Information Course Schedule: Fall 2009

Upper-Division Courses

How can we critically think about emergent phenomena of the Internet? Is the Internet a democratic medium for political action (a "networked public sphere") or a surveillance apparatus of centralized control? Who has access to digital information and what techniques are used to make information artificially scarce? How do trade group lawsuits against digital "piracy" affect a generation's perception of the law? Should we look at the growing sphere of copyright as a public interest problem, or celebrate the expansion of creators' rights? Can free software thrive independently from ideological backing? Why are peer production communities like Wikipedia and Linux affected by extreme gender disparity?

In this course, we will examine the societal implications of computer networks from critical and technical perspectives. We will collectively engage with issues of intellectual property, access to information, privacy, freedom of speech, representation, and peer production. We will be discussing provocative texts and media, doing hands-on exploration of emerging technologies, and practicing ethnographic fieldwork in online communities. We will also offer opportunities for field trips and guest speakers to provide us with different perspectives. Additionally, students will engage in a semester-long collaborative project in a flexible format.

This is a student-initiated group study course (DE-Cal). Please contact the student coordinator(s) for specific questions.

Must be taken on a passed/not passed basis.

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 and one hour of laboratory per week. Course must be completed for a letter grade to fulfill degree requirement. Technological foundations for computing and communications: computer architecture, operating systems, networking, middleware, security. Programming paradigms: object oriented-design, design and analysis of algorithms, data structures, formal languages. Distributed-system architectures and models, inter-process communications, concurrency, system performance.

General Courses

This course will survey results in computer security, cryptography, and privacy, with an emphasis on work done in the last 3 years. Student projects (creative work, demonstrations, or literature reviews) will form a substantial portion of the course work. Prerequisite: IS 206 (Distributed Systems) or a strong background in distributed systems.

Three hours of lecture per week. This course will provide an overview of the intellectual property laws with which information managers need to be familiar. It will start with a consideration of trade secrecy law that information technology and other firms routinely use to protect commercially valuable information. It will then consider the role that copyright law plays in the legal protection of information products and services. Although patents for many years rarely were available to protect information innovations, patents on such innovations are becoming increasingly common. As a consequence, it is necessary to consider standards of patentability and the scope of protection that patent affords to innovators. Trademark law allows firms to protect words or symbols used to identify their goods or services and to distinguish them from the goods and services of other producers. It offers significant protection to producers of information products and services. Because so many firms license intellectual property rights, some coverage of licensing issues is also important. Much of the course will concern the legal protection of computer software and databases, but it will also explore some intellectual property issues arising in cyberspace.

Three hours of lecture. The Extensible Markup Language (XML), with its ability to define formal structural and semantic definitions for metadata and information models, is the key enabling technology for information services and document-centric business models that use the Internet and its family of protocols. This course introduces XML syntax, transformations, schema languages, and the querying of XML databases. It balances conceptual topics with practical skills for designing, implementing, and handling conceptual models as XML schemas.

This course examines the state-of-the-art in applied Natural Language Processing (also known as content analysis and language engineering), with an emphasis on how well existing algorithms perform and how they can be used (or not) in applications. Topics include part-of-speech tagging, shallow parsing, text classification, information extraction, incorporation of lexicons and ontologies into text analysis, and question answering. Students will apply and extend existing software tools to text-processing problems.

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.

This course will explore the theory and practice of Tangible User Interfaces, a new approach to HCI which focuses on the physical interaction with computational media. The topics covered in the course include:

  • Theoretical framework of Tangible User Interfaces
  • Design examples of Tangible User Interfaces
  • Enabling technologies for Tangible User Interfaces

Students will design and develop experimental Tangible User Interfaces, applications, underlying technologies, and theories using concept sketches, posters, physical mockups, working prototypes, and a final project report. The course will have 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of laboratory per week.

Note:  Previously listed as Info 290: Theory and Practice of Tangible User Interfaces. Students who completed INFO 290 section 4 in Fall 2008 will receive no credit for Info 262.

This course is cross-listed as New Media C262.

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 presents an end-to-end view of the design life cycle for information systems and services. It explains how design problems are conceived, researched, analyzed and resolved in different types of organizations and contexts, including start-ups, enterprises with legacy-systems, non-profit and government entities.

The course takes a comprehensive perspective on how these different contexts shape design activities and methods, including:

  • Analyzing stakeholders and customers
  • Building new vs. extending legacy systems
  • Identifying customer segments and modeling different user types
  • Analyzing and collecting data to identify and verify requirements
  • Measuring usability and quality
  • Prototyping and iterative implementation
  • Personalization and configuration
  • Designing for multiple channels (brick-and-mortar vs online)
  • Designing for multiple platforms (cellphones, PDAs, PCs)

The course presents a framework for understanding and integrating the variety of design methods taught in more detail in other I School and MOT courses. Using a mix of theory and case studies, the course provides students with different backgrounds a unifying view of the design life cycle, making them more effective and versatile designers.

NOTE: This course is currently offered as Info 228.

This course is a survey of Web technologies, ranging from the basic technologies underlying the Web (URI, HTTP, HTML) to more advanced technologies being used in the context of Web engineering, for example structured data formats and Web programming frameworks. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the technical issues surrounding the Web today, and to provide a solid and comprehensive perspective of the Web's constantly evolving landscape. Because of the large number of technologies covered in this course, only a fraction of them will be discussed and described in greater detail. The main goal of the course thus is an understanding of the interdependencies and connections of Web technologies, and of their capabilities and limitations. Implementing Web-based applications today can be done in a multitude of ways, and this course provides guidelines and best practices which technologies to choose, and how to use them.

Note: This course is currently offered as Information 253.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of developing information service consulting and project management. The course focuses on ways to apply theoretical and conceptual knowledge to real world problem solving and project development. The course will explore ways to tailor project management strategies for different contexts, emphasizing approaches for smaller, entrepreneurial settings. Students will work in small teams on real projects that will be deployed and maintained by the University or other organizations. Guest lecturers will share their experiences on everything from working with clients, ethnographic and other approaches toward understanding user and stakeholder needs, proposing and planning projects, and managing the chaos of project revisions, course corrections, and requirements changes. Students are strongly encouraged to see projects through development and completion by also taking the Spring semester part of this course.

Note: Students may take both the fall and spring clinic courses once each for credit.

In this lab course students will build tools to explore and apply theories of information organization and retrieval. Students will implement various concepts covered in the concurrent 202 course through small projects on topics like controlled vocabularies, the semantic web and corpus analysis. We will also experiment with topics suggested by students during the course. Students will develop skills in rapid prototyping of web-based projects using Python, XML and jQuery. No particular programming language is required, though students should be comfortable using or learning a scripting language like JavaScript, Python or PHP.

It's recommended that students take 202 concurrently, or have taken it in the past.

This course satisfies the technology requirement.

Note: This course was offered for 2 units in Fall 2009 and 3 units in Fall 2010.

Note: This course is currently offered as Information 290TA.

We live in an information society. The use of technology to support a wide array of social, economic and political interactions is generating an increasing amount of information about who, what and where we are. Through self documentation (sousveillance), state sponsored surveillance, and documentation of interaction with others (coveillance) a vast store of information — varied in content and form — about daily life is spread across private and public data systems where it is subject to various forms of processing, used for a range of purposes (some envisioned and intended, others not), and subject to various rules that meet or upend social values including security, privacy and accountability. This course will explore the complex ways in which these varied forms of data generation,  collection, processing and use interact with norms, markets and laws to produce security, fear, control, vulnerability. Some of the areas covered include close-circuit television (CCTV) in public places, radio frequency identification tags in everyday objects, digital rights management technologies, the smart grid, and biometrics. Readings will be drawn from law, computer science, social sciences, literature, and art and media studies.

This course focuses on managing people in information-intensive firms and industries, such as information technology industries. Students who seek careers in these industries will soon be asked to manage people, teams, departments, and units. They need to learn how to manage. However, managing is sometimes very different in these settings: Employees are highly educated; work is more fluid; teamwork and collaboration are essential; and external situations and strategies change rapidly. For these reasons several management principles born in a traditional manufacturing era no longer apply. In particular, the old style of “command and control” needs to give way to more distributed ways of work, with significant consequences for how managers need to manage. Of course, some universal management principles apply no matter what circumstance. While we will cover these universal management principles in this course, we will pay particular attention to management issues that are highly relevant in information-intensive settings. Topics to be covered will likely include: managing knowledge workers; managing teams (incl. virtual ones); collaborating across disparate units, giving and receiving feedback; managing the innovation process (incl. in eco-systems); managing through networks; and managing when using communication tools (e.g., tele-presence). The course will rely heavily on cases as a pedagogical form.

This course satisfies the Management requirement for the MIMS degree.

This course is currently offered as Info 225.

This class is focused on social entrepreneurship and the creation of sustainable enterprises based on ICT innovations supporting community development. The class takes a broad view of entrepreneurship — including starting new businesses, non-profit initiatives and/or public sector projects. Students will begin by identifying and selecting project ideas based on their interests, experience and collaboration opportunities with external partners. They will receive feedback from experts and entrepreneurs who have launched successful ventures or projects in the developing world, including faculty from Berkeley, successful social entrepreneurs and consultants. The final deliverable will be a business plan and/or project proposal describing a product or service with a comprehensive implementation plan, including necessary partnerships, a funding/revenue model and appropriate next steps.

This course is now offered as Info 287.

Two hours of lecture per week.

This course introduces the people and the process behind the design, construction, launch and maintenance of a software product or service, with a focus on ecommerce. Through lecture and group assignments, the class will explore the discipline of Product Management: the set of skills required to guide a software idea from start to fruition. Topics include the Software Development Lifecycle, Roles on the Development Team, Project Management, Communication, software Testing & Measurement, and Budgeting. Students will also learn about the various service providers in the ecommerce world and how an ecommerce company integrates with these vendors & partners.

This course satisfies the Management requirement for the MIMS degree.

Mass communications technologies have been profound influencers of human identity, from the printing press and the rise of vernacular political cultures to television and the power of celebrity. While the Web is still a work in progress, salient characteristics such as the collapse of distance, the discovery of like-minded groups, and information delivered in short bursts are already affecting the way people see themselves and the way they consume information. Following an overview on the relationship of technology with identity and communications, the course will look at the uses of narrative in news, public relations, advertising, entertainment, and online gaming.

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.

Information technology has been integrated into an array of complex interactions between individuals and the state. Often these technological changes are put forth as inevitable progress toward modernization and as value-neutral means for acting upon policies established through the political branch of government. However, the adoption or introduction of specific technology can obscure profound policy choices and options. Obscurity can arise due to barriers to transparency created by law, such as intellectual property rights asserted to prevent the analysis of software code used in electronic voting systems, due to a lack of necessary expertise to understand the ramifications of a technological shift within the public and private sector entities focused on the relevant policy issues, or, more fundamentally, due to shifts in technology that remove or shift the assumptions on which earlier policies were developed. As a result, the agency, the public, and the political branch of government may overlook the policy-implications in the choice of a new technology. Through case studies this class will explore existing examples where discretion has been delegated to, or embedded in technology, mechanisms that have or could be used to limit and manage this delegation, and techniques for early identification of inappropriate delegations.

China is the biggest story of the 21st century. The success or failure of its on-going economic, social and political transition will have a tremendous impact on the world, from stock-exchange markets to food security, from war and peace to climate change. This project-based research seminar is centered around an interactive news website: China Digital Times (CDT). Students will get the opportunity to do hands-on work on CDT, which taps into the vast resources of online news, analysis, and multimedia content about China from a wide spectrum of perspectives and sources.

The required tasks include practical solutions to address the issue of censorship in China, particularly in helping CDT to expand its readers within China. The class will also conduct reading/discussion sessions on China's state censorship, online activism and information politics in general.

In addition to learning about news aggregation about China, students will also explore innovative use of technology and social media approach to overcome the Great Firewall. This research seminar class is not limited to the graduate students in the School of Information or the Journalism School; students from other departments on campus, including undergraduates are welcome.

Note: This course is cross-listed with Journalism 298.