Beki Grinter

I-Schools

In academia, computer science, discipline, research on October 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I just read Geoff Nunberg’s perspective on Steve Jobs and iSchools. It was the first time I’d ever seen the i in iPad connected to the i in iSchool, but it is of course really to connect the liberal arts and technology. As Nunberg says:

It [contemporary technology trends] isn’t just about computer science anymore, either. That isn’t where you go to find out how technology changes people’s lives, and where it fails them, or how to make it less intrusive and more humane. Those are the questions people are taking up at the Schools of Information that have sprung up at research universities like UCLA, Toronto and Washington — iSchools, for short. It’s a different i-, but it too stands in for a connection between technology and the social world.

Striking to me is the first two lines: that Computer Science isn’t where you go to find out about the relationship between people and technology. That’s a strong statement, and not one that I either agree with or do I think characterizes some of the work that does go on within Computer Science departments. But I think it is fair to say that its the less commonly travelled road for Computer Science today, and that’s a choice that I think the discipline and its practitioners may want to revisit in the face of the future.

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