Monday, December 04, 2006

Security as School-wide opportunity

In a recent email, John Unsworth (UIUC i-school dean) brought up an interesting idea:

"I propose that the I-Schools begin a deliberate campaign to develop education and licensing for people who will, as a part of their employment, be entrusted with the management of personal information. Moreover, as we develop this education and licensing, I think we should also campaign (with corporate and government bodies) to develop and focus demand for people with this education and license, and to develop funding for research and teaching programs in this area."

He cites this as one interesting reflection on the state of affairs, and goes on to say:

"It seems to me that LIS is the profession that already has appropriate values and traditions in this area (protecting library patron privacy on the one hand, ensuring appropriate access to information on the other), and we are well positioned to deal with the reality of a world in which technical and human systems and factors interact to create the problem-space. Social engineering is the easiest hack, so CS-based programs that just look at how to harden systems are overlooking the weak link. And so on: you see how this unfolds.

"If we were to embark on claiming this territory, we could not do it as one school, or two or three--but 20 of us, nationally and internationally, could do it. We could also become the experts to which reporters turn every time one of these stories surfaces, and we could use this problem-space as an entree into the broader world of people/information/systems and what information schools have to offer there."

I think he is on to something here, and it reminded me of the conversation among the GIST faculty last Friday about their perceived asymmetry between IS and LIS.


Richard J. Cox said...

This is interesting, although I actually believe that if any one school could do it, it could be us. We have a wide array of perspectives and expertise, but I often feel it is attitudes, personal issues, idiosyncratic agendas, and other similar problems that get in our way. Sure, we can reach out to discuss such matters with other I-schools, and we probably need to do this, but I wonder when we will start to recognize the strengths we internally possess and try to harness them in a better way.

Martin Weiss said...

This article, while a little off-subject on this post, also indicates how our combined interests and skills might be usable to solve larger problems.