Short Version (jargon-free):
InfoStructure: Intersections Between Social and Technological Systems is a multidisciplinary program led by graduate students and funded by a Focal Point Grant from the Graduate College and by various co-sponsors. InfoStructure is an endeavor to examine and discuss the hidden complexities of information technology systems that can often be obscured by disciplinary boundaries. Invited speakers will address recent developments in information technology in order to create a broadly accessible debate whereby systems are viewed as simultaneously technological and social.
We are a multidisciplinary group of graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. InfoStructure: Intersections Between Social and Technological Systems is set up to deliberately challenge received notions regarding information, infrastructure, and technology. We too often speak of technology as abstracted from society, as if it is somehow an independent force unequivocally molding society in its image. Yet it is crucial to examine the ways in which technology reflects and also engenders possibilities and constraints for human relations and social action.
InfoStructure was selected by the Graduate College as part of Focal Point Program an initiative to enhance and sustain interdisciplinary dialog across campus. This Focal Point program is a graduate student-led complement to two other 2009-10 initiatives. It will complement and be coordinated with the Center for Advanced Study’s Fall 2009 initiative, "Interpreting Technoscience: Explorations in Identity, Culture and Democracy" led by Prof. Rayvon Fouche (History). It will also complement and expand the 2009-10 Human-Computer Interaction Colloquium in the Computer Science Department. This popular, long-running colloquium has been recently funded by the Provost's Office and led by Prof. Karrie Karahalios. The overlap with this topic will help to ensure an audience for our visitors and help to establish a community of interest. While the CAS and HCI initiatives focus primarily on public events, our program creates an arena for graduate students to collaborate, dialogue, and network with each other and with researchers from diverse backgrounds on pressing technological issues.
The program has two main components: a public speaker series and a seminar and research group.
- The speaker series will feature six public lectures from leading scholars in technology studies, followed by a discussion forum with Focal Point program participants. Each speaker will coincide with a specific theme (or sub-topic) relating to his/her area of expertise. Four speakers will be invited from outside institutions and two will be from the University of Illinois. Lectures will be widely publicized across campus and free and open to all. Three lectures will be held in the Fall semester and three in Spring
- The graduate and faculty participants will meet bi-weekly in a seminar and research group. The seminar group will be a forum for group reading and discussion and for the presentation and workshopping of student and faculty research projects. We will have at least 2 faculty members and about 8 graduate students participating in the seminars.