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3.5 Social science approaches

So far we have looked at three more developed discussions of some of the basic propositions about poverty that we considered in section 2. These three examples could be multiplied: there is a variety of explanations of poverty that we could have used. However, these three allow us to reflect a little on the relationship between social science discussions of social problems and common-sense understandings. It is worth starting with some of the differences.


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3.1 Competing explanations of social problems

If we can agree that poverty is a social problem, we are led to another question: what sort of social problem is it? For some, it is a social problem because people should not be poor: it involves social injustice. For others, poverty is a social problem because poor people behave badly (or bring up children poorly): it involves social disorder. We therefore have another parting of the ways, with some believing that social justice requires poor people to become less poor, and others believing
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2.1 Common sense and social problems

This concern with social construction may seem troubling or even a distraction from the real business of studying social problems. However, it is built on one of the starting points of the social scientific approach, namely that in order to study society we must distance ourselves from what we already know about it. We need to become ‘strangers’ in a world that is familiar. The defining characteristic of a ‘stranger’ is that she or he does not know those things which we take for grant
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Systems thinking: Understanding sustainability
This free course, Systems thinking: Understanding sustainability, introduces ways in which systems thinking can help support processes of decision making among stakeholders with different, often contrasting, perspectives on sustainable development in order to generate purposeful action to improve situations of change and uncertainty. You will be encouraged to engage with the concept of sustainable development, and discover and contextualise your own sustainable development beliefs and values.
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References

Coffman, K. G. and Odlyzko, A. (1998) ‘The size and growth rate of the Internet’, First Monday, Vol. 3, Issue 10, http://firstmonday.org
ITU-T 1–150 (1999) B-ISDN Asynchronous Transfer Mode Functional Characteristics, ITU-T.
ITU-T X.200 (1994) Open Systems Interconnection – Model and Notation, ITU-T. (Also known as ISO/IEC 7498–1.)

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5.3 Regaining meaning

Suppose for a minute that the numbers I presented above were generated by a scanner as it produced a bitmap of a photograph. Clearly, the machine on which they are stored will have to get the image back to us by means of a device that can render it into a form meaningful to the human eye – an output device. I shall shortly review such devices. However, there is still work to be done before the computer can pass digitally-encoded data to such a device. For a start it will need to have
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2.2.1 Positive integers: denary numbers

The number system which we all use in everyday life is called the denary representation, or sometimes the decimal representation, of numbers. In this system, the ten digits 0 to 9 are used, either singly or in ordered groups. The important point for you to grasp is that when the digits are used in ordered groups, each digit is understood to have a weighting. For example, consider the denary number 549. Here 5 has the weighting of hundreds, 4 has the weighting of tens and
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Introduction

Computers are designed to receive, store, manipulate and present data. This unit explains how computers do this, with reference to the examples of a PC, kitchen scales and a digital camera. In particular it explores the idea that the data in a computer represents something in the real world.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Computers and processors (T224) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may w
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16.1 Introduction

Supermarkets make use of ICT systems for a range of purposes. In the following sections, we'll look at the processes of receiving, storing, retrieving, manipulating and sending data at the checkout, and then we'll move on to the larger context of the supermarket.


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13.2 Magnetic storage

As I mentioned earlier, your computer has a hard disk which provides a permanent storage area for your computer's programs and the files you create. When you save files to your computer's hard disk, you are using a magnetic storage medium. Data stored in magnetic form can be changed once it has been stored, so if you run out of space you can delete some files to make room or, if you want to edit a file, you can make the necessary changes and then save it again. At the time of writing, a mediu
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12.1 Introduction

Data must be stored somewhere when it is not being manipulated. Modern ICT systems require increasingly large amounts of data to be stored for later use, and it is important that the data can be accessed quickly. Data may be stored on the stand-alone computer's hard disk in the form of files.

You may want to move files from one stand-alone computer to another. In addition, you may want to move files from a device, such as a digital camera, to a computer. These activities require some fo
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11.7 Applications

Most people buy computers in order to run applications. There are many different examples of software application, including word processors and spreadsheet, database and graphics packages. Some are combined together in ‘office’ suites, such as the StarOffice applications you can find on the Open University's Online Applications disk.

Word-processing software, such as Microsoft Word, allows you to create, edit and store documents. You can produce very professional-looking do
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11.6 Operating systems

A computer requires software just to look after itself and to manage all its components; this is called the operating system. The operating system handles communication with the other software on the computer and with the hardware resources of the machine, such as the processor and memory. The operating system provides a means of running the computer's application programs. It also provides a standard user interface with windows, buttons and menus so that users can interact with the co
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11.4 Computer software

The electronic components and other equipment that make up your computer system are known as hardware. In order to make the computer do things, such as help you to produce your TMAs, edit photographs or draw diagrams, you also need computer programs, which are called software.


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11.3 Memory

An essential component of a computer is the memory which it uses to hold data currently being used by the processor. This is the random access memory (RAM), the computer's working memory in which programs and data are stored so that they can be accessed very quickly by the processor. The processor stores data in RAM and retrieves data from it as it carries out its manipulations. The more RAM a computer has, the faster the computer programs will run. RAM memory is used and reused and an
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8 Computers

In sections 8–14, I am going to start by considering a stand-alone computer, which is a computer that is not connected to a network. In this type of ICT system, the key processes are the manipulation and storage of data. I'll be introducing some details about the way that a computer manipulates and stores data. Then I'll be discussing the processes that are carried out by computers when they are linked.


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3.7 Databases and XML

In Table 1, it was easy to see which pieces of data belonged to which fields, where the records began and ended, and so on. The tabular layout enabled us to see at a glance the salient features. If you wanted to find a particular name in a table, you ran your eye down the ‘name’ field. It i
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2.3 Styles of presentation

One commodity that is dispensed in vast amounts both by central and local government is information, and so this is one of the more obvious candidates for electronic delivery. Online government services are typically approached via a portal site, which is a kind of entry site from which other sites can be reached. The websites of large organisations, such as Microsoft, the BBC and the Open University, are usually portals.

Going into a portal site is a bit like going into a large
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4.3.1 Confidentiality, integrity and availability

To preserve the value of an information asset, an organisation needs to sustain simultaneously its scarcity and its shareability within their respective regions. This is the critical high-level information security goal for any information asset; it is the entire rationale of an information security management system.

To maintain the security of an information asset, an organisation must:

  • either make the information asset unavailable in i
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