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The Computing Profession

Focus of the last Lesson was on Social Implications of Computing

We discussed the impact of computing on:

– Business
– Work
– Living
– Health
– Education

Why should we, as computing professionals, be interested in studying the social implications of our creations?

• Computing technology has changed our way of life like no other technology
• We need to study how it has done it to highlight the mistakes and success stories of the past
• We need to do it so that we can learn from them and select our future direction accordingly

Dilemma of Computing

• Are we heading towards a future where the role of the masters and the slaves will be switched?
• Should we slow down or even reverse some of the technology advances to avoid that dark

Powerful Global Corporations

• Internet-based communication is allowing business entities to coordinate the activities of their
globally-spread units with greater accuracy
• All this has made these business entities very powerful, even more powerful than many nationstates

The Network Organization

• The network paradigm (all connected to many others) is becoming the preferred organizational
structure of more and more organizations as time goes by
• This new organization is replacing the old-style layered, tree-structured organizational model

Working from Home

• Computing has made it possible for some to avoid going the office for their work
• They can do their work from home and communicate their ideas, questions, answers to their
colleagues through the Internet
• This gives them more time to spend with their families due to the time they save on commuting to
their place of work

From Mass- to Personalized-Marketing

• The Web has changed marketing forever, redirecting it from a mass focus to a single-person focus

The Political Process

• Through computer discussion forums, newsgroups and mailing-lists, public and politicians may
in a free, open exchange of ideas without leaving the comfort of their not-so-comfortable and very
comfortable homes, respectively

Distances Have Contracted

• Because of the ever-decreasing costs of verbal, text, video communications, it is becoming easier to
stay in touch with anyone, regardless of their physical location

Distances Are Increasing

• Solitude is the order of the day as many children & adults spend their free time surfing, chatting,
playing computer games, instead of spending it on interacting with friends or family

Virtual Communities

• Interest-based, instead of geography-based

A Society Under Surveillance

• While surfing, we are being watched, constantly

The Changing Face of Education

• Distance learning has received a boost due to the low-price of Internet communication and the
availability of Web-based interactive content

The Changing Face of Education

• The fact, however, remains that the best mode of education is the conventional one, which has
become more effective with the augmentation of computer-based learning aids

Info Gathering

• The time and effort spent on gathering info can now be spent on using it


• An audio/video/text connection combined with a few remote medical instruments and an on-site
trained assistant can enable a doctor to examine and prescribe medicine to a patient far, far away


• I command you to “go and invent the future,” it is your duty and you may not desist from it, but,
please, do think about the social implications and consequences of what you are doing before
actually doing it

Today’s Goals:

(The Computing Profession)

• To discuss several roles and associated responsibilities of modern computer professionals
• To discuss a few tricky situations where a knowledge of professional ethics would help

42.1 IT: Information Technology

The group of technologies concerned with the capture, processing and transmission of information in
the digital-electronic form

Who is a computing professional?

• Professionals involved in the development and/or maintenance of SW and/or computer HW
• Computer scientists, software engineers, computer engineers, and some of the telecom engineers
are generally classified as computing professionals

Today’s Focus Group

• Due to the limitation on time, today we will be focusing only on a subset of computing
professionals: those involved in the development of SW
• Let us further restrict discussion to the computing professionals belonging to an organization
focused solely on custom, SW development
• They work in a 100-person organization – pretty big on a local scale, but quite insignificant on an
international one

42.2 Organization: A Collection of Teams

Engineering Computer
Executive Team
Team B
Assurance Team
Management Team
Team C
Team D
Team A
Development Team

Development Team

• The number of development teams has varied between 3-7 at this organization
• Team-size has varied between 3-35
• Large teams are organized as a collection of sub-teams
• Lowest-level team: No more than 7 members
• Responsible for a project from after the specifications stage till the very end

Project Manager

• Responsibilities:

– Planning and tracking of the project
– Arranging of the appropriate resources
– lient relationship management

• Profile:

– 5+ years of team-lead experience
– Professional development course(s) in SW project management
– Technical MS and/or Technical BS + MBA


• Responsibilities:

– Technology selection
– High-level design
– Makes certain that the implementation remains true to the design

• Profile:

– 10-15 years of development experience
– In-depth experience in several technologies
– MS or PhD in a technical discipline

Team Lead

• Responsibilities:

– Planning and tracking of the project
– Detailed design
– Professional development of team members
– In case of small teams, development activities

• Profile:

– 5+ years of development experience
– Excellent interpersonal skills

– Good planning skills
– Good design skills


• Responsibilities:

– Module-level design
– Coding
– Unit-testing

• Profile:

– Technical BS

Executive Team

• CEO – Chief Executive Officer
– Developer of the vision of the organization
– Great PR skills
– Great knack for spotting talent
• COO – Chief Operating Officer
– Responsible for the day-to-day operations
– Great organizational & interpersonal skills
• CMSO – Chief Marketing & Sales Officer
– Responsible for bringing in work
– Innovative

Business Development Team

• 1-2 members
• Responsible for the development of detailed proposals for projects
• Profile of Members:
– Combination of technical and business expertise
– Good oral & written communication skills
– Combination of technical & business degrees

Architecture Team

• 2-3 members
• Consists of the sharpest technical minds in the company

Configuration Management Team

• 2-3 members
• Keeps a vigilant eye on the process that keeps an extensive record of all versions of everything that
is ever developed for a particular project: from proposals to specifications to plans to design to code

Process Team

• 1-2 members
• Team’s goal: To continuously improve the SW development process to achieve improvements in
cost, schedule, and quality
• Continuously monitors how SW is developed in the organization
• Encourages and assists all teams and team-members in improving their part in the SW development

Quality Assurance Team

• Around 20 members
• Responsible for assuring the quality of all SW (i.e. making sure that it does what it is supposed to)
that is produced at the organization
• Nothing goes to the customer without the approval of the QA team

Technology Transfer Team

• The size of this team varies with the amount of work at the organization – when the times are good,
this team is quite small
• This team is responsible for:
– Evaluating new technologies, products, processes
– Selecting the ones that are right for the organization
– Developing an expertise in their use
– Introducing them in various ongoing/future projects

Support Team

• 2-3 members
• Members possess expertise in both HW & SW
• Responsible for the maintenance, expansion, improvement of the infrastructure consisting of:
– Workstations, servers, printers
– Networking equipment (router, switch, hub)
– SW (OS, development SW, productivity SW, etc.)
– Network security
That brings us to the end of our discussion on various roles and the associated responsibilities in the
computing profession. Now we move on to another topic related to our profession, Ethics!


• Ethics is a collection of heuristics that, when followed, improves our way of life
• I find them wonderful as they simplify my life
• For example, if you believe in the heuristic
always tell the truth, your life becomes much simpler
• Now, you don’t have to think before you make every statement that you make
“Shall I tell the
truth, or lie?”

Professional Ethics

• Professional ethics are a category of ethics, and here we discus the professional ethics relevant to
• Awareness of professional ethics is gaining importance with time as the decision-making process in
the work place keeps on increasing in complexity
• The professional ethics provide a way of simplifying that decision making process
Let us now discuss a few situations where I will request you for your ethical opinions

Situation 1: Illegal Use

• A person is using a piece of SW without the author’s permission and says: “I’m not really using it,
I’m just evaluating it before I make a firm decision on buying”
• That person is “evaluating” that piece of SW for 13 months now!
• Is the conduct of that person ethical?

Situation 2: Vaporware

• A small company announces a new SW product
• A larger, more established competitor hears about that product, and starts a whispering campaign
that she is also working on a similar product that will be released soon
• Potential customers decide to wait for the product instead of making the more riskier purchase from
the smaller company
• The new company’s sales become sluggish, and it fails to earn back the investment that it has put
into developing that new product. That results in her closure
• The larger company never releases the promised product
• Is the conduct of that large company unethical or a reasonable business tactic?

Situation 3: Whistle Blower

• SW bugs, at times, have catastrophic consequences
• While kim sahib was working for a contractor at NASA, he found such a bug and reported it to
his boss, Murphy sahib, who ordered him to never mention it to any one, or he will get fired
• kim sahib got scared, and did as he was told
• Did kim sahib’s behave in an ethical manner? Would you hire him in your company?

Situation 4: Trade Secrets

• kim sahib was working at zainSoft
• He leaves it to work for a competitor, SuperSoft
• Even before starting at SuperSoft, he already has divulged many of the trade secrets of zainSoft
during his interviews at SuperSoft, giving them an advantage over zainSoft
• Do you agree with kim Sahib’s ethics? Would you hire him in your company?

Today’s Lecture:

(The Computing Profession)

• We discussed several roles and associated responsibilities of modern computer professionals
• We also discussed a few tricky situations where a knowledge of professional ethics would have

Next Lecture’ Goals:

(The Future of Computing)

• To visualize the advances in computing that will take place in the future
• To visualize the impact of computing on our future

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