Positioning Information Science Utrecht within the Netherlands
By the mid eighties, computer science departments with a discipline-bound prefix, such as departments of medical computer science, law computer science etc. had proliferated in the Netherlands.To end this proliferation, in 1986, the Commission of Higher Education in Computer Science advocated the concept of 'Information Science' as an applied form of computer science. Ten years later in 'Geen toekomst zonder informatica: toekomstverkenning Informatica 1996-2005' (No future without computer science: an exploration of the future of Computer Science 1996-2005), the focal area of computer science had shifted to 'the creation and maintenance of information systems'. Information Science is situated within this focal area, specifically where the setup of information facilities in organizations and the translation of information needs to information systems is involved. The report finds that information science is part of computer science insofar as the theories, methodology and techniques used have a generic character and are not a priori bound to a specific domain of application. A remarkable shift. The very rapid computerization of society and the concurrently advancing insight that ICT issues deserve broad scientific study have strengthened the symbiosis between computer- and information science. Several subjects from the 'top list' of NOAG-i are directly situated within the focal area of the CCKE as indicated above:
- electronic highway applications: e-commerce and web technology, but also edutainment;
- multimedia applications: images and sound are rapidly becoming important for the content industry next to text;
- knowledge management: systematic documentation, management, preservation and the sharing of knowledge for operational
- groupware and workflow: respectively, less and more structured ICT-supported collaboration within organizations;
- business process redesign: optimizing information systems and gearing them to management goals in order to both (re)design business processes and make them more flexible.
Following the vision of the complete life cycle of information, information science in Utrecht is also studied from the perspective of 'use' and the 'user': knowledge about properties of human functioning (perception, memory, reasoning etc.) is being used to (re-)present information, design systems and test developed technical alternatives as to their usability for the end-user. As far as the human context, the CCKE is researching the consequences of ICT for individuals, organizations and society in general, and, vice versa, the demands that human beings and organizations pose to ICT applications.
The CCKE participates in the Dutch research School for Information and Knowledge Systems (SIKS), and contributes to the stimulation programs of NWO-EW and NWO-MAG in funded areas of interest in short-term and long-term research (a.o. in the program 'Society and the Electronic Highway' (NWO-MES)).