Saturday, October 3, 2009

Keynote, Fran Berman

Keynote, Fran Berman, Vice President for Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The keynote focused on the future of the information age.  Specifically how we're going to keep and archive current information.  We need to archive the information because "access tomorrow starts with preservation today.  You can't access tomorrow that which you don't have."  Together we much decide what we want to save.  Even before that, who is we?  There are so many groups of we, society in general, the research community, individuals, and each group wants to save different information from census information to the digital copy of home movies.

Along with what to save, we also need to decide how to save it.  Whatever archival form we decide to use, we need to stick with.  The amount of data that we want to save is massive and it would take copious amounts of time to change the format of all the information.  Think of how long it takes to put a VHS movie on DVD or to make a digital copy of an LP.  When we save it, we have to make multiple copies and be sure to tag it so we remember what it is (good advice for any information anyone saves!).

In order to deal with the future of the overwhelming information age, we need to create the next generation of leaders; the students of today!  We have to make sure they have the right knowledge and experience:

  • There is no answer key for the real world
  • The problems will be hard and the solutions won't necessarily be elegant
  • Experience with failure
  • Experience with international cultures

We have the power to create positive change.  We have the power of:

  • Asking the question; you can't improve what you can't articulate
  • Creating explicit goals and metrics of success
  • Recognition and encouragement
  • Policy, resource allocation, and prioritization

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