Article explores future of iSchools movement

The September-October issue of interactions magazine, published by the Association for Computing Machinery, features an article by assistant professors Jacob Wobbrock, Amy Ko, and Julie Kientz, "Reflections on the Future of iSchools from Inspired Junior Faculty."

Most academic units, the authors say, either describe things or invent things. Information schools emerging worldwide define themselves by doing both. Working where people and technology intersect means bringing together "deep social science with deep technology innovation" as no other academic unit can.

Some iSchool researchers focus on studying people, others on inventing new technologies. That sets iSchools apart from departments of sociology and communications on one hand and departments of computer science and engineering on the other. Information schools, the authors argue, must combine science and invention, "activities of discovery" and "activities of innovation."

Bringing together the cultures of social scientists, of designers and engineers, and of faculty from the humanities is a special challenge for iSchools. Drs. Wobbrock, Ko, and Kientz call not for a convergence of diverse disciplines, but for a "big tent" that can accommodate all of them. The authors suggest the success of this approach will be reflected not in rules and policies, but in discovery and invention.