Issue Number 289 September 15, 2020

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) and Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. A number of the newsletters are available in Spanish on the AGATE website mentioned above. Dave Moursund’s book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, 2018a, link; Moursund, 2018b, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, and the second edition in August, 2018. The Spanish translation of the second edition, La Cuarta R, was published in September, 2018. These three editions of The Fourth R have now had a combined total of more than 111,000 page-views and downloads. Over 25,000 of these are the Spanish edition.

I am currently writing a book tentatively titled ICTing and Mathing Across the History Curriculum. Four earlier IAE Newsletters contain substantial content of this work in progress book. See IAE Newsletter - Issue 254 - March 31, 2019; IAE Newsletter - Issue 255 - April 15, 2019; IAE Newsletter - Issue 256 - April 30, 2019; and IAE Newsletter - Issue 257 - May 15, 2019. This current newsletter is one in a series that will be parts of the book and began with

Introduction to ICTing and Mathing
Across the History Curriculum
Computer Cultural Literacy: Part D

David Moursund
Professor Emeritus, College of Education
University of Oregon

“We have ignored cultural literacy in thinking about education. We ignore the air we breathe until it is thin or foul. Cultural literacy is the oxygen of social intercourse.” (E.D. Hirsch, Jr.; American educator and academic literary critic; 1928-.)

“The achievement of high universal literacy is the key to all other fundamental improvements in American education.” (E.D. Hirsch, Jr.; American educator and academic literary critic; 1928-.)


This is the last of a four-part IAE Newsletter series on the topic of computer cultural literacy. The two quotes given to start this newsletter are used in all four newsletters in this series. The rest of this Introduction also repeats part of the Introductions from the earlier newsletters.

In 1988, University of Virginia Professor E.D. Hirsch published Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. (Whitman College Library, 1988, link to PDF file.) ln this best-selling book, he argued that progressivist education had let down America’s students by neglecting knowledge in the form of a shared body of information. The book included a list of 5,000 facts, dates, famous people, works of literature, and concepts that he believed every American should know. His book and the list have proven to be quite popular. (Core Knowledge Foundation, 2020, link.)

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is now a well-established part of our culture. This ICT-based culture includes a large number of computer-related facts, dates, famous people, software (computer programs), hardware (physical machines and devices), and concepts that have become integral to our overall culture. Today’s teachers, their stud

ents, and their students’ caregivers need to become familiar with many of them.
Newsletter #286 presented the names of some of the people who are important parts of the history of computer development and the field of computers in education. The focus of newsletters #287, #288, and #289 is on computer-related technology, including hardware, software, publications, and a number of other important new ideas. For each term on the list, there is a link to related information; this replaces the usual References and Resources section in the IAE Newsletters.

I suspect that a number of my readers will want to suggest additional terms they believe should be added to the lists in these four newsletters. Please make use of the Comments feature at the end of this newsletter to present and briefly justify your suggestions. I’d also appreciate a link to more information about each term you suggest.

Culturally Important Computer-related Terms

This is a continuation of the list presented in IAE Newsletters #287 and #288.

Personal computer (microcomputer). A computer such as a laptop or tablet designed to be used, and often owned, by a person who is not a computer or technical expert. (Of course, most experts in the computer field own and use a personal computer.) The term microcomputer, used to designate a computer whose Central Processing Unit is a microprocessor, is now considered out of date. A CPU may contain a number of microprocessor chips, each carrying out calculations. (Wikipedia, 2020, link; Lithmee, 8/1/2018, link.) (Also see Laptop computer, Microcomputer, Tablet computer.)

Phishing. “The fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information, or data, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.” (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Hacking, Malware.)

Photocopier (copier, copy machine). A machine that quickly makes copies of documents and other visual images onto paper or plastic film. Although developed by Chester Carlson in the 1940s, it wasn’t until 1959, that Xerox released the “914”—the first easy-to-use photocopier. (Thompson, March 2015, link; Woodford, 11/2/2019, link.)

Pinterest. An American image sharing and social media network designed so users can pin (save and share) ideas and images. In 2017, Pinterest introduced an artificial intelligence-based search function that allows users to search for elements in images (existing pins, existing parts of a photo, or new photos). As of August 2020, Pinterest had 400 million monthly users. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

Plagiarism. Plagiarism is in this list mainly because computers and the Web are a great aid to those who want to plagiarize, and also because they are a great aid to those who want to detect plagiarism.

First, a definition. Consider the situation in which a person produces a communication expressing personally-created thoughts and ideas. Under copyright law in most of the world, a work is given copyright protection the moment it is created. This means that others cannot copy the work, distribute it, publicly display/perform the work, or create derivative works of it without the permission of the creator or rightsholder. (Turnitin, LLC, 2017, link.) It is considered to be plagiarism if another person who has received the communication makes use of its content and/or ideas and passes them off as his or her own without giving appropriate credit to the original creator.

This plagiarism can be blatant, such as copying an article from a publication, making changes to the wording, and presenting it as one’s own work. It also can be a quite innocent mistake, and/or be due to not knowing when such acknowledgement is necessary.

Plagiarism detection (content similarity detection). Locating instances of plagiarism and/or copyright infringement within a work or document. A substantial industry has developed to provide software that can detect possible plagiarism. Many websites sell this service or provide it free. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) A 7/31/2020 Google search of the term free plagiarism checker produced more than five million results. Turnitin is a commercially available site used by more than 15,000 institutions throughout the world. (Turnitin, 2020, link.)

Predictive text. A computer technology used while composing text messages and by some word processors that anticipates and then suggests possibly appropriate words to a user based on the letters being entered and the overall context of the phrase being written. (techopedia, 7/1/2020 July 1, 2020, link.) A word processor that suggests corrections to a word that has been entered is using a type of predictive text technology. (Also see Word processor.)

Programming language. An electronic digital computer is designed to follow (execute, carry out) a step-by-step set of binary-coded instructions stored in its memory. A programming language consists of two parts—a language and a computer program called a compiler. A human programmer writes instructions using the programming language, and a compiler translates the program into the a computer’s machine language. Over the years a great many programing languages have been developed. To be used on a specific make and model of computer, a compiler has to be written to do the translation for that type of computer. (Wikipedia, 8/17/2020, link; Computer Science, n.d., link.) The Wikipedia link provides a list of many hundreds of programming languages. Since the development of the first programmable computers, programmers have been working to develop aids to simplify and speed up the tasks involved in writing and debugging programs. (Also see Assembly language programming, Bug, Computer program (high level programming language)).

Punch card (Hollerith card). A method of storing data as holes punched in a thin rectangular piece of cardboard, and readable by a card reader. First used by Herman Hollerith in processing the U.S. Census data of 1890. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) Now regarded as an historical relic.

Quantum computer. An ordinary binary bit must be either 0 or 1. A qubit (quantum bit) can essentially be both 0 and 1 at the same time. A full-scale quantum computer making full use of this technology may be millions of times as fast as today’s binary bit-based computers. (Cho, 7/9/2020, link; The National Academy Press, 2019, link to free PDF book.) (Also see Super computer.)

Quantum-proof encryption. The speed of a quantum computer will be sufficient to break many of the current encryption methods used on the Internet for guarding the privacy and security of messages, money transactions between banks, etc. In 2016, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced an open contest to develop quantum-proof encryption. While the winners will not be announced until 2022, the organization announced recently that it had narrowed the initial field of 69 contenders down to just 15. (O’Neill, 8/3/2020, link.)

Quantum supremacy. A time in the future when quantum computers will have become routinely available and reliably able to solve many different types of problems that no current electronic digital computers can solve in any feasible amount of time. In 2019, it was demonstrated that a quantum computer may be millions of times as fast as current computers. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) A number of companies are working to be the first to produce a reliable, cost effective quantum computer that can be used in a wide variety of problem areas. Many forecasters suggest that this may occur by 2024 or 2025. (IDC, 12/2/2019, link; IBM, n.d., link. This IBM site includes two short videos.) (Also see Quantum computer.)

Ransomware. A type of malware that cyber criminals use to block you from accessing the data on your computer. If the ransom demands are not met within the cyber criminal’s timeframe, the data remains unavailable, or your data may be deleted by the software. (Unitrends, n.d., link.) (Also see Malware.)

Remote work. Work (employment) done outside of a traditional office environment. Typically makes use of telecommunication and computer tools. Steady improvements in connectivity make it possible for an increasing number of jobs to be carried out remotely—for example, from one’s home or a convenient office space located near home. Many remote workers find it to be more convenient and less expensive to work remotely. Some are able to move outside of high rent areas, lowering their cost of living. (Hadden, et al., 8/17/2020, link; Remote Year, Inc., 2020, link.)

Rip off. Steal, especially as it applies to computerized content such as music, video, and computer software. (, 2020, link.) (Also see Hacking, Plagiarism.)

Robot (robotics). “Any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner. By extension, robotics is the engineering discipline dealing with the design, construction, and operation of robots.” (Moravec, 6/3/2020, link.) The Amazon company order fulfillment operations provide a good example of very extensive use of robots. (Also see Jeffrey Bezos.)

Scanner (image scanner). A device that optically scans an image, printed or hand written text, object, etc., in order to produce a digital image of it. In 1913, Édouard Belin received a patent for a device to scan pictures and send the results over a telephone wire. This technology was used in the AT&T Wirephoto Service developed in the early 1920s, and still was in use until the mid-1990s. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) People now routinely take pictures using the digital camera built into their smart phones and share them with others throughout the world.

Search engine. A term most often used to designate a computer program designed to search the Web, but may also refer to a program designed to search and make use of a specific database. There are many different Web search engines, but Google Chrome (often just called Google, or the Google browser) dominates this market with nearly 92% of the market (Oberlo, 2020, link; Price, 4/15/2020, link.) (Also see Google.)

Self-driving vehicle. See Autonomous vehicle.

Server (computer server). A computer connected to one or more other computers in order to provide online data and services to those computers. Local area networks, wide area networks, and the Web make use of servers. (TechTerms, 416/2014, link.)

Silicon Valley. A region in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California that has long served as a global center for high technology. Computer chip-manufacturing (which makes use of silicon), and computer-oriented research companies were an important early part of the concentration of high tech companies in this region. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Chip.)

Singularity (technological singularity). For years, the capabilities of artificial intelligence have been increasing steadily. A number of years ago, Ray Kurzweil predicted that the capabilities of computer-based AI would far exceed the capabilities of humans by about 2045, and called this event the Singularity. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) He repeats this prediction in a 2018 YouTube video in which he talks about the future of AI. (YouTube, 3/20/2018, link to 61 minute video.) John von Neumann had earlier coined a similar use of the term singularity. (Ulam, 1958, link to PFD file.) (Also see Ray Kurzweil.)

Skype. A Microsoft-owned telecommunications application that specializes in providing a variety of communication services over the Internet. These include video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, and smartwatches. Skype also provides instant messaging services and supports video conference calls. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Zoom.)

Slide rule (slider ruler, slipstick). Widely used handheld analog calculation device invented by William Oughtred in 1622. It remained in very wide use until being replaced by electronic calculators and computers in the 1970s. (The Oughtred Society, 12/14/2013, link.)

Smart phone. A mobile cell phone with additional features that can include a digital camera, audio recorder, email and texting capabilities, and many other features. Its large amount of computer storage and processing power provide capabilities similar to those of a microcomputer. A smart phone typically has a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications. (Tocci, n.d., link.)

Smart watch. A touchscreen electronic digital watch with a wide variety of additional features such as monitoring your heart rate, tracking your activity, and providing reminders throughout the day. When interfaced with a smart phone, some smart watches can place and receive phone conversations. (TechTerms, 8/5/2017, link.)

Snapchat/TikTok. Both are video-based social media networks quite popular with younger users. Snapchat, launched in 2011, posts video content that expires either immediately or after 24 hours. TikTok, launched in 2017, posts video content that does not have an expiration feature. In January 2020, Snapchat had more than 210 million daily users globally, while TikTok had more than 800 million monthly active users. (Bump, 1/16/2020, link.) (Also see Social media, Social networking.)

Social media. Interactive computerized communication networks that individuals and groups use to chitchat and share information, such a photo, text, music, and so on. Typically, a user’s profile and identity are stored) by the computer system providing the network services. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Social networking.)

Social networking. Networks of people who use Internet-based social media sites to stay connected with other people for social and/or business purpose. There are a huge number of social media sites. (Wikipedia, 2020, link; Jamie, 6/5/2019, link.) The largest is Facebook, with about 2.6 billion users in the first quarter of 2020. (Statista, 2020, link.) The total population of earth in 2020 was about 8.8 billion (Worldometer, 8/18/2020, link.) Based on this data, one can see that about 30-percent of the world’s population uses Facebook. (Also see Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat/TikTok.)

Solid State Storage (SSS). A fast, electronic, microchip-based type of computer storage that has no moving parts. Storage and retrieval times are much faster that the use of magnetic tape and disks to accomplish the same tasks. (Rouse, n.d., link.) (Also see Digital data storage device.)

Spam. Any kind of unwanted, unsolicited digital communication that gets sent out in bulk. Spam often is associated with efforts to sell products of questionable value. (Malwarebytes, 2020, link.) (Also see Malware.)

Spellchecker/grammar checker. Software used with a word processor to check the correctness of both the spelling and the grammar in a written document. As more and more people do their writing using a word processor, this has led schools to reconsider both the importance of having students learn cursive writing, as well as requiring that they develop a high level of skills in spelling and grammar. (Grammarly, n.d., link.)

Spreadsheet. A computer program (software) used to produce an electronic two-dimensional table of numerical, alphabetic, and/or other types of data. This data can be processed by the use of built-in formulas and functions available in spreadsheet software. This software also can be used to create graphs and charts based on this data. (PerfectXL, 2020, link.) The first microcomputer-based spreadsheet software became available on the Apple microcomputer in 1979, and this contributed greatly to the financial success of Apple. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) In 2020, Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software is the world’s most widely used spreadsheet. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

Supercomputer. A term used to describe the world’s fastest electronic digital computers. The processing power in these computers consists of many thousands of very fast 64-bit microprocessors. The following is a current (2020) example of a problem needing such compute power. In the first week of June 2020, the U.S.’s Summit computer (the world’s second fastest supercomputer at that time), ran some 2.5 billion correlation calculations across a dataset of 40,000 human genes and 17,000 genetic samples from covid-19 patients. The calculations revealed ten possible therapies that might be useful. (Anderson, 8/2/2020, link.)

In June 2020, Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer became operational. At about 2.8 times the speed of the Summit computer, it was ranked as the world’s fastest supercomputer. It has a speed of 415 quadrillion floating point arithmetic operations per second. A quadrillion is 1015, which is one thousand million million. (McKay, 6/22/2020, link.) Even this great speed is slow relative to the potential speed of a quantum computer. (Also see Quantum computer.) The 1951 UNIVAC 1 was the first commercially available computer, and it had a speed of 1,000 operations per second. Thus, the 2020 Fugaku supercomputer is 415 million million times as fast as the UNIVAC (History, n.d., link.)

Tablet computer. A type of portable (personal) computer that is smaller and has better portability than a laptop computer, but also has fewer features and/or options. It has a touchscreen display, with its battery, display, and circuitry all contained in a single unit. Keyboard entry is via the touch screen. (Britannica, 2020, link.) (Also see Laptop computer, Personal computer.)

Teletype (teleprinter). An electromechanical device that can be used to send and receive typed messages, such as telegrams. Although developed in the late 1830s and 1840s as the first use of electrical engineering, teleprinters were not used for telegraphy until 1887 at the earliest. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) Teleprinters have largely been replaced by electronic computers and laser printers.

Texting/messaging. Methods of sending key-boarded information to one address or to a group of addresses. Texting/messaging displays the communication immediately on the recipient’s receiving device, such as a smart phone or a computer that has appropriate software (for example, Google Voice or Microsoft’s Skype) for this task. This is different from using email. Email adds the communication to the receiving device’s list of email messages received, but requires that the person open the received document in order to read it. (Khillar, 6/14/2018, link.) There are a variety of texting/messaging systems in wide use. (Also see Email, Instant messaging.)

3-D printer (Three-D printer.) Computer printer technology designed to use computer-driven printers to create 3-D objects ranging from tools, toys, and small sculptures up to airplane wings and concrete houses. (Makers Empire, 2020, link.) (Also see Maker machine.)

Thumb drive (flash drive). A small, easily portable, rectangular-shaped, solid state, digital data storage device that first became commercially available in 2000 (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) The first thumb drive had a storage capacity of 8 megabytes. By 2020, this had grown to a storage capacity of 1 terabyte, or 125 times as much. (Also see Digital data storage device.)

TikTok/Snapchat. Both are video-based social media networks quite popular with younger users. Snapchat, launched in 2011, posts video content that expires either immediately or after 24 hours. TikTok, launched in 2017, posts video content that does not have an expiration feature. In January 2020, Snapchat had 210 million daily users globally, while TikTok had more than 800 million monthly active users. (Bump, 1/16/2020, link.) (Also see Social media, Social networking.)

Time-shared computing. The BASIC programming language and its implementation on the Dartmouth Time Sharing System was the first commercially successful time-sharing computer system. This technology allows many people to simultaneously use one computer. Previously, a programmer used a card punch machine or a paper tape punch machine to store a program on punch cards or paper tape. A computer’s card or paper tape reader would input this program into the computer’s memory and run (follow the instructions in) the program. This process was speeded up by inputting a sequence of programs into a special computer memory area while the computer was processing one user’s program. As soon as the computer finished one user’s program, the next program was immediately available for the computer to start running it. This saved computer time. Time-shared computing now allows many individual programmers to simultaneously use keyboard terminals all connected to one computer, as they write, run, and debug their programs. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) Nowadays, a person using a Web search engine such as Google is one of many thousands of computer users simultaneously making such searches, and their needs are being met by a large number of time-shared computers that are linked together. (Also see Batch processing, Debug computer software.)

Touch screen (touchscreen). A combination of a computer display screen and a computer input device technology that one can control by touching it. Tablet computers now commonly use such technology. This idea was first described in papers written in 1965 and 1967 by Eric Johnson, of the Royal Radar Establishment, located in England. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) It was first widely implemented in the mid 1980s. (Zytronic, 2020, link.) (Also see Computer stylus, Tablet computer.)

Touchpad (trackpad). The two terms are synonymous. A touchpad is a device that can sense the touch of a finger to control the cursor on a computer screen. The touchpad itself is not a display screen. Apple’s PowerBook laptop computer that was introduced in 1994 was the first laptop computer to make use of a touchpad in place of a mouse. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Computer mouse.)

Transistor. A semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. Transistors revolutionized the field of electronics. As a replacement for a vacuum tube, a transistor is smaller, less expensive, uses less power, generates less heat, and has a much longer life. A point-contact transistor was invented by American physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain in 1947, while working under William Shockley at Bell Labs. The three of them shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their achievement. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

Troll (computer troll). In online discussion and information sharing group communications, a troll is a person who posts online comments that are offensive, incendiary, off-topic, and often designed to be deliberately inaccurate or misleading. (TechTerms, 5/3/2011, link.) (Also see Fake News, Malware.)

Tweet. See Twitter.

Twitter. American social networking service where users can post and interact with short text messages known as tweets. Twitter was created and launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. Tweets initially were limited to a length of 140 characters, but this limit was increased to 280 characters in 2007. (Perez, 101/30/2018, link.) (Also see Texting/messaging.)

Undersea cable. The first undersea cables for carrying telegraph signals were laid in the 1850s. These were not very successful because the cable technology of the time was inadequate. The first transatlantic telephone cable went into service in 1956. It was actually two cables, one to carry the eastbound traffic, the other the westbound. This cable carried 36 telephone channels, each of which was the equivalent of 22 telegraph circuits. A call cost about $3 a minute at that time, which would be more than $20 a minute in today’s dollars. (Burns, 2012, link.)

Undersea and on land fiber optic cables are in standard use today. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) In 2019, a transatlantic cable funded by Facebook and Microsoft achieved a speed of 26.2 terabytes per second. This is the equivalent to transmitting more than 5,000 DVDs (5,000 two-hour videos) in one second! (Porter, 2/28/2019, link.)

Video conferencing. A technology that allows users in different locations to hold face-to-face online meetings that include both video and audio. (Investopedia, n.d., link.) Use of video conferencing very rapidly increased in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is being used today for school classes, conferences, church services, online medical appointments, concerts and other performances, weddings and funerals, and many other group activities. (Also see Zoom.)

Video game (computer game). A game played by one or more persons interacting with a computer, whether through a handheld device, personal computer, or online connectivity. While often thought of only in terms of their entertainment uses, many computer games are designed partly or mainly for educational purposes. One of the early and widely used educational computer games is The Oregon Trail, an historical simulation developed by Don Rawitsch in 1971 that still is available in 2020. (94.3 The Point, 2020, link; Science Daily, n.d., link.)

There are a great many educational computer games. (Hopkins, 12/17/2018, link.) Some are considered to be dual purpose—being both quite educational and quite entertaining. Minecraft and Roblox are two widely used examples. (Minecraft, 2020,; Roblox, 2020, link; Open Education Database, n.d., link.)

Virtual computer. Consider a computer purchaser or leaser who specifies the hardware, operating system, and other characteristics of a computer, and then has that machine be constructed (the components being electronically connected) in a computer center or in several computing centers that house a large number of the needed hardware and software components. The purchaser or leaser obtains the full use of the virtual computer (via rental or outright purchase) without having any of its components physically installed at their place or places of business. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

Virtual reality. Popularized by the holodeck featured in the Star Trek science fiction television series produced during the 1960s. Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.” (Lexico, 2020, link.)

Voice activated response system (voice assistant system, voice recognition). A voice input system that allows a user to interact verbally with a computer response system. The computer that is activated may range from one connected through the Internet to one located in a nearby children’s toy that has a very limited vocabulary and response capabilities.

Apple corporation’s Siri became available in 2010, and was the first commercially successful system. (Clockwise Software, 9/2/201, link.) Today, Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google has Google Assistant. (The Verge, 5/20/2016, link.)

Such systems are widely used, and gradually are becoming better at using artificial intelligence to understand the intent (the requested service) of the speaker. The requested service may include activities such as turning on or off a particular light in one’s home or office, playing a selected piece of music from the computer system’s library, changing a TV channel, locking or unlocking a door, providing a weather forecast, and more. One potential disadvantage of the Internet-connected systems is their ability to record conversations that they hear, and these conversations might then be listened to by others who have access to the system.

Voice recognition. A computer system that accepts natural language voice as input and translates it into text. (Kikel, 7/6/2020, link.) This is somewhat like a person speaking to a secretary who takes shorthand notes and then transcribes the notes. With a voice recognition computer system, a user can dictate a document and the computer will translate the voice into text that can be edited on a computer and printed out. However, current voice recognition systems fall short of the ability of a good human secretary who is able to produce documents with correct spelling and grammar, and who also catches and strives to correct errors in content. A high level of computer success in such voice recognition system will require considerably more progress in artificial intelligence.

Voice synthesis. Artificial simulation (production) of human speech by a computer or other device. (Techopedia, 2020, link.) When coupled with a voice input and computer translation system, it now is possible to produce synthesized output in a second language that mimics the voice tonality of the original speakers. Voice synthesis can also be used to have a sample of a person’s voice, and then generate faked speech that the person never said. (Also see Fake News, Malware.)

Wearable computer. A computing device worn on or implanted in the body. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)Examples that can be worn on the body include a smart watch and smart glasses. An implanted device such as an insulin pump is considered to be a wearable computer. (Aleppo, n.d., link.) A device that is carried, such as a smart phone, is not considered to be a wearable computer. (Mikhalchuk, 8/23/2018, link.) (Also see Neural implant.)

Web (World Wide Web). Invented by Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee in 1989, the Web is an information system (a huge database) where documents are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and are made accessible by using search engines over the Internet. (World Wide Web Foundation, 2020, link.) Think of the Web as content, and the Internet as connectivity used to access the Web content and to accomplish other connectivity tasks. We now have Web search engines that can accept voice input for searching the Web, and then produce the search results as voice output (Wikimedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Internet.)

Webcast. A video or audio event transmitted over the Internet. (Lexico, 2020, link.) Think in terms of a radio or TV broadcast over the airwaves versus a broadcast over the Internet.

Wikipedia. A free online encyclopedia project begun in January 2001, by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. It is owned and managed by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. The content is created and maintained by volunteers. Accuracy of new or modified articles is checked by the volunteers. Different versions and lengths of the Wikipedia exist in 300 different languages. As of March 2020, the Wikipedia was attracting about 1.5 billion unique visitors (more than 1/6 of the world’s population) per month. The English version is the largest, and had 6,143,340 articles, with a total of about 3.6 billion words, in March 2020. (Wikipedia, 2020a, link; (Wikipedia, 2020b, link.)

Quoting from the 2020b Wikipedia reference:

There are many other online databases which combine several encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries and allow users to search all of the works simultaneously. One example is Oxford Reference Online—a database of 221 encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries, offering about 1.4 million articles as of 2011, with expansions planned for the future. Another example is Xrefplus, which offers access to 262 encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books. This all added up to about 2.9 million entries when the database had 225 titles. There are also HighBeam Research and GaleNet. GaleNet—which is likely the largest named so far—offers users the ability to search several encyclopedia databases, including the Biography Resource Center (1,335,000 people), Gale Virtual Reference Library (594 reference books), and the Science Resource Center (51 titles), among others.

Wolfram Alpha. A computational knowledge engine (a question-answering engine) developed by Wolfram|Alpha LLC and launched May 15, 2009. Based on Wolfram Mathematica, a computational toolkit that encompasses computer algebra, symbolic and numerical computation, visualization, and statistics capabilities. Its website prompts you to “Enter what you want to calculate or know about” and then provides you with a long list of possible categories that you may find of interest. (WolframAlpha, 2020, link; Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

Word processor. The history of typewriters has been traced back to 1575. The first working manual typewriter was built by Pellegrino Turri in Italy in 1808. The first electric typewriters were produced in the early 1900s. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.)

In the late 1960s, IBM developed the Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter, and that led to the development of computer-based word processing in the early 1970s. The microcomputers produced in the mid-1970s brought word processing to the masses. (Polt, 2015, link; Wikipedia, 2020, link.) Today’s word processors include a wide range of features to assist in the production of very well-written documents, including spellcheckers, grammar checkers, a dictionary, a great variety of typeface options, and other aids to producing visually pleasing documents. (Also see Spellchecker/grammar checker.)

YouTube. The world’s largest online video-sharing platform. It was founded in February 2005, by three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. Google bought the site in November 2006, for US$1.65 billion and it now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries. (Wikipedia, 2020, link.) (Also see Netflix.)

YouTube’s free services allow users to upload, view, rate, share, report, and comment on videos. Users can create, share, and add to their personal playlists. It also includes some provisions for downloading videos for off-line viewing. (Marshall, 2020, link.) YouTube offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. YouTube also offers a paid subscription service that is free of ads. (YouTube, 2020, link.)

Zoom. A widely used video conferencing system founded in 2011, and now one of the most popular of many such systems. It is a for-profit company founded by Eric Yuan. Early versions of videoconferencing became available in the 1930s, but these systems were not commercially available until 1970, when AT&T launched the first true video conferencing system that people were able to access in their business office or at home. (Null, 4/10/2020, link; Wikipedia, 2020, link.). (Also see Skype, Video conferencing.)

Final Remarks

This concludes the series of four IAE Newsletters on the topic of Computer Cultural Literacy. As noted in the previous newsletters, I am quite sure these lists are missing many important people and terms. Moreover, computer technology and its uses are undergoing an increasingly rapid pace of change. I suggest that you talk with your students and other young people about the people and terms discussed in these four newsletters. Ask them for the vocabulary they use in talking with their friends about social networking, computer games, computer uses in schools and at-home schooling, and so on.

Readers are strongly urged to make use of the Comments feature at the end of this newsletter to add their suggestions to the lists. Please include brief information about each person or term you want to add, with a link to help me locate more information.

The title of the next IAE Newsletter is What Is Mathematics? Its goal is to provide a readable, non-technical answer that will communicate well with a broad range of readers, especially readers who do not have a strong mathematics background. It will be the final newsletter of the series on Introduction to ICTing and Mathing Across the History Curriculum. The series began with newsletters #254-#257, and continues with newsletters #273-#290. They eventually will be edited and combined into a book with the same title.


David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner). He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online (IAE Books, 2020, link.)

Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE) in 2007. IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books.  Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of IAE and AGATE (IAE, 2020, link; AGATE, 2020, link.)


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