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Glossary: Chapter 3

computer matching
The controversial practice of merging records collected by different government databases to find suspected criminals, such as people who have reneged on alimony.

computer phobia
A sense of unease and helplessness around computers sometimes felt by people unfamiliar with them. Taking a computer literacy course should help to relieve this condition.

Crime Control Act of 1973
U.S. federal law that allows citizens access to criminal records about them that may be in error in order to correct them.

downsizing
A term for the shrinking size of modern corporations and the subsequent loss of jobs of many workers, including many middle managers.

ergonomics
The study of how to adapt machines and working conditions to people to minimize health risks.

Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970
U.S. federal law allowing people to inspect their credit records so that they may challenge erroneous information included in the computer files.

Federal Privacy Act of 1974
U.S. law enacted after government invasions of privacy during the Watergate era that limits the kinds of information the federal government can gather on private citizens to that which is "relevant and necessary."

Freedom of Information Act of 1970
U.S. law that guarantees citizens the right to see information collected about them by federal agencies like the IRS.

human-computer (man-machine) interface
Term coined to refer to the points of connection and interaction between people and computer systems. Problems caused by human input of bad data to computers represent a breakdown at the interface point between people and the system.

low-level electromagnetic emissions
Small amounts of radiation emitted by electronic equipment such as computer screens that may be hazardous to the health of people who work with computers for many hours.

Luddite riots
Early nineteenth-century revolts by weavers in northern England when the introduction of weaving machinery into factories led to their being laid off. A famous instance where the introduction of new technology led to unemployment and social unrest.

punch card
Invented for compiling the Census of 1890, an early means of encoding data for computers and other data processing equipment using a code made up of patterns of punched holes in a card.

repetitive stress injury (RSI)
A medical condition resulting in severe arm pain, thought to be caused by sitting long hours at computer keyboards.


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