We use a weekly recurring format of the best and worst of informatics where we discuss the most interesting and encouraging stories, as well as scary news from scientific literature and news.
We invite the students to contribute to this part by suggesting possible winners for best of informatics or worst of informatics they found during the week. Best of informatics should be a scientific achievement; it could be a break-through in computer science, an interesting contribution to an unusual research question that popped up, some local CS news, or even the successful application of computational thinking in some other scientific field. Worst of informatics usually gets lots of contributions where computer technology failed to deliver on promises such as security or privacy, or was used to nefarious means. Students have half a week to suggest new entries for those two categories, and vote on all the submissions in the second half of the week between the lecture dates.
We have two lecture dates each week, and we dedicate the first five minutes of each lecture to discuss the (usually three) entries with the most upvotes, using the perspectives and concepts of the different ways of thinking covered so far. Questions of privacy, surveillance, copyright and security are popular themes; in the best of informatics category we often get entries belong to the current buzzword-corners of informatics, which currently include AI, machine learning, autonomous technologies, agent systems, etc.
We included the best and worst of informatics in this course so we have a change to show the value of reflecting on the interactions between informatics and society from ongoing events and findings. We try to be role models in the sense that we demonstrate how current incidents and research results can be contextualised, and at the same time use the opportunity to show how different ways of thinking can be used to approach phenomena and problems of the real world.
Calls for discussion
• While students usually submit many »worst of informatics« entries, it’s hard to find »best of informatics« examples every week that are based in science and research instead of industry. Do you know of places where exciting CS breakthroughs are aggregated on a daily or weekly basis?