Web Technology - The Social Environment

Web Technology

Items

  1. The World Wide Web
  2. The Social Environment
  3. Introduction to HTML
  4. Cascading Style Sheets
  5. Web Multimedia

The Social Environment

These are notes on website design for The Australian National University course "Networked Information Systems" (COMP2410 / COMP6340) in 2009. This section of the course is prepared and presented by Tom Worthington FACS HLM.

Professional ethical issues can occur in developing any information technology. However, the Internet and web allow many more people around the world to quickly connect to an IT system. As a result professionals are more likely to confront ethical issues when dealing with the Internet and the World Wide Web. Professionals may be called to account for their actions not only in their own country, but in any jurisdiction in the world.

Ethics (from the Ancient Greek ethikos, the adjective of ethos "custom, habit"), a major branch of philosophy, is the study of values and customs of a person or group and covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility. It is divided into three primary areas: meta-ethics (the study of the concept of ethics), normative ethics (the study of how to determine ethical values), and applied ethics (the study of the use of ethical values). ...

From: Ethics, Wikipedia, 2007

The President of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) provided a much shorter definition of ethics:

Doing the right thing even when no one looking.

From: Philip Argy, as reported at the ACS Canberra Branch Conference 2007, 2007

Ethical Conduct and Practice

The ACS has a Code of Professional Conduct and Professional Practice, incorporating a code of ethics which requires all members to act with professional responsibility and integrity. The code is only binding on members of the ACS, but courts are likely to use such codes when judging the actions of professionals, even if they are not a member of a particular body.

ACS Code of Ethics

In decreasing order of priority, the ACS Code of Ethics lists:
  1. The Public Interest
  2. Integrity
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Objectivity and Independence
  5. Competence
  6. Keeping Up-To-Date
  7. Subordinates
  8. Responsibility to your Client
  9. Promoting Information Technology
  10. The Image of the Profession and the Society

Ethics research

Professional ethics are mainly concerned with applied ethics (as used in the workplace). However, research at the ANU on meta-ethics and normative ethics provides a better understanding how ethics applies to ICT. The researchers produced a series of articles on their work:

Guidelines for Expert Witnesses

The guidelines provided by the court to expert witnesses provide a guide to general professional conduct. In "The accidental expert witness", Tom Worthington discusses work of an Australian ICT professional giving evidence in Australian courts.

Ways by which an expert witness giving opinion evidence may avoid criticism of partiality include ensuring that the report, or other statement of evidence:

  1. is clearly expressed and not argumentative in tone;
  2. is centrally concerned to express an opinion, upon a clearly defined question or questions, based on the expert's specialised knowledge;
  3. identifies with precision the factual premises upon which the opinion is based;
  4. explains the process of reasoning by which the expert reached the opinion expressed in the report;
  5. is confined to the area or areas of the expert's specialised knowledge; and
  6. identifies any pre-existing relationship between the author of the report, or his or her firm, company etc, and a party to the litigation (eg a treating medical practitioner, or a firm's accountant).
From: Federal Court of Australia Guidelines for Expert Witnesses in Proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, 19 March 2004

Professional Ethics in the Design of Emergency Warning Systems

After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the United Nations coordinated the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. However, such systems are designed to warn public officials at a national and regional level and there could be a delay before the general public recieve the warning. The advent of the Internet and the web allow for the possibility of driect warning to the general public. However, this creates ethical delemma for ICT professionals who will be required to ensure the systems are sufficiently reliable.

Now read:

One of the Information Age ICT ethics series of papers:
  1. ICT professionals: generation and gender - their ethical attitudes., Richard Lucas, Information Age, 04/01/2008 20:27:25
  2. Ethics across national borders, Manuel Diaz, Information Age, 23/10/2007 23:59:48
  3. Ethics survey: haste sours quality in ICT, Richard Lucas, Information Age, 17/06/2007 12:22:16
  4. E-waste and the ethical rationale behind environmentally sound ICT, Karen Mather, Information Age, 12/05/2007 13:36:07
  5. Ethics: Why do we differ?, Richard Lucas, Information Age, 18/08/2006
  6. Codes of ethics: protecting whose interest?, Karen Mather, Information Age, 18/10/2006
  7. End-User Licence Agreements and informed consent - an ethical matter?, Catherine Flick, Information Age, 12/04/2006
  8. Electronic voting and open source, Mike Bowern, Information Age, 14/12/2005

The accidental expert witness, Tom Worthington, Information Age, 14/12/2005 14:56:45

Wireless Internet for Emergencies, Tom Worthington, for the APCO Australasia Annual Conference, Sydney, 3 March 2009.

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