Sunday, March 04, 2007


Announcing "Information & Service Design" at UC Berkeley

This past Friday I moderated a symposium at the School of Information at UC Berkeley to mark the "coming out party" for a new program in "Information & Service Design" that I'm helping to get started.

We are all very aware of the relentless trend for our economies, local, national and global to be increasingly based on information and services. But because of the scope and depth of these transitions, which cut across information and computing science, business strategy, economics, organizational sociology, software design, law, and other specialties -- no single academic discipline is capable of making sense of them to help prepare students to be effective players in this new economy.

So there have been calls to develop a new science of services that can do this. A Berkeley campus-wide initiative is emerging as a joint effort of the engineering, business, and information schools.

But we think that we have a unique configuration of competencies within the School of Information:

• information modeling
• systems analysis and design methods
• implementation of web-based services and information-intensive applications
• Internet business architecture.

These 4 areas broadly span the stack from what some would call "low-level" concerns of information analysis and software architecture all the way up to big strategic concerns about "business architecture" -- how businesses and service network emerge and evolve, covering issues like component business modeling and global sourcing and outsourcing.

We've already had good success at finding synergies across these diverse topics; in particular last semester I co-taught a course immodestly titled "The Information & Services Economy" with AnnaLee Saxenian that started with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Frederick Taylor and ended with web services. We also conducted a weekly lecture series with a fascinating set of speakers that included CEO speakers from start-ups and global consulting firms and people doing services research at Google, Fair Isaac, Genentech, Accenture, IBM, and other leading firms. (These weekly lectures are continuing this semester).

These new courses were incredibly stimulating for both us and for the students, and that inspired Anno and me to institutionalize our curricular and research experiments in services into the Information and Services Design program.

The Symposium we held Friday consisted of 11 talks by graduate students based on research and term papers they wrote for one of these new courses on services from the fall semester. Their papers cover a diverse set of topics -- theory of service design, analysis of some design problem or opportunity, even specific case studies. You can download the papers here.

-Bob Glushko

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