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UNC’s David Gotz awarded $1 million by NSF for advanced data visualization methods


David Gotz, Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and Assistant Director of the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP), has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth over $1 million to develop a set of contextual visualization methods that will improve analysis of complex data sets. Gotz and his team will evaluate the new methods in a health outcomes setting, offering significant potential to improve health care through data analytics. Ultimate goals for the four-year project include the development of open-source software that can help advance data visualization accuracy and efficacy for enterprises around the world.

“Datasets can have many thousands of variables, a stark contrast to the relatively small number of dimensions supported by current visualization tools,” Gotz said. “The gap between what the data contains and what the visualization shows can put the validity of any analysis at great risk of bias, potentially leading to serious, hidden errors. This research project will develop a new approach to high-dimensional exploratory visualization that will help detect and reduce selection bias and other problems.”

Gotz and his team will build on the premise that the very summarization that makes many visual methods effective also inherently obscures important aspects of a high-dimensional datasets. In other words, people cannot fully understand complex data, or make good decisions based on that data, if they are relying on a visualization that omits or misrepresents the context of the findings.



Young students and grads invited to take part in Drucker Challenge essay contest


iSchool students and graduates are invited to take part in the 2017 Peter Drucker Challenge, an annual essay competition open to students (bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, and PhD) and young professionals (associates, managers, professionals, and community leaders) ages 18-35. This year’s topic is “human prosperity in a changing world,” and the submission deadline is July 15, 2017.

The Challenge honors Peter Drucker, an influential visionary in the world of business management; it was Drucker who developed the concept of “information workers.” Challenge winners will receive a cash prize of €1,000 and attend the Global Peter Drucker Forum in November in Vienna, Austria. Details can be found on the Drucker Challenge website.


iSchools at ALA Annual Conference


The iSchools organization will be well represented at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition, with many members exhibiting and making presentations. The ALA Conference takes place June 22-27 in Chicago.

The School of Information Sciences at Illinois will be represented in booth #4742 in the Exhibit Hall. Alumni and students are invited to attend the Alumni Reception and LSAA Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 25, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Petterino’s, 150 N. Dearborn. Click here for more about Illinois iSchool faculty presentations and other events.

The Syracuse University School of Information Studies will be represented in booth #4839. Syracuse will be participating in ALISE’s Library and Information Studies Cooperative Alumni Reunion on Sunday, June 25, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Swissotel, Alpine II room. Click here for more on Syracuse faculty sessions and presentations.

The Rutgers School of Information and Communication will have representatives on hand in booth #4942. Rutgers iSchool faculty will also be supporting the ALISE/LIS Cooperative Alumni Reunion on Sunday, June 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Swissotel Hotels & Resorts, Room Edelweiss. Click here for details about Rutgers participation in the event.

Representatives of the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science will be in booth #4740. Alumni and students are invited to a free reception on Saturday, June 24, 5:30 p.m. at Tapas Valencia. Visit the Simmons iSchool website for more information.

Attendees can meet with a representative of the Department of Information Studies at University College London in booth 4734. Click here for details.

The University of Washington Information School will be on hand in booth #4739.

Alumni and friends of the University of Michigan School of Information are invited to attend a reception on Thursday, June 22 from 5:00-6:30 pm at the 676 Restaurant in the Chicago Omni Hotel.


iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award


The iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is October 1, 2017.

Given annually, the award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO Publishing Company, provides an honorarium to the Downs Award recipient and co-hosts the reception held in honor of the recipient. The reception and award ceremony for the 2017 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award will take place in February 2018 during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Click here to learn more, including information on submitting nominations.


Jens-Erik Mai named new head of University of Copenhagen iSchool


Jens-Erik Mai will take on the position as Head of Department at the Royal School of Library and Information Science (RSLIS), Copenhagen, Denmark on Sept. 1st 2017. He has been full professor at the department since 2012, and was previously associate professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, where he also served as Vice Dean and Acting Dean. Prior to that he was a faculty member at the University of Washington Information School, where he also co-directed the Center for Human-Information Interaction. Jens-Erik Mai has an MLIS from RSLIS and a PhD from the Information School at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jens-Erik Mai will take over the position after Per Hasle, who has headed the RSLIS since 2008. During Per Hasle’s tenure, RSLIS has developed tremendously; most significantly, Per Hasle oversaw the successful merger of RSLIS with the University of Copenhagen in 2013. RSLIS is now one of eight departments at the University’s Faculty of Humanities, and a significant player in the Faculty’s digital initiatives, including the faculty-wide strategic efforts in the area of digital humanities.

Click here for more on the RSLIS website.


iConference 2018 Keynote Speakers Announced


iConference 2018 organizers University of Sheffield and Northumbria University have announced their full slate of keynote speakers for next year’s conference in Sheffield, UK. And given that the collective members of the iSchools Organization share a fundamental interest in the relationships between information, people, and technology, it’s only appropriate that the three 2018 speakers are scheduled to give talks on the subjects of people, information, and technology, respectively.

The following is a brief introduction of the 2018 speakers; more detail is offered on the conference’s Keynote Speakers webpage:

  • People: Dr. Lynn Connaway, Senior Research Scientist and Director of User Research at OCLC Research where she leads research into user and information seeking behaviour, and an American Library Association for College and Research Libraries project on academic library support for student learning.
  • Information: Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Oxford Internet Institute, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Department of Economics, American University, Washington D.C., and Faculty Fellow of The Alan Turing Institute.
  • Technology: Dr. Sue Dumais, Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft and the Deputy Managing Director of Microsoft’s Redmond Research Laboratory where she leads research at the intersection of information retrieval and human-computer interaction.

iConference 2018 will take place March 25-28, 2018, and this June announcement represents the earliest point at which the conference’s full speaker program has been established.

The iConference 2018 Call for Participation was announced in May, and authors are encouraged to begin work on their submissions. This year, for the first time, accepted papers will be published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science series, and indexed by major services such as Web of Science and Scopus. Conference organizers will begin accepting submissions in early July. Visit the conference website for more details.

About the iConference
An annual presentation of the iSchools organization since 2005, the iConference brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to examine critical information issues in contemporary society. The 2018 theme is Transforming Digital Worlds. iConference 2018 is jointly presented by the Information School at the University of Sheffield and the iSchool at Northumbria University. Vist the About the iConference page to learn more about the series, including links to past proceedings.

The iConference is sponsored by Microsoft, and additional sponsorships are available.


Turing award winners discuss cities and the future of smart systems at Singapore Management University summit


The benefits and challenges of using technology to transform cities into smart cities was the subject of a panel discussion held during Singapore’s Global Young Scientists Summit, held January 19, 2017, at Singapore Management University. SMU is a member of the iSchools organization and the iSchools Caucus. The panel featured three recipients of the prestigious Turing Award, and was moderated by Steven Miller, vice provost and professor of information systems at SMU. Miller has summarized the results in an article titled Country 2.0: Upgrading Cities with Smart Technology.

The panelists included Vinton Gray Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist; Butler Lampson, a senior scientist at Microsoft Research and an Adjunct Professor at MIT; and Richard Karp, professor at the University of California, Berkeley. They were joined by Tan Kok Yam, head of Singapore’s Smart Nation Programme Office.

The panelist discussed implementation challenges, and the benefits of more integrated data management systems, Priorities include ensuring the safety and reliability of smart systems at both the physical and virtual level, while taking care to prepare governments, industry and the public for the unknown. As Miller notes in his article: “The design of the smart city will have to account for the interests of the many sub-communities. Interest groups must have avenues to make their needs known.”

Click here to view the full text of Miller’s article summarizing the panel’s presentation. The article was published in Asian Management Insights by the Centre for Management Practice of Singapore Management University.


LIDA 2018 issues Call for Participation


Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) has issued a call for participation for their 2018 conference, which takes place June 13-15, 2018, in Zadar, Croatia.

LIDA addresses the changing and challenging environment for libraries and other information institutions in the digital world. LIDA is an international biennial conference that brings together researchers, educators, practitioners, and developers from all over the world in a forum for personal exchanges, discussions, and learning, made easier by being held in memorable environs. This year’s theme is “Social Justice, Community Engagement and Information Institutions: Access, Diversity, and Inclusion”. LIDA welcomes papers that address critical and theoretical examination of the theme; present current research and evidence, as well as examination of best practices from the field, and practitioner perspectives and applications.

Click here to view the LIDA 2018 Call for Participation.


iConference 2018 issues Call For Participation


iConference 2018 organizers University of Sheffield and Northumbria University have issued their Call For Participation.

Taking place March 25-28, 2018, in Sheffield, UK, the theme of iConference 2018 is “Transforming Digital Worlds.” It will include peer-reviewed papers and posters, as well as workshops and sessions for interaction and engagement, interspersed with multiple opportunities for networking. The special programs introduced last year on iSchool Best Practices and iSchools and Industry Partnership tracks will also continue. Early career and next generation researchers can engage in the Doctoral Student Colloquium and the Early Career Colloquium.

The conference organizers encourage authors to begin work on submissions now. The conference will start accepting submissions in early July. The submission deadline is September 18, 2017.

For the first time, iConference 2018 papers will be published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science series and will therefore be indexed by major services such as Web of Science and Scopus. The papers will be published as Green Open Access allowing them to be deposited in institutional repositories as well as in the open access Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS).

About the iConference
An annual presentation of the iSchools organization since 2005, the iConference brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to examine critical information issues in contemporary society. iConference 2018 will take place March 25-28, 2018, in Sheffield, UK. This year’s theme is “Transforming Digital Worlds.” iConference 2018 is jointly organized by the University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. For more about the iConference series, including links to past proceedings, visit our About the iConference webpage.


Popular University of Washington Course Calls “Bull” on Big Data


The University of Washington is not-so-subtly questioning Big Data. Its 10-week seminar “Calling BS in the Age of Big Data” explores how data is frequently misinterpreted to come up with bogus findings.

In a Seattle Times article titled, “We crashed UW’s class on calling BS. Here’s what we learned about sleuthing ‘big data,’ “ reporter Katherine Long showcases the popular UW lecture series by Information School professor Jevin West and Biology professor Carl Bergstrom, noting that similar courses are cropping up at institutions worldwide.

The article cites several examples the professors gave of misapplied Big Data. In one, a study purporting to discern criminality from photographed facial features actually turned out to be more of a mood detector, reflecting the fact that criminals don’t smile in mug shots.

The course title is intentionally provocative, to get attention—BS is American slang, roughly translating to bull scat. “We’re making it fun—making it entertaining, theatrical, to make it less intimidating,” West is quoted as saying.

Profanity aside, the overall takeaway is familiar to information professionals: It is one thing to collect Big Data, but quite another to analyze and use it correctly. The later is the expertise of the iSchools: connecting information, people and technology.

For those interested in more, the course syllabus is available online, as are YouTube videos of the seminars.