CS73N Freshman Seminar:
Business on the Information Highways

For the classes of Spring 2006/2007 and after please go to the CS73N class Wiki.
The planned schedule for the current class is also
on a class wiki page. It will be updated from time to time, and adjusted during the class according to requests and project plans of the participants.

CS73N carries 3 units of credit. Enrollment is limited to 16 students, freshmen have priority. No senior students should attend.
The course is graded. The grade is based on a project and based on on-line writing of web pages of your design. It carries PWR2 credit and hence PWR1 is prerequisite. Participation has been very competetive.

Meeting time and location:

Thursday's 4:15pm to 5:05pm and Fridays 2:15pm to 4:05pm, in Gates 100. This room is in the Computer Science department building (Gates Information Sciences); see Map to locate Gates Info Sciences. Since Gio is retired, he comes in primarily Thursdays and Fridays, and Avron and Shirley come in from out-of-town as well. We prefer to listen to and respond to class and topic questions during the seminar, so that all can share. If a face-to-face meeting is needed, it is best to send email to Gio and to Marianne Siroker. Send any messages to Gio from a Stanford email address, so that his spam filter won't ignore them.

The information below is from the academic year 2005/2006, but is being kept so we have a record on a Stanford web site as well.

Spring 2005/2006.
This part of the page last updated 25 May 2006. (Master copy on Brambles)
Instructors: Gio Wiederhold, Emeritus Professor CSD, EE & Medicine, Stanford; Avron Barr and Shirley Tessler of Aldo Ventures.
There will also be assistance available oriented to the specifics of the writing requirements -- more to come about that.

The current topic Schedule is on the class wiki , and thwere are links to prior years, from 2006 on, as well. (The 2005/2006 Schedule is not being updated). The schedule has links to weekly Notes, summarizing each meeting. The initial notes, available before the class has met, are copies from prior years.

We have moved the files for the class to the Wiki. The corresponding course description is there. The pages on the Wiki are more up-to-date. Many of the pages still refer to pages on the CS side, so create some bookmarks to get back to Wiki pages you need.
The classlist, with students' project pointers, is now also on the Wiki.

Course definition

This page is http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/gio/CS99I/description.html and can also be located via Gio's home page http://infolab.stanford.edu/people/gio.html or simply as http://cs73N.stanford.edu/ via the CS department.
Information from prior years is available as CS99I 2005 description, 2004 description, 2003 description, 2002 description, 2001 description; 2000 description; 1998 description.
(The class was numbered CS99I initially, and CS99 is still the file name I am using).

This course fulfills the second part of the Stanford undergraduate writing requirement (WR 2). During this course we focus on writing as it will be increasingly practiced in the future, namely for the creation of effective documentation accessible via the Internet. In addition to writing assignments students are expected to produce an attractive and comprehensive set of webpages. These webpages can either define and motivate customers to use an Internet business, educational, or public sector service, or they can serve an educational function on how to deal with an aspect of the Internet, say the protection of one's privacy, with an assessment of the benefits and costs involved. Thus work will be criticized in class and by your classmates. A critique can be based on feasibility, cost, risk, ethics, and originality. From such criticism you should be able to extract constructive guidance to improve your work. The webpages you produce will at least be available to the next class as guidance, and if appropriate to broader audiences. Students in prior classes have produced web pages for businesses of relatives, for public service organizations, Stanford projects, etc. A typical project will have about a dozen distinct but related web pages, linked to each other for easy and effective perusal, as well as live references to external web pages.


Our seminar is intended to help us and others understand what is happening in the world-wide information highways and how to assess their benefits and risks. There is no way that we can predict the future, but we can try to understand the forces and the constraints in several dimensions.

We will focus on the use of the Internet for commercial, educational, and scientific objectives. We will present enough of the technology for students to have a sense of what is possible, what potential pitfalls exist along the way, and where things are likely to go in the future. You will not need to go into technological details to understand the power of the Internet. Some points related to current perceptions are made in the slides on Web Growth

A still relevant report is

Wiederhold, Gio: Trends for the Information Technology Industry; report prepared for MITI under sponsorship of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), San Francisco CA 94104, April 1999.

For communication, send email to: gio@cs.stanford.edu.
Secretary: Marianne Siroker, Gates 435, 725-8363.
For appointments please email to: siroker@cs.stanford.edu. Gio Wiederhold's office is in the Computer Science building, Gates, fourth floor, way in the back, room 436.

To contact other students and see what projects are being pursued you can use the classlist when the course is in session.

Meeting format:

The Thursday hour will be available to answer questions about the assignment and to introduce business aspect of the Internet topic for the week. During the initial half of each Friday session we will present the topic in more depth. The remainder of the time is available for discussing its import and potential. Students that have chosen the topic for their project will lead those discussions. Some days will be fully devoted to student presentations and analysis. One or two external speakers with specialized experience will be invited.
Following the open tradition of the Internet we publish the results of the course on the World-wide-web, so that the material can be shared beyond the participants of the class. How to Write for the Web will be an important issue.

In earlier years chapters for a book were created. A description of this Web-book is given in a Introductory Chapter. A list of all chapters given is found there as List of Chapters.

The course work will consist of essays on certain aspects of Internet activity. The major product will a project, available on the web, covering a business or information topic related to the Internet. Intermediate assignments will contribute to that project and allow us to provide feedback. Students should decide in a topic well before the midterm period. Assignments are given out Fridays, as shown in the schedule and due, by email, before midnight the next Friday; the email can simply contain a pointer to a webpage.

If you have a simple questions about your project that was not addressed in class, send me an email, do not delay your work by a week. If you feel that more time with one of us is needed make an appointment through my secretary, Marianne <Siroker@cs.stanford.edu>. You will typically get a suitable time within a few days. (My work schedule is irregular, so that having office hours does not work well for me). A tentative topic schedule is available.

Detailed Course Description

We will use the first week to present the technology at a conceptual level, largely by comparing the Internet with alternate means of communication, as the telephone, electronic mail, fax, and books. Much of the remainder of the course will focus on application topics.

This is NOT a course in Net-surfing. Neither is it a course in technical details in Internet technology. A prerequisite for this course is having some facility in using computers and exploring the world-wide web. We know that most students are already better at all kinds of surfing than the faculty will ever be. The discussions will explore the opportunities presented and limited by the Internet, rather than the mechanisms of how to access and mange its contents.

The aggregation of all the information webpages will be a guide for traveling the

Information Highways: Maps, Encounters, and Directions.

There are a number of optional topics that may be selected if interest warrants:

Technologies and services that are relevant include

Projecting the current rate of advances into future (not yet on-line) periods, say, when our current freshman class will graduate, is a major challenge. We are just on the cusp of moving from a paper-based world to a world where electronic communication supersedes much of the technology developed since Gutenberg.

Stanford's students will be active contributors within this world. Since we cannot predict the shape, and the rate of its arrival, we must cover more than solely what we know and have experienced. Preparing for a future without ongoing changes, is a poor strategy.

Glossary and References

To help in reading this material, specifically if chapters are accessed randomly, we will maintain a glossary. Any word that is used, and not understood by a participant should be entered. That requires sending an email message to to: gio@cs.stanford.edu with the term, and any definition you have found or made up.

We will also build up a list of references during the course. As the references are read course participants will append their reviews to the entries.

All the work in this course will create web pages, using the HyperText Markup Language (HTML). We have placed a brief introduction to HTML with the other documents. We will want to use a consistent format as well, that is described in the introductory chapter.

For B2B communication a representation that uses more formal semantics to describe contents, XML, is becoming dominant. This eXtended Markup Language is also briefly described.


First chapter
List of all Chapters.

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