Berkeley Center for the Information Society

Graduate Seminar: Information Systems and Social Systems

This is a new graduate seminar, co-taught by Ruzena Bajcsy of EECS and CITRIS, and Steven Weber from Political Science. The purpose of this course is to build a research-oriented bridge between leading edge work in computer science and information technology, and the social sciences.

Several groups on campus are engaged in extremely ambitious technical projects at a very large scale, ranging from pervasive or ubiquitous computing to massive sensor nets to very inexpensive computing and communications devices designed for the poorest developing countries. These efforts will affect, and be affected, by the nature of markets, the character of coordination in social settings, and evolving sets of ideas about how best to organize activities including economic production and political action. We will use a set of theory discussions and a set of case studies to explore the practical nature of the problems that emerge at the interface of technological and social systems. What are some of the core assumptions regarding politics and economics that underpin key arguments in information systems research, and what are some of the core assumptions about information production, organization, and transmission that underpin key arguments in economics and politics? We hope to identify new, productive, interdisciplinary areas of research at the intersection between new developments in these two fields. The course is designed explicitly for graduate students in both technical and social science fields (we will pay considerable attention to ensuring that everyone has the basic conceptual apparatus and language to engage successfully).

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