Science Finction;

Science Finction;

What’s the Point of this Assignment?
•    To start learning how to do academic research in IST-related fields
•    To learn how to cite sources in APA Style
•    To sharpen your understanding of plagiarism (and how to avoid it)
•    To improve your writing skills by asking you to organize your thoughts and write from an outline
•    To improve your creative thinking and ability to deal with abstractions and ambiguity by deliberately giving you a somewhat vague task and requiring that you produce an organized and thoughtful result
HINT FOR SUCCESS ON ALL WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS: Read the entire assignment description and rubric, do any necessary research, think about what you want to say, then re-read the assignment and make a written outline of the points you want to cover. If you write from an outline you’ll do a much better job (and earn a better grade)
•    Read the full directions below carefully
•    Focus on the relationship between people and technology as depicted in the Sci-Fi work you’ve chosen
•    Do some research on topics relevant to your chosen work of science fiction (see the research document in the Lesson 01 folder for tips on how to do research in IST)
•    Cite your research using APA style (most commonly used in IT fields – see links in Lesson 01 folder for help with APA style). APA recommendation, this manuscript should be double-spaced…
•    (Important) Make sure to discuss how your chosen piece of fiction depicts the relationship between people and technology
General Guidelines for the Short Essay

One thing that distinguishes IST from areas of study such as computer science is IST’s strong focus on the relationship between people and technology. This is extremely important, as this perspective influences how technology is designed, developed, and deployed. This in turn helps to define the world in which we live.

In this short research essay, explore the relationship between people and technology. Your finished essay (without references) should occupy approximately two pages of Double Spaced text.

While the essay topic is deliberately somewhat general in order to allow you to focus on a specific subject of your interest, it is important that your essay be grounded in some basic research, and thus you are asked to provide at least two relevant references, and to cite these references within your essay. If appropriate, you should then provide your personal opinion/analysis of the topic based on what you have learned. An opinion based on research is academically sound — one without a basis in research is simply a guess.

Make sure to cite your references appropriately (APA style). More information on the proper use of American Psychological Association (APA) citations can be found at:

You may wish to review guidelines regarding appropriate use of sources by visiting and

Your instructor may choose to use the TurnItIn anti-plagiarism tool ( If so, you may wish to read the information to be found at this site.

A Word about APA style: First, remember that the APA guidelines were developed to help scholars and researchers in a variety of disciplines better communicate with one another. The goal is to improve written communication among scholars, not create a bunch of arcane rules to trip up students. The key components of the APA Guidelines have to do with (a) the need to organize the overall structure of a document, and (b) the need to recognize the authors and researchers whose work yours is built on in a way that allows the reader of your paper to easily identify and locate those earlier works. If you ever write a book or scholarly paper, you’ll quickly find that different publishers have their own unique rules about some of these issues, even when the publisher generally follows APA style (in other words, these APA “rules” are really guidelines, they are not carved in stone, and you have to adapt to the environment in which you are working). In IST 110 the two main things you need to learn are: (a) to write with a clear and disciplined structure (not stream of consciousness, as many students do; HINT: it helps to write from a formal outline), and (b) to be able to do academic library research (not just Google) and to properly cite (following APA) the references you use in your own work

Science Fiction Short Essay Topic – Possible Future Issues with Technology

Gerry Santoro, an IST faculty member, was the good friend of the late author Phil Klass (who wrote under the name William Tenn). Phil has been hailed as an Author Emeritus of Science Fiction, and published many stories in the 1940’s, 50’s and beyond. Phil once told Gerry that science fiction is not about science; rather, it is about people and how they deal with the outcomes of science. Because of this, science fiction can be a very important place to examine the possible utopian and dystopian outcomes of any particular technology. It allows readers to consider the dangers of a technology before the society is dependent upon that technology.

Your goal in this essay is to identify any piece of science fiction and discuss the people/technology issues that it encompasses. The piece may be a movie, book, short story, comic book, cartoon, anime or whatever. Be sure to select a piece that facilitates your essay. For example, in the George Lucas movie THX-1138, people live in an underground society controlled by computers. People are drugged to keep them as docile workers in the great ‘system.’ When one man escapes the drugged fog the computers send robot police after him. This movie is a metaphor for how we are so consumed by technology that it becomes the master and we the slave. It also points to the need for people to maintain control through an understanding of technology. In the end… well, see the movie for yourself.

Some Additional Comments to Help You Get Started

First, it might help to understand that the purpose of references is three-fold: 1) to identify the sources of information you’ve used so that people who might want to use your work as a building block for a project of their own can check what you’ve done to make sure everything is correct, 2) so that people who get interested in your work can go to the sources of information you’ve used and find out more about it, and 3) to give proper credit to the people whose work yours is built upon. For example, if you’re writing about a film, people will want to know what that film is, who created it, and how to find it to view it for themselves.
Second, what you write about is pretty much up to you. The only constraints are that: 1) it must discuss a work of science fiction (book, movie, short story, whatever – and of course one of your references should identify the work so that your readers can find it if they get interested), and 2) your discussion should focus on how the work portrays the relationship between people and some form of technology. For example, the Terminator movies depict a very specific danger that might arise from military deployment of AI technology (there are lots of SciFi works on specific dangers of various technologies).
Don’t get nervous because this assignment seems vague — believe it or not, most of IT is like that (you have five different ways to solve a problem, all of which have pros and cons, there is no clear winner, and you have to choose based on conflicting goals – in other words, high levels of ambiguity abound in IT). Hope you didn’t think it was just 1’s and 0’s ?

Grading Rubric

The following rubric will be applied to your essay:

Topic Area    Description of Achievement    Maximum Points
Composition    Posting is well written with no grammatical or spelling errors.    20
Contribution    Posting offers new information or approach to topic under discussion.    30
Subject Knowledge    Demonstrated knowledge of the course content by integrating the concepts into the response.    20
Reference and Citation    At least two appropriate references and citations – Reference where new information or approach is provided.  Citation is appropriate.  Must follow American Psychological Association (APA) format.  If required, essay passes Turnitin review.    30
Total        100

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