©
Reserved
Informatics & Philosophy Page 2 School of Distance Education CONTENTS
UNIT - I
- OVERVIEW OF INFORMATION
PAGES
5
TECHNOLOGY
UNIT - II
- HIGHER EDUCATION AND INFORMATION
18
TECHNOLOGY
UNIT - III - INFORMATICS-SOCIETY AND APPLICATION
28
UNIT - IV - PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN INFORMATICS
37
Informatics & Philosophy Page 3 School of Distance Education Informatics & Philosophy Page 4 School of Distance Education UNIT I
OVERVIEW OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Objectives:1. To introduce information technology
2. To introduce features of the Modern Personal Computer and peripherals
3. To explain the features of computer networks and internet
4. To summarize wireless technology
5. To describe mobile phone technology
6. To explain the features of ATM
7. To evaluate major operating systems
8. To describe the importance of major application software
I.I FEATURES OF THE MODERN PERSONAL COMPUTER AND PERIPHERALS
Today computers are everywhere- in our offices, homes appliances, auto mobiles- the list
endless. Much of the world runs on computers, and computers have profoundly changed our lives,
mostly for the better.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A COMPUTER
1. Speed: The computers process data at an extremely fast rate, that is, to the tune of million
instructions per second. The speed of a computer is calculated in MHz (Megahertz), that is,
one million instructions per second. At present, a powerful computer can perform billions of
operations in just one second.
2. Accuracy: Besides the efficiency, the computers are also very accurate. The level of accuracy
depends on the instructions and the type of machines being used. Since we know that the
computer is capable of doing only what it is instructed to do, faulty instructions for processing
the data automatically lead to faulty results. This is known as GIGO that is, Garbage In
Garbage Out. Errors may occur in the results, but due to increased efficiency of errordetecting techniques, they can be missed.
3. Reliability: Generally, reliability is the measurement of the performance of a computer, which
is measured against some predetermined standard for operation without any failure. The major
reason behind the reliability of the computer is that, at hardware level, it does not require any
human intervention between its processing operations.
4. Storage Capacity: Computers can store large amounts of data and it can recall the required
information almost instantaneously. The memory of the computer is relatively small and it
can hold only a certain amount of information, therefore the data is stored on storage
Informatics & Philosophy Page 5 School of Distance Education devices, such as magnetic tapes or disks. CD-ROM and Hard Disk are the two types of
storage devices.
5. Versatility: Computers are quite versatile in nature. They can perform multiple tasks
simultaneously with equal ease. For example, at one moment it can be used to prepare a
letter, the other moment it can be used to ply music and in between you can print a
document as well. In brief, we can say that a computer can perform various tasks by
reducing the task to series of logical steps.
6. Diligence: Computer, being a machine, does not suffer from the human traits of tiredness
and lack of concentration. If four million calculations have to be performed, then the
Computer will perform the last four-millionth calculation with the same accuracy and
speed as the first calculation.
1.2 PERIPHERALS
Part of peripherals
Considering be amount of amazing things computer can do, they are quite simple machines.
A basic Computer system is made up of software and hardware. Hardware components of a
Computer consist of the system unit, the box that contains the central electronic components of the
computer, and peripheral devices, those devices such as monitors and printers that are connecter to
the Computer. Other devices, such as routers, help a computer communicate with other computers
to facilitate sharing documents and other resources. Together the system unit and peripheral devices
perform four main functions: they enable the Computer to input data, process that data, and output
and store the data and information.
1.2.2 Input Devices
An input device enables you to enter data (text, images, and sounds) and instructions into the
computer. The most common input devices are the key board and the mouse there are other input
devices as well: microphones input sounds, whereas scanners and digital cameras input nondigital
texts and digital images, respectively.
Keyboards
Most desk top and notebook computers come with a standard keyboard which uses the
QWERTY Keyboard layout this layout gets its name from the first six letters in the top-left row of
alphabetic keys on the key board. Today the QWERTY layout is considered inefficient because it
slows typing speeds. Now that technology can keep up with faster typing, other keyboard layout are
being considered.
The Dvorak Keyboard is the leading alternative keyboard, although it is nearly as common
as the QWERTY. The Dvorak keyboard puts the most commonly used letters in the English
language on “home keys”, the keys in the middle row of the keyboard.
For hard-core games, gaming companies are now selling gaming key boards that are
optimized for laying specific video games
Informatics & Philosophy Page 6 School of Distance Education Another set of controls on slandered key boards are the cursor control keys that move your
cursor. The cursor control keys also are known as arrow keys because they are represented by
arrows on standard keyboards.
Most desktop PCs ship with wired keyboards, wireless keyboards are available. These
keyboards are powered by batteries and send data to the computer using a form of wireless
technology. Infrared wireless keyboards communicate with the computer using infrared light waves.
1.2.3 Mice and other pointing devices
The most familiar mouse is optical mouse. An optical mouse uses an internal sensor or laser
to detect the mouse’s movement. The sensor sends signals to the computer, telling it where to
move the pointer on the screen. Optical mice are often preferable to other types of mice
because they have very few moving parts, which lessens the chances that dirt will interfere
with the mechanisms or that parts will break down. Traditional mouse has a roller ball on the
bottom which moves when you drag the mouse across a mouse pad. The movement of the
roller ball controls the movement of your curser that appears on the screen. mice also have
two or three buttons that enable us to execute commands and open short cut menus. Optical
mice will work on any surface without a mouse pad. Track ball mice also don’t require mouse
pad. A track ball mouse is basically a traditional mouse that has been turned on its back. The
roller ball sits on top or on the side of the mouse and you moves the ball with your fingers,
allowing the mouse to remain stationary.
Just as there are wireless key boards, there are wireless mice, both optical and track wall.
Wireless mice are similar to wireless key boards in that they use batteries and send data to the
computer by radio or light waves.
Other types of input devices
Tablet PCs where developed primarily because many people find it easier to write than type
input in to a computer. But tablet PCs are expensive compared to conventional note books. An
alternative is a digital pen like the EPOS digital pen. This pen works in conjunction with a flash
drive. You can write with the pen on any conventional paper and your writing is captured and then
wirelessly transmitted and stored in the flash drive. When the flash drive is connected to a
computer, you can use software to translate your writing in to digital text.
1.2.4 IMAGE INPUT
Digital cameras, Camcorders and Web cams are the most common devices for capturing
pictures and video, and all are considered input devises. Digital cameras and camcorders are
usually used in remote settings to capture images for later downloading to the computer.
These devices are either connected to the computer by a data cable or transmit data wirelessly.
Webcams are small cameras that usually sit on top of your computer monitor or are built in
to your note book computer. Although some webcams are able to capture still images, they are
used mostly for transferring live videos directly to computer.
1.2.5. SOUND INPUT
Informatics & Philosophy Page 7 School of Distance Education Equipping your computer to accept sound input opens up a variety of possibilities. Inputting
sound to your computer requires equipping it with a microphone or mic, a device that allows
you to capture sound waves and transfer them to digital format on your computer. Most
microphones that are sold to be used with computers are magnetically shielded microphones,
also known as computer microphones. Microphones come in to two basic types, depending on
how they are configured to pick up sound. Unidirectional microphones pick up sounds from
only one direction. Omni directional microphones pick up sounds from all directions.
1.3 OUT PUT DEVICES
Output devices enable you to send processed data out of your computer. This can take the
form of text, pictures, sounds and videos. One common output devise is a monitor which displays
text, graphics and video as soft copies. Another common output device is the printer, which creates
tangible or hard copies of text and graphics. Speakers and earphones are obviously the output
devises for sounds.
1.3.1. MONITORS
There are two basic types of monitors: CRTs and LCDs. The monitor looks like a traditional
television set, it has a picture tube device called a Cathode-ray tube (CRT). The monitor is flat,
such as those found in note books, its using liquid crystal display technology, similar to digital
watches. LCD monitors are lighter and more energy efficient than CRT monitors, making them
perfect for portable computers such as Note books.
1.3.2. PRINTERS
There are two primary categories of printers: Impact and Nonimpact. Impact printers have
tiny hammer-like keys that strike the paper through an inked ribbon, thus making a mark on the
paper. The most common impact printer is the Dot-matrix printer. Nonimpact printers spray
ink or use laser beams to transfer marks on to the paper. The most common nonimpact printers
are inkjet printers and laser printers.
Infrared compatible or wireless printers allow you to print from your hand held device, note
book, or camera. Most of these printers work using blue tooth technology.
1.3.3. SOUND OUTPUTS
Most computers include inexpensive speakers as an output device for sound. These speakers
are sufficient to play the standard audio clips you find on the web and usually enable you to
participate in video conferencing or phone calls made over the internet.
1.4 COPUTER NETWORKS AND INTERNET
A computer network is simply two or more computers that are connected via software and
hardware so that they can communicate with each other. Devices connected to network are referred
to as nodes. A node can be a computer, a peripheral, or a communication device. The main function
of for most networks is to facilitate information sharing, but networks provide other benefits.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 8 School of Distance Education Network allow users to share peripherals by networking computers, you can transfer files
from one computer to another to another without using external storage media such as flash drives.
And you can set up shared directories in windows and that allow the user of each computer on the
network to store files that other computers on the network may need to access.
Network Architectures: Network architectures are classified according to the way in
which they are controlled and the distance between their nodes. `
1.4.1 NETWORK ARCHITECTURES
The term network architecture refers to the design of a network. Network architectures are
classified according to the way in which they are controlled and the distance between their
nodes.
1.4.2 DESCRIBING NETWORKS BASED ON NETWORK ADMINISTRATION
There are two main ways a network can be administered (or run): locally or centrally. A
peer - to- peer network is the most common example of a locally administered network. The
most common type of centrally administered network is a client/server network.
In peer - to – peer (P2P) networks, each node connected to the network can communicated
directly with every other node on the network, instead of having a separate device exercise
central control over the entire network. Thus, all nodes on this type of network are in a sense
peers. When printing, for example, a computer on a P2P network doesn’t have to go through
the computer that’s connected to the printer. Instead, it can communicate directly with the
printer.
Very small schools and offices may have P2P networks. However, most networks that have
10 or more nodes are client/server networks. A client/server network contains two different
types of computers: clients and servers. The client is the computer on which users
accomplish specific tasks (such as construct spread sheets) and make specific requests (such
as printing a file). The server is the computer that provides information or resources to the
client computers on the network. The server on a client/server network also provides central
administration for functions on the network (such as printing).
When your computer is connected to the Internet, it is functioning as a client computer.
When connecting to the Internet through an Internet service provider (ISP), your computer
connects to a server computer maintained by the ISP. The server “serves up” resources to your
computer so that you can interact with the Internet.
Although client/server networks can be configured for home use, P2P networks are more
often used in the home because they cost less than client/server networks and are easier to
configure and maintain. To set up a client/server network in your home, you have to buy an
extra computer to act as the server. Although a computer could function both as server and a
client, its performance would be significantly degraded due to the complexity of the serverrelated functions it would have to perform. Therefore, it is impractical to use a single
computer as both a client and server.
1.4.3 DESCRIBING NETWORKS BASED ON DISTANCE
Informatics & Philosophy Page 9 School of Distance Education The distance between nodes on a network is another way to describe a network. Local area
networks (LANs) are networks in which the nodes are located within a small geographic area.
Examples include a network in your home or a computer lab at school. Wide area networks
(WANs) are made up of LANs connected over long distances. Say a school has two campuses
(east and west) located in different towns. Connecting the LAN at the east campus to the LAN
at the west campus (by telecommunications lines) would allow the users on the two LANs to
communicate. The two LANs would be described as a single WAN.
1.4.4 THE INTERNET
You’ve no doubt on the Internet countless times. According to the Nielsen Net Ratings, by
the end of 2006, nearly 70 percent of homes in the United States were connected to the
Internet. But what exactly is the Internet? The Internet is the largest computer network in the
world, actually a network of networks, connecting billions of computer users. Although 20
countries represent the majority of computer users, some reports estimate that nearly 150
countries have some form of connection to the Internet! Communication is the primary reason
people use the Internet, but when Internet users are not communicating, they also spend the
majority of their online time shopping, searching for information, and just browsing the
Internet for fun.
1.4.4.1 THE ORIGIN OF THE INTERNET
To understand why the Internet was created, you need to understand what was
happening in the early 1960s in the United States. In the midst of the Cold War with Russia,
military leaders and civilians alike were concerned about a Russian nuclear or conventional
attract on the United States. Meanwhile, the U.S. armed forces were becoming increasingly
dependent on computers to coordinate and plan their activities. For the U.S. armed forces to
operate efficiently, computer systems located in various parts of the country needed to have
a reliable means of communication - one that could not be disrupted easily. Thus, the U.S.
government funded much of the early research into the Internet.
At the same time, researchers also hoped the Internet would address the problems
involved with getting different computers to communicate with each other. Although
computers had been networked since the early 1960s, there was no reliable way to connect
computers from different manufactures because these computers used different proprietary
methods of communication. What was lacking was a common communications method that
all computers could use, regardless of the differences in their individual designs. The
Internet was created to respond to these two concerns: to establish a secure form of military
communications and to create a means by which all computers could communicate.
The modern Internet evolved from an early “inter networking” project called the
Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPA NET). Funded by the U.S.
government for the military in the late 1960s, ARPANET began as a four-node network
involving UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara,
and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The first real communication occurred in late
1969 between the computer at Stanford and the computer at UCLA. Although the system
crashed after the third letter was transmitted, it was the beginning of a revolution that has
grown into millions of computers connected to the Internet today. Although many people
participated in the creation of the ARPANET, two men who worked on the project, Vinton
Informatics & Philosophy Page 10 School of Distance Education Cerf and Robert Kahn, are generally acknowledge as the “fathers” of the Internet. They
earned this honor because they were primarily responsible for developing the
communications protocols (or standards) in the 1970s that are still in use on the Internet
today.
There was explosive growth of the Internet in the early to mid 1990s; nearly the
entire world had access to an Internet connection.
Because of that availability, as well as the increasing capabilities of hardware and
software, the amount of growth of Web sites has also increased exponentially. In December
1990, the first Web domain was hosted on the Web. Four years later, approximately 10,000
sites were online, and by June 1996, a whopping 252,000 Web site domains were hosted. In
November 2006, over 100 million Web sites were online.
1.4.4.2 INTERNET BASICS
The Internet is such an integral part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine life without
it. Looking forward, our ability to use and interact with the Internet and the World Wide
Web will converge even more with our daily lives. Therefore, it’s Important to understand
how the Internet works and the choices available for connecting to it.
1.4.4.3 THE WEB VERSUS THE INTERNET
So are the Web and the Internet the same thing? Because the World Wide Web
(WWW or the Web) is what we use the most, we sometimes think of the “Net” and the
“Web” as being interchangeable. However, the Web is the means we use to access
information over the Internet. What distinguishes the Web from the rest of the Internet is its
use of
• Common communication protocols (such as TCP/IP) and special languages (such as the
Hyper Text Markup Language, or HTML). These protocols enable different computers to
talk to each other and display information in compatible formats.
• Special links (called hyperlinks) that enables users to jump from one place to another on the
Web.
Other ways to disseminate information over the Internet include communications systems,
such as e-mail and information exchange technologies, such as File Transfer Protocol
(FTP).
1.4.4.4
THE INTERNET’S CLIENTS AND SERVERS
Computers connected to the Internet communicated (or “talk”) to each other like we
do when we ask a question and get an answer. Thus, a computer connected to the Internet
acts in one of two ways: it is a client, a computer that asks for data, or a server, a computer
that receives the request and returns the data to the client. Because the Internet uses clients
and servers, it is referred to as a client/server network.
Suppose you want to access the Web to check out snow conditions at your favorite
ski area. When you type the Web site address of the ski area in your Web browser, your
computer acts as a client computer because you are asking for data from the ski area’s Web
Informatics & Philosophy Page 11 School of Distance Education site. Your browser’s request for this data travels along several pathways, similar to interstate
highways. The largest and fastest pathway is the main artery of the Internet, called the
Internet backbone, to which all intermediary pathways connect. All data traffic flows along
the backbone and then on to smaller pathways until it reaches its destination, which is the
server computer for the ski area’s Web site. The server computer returns the requested data
to your computer by using the most expedient pathway system (which may be different from
the pathway the request took). Your Web browser the interprets the data and displays it on
your monitor.
1.4.4.5 THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET
Certainly, the Internet of the future will have more bandwidth and offer increased
services. One thing is certain: because of the prevalence of wireless technologies, the
Internet will be more accessible, and we will become more dependent on it. With the
increase of commerce and communication activities dominating the Internet, the concern is
that there will be no bandwidth left for one of the Internet’s original purposes: exchange of
scientific and academic research. Two major projects currently under way in the United
States to develop advanced technologies for the Internet are Large Scale Networking
(LSN) program and Internet2.
The Internet2 is an ongoing project sponsored by more than 200 universities
(supported by government and industry partners) to develop new Internet technologies and
disseminate them as rapidly as possible to the rest of the Internet community. The Internet2
backbone supports extremely high speed communications and provides an excellent testing
area for new data transmission technologies. It is hoped that the Internet2 will solve the
major problem plaguing the current Internet: lack of bandwidth. Once the Internet2 is fully
integrated with the current Internet, greater volumes of information should flow more
smoothly
1.5 WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY
Wireless technologies provide inherent benefits in many situations, both in traditional and
nontraditional settings. For example, imagine an environmental monitoring station on a ship at sea
or a forest ranger station in mountainous terrain. Both need connectivity with the outside world,
however, deploying traditional wired technologies such as a copper-based or fiber optics
communications line would provides an expensive solution to these communications problems and
also may damage the environment. Wireless communications via a series of microwave towers or
satellites provides a less expensive alternative many others.
This scenario plays out in many areas of the world were entire communities rely on
wireless technology for communications needs, ranging from telephone to emergency services. In
many of these circumstances, wireless networks may offer an advantage of reduced costs. The
expense of acquiring the needed right-of-way from landowners, the labor-intensive process of
digging trenches for cabling, and the continued maintenance of those cables provide significant
obstacles to deploying traditional wired systems. In developed countries, a wire-based telephone
network may reduce installation costs and concerns by running a great deal of cabling in railroad
right-of-way or along highways, but expenses remain enormous. In most countries, the basic
Informatics & Philosophy Page 12 School of Distance Education telephone infrastructure does not exist. Thus, wireless technology provides a cost-effective means
for electronic communication, and is sometimes the only chance of obtaining such an infrastructure.
1.6
INTRODUCTION TO MOBILE PHONE TECHNOLOGY
1.6.1 MOBILE CELLULAR PHONES
If you do decide to go mobile, there is a wide range of mobile computing devices on the
market today:
• Paging devices provide you with limited communication capabilities but are inexpensive
options if you want some of the features of mobile computing.
• Cellular phones feature traditional phone services such as call waiting and voice mail. Many
now come with calendars contact database, text messaging e-mail, GPS, and Internet
browsing capabilities.
• Portable media players (PMPs) allow you to carry music, video, and other digital files.
• Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are handheld devices that allow you to carry much of the
same digital information as desktop systems or provide specific solutions for Web
browsing or reading e-books.
• Smart phones are a result of the convergence (or combination of features) of various
portable devices such as PMPs, PDAs, and cellular phones. These devices attempt to
provide a single solution for your portable computing needs.
• Tablet PCs are larger and more power than PDAs and incorporate specialized handwriting-
recognition software.
• Notebook computers are expensive and powerful tools for carrying electronic information.
1.6.2
MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICES
Cellular phones (or cell phones) have evolved from their early days as large, clunky,
boxlike devices to become compact, full-featured communication and information storage
devices. Mobile phones offer all of the features available on a traditional telephone system,
including auto-redial, call timers, and voice-mail capabilities. Some Mobile phones also
feature voice-activated dialing, which is important for hands-free operation. In addition, cell
phones can offer Internet access, text messaging, personal information management (PIM)
features, voice recording, and digital image and video capture.
1.7 INTRODUCTION TO ATM
Even in ordinary newspapers the term ATM can be found now and then, mostly in the
context of the ‘information society’ and its need for powerful and efficient data highways.
Despite the tremendous developments in terms of ATM standardization, product roll-outs
network implementation and, last but not least, public service offerings, the big commercial success
of ATM is still missing. Many analysts agree that ATM has a big future, but it’s a future that still
has to be realized.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 13 School of Distance Education The ATM story so far has not been straight forward: originally invented by researchers as
a hybrid switching technique combining the merits of channel and packet-switching and (at least in
Europe) optimized for real-time applications such as telephony, its success the new network transfer
(that is, switching and transmission) method and decided that after some modifications and
adaptations to the data world’s needs it would be a concept promising enough to follow. This
approach first led to the well-known 5-3 byte ATM cell size compromise and then to a lot of other
measures to define a standard which reconciles the data community with the telecommunications
community.
ATM networks are true multi-service networks with the potential to offer broadband
services; they support network consolidation and ATM has the capability to meet different quality
of service requirements. ATM network infrastructure is appealing for both private and public
operators even if the market for native ATM services may be limited for a while.
ATM and the Internet: the two may well liaise to their mutual benefit. ATM can provide the
reliable and efficient network infrastructure that the Internet badly needs to become a commercially
usable network which really can satisfy the needs of its users in terms of availability, throughout
and other performance parameters, security and privacy, and accountability. ATM network
providers may draw from the Internet’s globally established user base and know-how concerning
‘real-life’ applications. Internet applications would then generate huge amounts of traffic which
large ATM networks can handle, and which per se justify large-scale ATM implementations. So
one can expect that a next-generation Internet offering advanced multimedia capabilities and better
supporting real-life service may boost ATM deployment.
1.8 OVERVIEW OF OPERATING SYSTEMS AND MAJOR APPLICATION SOFTWARE.
1.8.1
OVERVIEW OF OPERATING SYSTEMS
There are two basic types of software on your computer, application software and system
software. Application software is the software you use to do everyday tasks at home and at
work. It includes programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. System software is the set of
software programs that helps run the computer and coordinates instructions between
application software and the computer’s hardware devices. From the moment you turn on
your computer to the time you shut it down, you are interacting with system software.
System software consists of two primary types of programs: the operating system and
utility programs. The operating system (OS) is a group of programs that controls how your
computer system functions. The OS manages the computer’s hardware, including the
processor (also called the central processing unit, or CPU), memory, and storage devices, as
well as peripheral devices such as the monitor and printer. The operating system also
provides a consistent means for software applications to work with the CPU. In addition, it is
responsible for the management, scheduling, and interaction of tasks as well as system
maintenance. Your first features of the program that allow the user to communicate with the
computer system.
System software also includes utility programs. These are small program that perform
many of the general housekeeping tasks for the computer, such as system maintenance and
file compression. Every computer, from the smallest notebook to the largest supercomputer,
Informatics & Philosophy Page 14 School of Distance Education has an operating system. Even tiny personal digital assistants (PDAs) as well as some
appliances have operating systems. The role of the OS is critical; the computer cannot operate
without it. As explained more fully in the later section “What the Operating System Does,”
the operating system coordinates the flow of data and information through the computer
system by coordinating the hardware, software, user interface, processor, and the system’s
memory. But first, let’s look at the types of operating systems and what kinds of computers
they are used with.
1.8.1.1 Operating System Categories
Although most computer users can name only a few operating systems, many exist.
These operating systems can be classified into four categories, depending on the tasks they
perform. Some operating systems coordinate resources for many users on a network
(multiuser operating system), whereas other operating systems, such as those found in some
household appliances and car engines, don’t require the intervention of any users at all (real
– time operating system). Some operating systems are available commercially, for personal
and business use (single-user, multitask operating system), whereas others are proprietary
systems developed specifically for the devices they manage (single-user, single-task
operating system).
1.8.1.1. a
MICROSOFT WINDOWS
With each new version of its operating system, Microsoft continues to make
improvements. What was once only a single – user, single –task operating system. Over
time, Windows improvements have concentrated on increasing user functionally and
friendliness, improving Internet capabilities, and enhancing file privacy and security. Unlike
the version of Windows XP that centered around features (such as Windows XP Tablet PC
Edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Home Edition, and Windows XP
Professional), Windows Vista comes in a number of version to accommodate the user: the
home user (Home Basic, Home Premium), the business user (Business and Enterprise), or
the combination user (Ultimate).
1.8.1.1. b
MAC OS
Although the Apple Mac OS and the Windows operating systems are not compatible,
they are very similar in terms of functionality In 1984, Mac OS became the first
commercially available operating system to incorporate a Graphical User Interface (GUI)
with its user-friendly point-and-click technology in an affordable computer. Both operating
systems now have similar window work areas on the desktop that house individual
applications and support users working in m ore than one application at a time.
1.8.1.1. c
LINUX
Linux is an open-source operating system. The Linux operating system uses a Linux
kernel (the key code to an operating system), and the rest of the code is from the GNU
(pronounced “gunoo”) Project and other sources. Linux is designed for use on personal
computers and as a network operating system. An open-source program is one that is
Informatics & Philosophy Page 15 School of Distance Education freely available for developers to use or modify as they wish. Linux began in 1991 as a parttime project by a finnish university student named Linus Torvalds, who wanted to create a
free operating system to run on his home computer. He posted his operating system program
code to the Web for others to use and modify. It has since been tweaked by scores of
programmers as part of the Free Software Foundation GNU Project.
Today, Linux is gaining a reputation as a stable operating system that is not subject
to crashed and failures. Because the code is open and available to anyone, Linux is quickly
tweaked to meet virtually any new operating system need. For example, when Palm PDAs
emerged, the Linux OS was promptly modified to run on this new device. Similarly, only a
few weeks were necessary to get the Linux OS ready for the new Intel Xeon processor, a
feat unheard of in proprietary operating system development. Some Linux-based operating
systems have been modified to run iPods and gaming systems. Linux is also gaining
popularity among computer manufactures, which have begun to ship it with some of their
latest PCs.
1.8.2 MAJOR APPLICATION SOFTWARE
1.8.2.1
WORD-PROCESSING SOFTWARE
Writer has many of the same features as its higher-prices Word and Word Perfect
competitors, making it a great choice for the cost-conscious. Because of its general
usefulness, word-processing software is the most widely used software application. Wordprocessing software has a key advantage over its ancestral counterpart, the typewriter: You
can make revisions and corrections with out having to retype an entire document. You
quickly and easily can insert, delete, and move pieces of text. Similarly, you can remove and
insert text from one document into another seamlessly.
1.8.2.2
SPREADSHEET SOFTWARE
Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3, enables you to do
calculations and numerical analyses easily. You can use spreadsheet software to track your
expenses and to create a simple budget. You also can use spreadsheet software to determine
how much you should be paying on your student loans, car loan, or credit card bills each
month. You know you should pay more than the minimum payment to spend less on
interest, but how much more should you pay and for which loan? Spreadsheet software can
help you easily evaluate different scenarios, such as planning the best payment strategy.
1.8.2.3
PERSONAL FINANCIAL SOFTWARE
Everyone has to face doing their taxes, and having the right computer software can
make this burden much simpler and keep it completely under your control. Tax-preparation
software such as Intuit Turbo Tax and H&R Block Tax Cut enable you to prepare your state
and federal taxes on your own rather than having to hire a professional. Both programs
offer a complete set of tax forms and instructions, as well as videos that contain expert
advice on how to complete each form. In addition, error-checking features are built into the
programs to catch mistakes.
1.8.2.4
SPEECH-RECOGNITION SOFTWARE
Informatics & Philosophy Page 16 School of Distance Education Microsoft has incorporated speech recognition software into its latest operating
system, Windows Vista. Speech-recognition software, or voice-recognition software,
translates your spoken words into typed text. You can dictate documents and e-mail
messages; use voice commands to start and switch between applications, and control the
operating system; and even fill out forms on the Web.
1.8.2.4 DIGITAL IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE
Once the image information is in a digital format (the image is taken with a digital
camera or scanned), you can use it easily with all your other software. With the digital file, it
is simple to store a picture of each person in your Outlook contacts list or add an image you
captured into a newsletter you are writing.
1.8.2.5 DATABASE SOFTWARE
Database software, such as Oracle, Corel Paradox, and Microsoft Access, is basically
a complex electronic filing system. As mentioned earlier, spreadsheet applications include
man database features and are easy to use for simple database tasks such as sorting, filtering,
and organizing data. However, you need to use a more robust, full-featured database
application to manage larger and more complicated groups of data that contain more than
one table or to group, sort, and retrieve data and to generate reports.
1.8.2.6
PERSONAL INFORMATION MANAGER (PIM) SOFTWARE
Most productivity software suites contain some form of personal information
manager (PIM) software, such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Organizer. These programs
strive to replace the management tools found on a traditional desk, such as a calendar,
address book, notepad, and to-do list. Some PIMs contain e-mail management features so
that you can not only receive them into various folders, prioritize them, and coordinate them
with other activities in your calendar.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 17 School of Distance Education UNIT II
HIGHER EDUCATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
A computer connected to the internet opens up a significant avenue for the students to
enhance their learning. You could find millions of resources on the internet where your interest lies.
The common tool that is used for searching information over the internet is search engine. You can
search content, images, videos, etc. through the search engine by simply entering the relevant
keywords in its search bar. Furthermore, the presences of online encyclopedias like Wikipedia have
greatly enhanced academic learning. Through email, instant messaging, online forums and groups,
learning and transfer of knowledge is happening in a collaborative environment.
2.1 Data, Information and Knowledge
Strictly defined, a computer is a data processing device that performs four major functions:
1. It gathers data (or allows users to input data).
2. It processes that data into information.
3. Its outputs data or information.
4. It stores data and information.
People often use the terms data and information interchangeably. Although in a simple
conversation they may mean the same thing, when discussing computers, the distinction between
data and information is an important one.
In computer terms, data is a representation of a factor or idea. Data can be a number, a word,
a picture, or even a recording of sound. For example, the number 6125553297 and the names Derek
and Washington are pieces of data. But how useful are these chunks of data to you? Information is a
data that has been organized or presented in a meaningful fashion. When your computer provides
you with a contact listing that indicates Derek Washington can be reached by phone at (612)
5553297, the data mentioned earlier suddenly becomes useful-that is, it is information.
How do computers interact with data and information? Computers are very good at
processing (manipulating) data into information. When you first arrived on campus, you probably
were directed to a place where you could get an ID card. You most likely provided a clerk with
personal data (such as your name and address) that was entered into a computer. The clerk then took
your picture with a digital camera (collecting more data). This information was then processed
appropriately so that it could be printed on your ID card. This organized output of data on your ID
card is useful information. Finally, the information was probably stored as digital data on the
computer for later use.
How do computers process data into information? Unlike humans, computers work
exclusively with numbers (not words). In order to process data into information, computers need to
work in a language they understand. This language, called binary language, consists of just two
Informatics & Philosophy Page 18 School of Distance Education digits: 0 and 1. Everything a computer does (such as process data or print a report) is broken down
into a series of 0s and 1s. Each 0 and 1 is a binary digit, or bit for short. Eight binary digits (or bits)
combine to create one byte. In computers, each letter of the alphabet, each number, and each special
character (such as the @ sigh) consists of a unique combination of eight bits, or string of eight 0s
and 1s. So, for example, in binary (computer) language, the letter K is represented as 01001011.
This equals eight bits, or one byte.
You’ve probably heard the terms kilobyte (KB) and megabyte (MB) before. Not only are
bits and bytes used as the language that tells the computer what to do, they are also what the
computer uses to represent the data and information inputs and outputs. Word-processing files,
digital pictures, and even software programs are all represented inside a computer as a series of bits
and bytes. These files and applications can be quite large, containing many millions of bytes. To
make it easier to measure the size of these files, we need larger units of measure than a byte.
Kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes are therefore simply amounts of bytes. A kilobyte (KB) is
approximately 1,000 bytes, a megabyte (MB) is about a million bytes, and a gigabyte (GB) is about
a billion bytes. As our information processing needs have grown, so too have our storage needs.
Today, some computers can store up to a peta byte of data-that’s more than one quadrillion bytes!
2.2 INTERNET AS A KNOWLEDGE REPOSITORY
To take advantage of the resources the Internet offers, you need a means to connect your
computer to it. Home users have several connection options available. Originally, the only means to
connect to the Internet was with a dial-up connection. With dial-up connections, you connect to the
Internet using a standard telephone line. However, other connection options, collectively called
broadband connections, offer faster means to connect to the Internet. Broadband connections
include cable, satellite, and DSL. Broadband connections are quickly becoming the preferred
method of connecting to the Internet. By the end of 2006, nearly 205 million people, worldwide,
connected to the Internet via broadband.
2.2.1 Academic Search Techniques
a. FAVORITES AND BOOKMARKS
What’s the best way to mark a site also I can return to it later? If you want an easy way to
return to a specific Web page without always having to remember to type in the address, you
can use your browser’s Favorites or Bookmark feature. This feature places a marker of the
site’s URL in an easily retrieve able list in your browser’s toolbar. To organize the sites into
categories, most browsers also offer tools to create folders. Most browsers also provide
features to export the list of bookmarks to another computer, or to another browser. To access
your bookmarks and favorites from any computer, anywhere, you can use My Bookmarks
(www.maybookmarks.com), a free Internet service that stores your Bookmarks and Favorites
online.
b. SEARCH ENGINES
Informatics & Philosophy Page 19 School of Distance Education Search engines have three parts. The first part is a program called a spider. The spider
constantly collects data on the web, following links in web sites and reading web pages.
Spiders get their name because they crawl over the web using multiple “Tegs” to visit many
sites simultaneously. As the spider collects data, the second part of the search engine, an
indexer program, organizes the data in to a large database. When you use a search engine, you
interact with the third part: the search engine software. This software searches the indexed
data, pulling out relevant information according to your search. The resulting list appears in
your Web browser as a list of hits, or sites that match your search.
With the increasing popularity of multimedia, search engines such as Google,
AlltheWeb, and Yahoo! Have capabilities to search the web for digital images and audio and
video files. YouTube is one of many sites that have gained recent popularity because of its
wealth of video content. In addition to the amusing videos that are captured in popular news,
YouTube contains instructional and informational videos.
c SUBJECT DIRECTORIES
As mentioned earlier, a subject directory is a guide to the internet organized by topics and
subtopics. Yahoo! was one of the original subject directories, and although it still has a subject
directory, it now has a search engine feature. Google, which started as a search engine, also has
added a subject directory feature. With a subject directory, you do not use keywords to search
the web. Instead, after selecting the main subject from the directory, you narrow your search
by successively clicking on subfolders that match your search until you have reached the
appropriate information.
2.3 CREATING A CYBER PRESENCE
According to the Nielsen Net Ratings, by the end of 2006, nearly 70 percent of homes in the
United States were connected to the Internet. But what exactly is the Internet? The Internet is the
largest computer network in the world, actually a network of networks, connecting billions of
computer users. Although 20 countries represent the majority of computer users, some reports
estimate that nearly 150 countries have some form of connection to the Internet! Communication is
the primary reason people use the Internet, but when Internet users are not communicating, they
also spend the majority of their online time shopping, searching for information, and just browsing
the internet for fun.
a. INSTANT MESSAGING
Instant messaging (IM) services are programs that enable you to communicate in real time with
others who also are online. AOL’s AIM and its newest instant messenger service, Triton, are
some of the most popular instant messaging services. ICQ, Yahoo!, Google, and MSN also
host popular instant messaging services. Zango Messenger and Messenger City are other IM
services that allow users of all the popular IMs to talk to each other regardless of the service
they are using.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 20 School of Distance Education b. PODCASTS
A podcast is a clip of audio or video content that is broadcast over the internet using
compressed files, such as MP3s. This content might include radio shows, audio books,
magazines, and even educational programs. Typically, you must subscribe to be able to access
the most current version of the online content, which is delivered to your computer
automatically so that you can listen to the content when you want. You can use a media player
on your computer, such as RealPlayer or Windows Media Player on your computer, or you can
transfer the content from your computer to a portable media device, such as an iPod.
The ability to create an audio content that can be delivered to the Web and then listened
to by people all over the world is very simple, turning the average person into a radio
broadcaster overnight. Although high-end equipment always will produce more sophisticated
output, you really need only very basic equipment to make your own podcast.
To record the content, at the minimum you need a computer with a microphone. If you
want to make a video podcast, you also need a Web camera (webcam) or video camera. Then,
additional software may be needed to edit the digital audio and video content. Sound-editing
software, such as the freeware program Audacity, can be used to record and later edit audio
files. After the podcast content has been recorded and edited, it needs to be exported to MP3
format. Fortunately, Audacity has the capability to export files into MP3 format. The last step
involves cresting an RSS files and then uploading the content to the Web.
c. WEBLOGS (BLOGS) AND VIDEO LOGS (VLOGS)
Weblogs (or blogs) are personal logs, or journal entries, that are posted on the web. The beauty
of blogs is that they are simple to create, manage, and read. Although different types of blogs
exist, there are some basic similarities. First, blogs are arranged as a listing of entries on a
simple page, with the most recent blog (entry) appearing on the top of the list. Second, blogs
are public. Everyone who has a Web browser and access to the Internet can read a blog.
Finally, blogs are searchable, making them user friendly.
Many people use blogs as a sort of personal scrap book. Whenever the urge strikes,
they just write a stream-of-conscious flow of thoughts or a report of their daily activities. Many
blogs, however, focus on a particular topic. For example, www.rottentomatoes.com is a blog
site that contains reviews and opinions about movies, and www.gizmodo.com is a blog site that
devotes itself to discussing techno gadgets.
It is easy to write and maintain a blog, and you’ll find many Web sites that provide the
necessary tools for you to create your own blog. Two sites that offer blog hosting for free are
www.blogger.com and www.livejournal.com. For a relatively small fee, you can add other
features to your blog, such as pictures or subpages. Another alternative is to host your blog
yourself. Hosting your own blog requires that you have an IP address (like 64.202.163.148)
and a URL, such as www.pandobfog.com in order for people to access it online.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 21 School of Distance Education d WEBCASTS
A webcast is the broadcast of audio or video content over the Internet. Unlike podcasts,
webcasts are not updated automatically instead; the most current content must be located
manually by the user and then downloaded. Webcasts use streaming media technology to
facilitate the viewing and downloading process of large audio and video files. Webcasts can
include non interactive content, such as a simulcast of a radio or TV broadcast, but, more
recently, webcasts have initiated interactive responses from the viewing or listening audience.
Webcasts also are used in the corporate world to broadcast annual meetings and in the
educational arena to transmit seminars.
e. E-MAIL
E-mail (short for electronic mail) is a written message that is sent and received over electronic
communication systems. The messages can be formatted and enhanced with graphic as well as
include other files as attachments. E-mail has quickly caught on as the primary method of
electronic communication because it’s fact and convenient and reduces the costs of postage
and long-distance phone calls. In addition, with e-mail, the sender and receiver don’t have to
be available at the same time in order to communicate.
E-mail is not meant for every type of communication, however. Because it is not the
most secure form of transmission, e-mail should not be used to send personal or sensitive
information such as banking numbers or social security numbers that could lead to identity
theft. Similarly, employers have access to your e-mail sent from your workplace, so caution is
taken when putting negative or controversial content in an e-mail. It should just come back to
haunt you.
f. GROUP COMMUNICATION
What kinds of online group communication exist? There are many ways you can interact with
a wide variety of people online. Some forms are real time, or synchronous, and others are
asynchronous.
2.4 CASE STUDY OF ACADEMIC WEBSITE
SAKSHAT
It is an educational initiative backed by the ministry of Human Resource Development,
government of India that uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for learning and
teaching purpose. Sakshat is a part of the national mission on education using Information and
Communication Technology that is designed to provide Web-based learning solutions to the
students, as well as act as a collaboration tool for the teachers. It comprises of an easy to use portal
integrated with a huge database of high quality and interactive multimedia learning content.
Students can simply log-on to the web site with their unique login credentials and access the
Informatics & Philosophy Page 22 School of Distance Education available learning resources. Furthermore, the portal also provides scholarship opportunities to the
students.
Apart from Bhoomi, CONCERT and Sakshat there are several other e-governance
applications such as e-Seva, VOICE, e-COPS, and RD-Net they serve specific governance
objectives.
2.5 OPEN ACCESS INITIATIVES
OPEN ACCESS PUBLISHING MODELS
In simple words, open access publishing model can be described as the publication and distribution
model in which no money is charged from the users who access the content. The content in such a
model is made available on the internet in the form of e-books, e-journals etc.
Open access publishing helps the information seekers to obtain the desired information
without any financial constraints. Thus, good quality free content is always available to the users.
Now, the question arises as to how the content development is funded in such a model. The answer
is advertising; it is the main source of funding for the free content that is shared as part of open
access publishing model. Generally, some advertisements are flashed along with the content. The
money raised through such advertisements is used for funding content development and publication
expenses; through there are some authors who voluntarily contribute with their content without
charging anything. The open access publishing model is gaining huge amount of popularity because
of the open or free access to the content. This has in a way posed a threat to the subscription access
publishing model.
2.6 BASIC CONCEPTS OF IPR: COPYRIGHTS AND PATENTS
2.6.1 Laws regarding Copyrights and Patents
Intellectual property (such as music, writing, and art) is protected through copyright
law. This means that creative works such as songs, video productions, television programs,
and written manuscripts cannot be reproduced without the permission of the creator and
usually not without payment to the copyright owner.
Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of
copyrighted materials for certain purposes. If you wish to criticize a novelist, for example,
under fair use, you have the freedom to quote a portion of the novelist’s work without asking
permission. Without this provision, copyright owners could prevent any negative comments
about their work. Fair use decisions are guided by four criteria:
• What is the purpose of the “fair use” of the work (for example, is it a for-profit use or an
educational use)?
• What is the nature of the proposed work (for example, will it be a published document or an
unpublished product)?
Informatics & Philosophy Page 23 School of Distance Education • How much of the copyrighted material is being used?
• What is the effect of the “fair use” of the material (for example, would if decrease the
number of copies of the original that would be sold)
2.6.2 Plagiarism
You’ve no doubt heard of plagiarism-claiming another person’s words as your own.
And you’ve probably heard the term copyright violation, especially if you’ve been following
the music industry’s battle to keep “free” music off the web. But what constitutes copyright
violation? And what can you borrow from the web? Consider the scenarios:
• You find a political cartoon that would be terrific in a PowerPoint presentation you’ve
creating for your civics class. You copy it into your presentation.
• Your hobby is cooking. You design a Web site that includes videos of you preparing recipes,
as well as the recipes themselves. Some of these recipes you take from your favorite
cookbooks; others you get from friends. You don’t cite your sources, nor do you obtain
permission from the originators of the recipes you post to your Web site.
• You’ve pressed for time and need to do research for a paper due tomorrow. You find
information on an obscure Web site and copy it into your paper without documenting the
source.
• You download a song from the internet and incorporate it into a PowerPoint presentation for
a school project. Because you figure everyone knows the song, you don’t credit it in your
sources.
Which of the preceding scenarios represent copyright violations? Which represent
plagiarism? The distinctions between these scenarios are narrow in some cases, but it’s important to
understand the differences.
As noted earlier, plagiarism occurs when you use someone else’s ideas or words and
represent them as your own. In today’s computer society, it’s easy to copy information from the
internet and paste it into a Word document, change a few words, and call it your own. To avoid
plagiarism, use quotation marks around all words you borrow directly and credit your sources for
any ideas you paraphrase or borrow. Avoiding plagiarism means properly crediting all information
you obtain from the Internet, including words, ideas, graphics, data, and audio and video clips.
Teachers and students receive special consideration regarding copyright violations. This special
consideration falls under a provision called academic fair use. As long as the material is being used
for educational purposes only, limited copying and distribution is allowed. For example, an
instructor can make copies of a newspaper article and distribute it to her class, or a student can
include a cartoon in a PowerPoint presentation without seeking permission from the artist.
However, to avoid plagiarism in these situations, you still must credit your sources of information.
So, do you now know which of the four scenarios above plagiarism or copyright violations are?
Informatics & Philosophy Page 24 School of Distance Education 1. You are not in violation because the use of the cartoon is for educational purposes and falls
under the academic fair use provision. You must still credit the source, however.
2. If your Web site is for your economic benefit, you would be in violation of copyright laws
because no credit was given for the recipes, and you are presenting them as your own.
3.You are guilty of plagiarism because you copied from another source and implied it was your
own work.
Again, because it is for a school project, you are not in violation because of the academic fair
use provision. However, it’s always important to document your sources.
2.7. INTRODUCTION TO USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN
TEACHING AND LEARNING
The emerging technologies are constantly changing the world around us. These technologies
have affected the way of learning and the way processes (like transactions) are carried out. The
present education system is facing substantial pressure to prepare the students to learn, live and
work in the digital age. Technology is becoming a powerful tool for communication, problem
solving, and as a means of research for learning in education area. Information technology has
helped learners to develop problem-solving, analytical, and research skills.
a. Electronic learning E-learning or tearing through computer technology, is fast becoming an
extremely versatile solution of providing learning with the tools necessary to address needs of
students in order to provide good and standardized education. Students can interact with the elearning software, enjoy exciting colourful presentations, play games and answer quiz questions
while learning a great deal through personal environment.
In recent years, schools, universities and corporate have started to utilize the web and local
networks as a platform for distance e-learning. Tools like WebCT, Enspire, WebEx, HP Virtual
Classroom, or IBM Lotus Virtual Classroom, and many others allow students to understand, learn
and interact effectively as the class experience is available online. Students can log in from home or
a school computer, enjoy interactive presentations, watch a web-cast (a video broadcast of the
teacher over the network), or even participate in a full virtual classroom, with multiple students, live
discussions, quizzes and voice/video interaction.
Students and teachers both gain considerable benefits by utilizing e-learning tools. Elearning is easily accessible around the clock, whether online or through special software. Elearning includes computer-based training.
• CBT is the training where a computer program provides motivation and feedback in place of
a live instructor.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 25 School of Distance Education • WBT is the training, which delivers educational content through a web browser over the
public Internet, or a private Internet. Web-based training often provides links to other
learning resources such as references, e-mail, bulletin boards, and discussion groups.
b. Virtual Classrooms This new technology helps captivate the student’s interest. This
concept interactively involves a student with software that reacts and interacts, unlike a
book. Thus, students can get immediate feedback on their actions, be it a quiz answer or a
request for more information. With the help of virtual learning, students can:
1. Search the database for their views and of other students.
2. Listen to pre-recorded audio comments to enhance knowledge.
3. Converse about the subjects or related matters with the teacher and other students
through e-mail and discussion groups.
4. Use appropriate resources to seek access and apply knowledge.
Through virtual classrooms, students can get online education from remote places. Virtual
classrooms are beneficial to students who are unable to attend the centralized classrooms due to
some problems such as distant location of institutes/universities.
2.8 CASE STUDY OF EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE
2.8.1 Kinds of educational software
Although a multitude of educational software products are geared toward the
younger set, software developers have by no means ignored adult markets. In addition to all
the products relating to the younger audience, there are software products that teach users
new skills such as typing, languages, cooking, or playing the guitar. Test preparation
software is popular for students taking the SAT, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT exams.
Popular programs are also available to help students during lectures, organizing their
notes and maintaining the notes and recordings they create from lectures. For example,
Microsoft OneNote allows students with tablet PCs to write their notes directly onto the
tablet, using it as an electronic notebook. Pieces of text can be easily moved around the
page, Web links can be quickly integrated and audio or video recordings of lectures can be
added with one click. Students can search for a term across the full set of notebooks they
have created during this term, helping to find connecting ideas from course to course.
2.8.2 Reference Software
Encyclopedias are no longer those massive sets of books in the library. Now you can
find full sets of encyclopedias on CDs or DVDs. In addition to containing all the
information found in traditional paper encyclopedias, electronic encyclopedias, a type of
reference software, include multimedia content such as interactive maps, and video and
audio clips.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 26 School of Distance Education As with all other categories of software, reference software is a growing field. In
addition to traditional atlases, dictionaries, and thesauri available on CD, many other types
of reference software are available. The American Sign Language dictionary is available on
CD and includes video clips that show finger spelling and the modeling of each gesture.
Medical and legal reference software is also available for basic information you previously
would have to pay a professional to obtain.
2.9 ACADEMIC SERVICES
2.10.1 INFLIBNET
Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) is a virtual network of libraries of
different academic institutions. An initiative of the University Grants Commission (UGC) in
India, INFLIBNET was devised to create a large database of interconnected library and
information resources that is and readily-accessible to the learners and teachers. Not only
does it work towards computerization of operational activities of libraries but it also
promotes the use of consistent and standard practices by the participating libraries for
ensuring uniformity. With INFLIBNET, the members have access to a host of bibliographic
and non-bibliographic information resources, such as books, journals, academic research
reports, etc. Furthermore, INFLIBNET promotes development and sharing of digital content
through their portal.
2.10.2 NICNET
National Informatics Center Network (NICNET) is a networking infrastructure built
by NIC to dedicatedly cater to the networking requirements of the e-governance
applications. Based on VSAT technology, NICNET serves 35 states/union territories, 53
central government departments and more than 600 district centers. Apart from core
information exchange and Internet services, NICNET provides a host of other services as
well, including video conferencing, remote database access, information broadcasting, etc.
2.10.3 BRNET
Bio-Resource Network (BRNET) is a collection of biological information resources
distributed over the Internet. An initiative of the Japan Science and Technology (JST)
Corporation, BRNET is basically meant to bring together biological information resources
scattered over different networks. Such an integrated pool of information resources available
at a single location leads to the optimum utilization of information resources.
BRNET categorizes the information resources in such a manner that the end user can
easily search the desired information. Furthermore, it also allows the users to create their
own bio resource database.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 27 School of Distance Education UNIT III
INFORMATICS-SOCIETY AND APPLICATION
IT and society; issues and concerns; digital divide; IT and development; IT for national integration;
Overview of IT application in medicine, health care, business, publishing, communication, resource
management, education, film and media.
IT AND SOCIETY – ISSUES AND CONCERNS
The widespread accessibility of computers and Internet connections provides lot of
opportunities to communicate and learn. Unfortunately, although most people use the Internet as a
powerful and useful tool for communication and education, some individuals exploit the power of
the Internet for criminal or terrorist purposes. The use of computers has significantly increased our
ability to compute and communicate. However, the introduction of information technology and its
fact development have created many unsettled ethical and social issues. Information technology and
information systems raise new ethical questions for both individuals and societies because, they
create opportunities for intense social change and thus threaten existing distribution of power,
money, rights and obligations. Like other technologies, information technology also has its
constructive and harmful sides. It can be used to achieve social development on the one hand and
can be used to commit crimes and threaten cherished social values on the other. Let us examine
different aspects of the impact of information technology on society on the postulation that, it will
affect our lives in one way or other.
Many employees working in organisations are under close watch. Information technology
amplified this problem and threatens individual’s privacy. The capability of the computer systems
to collect, store and retrieve information is considered a chief advantage that the computer provides
to the people. However, it is to be noted that the same capability of the computer also have a
negative effect on the right to privacy of every individual. A great deal of information is stored in
centralized computer data bases by government and private agencies. This information can be
misused by a corrupt government or private agencies. Moreover, Internet brings new challenges to
the protection of privacy of individuals. Many of the software available in the market are capable to
collect and store data relating to the users of information in the internet. Web sites are also capable
to collect and store information pertaining to the visitors without their consent. Special software like
Cookies is mainly used to trace the personal details of the visitors of a web site. The unauthorized
use of such information would seriously affect the privacy of individuals and it may sometimes hurt
the credit standing or reputation of an individual.
The advancement in information technology raise great challenge to the existing intellectual
property rights and consequently many ethical and social issues emerges. Unlike traditional media
like books and periodicals, with the aid of information technology and internet it is easy to copy,
make alterations and even to transmit creations over the net very easily with low cost. Software
piracy is widespread from individual computer users to professionals. Piracy exists in homes,
schools, businesses and government. Software pirates not only steal from the companies that make
the software, but they will also be able to develop new software with less money for research and
development. That is why all software piracy is treated as illegal. The present statutes are not
adequate to restrict these unfair practices. Software piracy is to be discouraged not only in the legal
Informatics & Philosophy Page 28 School of Distance Education point of view, but also to provide benefits to its creators in order to motivate and encourage them to
develop more user friendly software.
It is necessary to find answers to the responsibility, liability and accountability of software
companies regarding the consequences of the use of their software. It is also essential to see the
responsibilities and liabilities of users in acquiring and using software and its related consequences.
System failures and consequent damage on information is a usual experience. Hence, to protect the
valuable information of individuals and organisations, it is necessary to decide whether individuals
and organisations should be encouraged to develop their own backup services. The society is also
required to decide whether it can permit networks and bulletin boards to post inaccurate and
misleading information which will harm many persons.
The use of computers have created new job opportunities and increased productivity. At
the same time the introduction of computers for many social applications has substantially reduced
some type of job opportunities. Many of the routine and monotonous jobs formerly done by clerks
are now replaced by computers. As a result the employment opportunities of unskilled jobs may be
reduced.
It is said that computer based systems are dehumanizing and depersonalizing individuals.
Human relationship presents in non-computer systems are completely neglected in
computer-based systems. People are known by numbers rather than their names and as a
result many people feel a loss of identity. Moreover computer based systems do not allow any
flexibility. Strict rules and procedures to be followed if accuracy in the results is required and
naturally people will work like machines without any human touch.
Computerized business systems increase productivity and as a result they provide better
quality goods and services at lower costs. The standard of living of the people increased and
people get more leisure time for enjoyment. Monotonous and respective jobs can be given to the
computer system. Thus computers help to increase the quality of life of people because they can
upgrade the quality of working conditions and the quality of jobs itself. At the same time it should
be noted that some jobs done with the help of computers are non-intellectual repetitive and routine
monotonous exercise and it forces people to work like a machine.
Fast development in computer technology has also created possibility to commit crime and
abuse. Computer crime is the commission of illegal acts through the use of computer or against a
computer system. Accessing of others computer without consent, destroy information in it etc. is
now treated as computer crimes. Computer abuse is the commission of acts involving a computer
that may not be illegal but are generally considered unethical. Computers also make threat on
security of data. Computer users have concern over their information kept in the data banks are not
make available to unauthorized persons. Strategic information relating to trade and defence must be
protected with great care against the unwarranted exposure or damage by rivals.
Many health problems are also coming up with the extensive use of computers by people.
One of such occupational disease is called Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). This decease occurs as a
result of stress to the muscles through some repetitive actions. Consequently symptoms like lack of
sensation, killing pain, inability to grasp objects and itchiness. Radiation comes from computer
screen may also cause certain health problem to computer users. Constant use of computer also
creates much stress on the eyes. Its symptoms include headaches, distorted vision and dry and
irritated eyes. The newest computer related malady is techno stress. It is as type of stress caused to
Informatics & Philosophy Page 29 School of Distance Education human beings. Its symptoms include aggravation, hostility toward humans, impatience and fatigue.
It is expected that continuous use of computer may lead people to behave like emotionless machine.
To conclude, we cannot avoid computer from our lives. What we can do is to reduce its side
effects and resulting malady through proper management of these issues with right vision and
through the development of ethical codes. The government should come forward to enact suitable
legislations wherever necessary to save the people from their difficulties associated with the use of
computers.
Digital Divide
Computer and information technology and especially the Internet have been implicated in
the widening gap between haves and have-nots within countries and among countries of the world.
The discrepancy between the “haves” and "have-notes” with regards to computer technology is
commonly referred to as the digital divide. Digital divide refers to the gap between people with
effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at
all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in
resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. This discrepancy is a
growing problem. People with access to computers and the Internet (that is, those who can afford it)
are poised to take advantage of the many new trends technology offers, whereas poorer individuals,
communities, and school systems that can’t afford computer systems and Internet access are being
left behind. In the United States, children who do not have access to Internet and computers won’t
be prepared for future employment, contributing to the continuing cycle of poverty. The digital
divide exists within every nation, industrialized or developing, between those who are rich,
educated, and powerful, and those who are not. This digital divide as a serious social problem- a
threat to democracy- is not merely economic divide. There are some signs that gender, race, and
disabled are at work here independent of economic differences. Again, terrain (such as mountains)
and remote locations (like the Sahara Desert), that inhibits connectivity, can present barriers to
conquering the digital divide.
To help bridge the digital divide, some organizations are attempting to increase local and
global internet and computer access, whereas community organisations such as libraries and
recreation centres are providing free internet access to the public. Others suggest computer users
donate their old computers to a charity that refurbishes and distributes them to needy families. The
steps to be taken to bridge digital divide are increasing the bandwidth of broadband drastically and
taking broadband connectivity even to the rural areas, providing computers at cheaper rate, making
Linux based open source software widely available so that the computing devices cost less and
become more affordable.
IT and Development
Information Technology (IT) is a branch of engineering that focuses on the use of computers and
its related technologies (like internet) for automation and other purposes. It is the study of design
and implementation of IT resources for promoting innovation and enhancing work efficiency.
Internet is one of the main breakthroughs of IT that has revolutionized the lives of human beings all
across the globe. Internet has made instant communication feasible on worldwide scale. IT has also
changed the conventional methods of banking, healthcare, agriculture, education, film, media, crime
detection, publishing, communication etc- . In the last few years, India has witnessed a massive
Informatics & Philosophy Page 30 School of Distance Education growth in the IT sector. India’s IT workforce is considered to be one of the best in the world. IT has
also had strong impact on the way governance is done in India.
The last three decades have been characterized by rapid developments in IT. Although
mainframe computers have been used since the early 1950s, a greater use of computer applications
may be traced to the introduction of the personal computer (PC) in the 1970s. The 1980s were
characterized by significant structural changes in the IT industry. These include the emergence of
software as an independent and dynamic component segment of the IT industry and the growth of
global production networks. During the 1990s, the Asia and Pacific region emerged as one of the
major players in global IT production in all the core segments of the industry. It is one of the most
important forces shaping the twenty-first century and bridging the digital divide in and among
countries has assumed a critical importance on respective national agendas.
Free Software Movement of Richard Stallman: Richard Stallman is an ethical hacker,
programmer and a star campaigner for the free software movement. He has spent most of his time
fighting against software patents and spreading awareness about free use of software. One of the
significant initiatives of Richard was to launch the GNU project for creating a Unix-like operating
system that could be freely distributed amongst users. His efforts are mainly focussed towards the
following:
• Development and distribution of fee software.
• Spreading awareness about the free use of software.
• Opposing the patenting of software products
All these activities are performed under a reputed foundation called free software
foundation, promoted by Richard himself.
The two main motivations for the free software development are 1) Free Software
Foundation (http://www.fsf.org) which has inherited the hacker culture and supports the use of the
term free, arguing that software is knowledge that should be shared unimpeded and the ability to
modify programs is a form of freedom of expression and 2) Open Source Initiative
(http://www.opensource.org) which supports the use of the term open source, and argues that case
of the technical and financial. The most popular of free software licenses includes the GNU General
Public License, the GNU Lesser General Public License, the BSD License, Mozilla Public License,
the MIT License and the Apache License.
Open Source
Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed
peer review and transparency of process. The open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit
corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build
bridges among different constituencies in the open source community. OSI define the privileges and
restrictions a licensor must follow in order to use, modify or redistribute the open sources software.
OSI dictates that, in order to be considered “OSI Certified” a product must meet the following
criteria:
Informatics & Philosophy Page 31 School of Distance Education 1. The author or holder of the license of the source code cannot collect royalties on the
distribution of the program.
2. The distributed program must make the source code accessible to the user.
3. The author must allow modifications and derivations of the work under the program’s
original name.
4. No person, group or field of endeavour can be denied access to the program.
5. The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program’s being part of a
particular software distribution
6. The licensed software cannot place restrictions on other software that is distributed with it.
Open source software is computer software whose source code is available under a
copyright license that permits user to study, change and improve the software, and to redistribute it
in modified or unmodified form.
IT for National Integration
India is a vast country and has many races, nationalities, castes, sub-castes and communities
but so far it stands united. It is true that societies that have been integrated into bonds of unity have
always enjoyed peace, stability, prosperity and permanence. Thus National integration is a positive
aspect and is the feeling of unity within diversity. National integration reduces socio-cultural and
economic difference or inequalities and strengthens national unity and solidarity, which is not
imposed by any authority. Information Technology is an important and extremely effective tool
through which development and progress and there by national integration can take place with the
cooperation of all strata of society including government and the public. IT has had a nation-wide
impact on the way governance measures are undertaken. A number of interconnected state and
central government departments ensure seamless service delivery to the masses. Take for instance
the example of Indian railways. Any person can anytime book railway tickets from any source
location to any destination location all across the country with the simple comfort of sitting at home.
You have Permanent Account Number (PAN) allotted to the income tax payers, the online services
related to Indian Passport and driving licence. India, the world’s largest democratic country, has
made it mandatory to maintain the Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) which entitles you to cast
your vote in an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Further, initiative like Sakshat and INFLIBNET
have ensured that educational services reach to the masses all across the country. All this has in way
led to the national integration of sorts wherein government departments no longer work in isolation,
and more importantly governance reaches to the masses in the most cost and time efficient manner.
Three main challenges to the integrity of a nation are
1. Communalism: Placing once own community above others.
2. Linguism: Linguism is excessive love and bias in favour of people who seeks a particular
language
3. Regionalism: Regionalism is a feeling of superiority pride and loyalty that people belonging
to a region have.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 32 School of Distance Education Right use of IT should promote both the integrity of a nation and democratic values against
cyber terrorism.
Cyber Terrorism
Cyber terrorism is a criminal act committed by the use of computers and
telecommunications capabilities, resulting in violence, destruction and disruption of services to
create fear by causing confusion and uncertainty within a given population, with the goal of
influencing a government or population to conform to a particular political, social, or ideological
agenda.
ROLE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Information technology plays a vital role in today’s global economy. It has made a
significant impact in health care, medicine, business, publication, communication, crime detection,
resource management, education, film, media and so forth.
1. IT in Health Care and Medicine
Information Technology (IT) has the potential to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency
of health care. ISRO’s TeleMedicine programme is an innovative process of synergising the
benefits of satellite communication technology and information technology with biomedical
engineering and medical sciences to deliver healthcare services to the remote, distant and
underserved regions of the country. This project consist of linking through Indian satellites
remote/rural areas like Jammu, Kashmir and Ladhak in north near Himalayas offshore islands of
Andaman and Lakshadweep, North Eastern States and some of the remote and tribal districts in the
main land states across the country. The notion of ‘TeleMedicine’ emerged the practice of using
audio, visual and data communications for medical consultations, diagnosis, treatment, nursing care,
medical education and transfer of medical data together with a broader concept of ‘TeleHealth’
which includes TeleMedicine and healthcare management, surveillance, literature and access to
knowledge from a distance, using IT. The notion of E-health has gradually emerged to describe the
combined use of electronic communication and information technology to enable transfers and
interactivity. Clinical decision support system (CDSS) provides physicians and nurses with realtime diagnostic and treatment recommendations. Picture archiving and communications system
(PACS) captures and integrates diagnostic and radiological images from various devices (e.g., xray, MRI, computed tomography scan), stores them, and disseminates them to a medical record, a
clinical data repository, or other points of care. Preventive and health promotion campaigns against
issues like AIDS, tobacco/drug abuse and diabetes are effectively launched on the Web by
governments, WHO and many NGO organisations. TeleMedicine provides technology and
connectivity for disaster management support and relief. One of the most promising results of IT
over healthcare is Human Genome Project. In Japan and Finland, early warning signalling of
infectious disease epidemics is done from patterns of database searches. The Kerala chapter of the
Indian Medical Association has launched a new project SMS-based blood bank service. It is a fact
that Medi-IT has brought about many new facilities for diagnosis and life saving strategies.
However, the cost of these services is continuously increasing.
2. IT in Business
Informatics & Philosophy Page 33 School of Distance Education E-commerce is one of the largest applications of computers in keeping and managing business
and financial records. It helps in transaction of any amount of money from part of the world to
other. We can purchase anything online with help of debit and credit cards. Most of the large
companies keep the employment records of all their workers in large databases that are managed by
computer programs. The other applications are billing to customers, tracking payments received and
payments to be made and tracking supplies needed and items produced, stored, shipped, and sold,
etc.
IT in Publication
In this ever-changing world, publishing houses, universities, and e-book stores have started
to use information written in printed version of books, on their computer screen through the use of
technology. E-texts play an increasing role in education and research, and they offer unique benefits
for both students and teachers. Websites like Project Gutenberg, NetLibrary, and Bibliomania offer
full texts of many classics. The files can be down loaded from these websites and can be read on the
screen, printed and photocopied with minimal cost. Portions of them can be copied and pasted into
papers, examination, or home assignments or collected into packets for students. Special E-book
devices allow users to carry an entire library with the comfort and size of a single book.
IT in Crime detection
The major thrust of ICT in crime detection is with the development of metal detectors, radar
to detect speeding of motor vehicle, closed circuit television (CCTV) in confined public places and
commercial establishments. Portable personal alarm systems are now available which enable the
user to contact a friend, relative, or security service when in need of assistance. Beyond this,
information technology has given rise to new methods for the detection of crimes such as fraud and
money laundering. Anomalous transactions can be instantly identified through applications of
artificial intelligence. A variety of technologies for location and tracking have begun to emerge as
well. The LOJACK system involves a concealed transmitter in the chassis of an automobile, which
may facilitate the vehicle’s recovery if stolen. The technology now extends to cellular phones and to
automobiles, enabling one to identify their precise location in the event of
theft. It can also enable law enforcement to determine the exact location from which an emergency
call is made, or to locate suspects. Forensic IT provides complete, non-invasive computer
investigation, analysis, recovery, evidence handling and search techniques on computer or network
storage media
5. IT in Communication
As computer’s ability to communicate with one another increases, Information technology is
beginning to have profound effects on many aspects of the organizations, one of the most
significant being how they make it much easier for people to move around while keeping in touch.
This can be described as mobile computing. The computers or similar devices that are designed for
mobile use are notebook, PDA and cell phone. Some organizations do not have enough room for all
its employees and are using technical hurdle like telecommuting to overcome this. It includes
videoconferencing, telephone to PC integration technology, ISDN services, wireless mobile
technology etc. Enabling technologies for wireless mobile computing are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,
FireWire etc. Three important aspects of computer aided communication are air travel, rail and road
traffic control and transportation. The safe movement of crowded airlines, train and other vehicles
(especially in cities) depends on the significant amount of information technology. For safe
movement of aeroplane it is important to get the information about current weather condition, speed
Informatics & Philosophy Page 34 School of Distance Education at which the plane is moving etc, and all these are made available with the aid of variously
programmed computers. In rail and air seat booking facilities are made available to passengers with
the help of internet.
IT in Resource Management
Resource management is known as the efficient and effective deployment for an
organization’s resources when they are needed. This includes financial resources, inventory, human
skills, and production resources. The main advantages for internet supported recruiting employees
are: 1) Lower costs of recruiting (savings in invitations for application, postal-costs, data-processing
costs), 2) Quicker process of recruitment: period from the point when the need for a new employee
is sensed until the point when he starts doing his job is cut for twelve days, and 3) Possibility to
attract better and more candidates invitation for application published on a website can also be
spotted by those, who are currently not seeking new employment actively.
7.IT in Education
In this information age education should provide students technological familiarity, literacy,
application of mathematical concepts, knowledge of culture, communication skills and the ability to
learn new subjects. Computers allow students to learn based on the drill-and-practice principle. The
computer-based training software allows students to learn at their own pace, in small steps and give
feedback about how much they have learned. For some students the most important application of
computers in the schools is distance learning-using technology to extend the educational process
beyond the walls of the school. Computers are part of most schools, even preschools and at many
colleges and universities courses are designed that students can communicate outside of class, take
quizzes online, and find their class materials easily. The internet has obvious advantages in the
classroom as a research tool for both teachers and students. There are simulations and instructional
software on the Web that are incredible learning tools. Many museums have virtual tours on their
Web sites that allow students to examine objects in the museum collections. Education satellite
EDUSAT is exclusively devoted to the field of education.
Some of the educational software are Google Earth (with this anyone can fly anywhere on
Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D building, ocean etc.) Gliffy (is free online
software for creating flowcharts, floor plans or other similar diagrams). 3D Indiana and Visible
Human Project for studying human anatomy, KVerbos and English in a flash language learning
software, KTouch and KPTyping tutor for Typing tutor, OpenOffice.org for kids (Spelling tutor),
Britannica Encyclopaedia, etc. Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre is an
Autonomous Inter University Centre (IUC) of University Grants Commission (UGC). It is involved
in creating infrastructure for sharing of library and information resources and services among
Academic and Research Institutions. INFLIBNET works collaboratively with Indian university
libraries to promote the activities of the academic libraries in the evolving information environment.
8. IT in Film and Media
Traditional concept of broadcasting and telecommunications are lost the concept of
convergence of audio, video and data telecommunications are evolved. Arrival of industrial
revolution print media have transformed the old style of editing and composing newspaper, now all
these can be done with the help of editing software like Premiere, Style Writer etc- Another
Informatics & Philosophy Page 35 School of Distance Education important development is E-paper. Many newspapers offer online version of their editions. A fairly
current neologism for a television program, website feature or other presentation that combine
information with entertainment is infotainment. The application of IT in film and media include:
Use of Musical Instrumental digital Interface (MIDI) in composing music, use of internet as a big
advertising media for getting publicity for movies and music, computer graphics using the software
like Flash in choreography and animation etc. Computers are widely used by publishing houses and
the printing trade where they are particularly useful in the production of newspaper.
--Bibliography
1. Alan Evans, Kendall Martin, Marry Anne Poatsy, Informatics: Technology in Action,
Pearson Publishers, Delhi, 2010.
2. Deborah G. Johnson, Computer Ethics, 3rd edition, Pearson Education, inc., Publishers,
Delhi, 2012.
3. Shereena J. Sanal Kumar S. General Informatics, National Publishing House, Calicut, 2011.
4. Abdul Assis Koroth, General Informatics, Calicut University Central co-op stores Ltd,
Calicut, 2011.
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Informatics & Philosophy Page 36 School of Distance Education UNIT- IV
PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN INFORMATICS
Philosophy and internet: popular websites for philosophy and philosophical research; internet as
source book, academic research techniques. Merits and demerits of IT development: cyber ethics;
cyber crime; cyber threats; addiction. Directions for healthy usages of information technology:
information overload; guidelines for proper usage of computers, internet and mobile phones, stress
management and IT. Futuristic IT: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, bio-computing.
Internet as source book for academic research techniques in Philosophy
The Internet is a complex repository containing a huge store house of information from a
variety of sources. The internet becomes a prominent source of information for many people
worldwide. The researchers should know how to effectively use internet and connect it to fully the
new opportunities created by them to promote positive student learning experiences. In this internet
world we can search any kind of information. Just type the keyword in search engine facility, you
can find a lot of information about it. For example if you search about the concept ‘euthanasia’ you
will get a lot of information about euthanasia sites, euthanasia adviser, free e-book, software
freeware, newspaper reports, peer groups, even published books. It is just like a big library. The
more specific word that we type at search engine, the more accurate result we could get.
College and other institutions of higher learning need to consider how technology based
instructional programs are growing to ensure that student use the internet effectively as a learning
tool for various authentic learning activities such as conducting research on a given topic or finding
relevant information for an assignment. Internet increases students’ knowledge acquisition by
facilitation students’ access to resources from the outside world including experts in the field, as
well as interacting directly with them. Thus exposure to real life contexts of the external world
trains the students to face the uncertainties of the ever-changing outside world. The internet is an
outstanding tool for fast communication. Such communication can be both synchronous and
asynchronous and takes on many forms such as e-mail, mailing lists, newsgroups, chat and video
conferencing. Such interaction involves communication with students and professionals in distant
places, cultures and traditions as well as facilitating students to be in touch with other teachers. The
Internet also promotes learning by practicing varieties of authentic learning activities for
researchers. Through these activities the Internet supports the development of students’ higher-order
thinking skills. For example students are able to demonstrate their conceptual understanding by
constructing products such as web pages. In these activities learners regulate their individual
learning progress according to their own experiences and expertise. Learners can access a wealth of
resources at their own speed and have meaningful interactions with the content information. For
instructional activities, the Internet also has the added advantages of being adaptable for both
individual and cooperative learning.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 37 School of Distance Education Though offering a many academic benefits, there are also a number of warnings that
researchers need to bear in mind in their attempts to employ the Internet as a research aid.
Researchers may not differentiate between authentic web sites and sites that contain biased and
inaccurate information but pretends to be reliable. It must bear in mind the fact that just not any
piece of information found on the net can be accepted as being authentic. Besides, researchers often
go straight to the Web without waiting for guidance from an expert. This results in students having
a difficult time navigating the Web and locating appropriate information relevant to the tasks in
their research work. Locating appropriate information on the Internet requires a variety of skills
such as the ability to use Internet tools such as search engines, having knowledge of search
techniques and ability to execute the search. One needs to have abilities such as searching for
information, scanning and skimming information, and strategies such as planning, monitoring and
evaluating in executing the search.
Popular websites for philosophy and philosophical research
Academic Journals:
There are hundreds of academic journals currently being published in philosophy. An academic
journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which scholarship relating to a particular academic
discipline is published. Academic journals serve as forums for the introduction and presentation for
scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research. Content typically takes the form of
articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews. An academic journal’s
prestige is established by possible quantitative factors such as the overall number of citations, how
quickly articles are cited etc- The following is a partial list of academic journals in philosophy
•
•
•
•
Business Ethics Quarterly - http://secure.pdcnet.org/pdc/bvdb.nsf/
Contemporary Pragmatism - http://www.contemporary.pragmatism.org/
Ethical Perspectives - http://poj.peeters-leuven.be/
Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/philosophy_psychiatry_and_psychology/index.html
• Teaching Philosophy - http://secure.pdcnet.org/pdc/bvdb.nsf
• Jstor: -http://www.jstor.org/ This is an online archive of multidiscipline journal articles in
the most significant professional journals.
Encyclopaedias
An encyclopaedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding information from
either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge. The articles in an
encyclopaedia are divided into articles. The articles in an encyclopaedia are usually accessed
alphabetically by article name (or sometimes by theme). Unlike a dictionary, which is centred on
linguistic, etymological and usage aspects of words, each encyclopaedia article’s subject is a single
concept. Encyclopaedias can be general or subject specific such as medicine, philosophy, or law.
• Encyclopaedia of Philosophy - (http://plato.stanford.edu/): Nearly 2000 links and multiple
search options.
• Encyclopaedia Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/): The best encyclopaedia in the
world and on the web. Also try their School & Library (http://info.eb.com/ ) site.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 38 School of Distance Education • Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy- (http://plato.stanford.edu (This is an online
encyclopaedia of philosophy created and maintained by Stanford University.
• Library Spot (http://www.libraryspot.com/): Links to a gigantic world of online reference
works on all areas of learning.
Institutions:
University Grand Commission
The University Grants Commission (UGC) was established by an act of Parliament in 1956. It is an
autonomous advisory organization for the promotion and co-ordination of university education and
for the maintenance of standards. The UGC directs higher education in India. The UGC has played
an important role in the improvement of university and college libraries. Visit this institution at their
web sites http://www.ugc.ac.in
Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre is an Autonomous Inter-University Centre
(IUC) of University Grants Commission (UGC). It is involved in creating infrastructure for sharing
of library and information resources and services among Academic and Research Institutions.
INFLIBNET works collaboratively with Indian university libraries to promote the activities of the
academic libraries in the evolving information environment.
Indian Council of Philosophical Research
Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) was established in 1977 by the Ministry of
Education, Government of India as an autonomous organization designed to bring back the entire
tradition of Indian philosophy to its pristine and original form and provide required impetus to
nurture and promote new thinking through its intensive programs of research. This was the result of
the decision of a Committee which had been formed to look into the possibility of raising a body
like ICSSR and ICHR exclusively for the discipline of philosophy, for the preservation of India’s
profound, long and living philosophical tradition. Under its publication programme, the Council
publishes -monographs, survey reports, project reports and other works produced by scholars and
fellows of the Council; selected proceedings of ICPR sponsored seminars; re-publication of rare and
out-of-print works of renowned authors; publication of documentation series. Visit this institution at
their web sites http://www.icpr.in/organ-council.html
Indira Gandhi National Open University
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), established by an Act of Parliament
in 1985, has continuously striven to build an inclusive knowledge society through inclusive
education. It has tried to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by offering high-quality
teaching through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. In India, none of the universities
currently offer programmes in online only fashion. However, IGNOU and some other state-level
open universities offer some of their courses and programmes online. Visit this institution at their
web sites- http://www.ignou.ac.in.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 39 School of Distance Education Cyber Ethics
Computer and information technology is all around us and affects almost every aspect of our
daily lives. Because technology moves faster than rules can be formulated to govern it, how
technology is used is left up to the individual with the guidance of their personal ethics. In both
good and bad ways, technology affects our community life, family life, work environment,
education, and medical research, to name only a few areas of our lives. Technology constantly
challenges our ethics as individuals and as a society. Let us explore different relationships between
technology and ethics. Specially, we present different viewpoints of situations with regard to social
justice, intellectual property (fair use), privacy, e-commerce (online gambling), electronic
communication issues (free speech), and computer abuse (protection versus access) in which ethics
and technology impact each other. Ethical considerations are never black and white. They are
complex, and reasonable people can have different valid views. We present alternative viewpoints
of situations in which ethics and technology impact each other for you to consider and discuss,
1. Social Justice
Computer and information technology and especially the Internet have been implicated in
the widening gap between haves and have-nots within countries and among countries of the world.
The discrepancy between the “haves” and "have-notes” with regards to computer technology is
commonly referred to as the digital divide. This discrepancy is a growing problem. People with
access to computers and the Internet (that is, those who can afford it) are poised to take advantage
of the many new ments technology offers, whereas poorer individuals, communities, and school
systems that can’t afford computer systems and Internet access are being left behind. In the United
States, children who do not have access to Internet and computers won’t be prepared for future
employment, contributing to the continuing cycle of poverty. Again, terrain (such as mountains) and
remote locations (like the Sahara Desert), that inhibits connectivity, can present barriers to
conquering the digital divide. To help bridge the digital divide, some organizations are attempting
to increase local and global internet and computer access, whereas community organisations such as
libraries and recreation centers are providing free internet access to the public. Others suggest
computer users donate their old computers to a charity that refurbishes and distributes them to
needy families.
Some claim that the Internet is “a democratic technology”, suggesting that it is inherently
democratic because it allows unmediated many-to-many communication; it facilitates the formation
of new associations independent of geography, it gives power to many and it gives power to the less
powerful. The core idea underlying democracy is, perhaps, best expressed as the idea that political
power should reside in the citizens of a nation, rather than in a single person (a monarch or dictator)
or small group of persons (an oligarchy or aristocracy). In a democracy, citizens are the ultimate
authority, and government is accountable to those citizens. The Kantian conception of human
beings as ends in themselves provides the moral justification for democracy and democratic values
like individual autonomy, freedom of expression etc- Even though the idea of unmediated, many-tomany communication is somewhat of a misnomer, since communication on the internet is always
mediated; it is mediated by computers and information technology. Information technology shapes
the nature of communication in a multitude. Information is power only if it is accurate information
and relevant information in the hands of individuals (the many). Internet can facilitate the spread of
miss-information depends on the filtering and authenticating systems that are available. Internet can
Informatics & Philosophy Page 40 School of Distance Education facilitate hierarchical relationships, can increase the power of the already powerful, and can control
and enslave rather than liberate individual. For example, many-to-many, unmediated
communication often simply means chaos. In anarchy there is no guarantee that everyone will have
a say. In fact, often in such environments the loudest and most aggressive individuals come to
dominate the conversation. The unmediated character of Internet communication can conflict with
national sovereignty. It undermines the power of nation states by making it difficult to control the
flow of information to and from citizens as well as making it difficult to control a wide variety of
unlawful behaviour. This is democratic in the sensed that citizens have freedom of access to
information but it can, at the same time, undermine democratic processes. The internet has a very
decentralized and fluid design; it does have the potential for a high degree of social control of
information. Most of the attention given to free speech focuses on the threat of censorship. Freedom
of expression can be significantly dampened as a result of surveillance. Individuals do not feel free
to express themselves when they know everything they are saying is being recorded.
Information does not flow to and from every individual in the world or every individual within a
nation-state. Within each country and globally, there are billions of people who do not and never
will, have access to the internet. This digital divide as a serious social problem- a threat to
democracy- is not merely economic divide. There are some signs that gender, race, and disabled are
at work here independent of economic differences. The point here is that democracy is not created
simply when every person is connected to every other person. To be democratic or democracyenhancing, the Internet must be structured in conscious ways that support or retain democratic
process and institutions.
2. Privacy
Privacy is, perhaps, the most important of the ethical issues surrounding computer and
information technology. Though information technology may have made communication quicker,
easier and more convenient, it has also bought along privacy issues. From cell phone signal
interceptions to email hacking, people are now worried about their private information becoming
public knowledge. Personal privacy not just an individual good but as a social good, and we tries to
make clear the importance of privacy for democracy. The subtle ways in which our lives are
changed when we are being watched. Individuals who walk through life knowing that each step
creates a record that may or may not end up in a database somewhere are very different from
individuals who walk through life feeling free and confident that they live in an open society in
which the rules are known and fair. The advocates for protecting privacy argue that the right to
privacy is a basic human right that should be afforded to everyone. As long as individuals aren’t
hurting anyone or breaking any laws, people should be entitled to do what they want without fear of
being monitored. Advocates for stronger monitoring of private citizens usually cite national security
concerns and the prevention of criminal conspiracies or terrorist activities. Inconveniencing
ordinary people who are doing nothing wrong is just a price that must be paid to ensure that society
is free from malicious acts by a few malcontents.
3. Intellectual Property Right (Fair Use)
A computer user, who copies an application onto more than one computer, if the license
agreement does not permit this, is participating in software piracy. Most people don’t understand
that, unlike other items they purchase software applications they buy don’t belong to them. The only
thing they are actually purchasing is a license that gives them the right to use the software for their
Informatics & Philosophy Page 41 School of Distance Education own purposes as the only user of that copy. The application is not theirs to lend or copy for
installation on other computers, even if it’s another one of their own. Not only is pirating software
unethical and illegal, the practice also has financial impacts on all software application consumers.
The reduced dollars from pirated software lessen the amount of money available for further
software research and development while increasing the up-front cost to legitimate consumers.
Philosophical theories of property recognize that property rights are problematic when they
get in the way of future development, creativity, and innovation. In debates about whether or not
and how software should be protected, assumptions are implicitly made about moral (not just legal)
rights in property. Under Locke’s natural right argument software developer could argue that the
software she develops is rightfully her property because it was created from her labour. She wants a
right that gives her the capacity to sell and make a profit from her creation. Yet despite its appeal,
the natural rights argument has several flaws. Ownership of programs could lead to interference
with freedom of thought. Those who were grated patents on programs might surreptitiously acquire
a monopoly on mental operations. Even though unintended, the fear was that as patent holders used
their patents to stop infringements, the effect might be that the patent holder would come to be seen
as the owner of the performance of certain mental steps. According to Nozick a just world in which
individuals do not own the products of their labor is plausible.
The consequentialist theory is justifying the assignment of property rights by the good
consequences that result: bad consequence result from no ownership, and good consequence result
from ownership. Software will not be developed unless there is an incentive to create it, and it
presumes that the only incentive to develop software is to make money. If there is no potential to
make money from software development, companies will not invest their time, energy and
resources to develop and market software and there will be no software development. Opponents
argue that software development would not come to a complete standstill if there were no
ownership because making money is not the only incentive to create software. Freeware is an
example of software being created independent of any money-making incentive or any property
rights. Individuals create software because they enjoying creating it and the person can simply give
it to whoever wants it. The creator can make it available on the web. The consequentialist
framework puts the focus on deciding ownership issues in terms of effects on continued creativity
and development in the field of software. This framework suggests that one will have to continue to
draw a delicate line between what should be ownable and what should not be ownable when it
comes to software, along the lines already delineated in patent and copyright law.
To determine whether you have a pirated copy of software installed on your computer at
work or at home, you can download a free copy of GASP (a suite of programs designed to help
identify and track licensed and unlicensed software and other files) from the Business Software
alliance Web site (www.bsa.org/usa). There is a similar program available at the Microsoft Web site
(www.microsoft.com/piracy). These programs check the serial numbers for the software installed
on your computer against software manufacturer databases of official licensed copies and known
fraudulent copies. Any suspicious software installations are flagged for your attention.
Responsibility/Accountability
Development information technology creates a new problem relating to the liability and
social practices which makes individuals and organisation held accountable. When the technology
fails, serious harm can result: Human beings can be physically or psychologically harmed, money
Informatics & Philosophy Page 42 School of Distance Education can be lost, reputations destroyed, and so on. An ethical question arises as to who is responsible if a
person is injured by a machine which is controlled by a software. For instance, who is, or should be
held, responsible for all the expenses that companies incurred in fixing the Y2K problem? Or
Should we allowed to sue if a computer decision system makes an error in recommending how we
invest our money or how we do our income tax or how much credit we get? It is necessary to find
answers as to the responsibility, liability and accountability of software companies regarding the
consequences of the use of their software. It is also essential to see the responsibilities and liabilities
of users in acquiring and using software and its related consequences. It also raises some social
issues. System failures and consequent damage on information is a usual experience. Hence, to
protect the valuable information of individuals and organisations, it is necessary to decide whether
individuals and organisations should be encouraged to develop their own backup services. The
society is also required to decide whether it can permit networks and bulletin boards to post
inaccurate and misleading information which will harm many persons. Severe conflicts are going on
between the service providers and users regarding the quality of service. Service providers’ always
try to avoid their responsibility and to maximise their profits. At the same time, users want service
providers to be held responsible for providing high quality services and software. Therefore, the
main issue is that whether it is necessary to enact legislation to impose liability on service providers.
5. Security
Computer also makes threat on the security of data. Computer users have concern over their
information kept in the data banks are not make available to or can be damaged by unauthorized
persons. Strategic information relating to trade and defence must be protected with great care
against the unwarranted exposure or sabotage by rivals.
6. Computer Crime and Abuse
Fast development in computer technology has also created possibility to commit crime and
abuse. Computer crime is the commission of illegal acts through the use of computer or against a
computer system. Accessing of others computer without consent, destroy information in it etc. is
now treated as computer crimes. Computer abuse is the commission of acts involving a computer
that may not be illegal but are generally considered unethical.
Ethical Computing Guidelines
The Computer Ethics Institute developed the following Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics,
which is widely cited as a benchmark for companies that are developing computer usage and
compliance policies for employees.
1. Avoid causing harm to others when using computers.
2. Do not interfere with other people’s efforts at accomplishing work with computers.
3. Resist the temptation to snoop in other people’s computer files.
4. Do not use computers to commit theft.
5. Agree not to use computers to promote lies.
6. Do not use software (or make illegal copies for others)without paying the creator for it
7. Avoid using other people’s computer resources without appropriate authorization or proper
compensation.
8. Do not claim other people’s intellectual output as your own.
9. Consider the social consequences of the products of your computer labour.
10. Only use computers in ways that show consideration and respect for others.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 43 School of Distance Education Cyber Threats/ Cyber Crimes
For any individual or organisation that uses computer technology, security threats are
evolving and becoming increasingly dangerous. Computer users are involved in an arms race with
hackers and virus writers. This makes it imperative to understand the types of computer threats that
may affect a computer system or a network of computers. Following are the major forms of cyber
crimes or in other words, following are the different forms of potential threats to a computer
system:
1. IDENTITY THEFT
Under Identity theft a thief steals your name, address, social security number, and bank
account and credit card information and runs up debts in your name. This leaves you holding the
bag as you are hounded by creditors collecting on the fraudulent debts. Many victims of identity
theft spend months (or even years) trying to repair their credit and eliminate fraudulent debts. The
U.S. Federal Trade Commission has identified the following as methods thieves use to obtain
others’ personal information. Identity thieves may. (a) Steal purses and wallets, where people often
keep unnecessary valuable personal information (such as their ATM PIN codes). (b) Steal mail or
look through trash for bank statements and credit card bills, which provide valuable personal
information. (c) Pose as bank or credit card company representatives and trick people into revealing
sensitive information over the phone.
Although foolproof protection methods don’t exit, precautions will help you minimize your
risk. Never reveal your password or PIN code to anyone or place it in an easy-to-find location.
Create hard-to-guess passwords for your accounts. Never reveal personal information unless you are
sure that you are dealing with a legitimate representative with a legitimate reason for the disclosure.
When shopping online, be wary of unfamiliar merchants. If you have been the victim of identity
theft, many states now allow you to freeze your credit history so that no new accounts can be
opened until you lift the credit freeze. Using common sense and keeping personal information in the
hands of as few people as possible are the best defences against identity theft.
2. SPAM
Unsolicited instant messages are known as spam. Companies that send out spam – unwanted
or junk e-mails – find your e-mail address either from a list they purchase or with software that
looks for e-mail addresses on the internet. One way to avoid spam in your primary account is to
create a free web-based e-mail address that you use only when you fill out forms on the web. If your
free web-based e-mail account is saturated with spam, you can abandon that account with little
inconvenience. It is much harder to abandon your primary e-mail address. Another way to avoid
spam is to filter it. A spam filter is an option you can select in your e-mail account that places
known or suspected spam messages into a folder other than your inbox. Most web-based e-mail
services offer spam filters. Spam filter check your e-mail for frequently used spam patterns and
keywords (such as “for free” and “over 21”). E-mails that the filter identifies as spam does not go
into your inbox but rather to a folder set up for spam. This folder in Yahoo is called “Bulk” where
you can review the mail (to ensure it is spam) and delete it.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 44 School of Distance Education There are several additional ways you can prevent spam: Before registering on a web site,
read its privacy policy to see how it uses your e-mail address. Don’t give the site permission to pass
on your e-mail address to third parties. Don’t reply to spam to remove yourself from the spam list.
By replying, you are confirming that your e-mail address is active. Instead of stopping spam, you
may receive more. Subscribe to an e-mail forwarding service. These services screen your e-mail
messages, forwarding only those messages you designate as being okay to accept.
3. COOKIES
Cookies are small text files that some web sites automatically store on your computer’s hard
drive when you visit the site. When you log on to a web site that uses cookies, a cookie file assigns
an ID number to your computer. The unique ID is intended to make your return visit to a web site
more efficient and better geared to your interests. The next time you log on to that site, the site
marks your visit and keeps track of it in its database.
Cookies provide web sites with information about your browsing habits, such as the ads you
have opened, the products you have looked at, and the time and duration of your visits. Cookies also
remember personal information you enter into web site forms, such as your credit card information,
name, mailing address, and phone number. Companies use this information to determine the traffic
flowing through their web site and the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and web site
placement. By tracking which pages you view, how long you stay on the site, and how many times
you come back to the site, cookies enable companies to identity different users’ preferences. Some
sites sell the personal information their cookies collect to web advertisers. The ultimate concern is
that advertisers will use this information indiscriminately, thus infiltrating your privacy. Because
cookies pose no security threat, there is no great reason to delete them. Deleting your cookie files
could cost you the inconvenience of re-entering data you have already entered into web site forms.
However, if you are uncomfortable with the accessibility of your personal information, you can
periodically delete cookies or configure your browser to block certain types of cookies.
4. ADWARE
Adware are software programs that download on your computer when you install or use
other software, such as a freeware program, game, or utility. Adware is considered a legitimate
(though sometimes annoying) means of generating revenue for those developers who do not charge
for their software. Generally, adware enables sponsored advertisements to appear in a section of
your browser window or as a pop-up-ad box. Although some sites use pop-ups to increase the
functionality of their site (your account balance may pop up at your bank’s web site, for example),
many pop-ups are just plain annoying. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or eliminate pop-ups.
Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 7 have op-up blockers built into their browsers. If you feel
you need more protection, you can install anti pop-up software.
5. SPYWARE
Some adware programs are more intrusive. Without your knowledge, they transmit
information about you, such as your internet surfing habits, to the owner of the adware program so
that the information can be used for marketing purposes. In these instances, such adware becomes
more malicious in intent and can be considered spyware. Spyware is an unwanted piggyback
program that downloads with the software you want to install from the internet and runs in the
Informatics & Philosophy Page 45 School of Distance Education background of your system. Many spyware programs use cookies to collect information, whereas
others work like Trojan horses or act as keystroke loggers. Most antivirus software doesn’t detect
spyware or prevent spyware cookies from being placed on your hard drive. However, you can
obtain spyware removal software and run it on your computer to delete unwanted spyware. Because
new spyware is created all the time, you should update your spyware removal software regularly.
6. MALWARE
Although it is annoying, adware renders no harm to your computer. MALWARE, on the other
hand, is software that has a malicious intent. Spyware is a form of malware. Some other types of
malware come in the form of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses and can be thought of as electronic
vandalism or pranks. The intent of such malware is to render the system temporarily or permanently
useless (with a flood of e-mail messages, for example) or to penetrate a computer system
completely.
7. PHISHING AND INTERNET HOAXES
One of the more recent scams involving the internet is phishing. Phishing lures internet users
into revealing personal information such as credit card or social security numbers or other sensitive
information that could lead to identity theft. The scammers send e-mail messages that look like they
are from a legitimate business the recipient deals with, such as an online bank. The e-mail states that
the recipient needs to update or confirm his or her account information, and provides a link that,
when clicked, sends the recipient to a web site. The site looks like a legitimate site but is really a
fraudulent copy the scammer has created. Once the e-mail recipient confirms his or her personal
information, the scammers capture it and can begin using it. Never give personal information over
the internet unless you know the site is a secure one is the remedy for being caught by phishing
scams.
Internet hoaxes contain information that is untrue. Hoax e-mail messages may request that you
send money to cover medical costs for an impoverished and sick child or ask you to pass on bogus
information, such as how to avoid a virus. Chain e-mails letters also are considered a form of
internet hoax. The sheer number of e-mail message generated by hoaxes can cost millions in lost
opportunity cost caused by time spend reading, discarding, or resending the message, and they can
be clog up the internet system. If you receive an e-mail you think might be a hoax, don’t pass it on.
Cyber Crimes
Cyber criminals are individuals who use computers, networks, and the internet to perpetrate
crime. It is unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both. The media is full
of stories about computer viruses damaging computers, criminals stealing people’s identities online,
and attacks on corporate web sites that have brought major corporations to a standstill. These are
examples of cybercrime, which is formally defined as any criminal action perpetrated primarily
through the use of a computer. The existence of cyber crime means that computer users must take
precautions to protect themselves.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 46 School of Distance Education 8. HACKERS
A hacker is defined as anyone who breaks in to a computer system (whether an individual
computer or a network) unlawfully. Some hackers are offended by beings labelled criminals. Whitehat hackers tout themselves as experts who are performing a needed service for society by helping
companies realize the vulnerabilities that exist in their systems. They break into system just for the
challenge of it and who don’t wish to steal or wreak havoc on systems. Black-hat hackers use their
knowledge to destroy information for illegal game. Hackers just like to snoop. A hacker may be
able to capture logon id and password when you are online by using a packet sniffer. A packet
sniffer is a program that looks at (or sniffs) each packet as it travels on the internet- not just those
that are addressed to a particular computer, but all packets. Some packet sniffers are configured to
capture all the packets into memory, whereas others capture only certain packets that contain
specific content (such as credit card numbers). Once a hacker has your credit card information, he
can either use it to purchase items illegally or sell the number to someone who will. Also, if a
hacker steals the logon id and password to an account where you have your credit card information
stored he can use your accounts to purchase items and have the shipped to him instead of you. If
hackers can gather enough information in conjunction with your credit card information, they may
be able to commit identity theft. Identity theft is characterized by someone using personal
information about you (such as your name, address, and social security number) to assume your
identity for the purpose of defrauding others. The laws in the United Sates and in many foreign
countries consider any unauthorized access to computer systems a crime. You can protect yourself
from packet sniffers by installing a firewall.
9. TROJAN HORSES
A Trojan horse is a program that appears to be something useful or desirable (like a game or
a screen saver), but at the same time does something malicious in the background without your
knowledge. The term Trojan horse derives from Greek mythology and refers to the wooden horse
that the Greeks used to sneak into the city of Troy and conquer it. Therefore computer programs
that contain a hidden (and usually dreadful) “surprise” are referred to as Trojan horses. Often, the
malicious activity perpetrated by a Trojan horse program is the installation of backdoor programs,
which allow hackers to take almost complete control of your computer without your knowledge.
Using a backdoor programme, hackers can access and delete all files on your computer, send email, run programs, and do just about anything else you can do with your computer. Computers that
hackers control in this manner are referred to as Zombies.
10. COMPUTER VIRUSES AND ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
A computer virus is a computer program that attaches itself to another computer program
(known as the host program) and attempts to spread itself to other computers when files are
exchanged. Viruses normally attempt to hide within the code of a host program to avoid detection.
A computer virus’s main purpose is to replicate itself and copy its code into as many other files as
possible. Although virus replication can slow down networks, it is not usually the main threat. The
majority of viruses have secondary objectives or side effects, ranging from displaying annoying
messages on the computer screen to the destruction of files or the contents of entire hard drives.
Sharing disks or flash drives is a common source of virus infection, as is e-mail. Because computer
viruses do cause disruption to computer systems, including data destruction and information theft,
virus creation is a form of cybercrime.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 47 School of Distance Education Worms are slightly different from viruses in that they attempt to travel between systems
through network connections to spread their infections. Viruses infect a host file and wait for that
file to be executed on another computer to replicate. Worms can run independently of host file
execution and are much more active in spreading themselves. The Sasser worm broke out in Apirl
2004, infecting millions of individual computers and servers. This worm exploits a weakness in the
Windows operating system, and therefore antivirus software doesn’t protect against this worm.
However, having a firewall installed and applying software patches as they are issued can protect
you from most worms.
The best defence against viruses is to install antivirus software, which is specifically designed to
detect viruses and protect your computer and files from harm. The antivirus software scans files
when they are opened or executed. If it detects a virus signature or suspicious activity, it stops the
execution of the file and virus and notifies you that it has detected virus. It also places the virus in a
secure area on your hard drives so that it won’t spread infection to other files. This procedure is
known as quarantining. Usually the antivirus software catches known viruses effectively.
Unfortunately, new viruses are written all the time. Virus authors know how antivirus software
works. They take special measures to disguise their virus code and hide the effects of a virus until
just the right moment. This helps ensure that the virus spreads faster and faster. To minimize this
risk, you should keep your antivirus software up-to-date.
11. OTHER INTERNET CRIMES
The list of Internet crimes can be very long. This includes pornographic websites, sale of
narcotics, weapons and wildlife etc., by posting information on websites, auction websites, and
bulletin boards or simply by using e-mail communication. There are millions of websites; all hosted
on servers abroad, that offer online gambling. In fact, it is believed that many of these websites are
actually fronts for money laundering. Cases of hawala transactions and money laundering over the
Internet have been reported. Other major crimes include software piracy, copyright infringement,
trademarks violations, and theft of computer source code etcCyber Addition / Information overload
Information overload refers to the addiction towards unlimited information available on the
Internet. The addict in this case finds a craving for searching and reading information of his interest
on the Internet. The greatest cause of cyber addiction is hyperlinks. When one visits a web site for a
particular purpose, that site will be presented with other things through links. These links are
created in a way to attract the visitor to click on them. When he gets to that site, there are other
hyperlinks, and the process continues. It often results in stress and anxiety related disorders. The
term information overload was first coined by the great futurist and writer Alvin Toffler in his book
Future Shock. According to Alvin Toffler “future shock is too much change in too short a period of
time”. The concept of future shock revolves around the changes that are taking place with regards to
individuals and society. In his book, Toffler projects the concept of information overload as a
psychological disorder caused due to abundance of information availability. The amount of
information on the internet has been growing in leaps and bounds. Such a great magnitude of
information development and that too at such a rapid pace has led to an information explosion of
Informatics & Philosophy Page 48 School of Distance Education sorts. More and more number of Internet users are becoming victims of information overload as
they are flooded with information sourced from a large number of Web sites, e-mails, blogs,
reviews, messengers, social networking sites etc. Information overload refers to the difficulty a
person can have in understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence
of too much information. The main causes of information overload are: (i) Too much information
(ii) Difficulty to understand the information (iii) Don’t know if the information exists (iv) Difficulty
to find where the information is available (v) Difficulty to access the information (vi) Don’t know if
the information is accurate. The consumption of such a huge volume of information is increasingly
becoming difficult for the users and thus causing anxiety, irritation and stress. Cyber addiction
could lead to many serious consequences like financial implications, health problems, social and
relationship problems, depression, internet abuse in the work place, academic failure etc-. One of
the best precautionary measures for protecting oneself from information overload is to consume the
information in a systematic and precise manner instead of bulk consumption.
Stress Management and Information Technology
The concept of compulsive Internet use is relatively new and is not yet formally recognized
as a psychological disorder, although research is underway in this area. However, there is increasing
evidence that for some people, compulsive Internet use interferes with daily life, work and
relationships. Spending a lot of time online is not necessarily a problem. But if we are neglecting
our relationships, our work, or other important things in our life, then we may have a problem with
Internet addiction. If our online activities are getting in the way of your “offline” life, it’s time to
strike a new balance. The acceleration of change is accompanied by an increase in the information
needed to keep up with the developments. This too leads to psychological, physical and social
problems. A world-wide survey (Reuters, 1996) found that two thirds of managers suffer from
increased tension and one third from ill-health because of information overload. The psychologist
David Lewis, who analysed the findings of this survey, proposed the term “Information Fatigue
Syndrome” to describe the resulting symptoms. Other effects of too much information include
anxiety, poor decision-making, difficulties in memorizing and remembering, and reduced attention
span. These effects merely add to the stress caused by the need to constantly adapt to a changing
situation. Signs and symptoms of compulsive Internet use may vary from person to person. But
there are some general warning signs that your Internet use has become a problem:
1. Losing track of time online. If a person frequently find on the Internet longer than he wish or
he find himself running late to appointments because of too much time spent online is the
clear indications of cyber addition.
2. Having trouble completing tasks at work or home on time
3. Social life may suffer because of all the time one spends online leads isolation from family
and friends and feel like no one in his real life.
4. Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use.
There are some risk factors that have been identified with cyber addictions.
1. Anxiety: One may use the Internet to divert himself from his worries and fears. An anxiety
disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may also contribute to excessive email
checking and compulsive Internet use.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 49 School of Distance Education 2. Depression: The Internet can be an escape from feelings of depression, but too much time
online can make things worse. Internet addiction further contributes to isolation and
loneliness.
3. Other addictions: Many Internet addicts suffer from other addictions, mainly to drugs,
alcohol, gambling and sex.
4. Lack of social support: Internet addicts often use chat rooms, instant messaging, or online
gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to
others.
5. Teenagers: Teenagers may feel that internet is a wonder world and it might feel more
comfortable than real life friends.
6. Internet pornography: Cybersex addiction is a type of sexual addiction; special challenges
on the Internet include its relative anonymity and ease of access. People can both spend
hours on the net in the privacy of their own home, and engage in fantasies impossible in
real life. Because real people cannot compete with fantasy, cybersex addiction can erode
and even replace genuine intimate relationships.
The following are some tools to get your Internet use under control. While you can put many
of these in place yourself, make sure you get some outside support as well.
1. Identify any underlying reasons that need treatment: There is need to treat psychological
disorders like depression or anxiety because such disorders may accelerate cyber addiction.
2. Increase your coping skills: A person may have trouble relating to others, feeling
excessively shy or feeling like he can never read people right in real life. Building skills in
these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without resorting to
compulsive Internet use.
3. Strengthen the relationship: Use of internet for social interaction can be reduced by building
strong relationship in real life. Keep aside little time each week for spouse or other family
members. If you are shy, try finding common interest groups such as an exercise class or
book reading club. This allows you to interact with others in a non-threatening way and
allows relationships to naturally develop.
Healthy Usages of Information Technology
Guidelines for Proper Usage of Computers
The following are some guidelines that can help you avoid discomfort, eyestrain, or injuries while
you are working at your computer.
1. Position your monitor correctly: Studies suggest it is best to place your monitor at least 25
inches from your eyes. You may need to decrease the screen resolution to make text and
images more readable at that distance. Also experts recommend the monitor be positioned
either at eye level or so that it is at an angle 15 to 20 degrees below your line of sight.
2. Purchase an adjustable chair: Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet touch the
floor. You may need to use a footrest to get the right position. Back support needs to be
adjustable so that you can position it to support your lumbar (lower back) region. You
should also be able to move the seat or adjust the back so that you can sit without exerting
Informatics & Philosophy Page 50 School of Distance Education pressure on your knees. If your chair doesn’t adjust, placing a pillow behind your back can
provide the same support.
3. Assume a proper position while typing: A repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a painful condition
caused by repetitive or awkward movements of a part of the body. Improperly positioned
key-boards are one of the leading causes of RSIs in computer users. Your wrists should be
flat (unbent) with respect to the keyboard and your forearms parallel to the floor. You can
either adjust the height of your chair or install a height adjustable keyboard tray to ensure a
proper position. Specially designed ergonomic keyboards can help you achieve the proper
position of your wrists.
4. Take breaks from computer tasks: Remaining in the same position for long periods of time
increases stress on your body. Shift your position in your chair and stretch your hands and
fingers periodically. Likewise, staring at the screen for long periods of time can lead to
eyestrain, so rest your eyes by periodically taking them off the screen and focusing them on
an object at least 20 feet away.
5. Ensure the lighting is adequate: Assuring proper lighting in your work area is a good way to
minimize eyestrain. To do so, eliminate any sources of direct glare (light shining directly
into your eyes) or reflected glare (light shining off the computer screen) and ensure there is
enough light to read comfortably. If you still can’t eliminate glare from your computer
screen, you can purchase an antiglare screen to place over your monitor. Look for ones that
are polarised or have a purplish optical coating of the greatest relief.
6. Psychological and physical affects: Information overload could pose some severe
psychological hazards to the users. The user hooks on to the computer for a long time
trying to satisfy his/her craving for the topic of interest. The craving could be for social
networking, chatting with strangers, watching pornographic content, and so on. In case of
porn addiction, the addict engages himself in viewing, downloading and buying
pornographic material on the internet. The craving for hooking on to such material
increases to the extent that it disrupts the routine life of the individual. The addict in such
cases feels withdrawn when not using the computer. As a result, he/she becomes restless,
irritated and depressed.
Apart from psychological affects, internet addiction could also lead to the following physical
effects on an individual.
a. Constantly glaring at the computer monitor could affect the eye sight.
b. Constantly sitting in front of the computer with little or no body movement at all could lead
to body strains.
c. Constant exposure to electromagnetic radiations have a direct impact on our main body
parts, such as brain, though the exact nature of such negative affects is still a matter of
biological research.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 51 School of Distance Education Achieving comfort and a proper typing position is the way to avoid repetitive strain injuries
and other aches and pains while working at a computer. To achieve this, obtain equipment that
boasts as many adjustments as possible. Every person is a different shape and size, requiring each
workspace to be individually tailored. In addition, look for ergonomically designed peripheral
devices such as keyboards, wrist rests, antiglare screens to facilitate a safe working environment.
Guidelines for proper use of Internet
There are many things to be understood to ensure your integrity and the protection of your
instruments when you are online. Here are some guidelines for proper use of internet.
1. When we use information, photos and other materials that we find on the Internet in our
homework or research projects, make sure that we want to identify the sources of the
information in footnotes, just as we would use books in our college library to get the
information.
2. Much of the information, pictures, music sample tracks, preview movie videos and other
materials on the Internet are copyrighted, which means it, belongs to someone else. It is
against the law if we download and use it without permission, or without identifying the
source in footnote. Copyright laws are intended to encourage current and future creation of
artistic works by protecting the rights of the original creator to enjoy the potential of
financial gain resulting from their efforts.
3. Always make sure that we know the people with whom we exchange email and IM (instant
messaging). Do not use email or IM to talk to strangers. Don’t give out your email or IM
address to people you doesn’t know, either online or in person. Don’t open email or email
attachments from people you don’t know. Unsolicited email may contain viruses that will
damage your computer and the information on it.
4. Do not use e-mail for harassing or threatening others. If you are a recipient of any such
messages you can keep copies of them for legal follow up.
5. Never disclose personal information or passwords to strangers. Don’t tell them what you
look like, your age, where you live, your phone number, what school you go to, your bank
a/c number or any passwords that protect your computer or your private information.
6. Just as you don’t want others to hide their true identity with the email or IM you, don’t
pretend to be someone else when you are online. Don’t be rude or use bad language while
you use email or IM.
7. Do not sent Spam, Worms and viruses into cyberspace
Ethical use of cell phone
1. At workplace or in meeting better if the tone is turned off in the form of silent, or vibrates,
so that the ringing phone will not disturb the course of meetings.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 52 School of Distance Education 2. Switch off cell phone in certain places such as inside an aircraft because phone signals can
disturb aircraft on radar and can cause accidents.
3. Do not accept call or make call while driving. This too can cause accidents.
As far as the use of the cell phone camera goes, common decency and respect for other
people would be the rule. Do not capture the image of others without permission of that person.
Futuristic IT
Artificial Intelligence
John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” in 1956 at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT). According to McCarthy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science
and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is
related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not
have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable. In simple terms, AI is the branch
of computer science devoted to developing programs that enable computers to display behaviour
that can broadly be characterised as intelligent.
The potential applications of AI are numerous. They extend from the military for
autonomous control and target identification, to the entertainment industry for computer games and
robotic pets. It can also be applied in big establishments dealing with huge amounts of information
such as hospitals, banks, and insurances, which can use AI to predict customer behaviour and detect
trends.
Domain Areas of AI: The various domain areas where AI is currently being used include:
1. Game Playing: The greatest advancements in AI have been achieved in the field of game
playing. For instance, in May 1997, an IBM super computer called “Deep Blue” defeated
the world chess champion Gary Kasparov.
2. Speech Recognition: Computer speech recognition has reached a practical level for limited
purposes. For example, airline organisations have replaced keyboard for flight information
by a system using speech recognition of flight numbers and city names.
3. Understanding Natural Language: The computer has to be provided with an understanding
of the context of the text, and this is presently possible only for very limited systems.
4. Computer Vision: The world is composed of three-dimensional objects, but the inputs to the
human eye and computer’s cameras are two-dimensional. Some useful programs can work
solely in two dimensions, but full computer vision requires partial three-dimensional
information. At present, there are only limited ways of representing three-dimensional
information directly, and they are not as good as what humans evidently use.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 53 School of Distance Education 5. Expert Systems: Expert Systems have proven effective for finding solutions to a large
number of problem domains, which earlier required assistance of human mind. Computers
are programmed to make decisions in real-life situations. For example, some expert
systems help doctors diagnose diseases based on patient’s symptoms. One of the first
expert systems was MYCIN, which diagnosed bacterial infections of the blood and
suggested treatments. This system performed better than medical students or practicing
doctors.
Expert system is an AI application that uses a knowledge base of human expertise to aid in
solving problems. The degree of problem solving is based on the quality of the data and rules
obtained from the human expert. This system simulates the judgment and behaviour of a human or
an organisation that has expert knowledge and experience in a particular field. Typically, such a
system contains a knowledge base containing accumulated experience and a set of rules for
applying the knowledge base to each particular situation. The principal distinction between expert
systems and traditional problem solving programs is the way in which the problem related query is
programmed. In traditional applications, problem is encoded in both program and data structures.
While in expert system approach, the problem is encoded in data structures only.
6. Heuristic Classifications: A heuristic is a way of trying to discover something or an idea
embedded in a program. An example is advising whether to accept a proposed credit card
purchase based on the information of the owner of the credit card.
7. Neural Networks: Computers are programmed to simulate intelligence by attempting to
reproduce the types of physical connections that occur in human brains. Neural computing
systems mimic the brain through a network of highly interconnected, processing elements,
which give them learning capabilities and enable them to recognise, and to understand
subtle or complex patterns.
Neural networks have emerged as a specialised field within artificial intelligence
and engineering disciplines with collective efforts of engineers, physicists, mathematicians,
and scientists (both computer and neuroscientists). Here, the area of research focuses on
pattern recognition and pattern generation, embedded within an overall focus on
development of systems. Neural networks are computing systems, which imitate human
brain through a network of highly, interconnected processing elements. These processes
give these networks learning capabilities and enable them to recognise and to understand
complex patterns. The key element of neural network is the presence of the information
processing system. This system is composed of a large number of highly interconnected
processing elements (neurons) working together to solve specific problems. Neural
networks just like humans learn by example, that is, they are configured for a specific
application, such as pattern recognition or data classification, through a learning process.
8. Robotics: It deals with programming computers to see, hear, and react to other sensory
stimuli. In the area of robotics, computers are now widely used in assembly plants, but they
are capable of only limited tasks. Robots have great difficulty identifying objects based on
appearance or feel, and they still move and handle objects clumsily.
Informatics & Philosophy Page 54 School of Distance Education Researchers have still not been able to produce systems, which can match the natural abilities
possessed by an average human being. These abilities include learning new sounds as well as
recognising them later, adapt to new conditions, recognise and remember numerous objects through
eyes, and many such things. There exists a wide gap between humans and computers in terms of
efficiency and the way data is represented. These are some of the problems faced by researchers
pioneering in the field of artificial intelligence and all these problems require breakthroughs before
one can expect a system to behave and react like humans and exhibit cent per cent intelligence.
Virtual Reality
Virtual reality uses software to allow people to interact with a simulated environment.
Three-dimensional environments created by computers are getting better and better helping people
experience new things, or experience familiar things in new ways. Virtual Reality training
simulations are appearing in many different fields. Fears of heights, spiders, thunderstorms,
driving, travelling, and even public speaking have been treated with virtual reality therapy. Dentists,
for instance, are trying virtual reality headsets for their patients to help reduce their anxiety about
getting their teeth cared for. Virtual reality programs provide the opportunity for people with
disabilities to practice with maneuvering wheelchairs or to become familiar with public
transportation before venturing into a new city or town. Surgeons can practice difficult procedures
on a virtual patient without risk. Psychologists say that patients are so absorbed in the virtual reality
experience that is not as aware of their pain. Swiss Olympic skier Simon Ammann used a virtual
reality program to compare his jumps wearing two different pairs of skis to determine which was
best. He and his coach believe the change in skis that resulted from the experiment was a factor in
his gold-medal performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Bio-computing
In simple words, bio-computing can be referred as the use or application of computational
devices in the field of biological sciences and research. Bio-computing is a multidisciplinary branch
including Biochemistry, Molecular biology, Genetics, Chemistry, mathematics, Computer science,
Biology and Physics. Bio-computing uses the principles and tools of computer science to model or
algorithmically specify complexes biological information system and computational systems with
life-like capabilities. Bio-computing has manifested numerous government multi-agency programs,
including Human Genome Project, the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC)
initiative, the Human Brain Project, and other related programs such as the National Information
Infrastructure and Digital Libraries initiatives, which have strong bio-related components. Biocomputing as a whole has helped extensively in the growth and development of biological science.
Not only has it led to the invention of new drugs and curing techniques but in general it has
revolutionised the way practitioners analyse biological problems through multimedia and 3-D
viewing.
Bibliography
Informatics & Philosophy Page 55 School of Distance Education Alan Evans, Kendall Martin, Marry Anne Poatsy, Informatics: Technology in Action, Pearson
Publishers, Delhi, 2010.
1. Deborah G. Johnson, Computer Ethics, 3rd edition, Pearson Education, inc., Publishers,
Delhi, 2012.
2. Abdul Assis Koroth, General Informatics, Calicut University Central co-op stores Ltd,
Calicut, 2011.
3. Shereena J. Sanal Kumar S. General Informatics, National Publishing House, Calicut, 2011.
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