Friday, September 12, 2008

The I-School

According to Wikipedia, an I-school is an academic program "committed to understanding the role of information in human endeavors and nature". I-school conducts research into the fundamental aspects of information and information technology and into the relationships between people, information and technology.

An I-school is distinguished from traditional programs first because of its interdisciplinarity. I-schools usually involve endeavors from various traditional disciplines such as computer science, psychology, sociology, engeering, education, management, and so on.  Actually interdisciplinarity itself is not the purpose. The purpose of a program is and should always be effectively addressing specific problems. I-school address problems around how information and communication technology could support and facilitate human's well-being. This vision is vast, and sophisticated, which cannot be addressed by any single discipline. By involving scholars from different disciplines together, we can create intellectual synergies which even might be  unexpected. 

I-school by its nature breed an environment of innovation and open-mindedness. With experts with different perspectives working together, we can easily run into collisions of our prototypings; we sparkle innovative ideas; we are no longer confined in certain horizontal; we learn from each other; and we address the problems better. In such a environment, people become open-minded, and bear more innovations.

Thirdly, even just thinking about we have the opportunity to rebuild a better scientific paradigm is thrilling. I-school is not just a collection of people from different perspectives. These perspectives should have chemistry; and then the I-school become an integrated organism. I-school should have its own perspective and philosophy. We now have a triangle of information, technology, and people. But that is far from enough. Actually as I-school develops, even the triangle may become outdated. Think about the case there is always a vetex in the tiangle where people in the opposite edge cannot reach! 

Last but not least important, I-school focus on addressing practical problems tangibly in real world! Information science maybe one of the few area where development of industry always go before development of academia. It is the constantly emerging problems in this information era that drives the development of information science. We can see what we do substantially change the world very quickly.

I personally love to be a part of an I-school. With this supportive platform, I can dream whatever I want to dream; my endeavers really matter to human; and I have the opportunity to do something big.

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