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IT and Human Interaction


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IT and Human Interaction

1. Lead-in

Consider the following questions:

Can the full effect of the current information revolution be predicted?

Is meeting face-to-face more valuable than corresponding electronically?

In what ways have the PC and the Internet made our lives easier?


Parts of the sentences in the following text have been removed. They are given in the box below the text. They are lettered A to J. Read the text and fill in the blanks numbered 1 to 10 with the corresponding missing parts A to J.

New video examines impact of computers on human interaction

by Barbara McKenna

Through the advent of the web, we can get whatever we want online 1 ___. We can bank online, make friends online, even attend virtual concerts and art shows online. One man in Dallas, 2 ___, has even gone so far as to confine himself to his home for a full year, acquiring everything he needs (including a Valentine's Day date) through the web.

Observing the increasing 'realness' of virtual reality, UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) film professor Chip Lord has produced a video that explores the question of how 3 ___. The video, Awakening from the Twentieth Century, aired recently on public television and is the winner of the Dallas Video Festival's Latham Award for 1999.

'I started working on this during a sabbatical in early 1998,' Lord says. 'I wanted to look at how the computer is changing the ways in which we conduct daily life. One of my central goals was to find out whether the Internet and virtual networking telecommuting, distance learning, e-commerce have had an effect 4 ___.'

To explore this, Lord combines montages of life in San Francisco with interviews. Among those he interviews are Homer Flynn, spokesperson for a San Francisco underground, multimedia band named The Residents; John Sanborn, director of the online rock and roll murder mystery 'Paul Is Dead'; Ellen Ullman, a software engineer, commentator, and author of Close to the Machine; Gannon Hall, a web site designer; and Rebecca Solnit, a social commentator and author of the just-published book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (Viking Press).

Rather than aim to prove a point, Lord is out to 5 ___. One montage opens with a view of the old-fashioned marble-floored interior of a Wells Fargo Bank branch bank in San Francisco and fades to a nearby Safeway, in which a Wells Fargo 'mini-bank' is built into the wall. The juxtaposition continues 6 ___ the bank's dramatic picture of racing horses pulling a stagecoach and, over that image, in stark white, the URL

'Is the physical space of the bank becoming obsolete?' Lord asks.

Through his interviews Lord also explores the impending fate of such things as the automobile, film, community. But the question that most concerns Lord is whether the physical space of the city itself 7 ___.

Lord gets very different opinions from his subjects. Web designer and computing specialist Gannon Hall conducts most of his business virtually through e-mail, web sites, and the phone. 'Gannon recognizes that 8 ___, but once he starts working on a project he does everything virtually, via the Internet. For Gannon, because his business is virtual, he could be anywhere. He doesn't need the city. To him, the city is like fashion. You choose it the same way you would choose clothes. He says, 'you wear the city.' '

But social commentator Rebecca Solnit feels very differently, affirming the importance of real-life interaction at such places as the Farmer's Market, where 9 ___. To flesh out this perspective, Lord also shows footage of two groups of San Franciscans bicyclists and rollerbladers. The bicycling event, called Critical Mass, is anything but virtual, drawing some 3,000 bicyclists each month who hit the streets during a Friday rush hour.

As Lord trails along with the rollerbladers, hundreds of whom come out each Friday for the 'Friday Night Skate,' he comes to this conclusion:

'Maybe because of the utopian images we hear about the new technologies, I thought that broadcasting, netcasting, wireless networks, and pagers, cellphones, and beepers all 10 ___ for celebration and the ritual rubbing of shoulders in streets, plazas, and squares. But I was wrong. Because we still need fashion. We still need to wear the city because the city is' Lord trails off, letting Humphrey Bogart, in the character of San Francisco detective Sam Spade, finish his sentence: 'The stuff that dreams are made of.'


  1. an initial face-to-face meeting with clients is necessary
  2. the computer is affecting the ways we interact with each other and our environment
  3. groceries, prescriptions, even pets
  4. vendors and customers interact directly and chance encounters with friends can take place
  5. explore the implications of our emerging computer-generated culture
  6. were conspiring to end the need for public gathering
  7. is becoming obsolete
  8. who calls himself DotComGuy
  9. on how we use our physical space
  10. with a shot of a billboard advertising

In pairs, discuss the role that the personal computer plays in your life. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages that you can identify.

2. Vocabulary development

rollerblader (n)

a.      no longer useful, because something newer and better has been invented

footage (n)

b.      referring to an event or situation, especially an unpleasant one, which is going to happen very soon

to flesh sth out (v)

c.      the act of putting things together, especially things that are not normally together, in order to compare them or to make something new

obsolete (adj)

d.      working at home using a computer connected to a company's main office

stark (adj)

e.      a period when someone, especially someone in a university job, stops doing their usual work in order to study or travel

impending (adj)

f.        cinema film showing a particular event

juxtaposition (n)

g.      to keep someone or something within the limits of a particular activity or subject

to fade (v)

h.      the time when something first begins to be widely used

telecommuting (n)

i.        very plain in appearance, with little or no colour or decoration

sabbatical (n)

j.         to add more details to something in order to make it clear, more interesting etc

to confine (v)

k.      person who uses special boots with a single row of wheels fixed under it to skate on hard surfaces

advent (n)

l.         to gradually disappear

2.4. Language focus: The Article

Revise the use of the article in English.

Complete the following sentences with the, a, an or no article, as required.

Harold is ______ most obnoxious person I know.

Diana is ______ very nice person.

Last night we went out for ______ meal.

Tonight we are probably going to eat in ______ hotel restaurant and then get to bed early. I hate staying in hotels but it's part of the job.

I cannot remember if I saw that film on television or at ______ cinema.

Make sure you put your name at ______ end of the report.

I'm sure it won't be long before people are living and working in ______ space.

Have you already had ______ lunch?

I spoke to several people at the cocktail party. Was John ______ one with the red hair?

I'd like to invite him to ______ dinner next week, if that's OK with you.

Could you close ______ door, please? It's really cold.

We have got new offices near ______ centre of the city.

Have your new offices got ______ canteen?

For lunch I had a sandwich. I cannot remember what filling was in ______ sandwich.

When you come out the lift, you'll see two doors, ______ red one and ______ blue one. My door is ______ red one.

We need to do more for ______ poor.

The greatest invention of the 20th century is ______ computer.

I'm looking for ______ new job.

I saw ______ man going into the office. I don't know who ______ man was.

When you're ready, I'll take you to ______ airport.

The wife of the President of the USA is known as ______ First Lady.

I have never had ______ job working in a bar.

______ largest ocean in the world is the Pacific Ocean.

______ Hong Kong used to be part of the British Empire.

Turkey is not part of ______ European Community.

______ Amazon rain forest covers several countries in South America.

______ friend of mine, who lives in Crete, has never left the island.

A recent report predicted that all ______ sea water will be polluted by 2040.

On ______ news today, there were reports of two plane crashes.

The weather tomorrow will be ______ same as today.

2.5. Functions

Presenting and supporting opinions

asking for opinions

What are your feelings on this?

To one person

To a group of people

What are your views on.?

Any reaction to that?

What are your feelings about?

Has anybody any strong feeling about / views on that?

What do you think of .?

Whats the general view on/ feeling about that?

Whats your opinion about that?

Has anybody any comments to make?

In pairs, ask/give your opinions about the role of the computer in our society. Try to use as many expressions from the above table as possible.

Written task

One of the most negative aspects of the impact of the Internet in our daily life is the fact that it alters social behaviour, habits and abilities of people. Write an argumentative essay in response to the following statement: The Internet makes people lonelier.

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