Future of Information Alliance
November 14-18, 2011
A series of exciting events marked the launch of the Future of Information Alliance, a campus-wide initiative at the University of Maryland.
Three remarkable guests we call our “Visiting Future-ists” spent a week on campus brainstorming with students, faculty, administrators, staff and alumni to identify key information challenges that can best be addressed through interdisciplinary collaboration. They were:
- Dan Russell, Google’s “director of user happiness,” who leads efforts to improve the effectiveness of web searching; he was the keynote speaker at our campus-wide Future of Information Forum held last November;
- Mary Czerwinski, who manages the research on human-computer interaction at Microsoft and focuses on information visualization, group awareness and lifelogging;
- Abdur Chowdhury, former chief scientist at Twitter, who has been working toward improving the ability to separate “signal” from “noise” in the explosion of information on the Web.
During the week, there were four two-hour events at the Colony Ballroom at the Stamp Student Union in which hundreds of members of the University community participated.
At the kickoff event, the Visiting Future-ists described their own work in helping to innovate for the future information environment, and they discussed what they see as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. They also engaged the audience in brainstorming aimed at identifying issues that can best be addressed through interdisciplinary research.
The three additional events, each involving the Visiting Future-ists, focused on various aspects of the future of information:
Each of these three themed events began with brief presentations by several faculty members. They came from a very broad array of disciplines but share a passion for understanding the role of information in a wide variety of academic, cultural, and personal endeavors. The Visiting Future-ists served as discussants, both responding to what they heard from the faculty panelists and offering their own visions for the future of information as it relates to each of these themes. There was opportunity for brainstorming with the attendees.
The Future of Information Alliance created these events to serve as catalysts for identifying important research questions that might be addressed in a collaborative and transdisciplinary way.