Information Technology in a Global Society

ITGS textbook cover Information Technology in a Global Society for the IB Diploma is the first textbook designed specifically for the IB ITGS course. Unlike the general computer science textbooks currently used by many ITGS teachers, this book is written specifically with the IB ITGS course requirements in mind, and covers all components of the new ITGS syllabus (first exams May 2012), including the Higher Level (HL) topics. It is fully illustrated with over 300 photographs, diagrams, and charts.

The book is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and a variety of book shops.

This site supports the book with additional lesson plans, exercises, links to useful software, and other ITGS teaching resources. You can also view a detailed table of contents and download a free sample chapter.


Latest updates

Self driving cars

Driverless cars and ethics

Driverless or self-driving vehicles are often promoted as being safer than human drivers. However, there may be situations in which an accident is unavoidable. In these situations, how should a driverless vehicle be programmed to behave? Which course of action should it take if all have negative outcomes? And, of course, who takes responsibility for any damage that is caused?

This is a topic which links to ITGS and TOK. The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars (video) is a good introduction. Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill and Ethics of Self-Driving Cars are great articles that examine the topic in more detail.


Updated: 2017-07-12
Facebook logo

Policies: Policing social media

Policing a global web service such as Facebook or Twitter is clearly a difficult task, and there are many social impacts and ethical issues to consider. Most obviously, different countries, regions, and users have wildly different standards regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable. Content also spreads extremely quickly online, while new situations constantly arise, requiring companies to make quick policy decisions. Below are examples of situations where material has been removed (and sometimes reinstated) by social media sites. These issues are also a great opportunity to link ITGS and TOK, with many knowledge issues surrounding censorship and filtering.

In May 2017 a Facebook document was leaked which revealed their internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence. Finally, ITGS students might be surprised to learn who makes the decisions about removing content - The dark side of Facebook explains this.


Updated: 2017-07-12
Crime prediction

Police use of IT: Risk profiling and crime prediction

Since 2001 governments and airports have invested huge sums of money in systems to detect potential terrorist threats. Software which analyses passengers' data to establish their 'risk score' is explained in Risk profiling software tackles the terrorist threat (BBC), while Airport Screening Concerns Civil Liberties Groups (NY Times) discusses the inherent concerns about profiling and privacy. Finally, Deception Is Futile When Big Brother's Lie Detector Turns Its Eyes on You (Wired) details software that can - relatively accurately - detect liars at border control points.

A similar technological development is 'predictive policing': the use of software and large amounts of data to make predictions about where crimes might occur - and even who might commit them - before they happen. The following articles and videos cover this topic:
Updated: 2017-07-12
Image manipulation

Dove Evolution and the Digital Manipulation of Models

Digital manipulation of models is a commonly discussed example. In 2006 Unilever launched its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, designed to highlight natural beauty. The advertisement (video) shows the transformation of a model using both make-up and digital computer manipulation. It makes an interesting lesson starter when teaching digital manipulation of models. Can you believe your eyes in the digital world? is a BBC article and video that deals specifically with the digital manipulation of models' images and the possible impacts. A mascara advert featuring Natalie Portman was banned after it was realised images had been manipulated in Photoshop.

On the same topic, in 2009 French MPs proposed a law that would require 'health warnings' on any advertising images that had been digitally manipulated. The proposal makes for good discussion material for ITGS students.

Finally, this fun link shows celebrities 'Photoshopped' to look like ordinary people.

Digital image manipulation relates closely to the IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.
Updated: 2017-07-12
Data security

Data security and privacy - legal impacts

The Data Protection Act (DPA) proscribes legal penalties for companies who fail to adequately protect personal data on their systems. Equally, it is an offence for users to access data for uses other than the original intended use. It is harder to find examples of these penalties being given, but there are examples:


Updated: 2017-07-04
Digital film restoration

Digital Preservation and Restoration: Film

In 2009 NASA restored the Apollo 11 footage of Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin's historic moon landing. The only remaining tapes of the events were copies that were relatively blurry and low quality. NASA lost moon footage, Hollywood restores it (USA Today) explains how this footage was recovered and restored.

Similarly, the seminal 1902 science fiction film A Trip to the Moon was long considered lost, until restorers were able to painstakingly digitally reconstruct the film from several partial copies.

How to Restore a Classic Film Like Jaws for Blu-ray (Article and video) and Emulsional Rescue: The Godfather Restoration Documentary also talk about these processes.


Updated: 2017-07-04
Digital data preservation

Digital Preservation and Restoration: Historic sites and documents

Digital preservation refers to the use of digital technology to prevent the degradation of works of art. Digital restoration involves restoring these works to their original condition. Works might include statues, ancient sites, historical documents and manuscripts, paintings, and even films. This topic has many close links with the digital media topic. 3D printing is often associated with digital preservation, so it is also covered here.


Updated: 2017-07-04
Database security issues

Database security issues

Unfortunately significant database breaches tend to make the headlines every few months, meaning there is no shortage of examples for discussion in ITGS lessons. Also on the rise are 'ransomware' attacks, where hackers encrypt users' data and demand payment to decrypt it. Some companies have paid up to $40,000 to get their data back. Examples of database breaches include:

May 2017: Debenhams Flowers data breach hits 26,000

May 2017: Hacked plastic surgery photos published online

May 2017: India's Zomato says data from 17 million users stolen

November 2016: Mobile phone company Three suffered a security breach when criminals used an authorised Three login to access the company's database and steal personal details. The details were used to intercept expensive mobile phones being sent to customers as upgrades.

September 2016: Yahoo confirmed a 'state sponsored' hacker stole personal data from 500 million accounts back in 2014.

September 2016: Talk Talk were fined £400,000 over the theft of more than 150,000 customer details

August 2016: Personal details of up to 2.4 million people may have been stolen from Carphone Warehouse

August 2016: Accounting and payroll software company Sage said its systems were compromised and data for 280 UK businesses may have been stolen.

August 2016: Yahoo investigated a data breach in its MySpace and LinkedIn divisions, after it was claimed 200 million Yahoo IDs were stolen.

June 2016: The personal details of 112,000 French police officers became publicly available after a disgruntled worker for a support company uploaded them to Google Drive.

June 2016: Chinese hackers were suspected of stealing the details of almost 4 million people from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a branch of the US government

April 2015: the US Office of Personnel Management revealed a hack had exposed 1.1 biometric records to unauthorised access. In September 2015 this number was increased to 5.6 million fingerprints.

The textbook details several cases of lost data by the British government, including the Ministry of Defence's loss of personal data of 600,000 people. Many organisations have lost data, including 132 UK councils, the National Health Service (memory stick left on a train), and even  NASA (stolen laptop). Meanwhile, Computer World reports that over half of UK firms have lost data in security breaches.

Not to be outdone, the HMRC lost sensitive personal data of 25 million people after sending it out, unencrypted, on two CDs - which were subsequently lost.

Under the Data Protection Act, companies can be fined for losing sensitive data, and in a few cases this has happened: Zurich Insurance was fined £2.3m in 2010, Shopacheck was fined for losing data on over half a million customers in 2012, and the NHS was fined £200,000 for losing the data of 3,000 patients in 2013.


Updated: 2017-07-04
You can view previous updates to the website here.