Friday, September 19, 2008


"Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.

Such are the differences among human beings in their sources of pleasure, their susceptibilities of pain, and the operation on them of different physical and moral agencies, that unless there is a corresponding diversity in their modes of life, they neither obtain their fair share of happiness, nor grow up to the mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable"

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

Familiar with the words above? Yes, they are in the banner hanging beside the grand stair in IST building. I loved it at the first sight of it in the first day I am here last year when I even had no idea about the diversity of IST.

If you ask me what's IST's flavor. Miscellaneous, I would say. Is miscellany a kind of flavor. Why not? Good cook makes delicious blend, bad cook only run into a mess. That's the difference. And IST SHOULD be specialized in platforming the mixture of diverse ingredient, catalyzing for the chemistry, and creating intellectual synergies. Well it is an innovative experiment highly challenging. Sometimes we pain, sometimes we gain. Steve helped kick off, then he lost his way, or ist lost its way.  The only thing we are sure is, IST is on the way.

The I-T-P triangle is usually leveraged to CONCEPTUALLY integrate the fragments. Everyone is assumed to be able to find his or her place in the triangle. However, obviously people have not be integrated into a unity, or they need not to.

It seems to me the basic unit is each professor's lab. Then these professors assemble to have a formal center or informal collaboration. It is a very flexible and effective way in my opinion. If we can have synergy, if professors feel comfortable, if students feel comfortable, then that's OK. 

I am in Dr. John M. Carroll's Computer Supported Collaboration and Learning Lab. But actually I am not very clear where the HCI or CSCL is in the tiangle. Conventionally, HCI is in the people-technology edge, but isn't HCI concerned with information? As for me, I also work in the CiteceerX Group, which must be in the technology node. But funny I have little knowledge about technology. I would say I am interested in the social and psychological issues in information world. I know my position clearly. But I don't feel comfortable if you just place me in the People node. :D

Anyway, why creeping in the triangle? Just find resource, and do what you are interested in!

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