Introduction to Information Science
Fall 2009 (2101)
- Instructor: Dr. Stephen Hirtle
- Office: 2B01 IS Building
- Office Phone: 412-624-9434
- Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
- Email: hirtle -at- pitt -dot- edu
- Class Meets: Monday, 6:00-8:50pm, 405 IS Bldg
- Prerequisite: none
December 22, 2009
The purpose of INFSCI 2000 is to explore the scope of the field of information
science and introduce you to the faculty the department. The course is
designed to be taken during the first or second term of study. If you are
taking it later than the second term, you will be given additional assignments
to ensure that your knowledge is fed back to the other students in the
The course is thematically divided into three parts that reflect the three
components of the department's curriculum: Foundations, Cognition, and Systems
& Technology. Most sessions will consist of a guest lecture on a topic in
information science and a discussion session that will focus around an issue or
issues drawn from the press.
This course provides an introduction to information
science from several different perspectives. We will look to discuss some of the
important ideas in the field, and will look at some of the research initiatives
in the department. The course will blend exposition with discussion. It will
also blend analysis, design, and implementation activities with the exposition
and discussion processes.
There are four broad course goals:
to establish a professional presence in the field
of information science, which is philosophically motivated and ethically
to explore some of the fundamental concepts of
information science that may serve as the basis for future work in courses
in the department.
to introduce a intellectual curiosity, consistent with the i-school approach to information science, that will
help you to make the most of your experience in the department.
to introduce you to some of the faculty in the
department in order to assist you in better identifying the teachers and
subject matter focus you will choose to pursue in the department.
All email to the instructor about this class must contain "INFSCI2000" in the subject line to be read. For example, the subject line might read "INFSCI2000: Question about displays". Email without this information might be deleted by spam filters or placed in a folder to be read at a later date. Email with the appropriate identifier will usually be read within 24 hours of receipt, except when travelling.
The course may be different from other courses that you have taken in the past. Class time will be focused on discussions, demonstrations and extensions of the basic material. This means that there are a number of activities you will need to complete before class, including reading material that has been garnered from a variety of sources. Sources include material from traditional book chapters, journal articles, the popular press, podcasts, videos, and webpages. To facilitate access and encourage you to explore a variety of media, all material used this term will be available on-line or from courseweb. There is no textbook for you to purchase. That said, several books will be recommended to add your library for establishing your credentials as an information scientist.
All assigned material must be read, viewed or listened to before coming to class. To confirm that you have read the material, there will be several unannounced pop quizzes on the reading material throughout the semester, which may be given at any point during the class. I understand that we are all busy professionals and the life issues sometime interfere with our best plans. While quizzes cannot be made up or excused for any reason, there are extra credit activities you can partake in to make up missed points on quizzes or other activities. There will also be handful of homework exercises to make sure that the points made are sticking. Finally, there will be a group project that will give you the skills to work with a team, discover new tools for solving problem, and provide an information resource for next year's incoming class.
Readings will be updated throughout the term, so
you need to revisit the syllabus throughout the term. For this
course and as a new professional, it is also a very good idea to stay current
with the field. As such, you will be asked to read on a regular basis,
news sources such as the SIS Faculty Blog, the New York Times Technology section, and
the ACM TechNews.
Courseweb. The University uses a specialized course management package found at http://courseweb.pitt.edu.
Special circumstances. If you have a disability for which you
are or may be requesting an accomodation, you are encouraged to contact both
your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Sevices, 216 William
Pitt Union, (412-648-7890/TTY:412-383-7355) as early as possible in the term.
DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accomodations for this
course. In addition, you should be aware that my office is up a short
flight of stairs. If this problematic, I am happy to arrange a meeting in
an accessible location at any time.
Course Requirements and Grading
Group Project (100 points)
Part of this course will be devoted to basic skill development. A
portion of skill development will be through a group project, done by
teams of approximately five students each.
Projects will be presented to the class during the last week. The group project will be graded on the basis of the overall
quality of the project (50 points) and the two progress
reports (20 points), on individual effort (20 points), and presentation (10 points). The points on
the presentation will be
given to all group members, regardless of who actually does the
presentation. Individual effort will be based on what other team members feel is an
appropriate distribution of effort.
Homework (100 points)
There will be five 20-point homework assignments during the semester. Details on the homework will be discussed in the first class.
Pop Quizes (100 points)
To make sure that you are staying current with the readings and/or activities assigned for each week, there will be five unannounced quizes at some point during the class. Each quiz will consist of 5-10 very-short answer and/or multiple choice questions and will take no longer than 20 minutes. You must do the reading before class to be able to pass the quizzes.
Extra Point Observations (50 points)
You can earn up to 50 extra credit points by submitting observations on the readings for the upcoming week, or the news sources from the past week, including the SIS Faculty Blog, the New York Times Technology section, and
the ACM TechNews. . The questions must cover 5
distinct topics from the reading sources listed above, with no more than 2 observations submitted on any one
week. Observations should be posted to courseweb by Monday at 4:00 pm (16:00). Each
observations will be graded on a scale of 10 points, based on originality and depth of understanding. See sample observations for examples.
Grading will be based on performance on the requirements specified above. Of
the possible 300 points that might be earned, grades will be as follows:
- 261-269 B+
- 249-260 B
- 240-248 B-
Course Outline (subject to change)
-- Introduction to Foundational Areas --
(Aug 31) Week 1: Introduction
- Course introduction
- Setting up teams
(Sep 7) No meeting this week: Labor Day
Friday Sep 11 --
FALL TERM add/drop period ends
(Sep 14) Week 2: History and the Future
This week looks at three separate topics. First, we examine the history of the School of Information Sciences and vision that the University of Pittsburgh had in the 1960s that lead to in the Information Science that we have today. Second, we look at the future of information by examining the notion of information use and the creative commons movement. Finally, Elizabeth Mahoney from the SIS Library will be visiting the class to describe the library resources that you mind useful for this class and others.
- Guest Speaker: Elizabeth Mahoney
(Sep 21) No meeting this week: COSIT Meeting
(Sep 28) Week 4: Abstraction and Representation
Abstraction and representation is at the heart of all information problems. In this week's class, we consider several representations, including one called Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI has proven successful in several domains, including the famous Netflix Million Dollar challenge. At the same time, its utility raises interesting philosophical discussions of what is meant by a representation of a concept. Prepare to challenge your past assumptions in tonight's discussions.
(Oct 5) Week 5: Logic and Coding
Tonight we look in detail at the relationship between information and uncertainty with a focus on the work of Claude Shannon, perhaps the most influential information scientist of the last decade and in the SIS Hall of Fame. His primary developments were part of his Master's thesis at MIT. Dr. Munro will be describing the mechanics of coding theory, which form the basis of all compression algorithms and communication protocols. Also this week, you will learn exactly how big is a yottabyte.
(Tues -- Oct 13) Week 6: Spatial Information Processing -- Note change of day!
Space, not time, is important as we meet on Tuesday night to give you a three-day Fall Break weekend.
- Goodchild, M. F. (2007) Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. GeoJournal 69(4): 211-221.
- Jones, M. T. (2007). Google’s geospatial organizing principle, IEEE Xplore, 27 (4), 8-13.
(Oct 19) Week 7: The Future of the Internet
- Assignments Due: Homework #2 Due
- Guest Speaker: Howard A. Stern, Ph.D. Director & Chief Information Officer, Pittsburgh
(Oct 26) Week 8: Cyberscholarship
- Assignments Due: Project Report #1 Due
- Guest Speaker: Prof. Geoffrey Bowker
(Nov 2) Week 9: Information Findability
- Assignments Due: Homework #3 Due
- Jones, W., Pirolli, P., Card, S. K., Fidel, R., Gershon, N., Morville, P., Nardi, B., and Russell, D. M. 2006. "It's about the information stupid!": Why we need a separate field of human-information interaction. In CHI '06 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 22 - 27, 2006). CHI '06. ACM, New York, NY, 65-68.
(Nov 9) Week 10: Information Retrieval and Recommender Systems
- Guest Speaker: Prof. Peter Brusilovsky
- Micarelli, A., Sciarrone, F. and Marinilli, M. (2007) 'Web document modeling', in Brusilovsky, P., Kobsa, A. and Nejdl, W. (Eds.): The Adaptive Web: Methods and Strategies of Web Personalization, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 4321, Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, pp.155-192.
(Nov 16) Week 11 : Information Visualization
- Assignments Due: Homework #4 Due
- Guest Speaker: Sue Yeon Syn
- Herman et al (2000). Graph Visualization and Navigation in Information Visualization: A Survey. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 6, 1-21.
(Nov 23) Week 12 : Information Security
- Readings: Project Report #2 Due
- Guest Speaker: Prof. Emeritus Anthony Debons
- Kumaraguru, P., Y.W. Rhee, A. Acquisti, L. Cranor, and J.I. Hong, E. Nunge.
(2007). Protecting People from Phishing: The Design and Evaluation of an Embedded
Training Email System. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems (CHI2007).
(Nov 30) Week 13 : Geoinformatics
- Guest Speaker: Prof. Hassan Karimi
- Goodchild, Michael F., Egenhofer, Max J., Kemp, Karen K., Mark, David M. & Sheppard, Eric (1999). Introduction to the Varenius project. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 13, 731-745.
(Dec 7) Week 14 : Information Ethics and Policy
- Assignments Due: Homework #5 Due
- Guest Speaker: Prof. Geoffrey Bowker, Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship
- Readings: none
(Dec 14) Week 15 : Presentations
- Assignments Due: Final Project Due
- Project Presentations