UW iSchool hosts global iConference 2011

SEATTLE - On February 8, researchers from 28 information schools around the world will join Seattle's business community for four days at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Seattle for iConference 2011. This will mark the sixth year the iConference has brought together researchers and practitioners to share emerging work in areas such as collaboration, e-government, health informatics, human-computer interaction, information security, information management, and library science. The University of Washington Information School and Seattle will host the conference for the first time this year.

An international forum for emerging work from the information field, the iConference provides a venue for an open exchange of ideas within the information school community, which encompasses scholars in library and information science as well as fields such as computer science, management, law and philosophy. The iSchool movement began in the early 1980s, coinciding with exponential growth in information production and rapid change in the ways we collect, share and store information; its value to organizations and individuals; and its impact on individuals and society.

This year's program provides more content for companies from Seattle's technology, life science and international development sectors. In addition to programming on design, knowledge organization, social inclusion and social media, panels will be included on:

"Big Data"

The "Big Data" panel will examine current issues in working with large data sets to bring about information, understanding, meaning and value. The subject touches upon databases, sensors, networks, security, privacy, visualization, analytics, search, perceptual and cognitive psychology, and business strategy, among others. Panelists will include Magda Balazinska (UW Computer Science & Engineering), Vivek Bhaskaran (Survey Analytics), Cecilia Aragon (UW Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering), Andrew Borthwick (Intelius) and Danyel Fisher (Microsoft Research).

"Privacy in the Cloud"

Panelists during "Privacy in the Cloud" will discuss whether the current rush to the cloud to take advantage of cost savings in the current economic environment warrants a more careful look at the unintended consequences to privacy and confidentiality. Confirmed panelists are Deborah Frincke (PNNL), Ed Lazowska (UW Computer Science & Engineering), Steve Riley (Amazon), Kristen Lauter (Microsoft), Jim Adler (Intelius) and Kristen Boucher-Ferguson (Aberystwyth Wales, Oxford Internet Institute).

The first day of the conference, Feb. 8, consists of half- and full-day workshops. Workshop topics focus on areas such as information and communication technologies for development, access to the justice system, education, and socio-technical systems.

Keynote speakers will be historian Colin B. Burke and Microsoft researcher Susan Dumais. Burke's recent books include Information and Secrecy: Vannevar Bush, Ultra and the Other Memex. Dumais manages the Context, Learning and User Experience for Search (CLUES) Group at the Redmond-based company and is an affiliate professor at the UW iSchool. Several alternative sessions are also planned that depart from a typical conference structure by pursuing different formats and different goals.

The meeting also kicks off the UW iSchool centennial celebration. Originally known as the Department of Library Economy, for the next 16 months the iSchool will host a series of events and activities in honor of its 100th year connecting people and information.

"This conference represents two great opportunities for information schools," said University of Washington Information School Dean and Professor Harry Bruce. "It's a great opportunity to demonstrate to Seattle the strength of our global information school movement, whose membership has grown in three years from 12 to 28 and includes schools in Canada, China, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Singapore and the United States.

"The other opportunity that I am even more enthusiastic about is the opportunity to show attendees what an incredibly vibrant and beautiful city Seattle is, and the strong connections we have been able to build between our world-class researchers and scholars and our partners in the public and private sectors here, partners who are industry leaders in their own right.

"I often hear people describe the UW iSchool as one of the university's best kept secrets," added Bruce. "Our Seattle partners that benefit from having a world-leading iSchool in their backyard know about our tremendous and important work, and I expect this conference will provide an opportunity for all of Seattle to witness the contributions iSchools are making around the world."

Presenting sponsors of iConference 2011 include Microsoft Research, Intelius, Serials Solutions, and the National Science Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Google, Intel, Survey Analytics, Washington Research Foundation, WebJunction, Seattle Public Library, the University of Washington Libraries, and Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

For more information about the 2011 iConference, visit the iSchools.org 2011 conference site.