Information Course Schedule: Fall 2001

Core Courses

Three hours of lecture per week. This course introduces the intellectual foundations of information organization and retrieval: conceptual modeling, semantic representation, vocabulary and metadata design, classification, and standardization, as well as information organization and retrieval practices, technology, and applications, including computational processes for analyzing information in both textual and non-textual formats. Students will learn how information organization and retrieval is carried out by professionals, authors, and users; by individuals in association with other individuals, and as part of the business processes in an enterprise and across enterprises.

This is a required introductory course for MIMS Master's students, integrating perspectives and best practices from a wide range of disciplines.

Three hours of lecture per week. The impact of information and information systems, technology, practices, and artifacts on how people organize their work, interact, and understand experience. Social issues in information systems design and management: assessing user needs, involving users in system design, and understanding human-computer interaction and computer-mediated work and communication. Use of law and other policies to mediate the tension between free flow and constriction of information.

Designing and managing effective information systems requires an understanding of the circumstances of their use: real people use them for specific purposes under specific circumstances. Information systems (computer-based and traditional) both shape and are shaped by their users and their context. In the first half of this course, we consider the social nature of information and information systems, and their design and use as part of how people make sense out of their worlds, interact with one another, and coordinate action across time and space. We consider such issues as the social construction of information; knowledge communities (including organizations) and the collaborative nature of knowledge; the self and community in an electronic world; assessing user needs; involving users in system design; and issues in human-computer interaction, and computer-supported cooperative work.

Designing and managing effective information systems also requires having a larger understanding of law and policy issues arising from the uses of information. Sometimes these laws, especially intellectual property laws, provide important sources of protection against unauthorized uses or appropriations of information. Sometimes, as with state privacy and federal encryption regulations, the law places limits on what uses can be made of information or what kinds of security systems can be used to protect information. Sometimes, codes of conduct within an industry also constrain the freedom of firms to do whatever they want with information. Because information law and policy is evolving at a fairly rapid pace in response to new technologies, it is important to have a sense of some of the larger information policy debates going on at national and international levels, such as those requiring libraries to filter content and those concerning privacy, because what is a policy debate now may turn out to be a regulation or a broader rule at a later time. As information becomes the principal commodity of the information economy, traditional "freedom of information" policies need to be adjusted.

This course is required of all entering SIMS students and serves as an introduction to other courses in the curriculum treating these issues in greater depth.

General Courses

Factors strongly impacting the success of new computing and communications products and services (based on underlying technologies such as electronics and software) in commercial applications. Technology trends and limits, economics, standardization, intellectual property, government policy, and industrial organizations. Strategies to manage the design and marketing of successful products and services.

Info 235. Cyberlaw (3 units)

Three hours of lecture per week. The emergence of global digital networks, such as the Internet, and digital technologies that enhance human abilities to access, store, manipulate, and transmit vast amounts of information has brought with it a host of new legal issues that lawyers preparing to practice in the 21st century will need to understand and address. Although many are trying to "map" existing legal concepts onto problems arising in cyberspace, it is becoming increasingly evident that this strategy sometimes doesn't work. In some cases, it is necessary to go back to first principles to understand how to accomplish the purposes of existing law in digital networked environments. The course will explore specific problems in applying law to cyberspace in areas such as intellectual property, privacy, content control, and the bounds of jurisdiction. Students with familiarity with the Internet and its resources or with backgrounds in some of the substantive fields explored in this course are especially welcome, but there are no formal prerequisites. Grades for the course will be based either on a series of short papers or on a supervised term paper.

Note: This course is cross-listed with Law 276.1.

This course offers a multidisciplinary inquiry into the technology, business, economics, and public-policy of computer networks and distributed applications. We will cover the technical foundations of computer networks, including: Internet architecture, network technologies and protocols (e.g., 802.*, TCP/IP, HTTP), routing algorithms and policies, network applications (e.g., p2p overlays, VoIP), emerging network technologies, and network security. Tightly integrated will be coverage on the business, economics and policy of networking, including: economic characteristics of networks, network industry structure and ISP competition, wireless spectrum auction, network neutrality, and incentive-centered design of networks and applications.

Three hours of lecture, one hour of programming laboratory per week. Introduction to programming paradigms, including object-oriented design. Introduction to design and analysis of algorithms, including algorithms for sorting and searching. Analysis, use, and implementation of data structures important for information processing systems, including arrays, lists, strings, b-trees, and hash tables. Introduction to formal languages including regular expressions and context-free grammars.

Three hours of lecture per week. This course is concerned with the use of Database Management Systems (DBMS) to solve a wide range of information storage, management and retrieval problems, in organizations ranging from large corporations to personal applications, such as research data management. The course combines the practical aspects of DBMS use with more theoretical discussions of database design methodologies and the "internals" of database systems.

A significant part of the course will require students to design their own database and implement it on different DBMS that run on different computer systems. We will use both ACCESS and ORACLE.

In the theoretical portion of the course, we will examine the major types or data models of DBMS (hierarchical, network, relational, and object-oriented). We will discuss the principles and problems of database design, operation, and maintenance for each data model.

Three hours of lecture per week. Quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. Research design. Conceptualization, operationalization, measurement. Modes of data collection, including experiments, survey research, observation. Sampling. Basics of data analysis.

This course will focus upon the use of qualitative methods for research about information technologies. Methods including interviewing, focus groups, participant observation and ethnography will be taught and practiced. Significant qualitative research findings about the social impact of information technologies will be read, to analyze what we know about IT thus far, how we know it, and as models of theories and methods for future research. Frequent field exercises will be assigned to develop qualitative research skills and best practices, but the primary assignment will be to engage in a substantial fieldwork project. Methods covered will include video if grant support or other budget resources are found.

Special Topics Courses

This course explores electronic publishing from a project-based framework. Students are expected to define and develop an electronic publishing project, which can be experimental in nature and should propose new directions. The course is as concerned with the design and development process as with the end product.

The students examine and adapt project development methodologies usually associated with software development, including Rapid Prototyping and Object-oriented Design. We emphasize building flexible, multi-purpose systems that are open to change and reuse. In addition, students evaluate the technology behind electronic publishing systems and become familiar with emerging trends in designing and building systems.

Students become familiar with various aspects of the publishing business and incorporate marketing, production, and distribution considerations into their project. Invited speakers cover topics in electronic publishing as well.

At the end of the course, each student has developed a detailed project plan and a working prototype for an electronic publishing project that includes at least two different products for the same audience. The student is required to exploit multiple technologies.

Students are expected to collaborate on projects, acting in the role as a leader of their own project and as a consultant to other projects. Students evaluate the contributions made to his or her project by other students.

The goal of the course is to have students become familiar with the business, creative, and technical challenges of electronic publishing by developing and managing a project.

Computing and information technology are dramatically changing peoples' lives, and more change is to come. The promise of ubiquitous computing is that people will be assisted by computers in many new ways, and will interact with them naturally, on the human's rather than the machine's terms. Computing research today is about new ways of connecting people to computers, people to knowledge, people to the physical world, and people to people. Computers must function in human contexts, rather than requiring people to learn and follow the machine's rules. That requires a thorough understanding of those contexts. HCC is an interdisciplinary program involving sociology, psychology, and education theory as well as computer science and engineering. Its goal is to study social contexts and human behavior, to design and evaluate computer applications in those contexts. HCC can be viewed as an evolution of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), but represents a shift in perspective. HCC is not an area within computer science, but represents a theme that impacts all areas of CS. It coincides with the transition of computing from tools built for and by professionals to tools for everyday tasks for "every citizen". Understanding the complexity and diversity of human behavior will be an important first step in building the future "killer applications" of computing.

The course includes talks by leading researchers from on and off campus on HCC-related topics. The talks are about current research, but are colloquium-style and accessible to a broad audience. The goal is to allow graduate students from one of the participating areas to undertake research that cuts across the HCC areas, or to partner with students from other HCC fields.

This course aims to develop the interdisciplinary skills required for successful product development in today's competitive marketplace. Engineering and business students, along with design students from the California College of the Arts, join forces on small product development teams to step through the new product development process in detail, learning about the available tools and techniques to execute each process step along the way. Each student brings his or her own disciplinary perspective to the team effort, and must learn to synthesize that perspective with those of the other students in the group to develop a sound, marketable product. The project is the primary focus of the course, and is an intensive cross-disciplinary effort to design and develop a product or service that fulfills a target set of customer needs. Students can expect to depart the semester understanding new product development processes as well as useful tools, techniques and organizational structures that support new product development practice. This section of the course is fully team-taught with faculty from the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering and the California College of the Arts.

See the MOT site for details.

The primary goal of this course is to develop in the student the marketing skills needed to compete aggressively as an entrepreneur in technology fields. Upon completion of this course, the student should have developed the following skills:

  • The ability to assess and predict customer needs in markets that may not yet exist;
  • The ability to create and execute marketing plans that necessarily integrate sophisticated technological development with rapidly evolving customer requirements;
  • The ability to create and grow a focused marketing organization rapidly and efficiently;
  • The ability to create and use marketing communications to reach prospects, customers, OEMs and sales channels efficiently and inexpensively.

See the MOT site for details.

This course focuses on current issues facing the global telecommunications industry. In the context of this course, telecommunications encompasses voice, data, and video services running on copper, coaxial cable, fiber, and wireless networks. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the industry structure, the value chain, and the business models of various players. A key theme of the course is the impact of the Internet and its growth on the economics and market dynamics of various industry segments. The role of regulation, technological innovation, and competition in shaping the future of the industry is also explored in detail. The course draws on a variety of disciplines including public policy, law, economics, finance, engineering, and physics to prepare students for a career in the telecommunications industry.

Seminar Courses

One hour colloquium per week. Must be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Colloquia, discussion, and readings are designed to introduce students to the range of interests of the school.

The seminar explores selected advanced topics relating to 'digital libraries' with special emphasis on:

  • Access to networked resources
  • Use of two or more resources in conjunction
  • Combined use of two or more retrieval systems (e.g. use of pre- or post-processing to enhance the capabilities)
  • The redesign of library services

It is expected that these issues will require attention to a number of questions about the nature of information retrieval processes, the feasibility of not-yet-conventional techniques, techniques of making different systems work together, social impact, and the reconsideration of past practices. More generally, the seminar is intended to provide a forum for advanced students in the School. Anyone interested in these topics is welcome to join in -- and to talk about their own work. This is a continuation of the previous Lynch/Buckland seminars.

This is a studio course where we will examine how networked information spaces can be understood (or redesigned to become) inhabited, socially-navigable spaces. The focus of the course will be on the social navigation of information spaces, a new set of methods and techniques now emerging from the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Today, collaborative filtering and recommender systems are the most widely known of existing techniques for social navigation (e.g., amazon.com's book recommendation feature). We will begin by analyzing existing social information spaces, like newsgroups, chats and MUDs. We will then experiment with a series of design strategies for remaking "uninhabited" information spaces into socially navigable spaces. Using ideas from art, architecture, film theory, anthropology, sociology and geography students will complete a series of design exercises to analyze existing physical and information spaces as well as to redesign "uninhabited" sources of information (e.g., websites, code archives, library catalogs, etc.) as "inhabitable," social information spaces. As a final project, students will be asked to create a virtual "map," "compass," or other navigation tool for an information space and/or a combined physical/virtual space (e.g., as linked through wireless devices). Readings will include Alan Munro, Kristina Hook and David Benyon (eds.) Social Navigation of Information Space (New York: Springer, 1999); and, Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchen, Mapping Cyberspace (New York: Routledge, 2001).