School of Information
 Previously School of Library & Information Studies

 Friday Afternoon Seminar: Summaries.
  296a-1 Seminar: Information Access, Fall 2019.

Fridays 3-5. 107 South Hall. Schedule. Weekly mailing list.
Details will be added as they become available.

Aug 30 No Seminar meeting

Sep 6: Clifford LYNCH: Machine Learning, Archives and Special Collections.

    Introduction to the Seminar.
    In this session, I'll summarize what I expect will be the most significant near term (next ten years) applications for machine learning in the context of archives and special collections, building on a brief essay I wrote over the summer for the International Council on Archives; in this discussion, I'll focus in particular on the architecture of facial recognition systems and how these may interact with collections, including privacy and ethical issues.

Sept 13: Clifford LYNCH: Public Policy Initiatives That Might Improve Digital stewardship.
    I. Brief Updates from Seminar Participants.
    II. Public Policy Initiatives That Might Improve Digital Stewardship.
    Traditionally most discussions of public policy efforts to enable stewardship of the cultural record have focused on copyright law -- in particular, first sale, fair use, preservation exemptions for memory institutions, copyright deposit and duration and registration (and orphan works). I'll briefly summarize some of these discussions, and underscore how poorly they are matched to some classes of cultural materials in the current world. I'll suggest some very tentative speculations about alternative approaches and formulations that might be worth considering for examination and discussion.

Sept 20: Sean BROOKS: Scaling Cybersecurity Support for Civil Society.
    The internet's promise as an open platform for free expression and assembly has come under increasing threat as governments, hate groups, terrorists, and multinational corporations have deployed sophisticated attacks against the operations and legitimacy of civil society organizations, journalists, researchers, and human rights defenders. Some responses have emerged to combat this threat - improved security product offerings for nonprofits, emergency response funds for organizations under attack - but if the scale of the problem is the whole of online civil society, assistance models must find methods to address a monumental volume of need. Citizen Clinic - the world's first public interest cybersecurity clinic - is researching the barriers to scaling technical assistance projects and using its experience supporting politically targeted organizations to examine how efforts to protect online freedom can meet the growing need. More at
    Sean Brooks is the Director of the Citizen Clinic and a Research Fellow at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley. His work in cybersecurity and privacy span a decade of experience in the government, private sector, civil society and academia, including helping build the Privacy Engineering program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and working as an advocate at the Center for Democracy and Technology. More at

Sept 27: *2 pm* The School's 101st Birthday Celebration.
    No Seminar meeting. Attend instead the School's 101st birthday celebration in South Hall 202, 2 - 4 pm. Also no-host luncheon at the Faculty Club. Advance registration requested. See

Oct 4: Michael BUCKLAND: This School's Social Mission: The Early Days.
    The School originated in 1918 to mitigate an acute shortage of qualified librarians in California. In addition to the technical skills taught, this mission was founded on a strong social agenda to achieve economic efficiency, to foster social harmony, to promote individual personal development, to protect civil liberties, and to promote liberal democracy. I will review this social agenda with special attention to the role of public libraries, the development of bibliography, the rise of authoritarian political ideologies in the 1930s, and the interpretation of that social agenda in today’s circumstances.

Oct 11: CAMPUS CLOSED. Rescheduled to March 6, 2020. Howard BESSER: Archiving the Non-Organizational Born-Digital: The Challenges Posed by Material from Individuals, Communities, Social Movements, and Events.

Oct 18: Aditya PARAMESWARAN and Mugdha BHUSARY.
    Mugdha BHUSARY: Managing Privacy in an Era of Self Driving Cars.

    Self driving or assisted driving cars are equipped with 360° cameras. They are constantly recording people and license plates around them. However recording someone's location at different times would be a privacy concern. This project looks at the potential of adversarial machine learning to tackle this problem. It look at the possibility of adding a perturbation (measured noise) while ensuring model accuracy is not affected. Brief progress report.
    Aditya PARAMESWARAN: Simplifying and Accelerating Data Exploration.
    Interactive data exploration tools are extremely popular; as examples, the spreadsheet tool Microsoft Excel is used by nearly 10% of the world's population, while the visual analytics tool Tableau was valued at 16B prior to its acquisition by Salesforce. Despite their popularity across a spectrum of domains, it is still challenging to use these tools to derive insights, especially on large datasets that are increasingly the norm, leading to frustration, missed opportunities and errors, and tedious manual effort. Drawing on examples from spreadsheets and visual analytics, we will describe our work on simplifying and accelerating data exploration, as well as some takeaways from our experience.
    Aditya Parameswaran is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information (I School) and in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California, Berkeley. Until June 2019, Aditya was an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He spent a year as a PostDoc at MIT CSAIL following his PhD at Stanford University. He develops systems and algorithms for "human-in-the-loop" data analytics, synthesizing techniques from database systems, data mining, and human-computer interaction. His website is at

Oct 25: Niloufar SALEHI and Ankit BANSAL.
    Ankit BANSAL: Protecting World Leaders Against Deep Fakes
    Brief progress report. Advances in deep learning i have made it very easy to create sophisticated fake videos called deep fakes. These pose a significant threat to democracy, national security, and society. Researchers have developed forensic techniques to typify an individual’s speaking pattern. However, these methods need to scale, and I am working on different techniques to create deepfakes, using which these models can be improved.
    Niloufar SALEHI: Intimate and Accountable Reconfiguration of Social Platforms.
    As online social spaces have evolved so have their problems. I will discuss how online spaces may be reconfigured to address those challenges. I will focus on two problems: First, social pressure to perform perfection and second, online harassment and abuse. Our research shows that one way that young people deal with mounting social pressures is by reconfiguring online platforms and changing their purposes, norms, expectations, and currencies. For instance, a finsta (fake+Instagram account) provides an outlet to share emotional, low-quality, or indecorous content. Carving out smaller spaces accessible only to close friends allows finsta users the opportunity for a more unguarded, vulnerable, and unserious performance. Drawing on feminist theory, we have termed this process: intimate reconfiguration. Through this reconfiguration finsta users repurpose an existing and widely-used social platform to create opportunities for more meaningful and reciprocal forms of social support. Second, I will discuss how we might reconfigure online social spaces to deal more effectively with online harm by relying on theories of restorative and transformative justice. I will present a fictional platform, The Internet's Good Place (TIGP), that we have developed through participatory design with online moderators and transformative and restorative justice practitioners. TIGP questions dominant approaches to moderation online that focus on what "content" is not allowed and presents paths to alternative approaches that rely on community accountability.
    Niloufar Salehi is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information at UC, Berkeley. Her research interests are in social computing, technologically mediated collective action, digital labor, and computer supported cooperative work. Her work has been published and received awards in premier venues in human-computer interaction including CHI and CSCW. Through building computational social systems in collaboration with existing communities, controlled experiments, and ethnographic fieldwork, her research contributes to the design of alternative social configurations online. More at

Nov 1: Michael BUCKLAND: ABCs of Information: Content, Context, Relevance, and other Challenges.
    Useful information services can be provided without great intellectual rigor or technical precision, but even a little critical scrutiny reveals some basic, useful terms (such as content, context and relevance) to be problematic conceptually and/or in practice. Meanwhile technological changes continually generate additional options. How could we evolve a more satisfactory tool-kit of concepts and terms? Continuing past Seminar discussions, I will review these and other less-known concepts and terms that could enable a stronger and more coherent basis for information studies, including affordances, autodocuments, documentarity, and particulars. Join us for discussion.

Nov 8: Michael BUCKLAND & Clifford LYNCH.
    Change of program. John Chuang's talk concelled.
    Michael BUCKLAND: Incorporating Sense-making Into Descriptions of Information Systems.
    Both the theorizing of information and representations of information systems and services give prominent attention to information technology and logical flows. But human sensing, sense-making, and becoming informed, although obviously important, get less attention. I will propose how this weakness could be remedied with a more hermeneutic view of information systems.
    Clifford LYNCH: Scenarios and Issues in "Send Computation to the Data" Repository Models.
    In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in data repository models that propose to send the computation to the repository rather than transferring data from a repository to a computational environment. This is much more complex than it appears, depending on the assumptions that are being made. I'll examine some of the justifications and motivations for doing this, and outline the issues involved at a high level. Topic to be announced.

Nov 15: Morgan AMES and Michele PRIDMORE-BROWN: Conversation on Morgan Ames' new book The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child.
    Morgan Ames's new book The Charisma Machine chronicles the life and legacy of the One Laptop per Child project and explains why--despite its failures--the same utopian visions that inspired OLPC still motivate other projects trying to use technology to “disrupt” education and development. In this conversation between the author and LA Review of Books editor Michele Pridmore-Brown, we will explore why the project remained charismatic to many, even with (and even because of) its fundamentally flawed vision of who the computer was made for and what role technology should play in learning.
    Drawing on an ethnography of a model OLPC project in Paraguay, The Charisma Machine reveals that OLPC's laptops were not only frustrating to use, easy to break, and hard to repair, they were designed for “technically precocious boys”--idealized younger versions of the developers themselves--rather than the diverse range of children who might actually use them. Reaching fifty years into the past and across the globe, this book offers a cautionary tale about the allure of technology hype and the problems that result when utopian dreams drive technology development. For The Charisma Machine see
    Morgan Ames is an assistant adjunct professor in the School of Information and interim associate director of research for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches in Data Science and administers the Designated Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies. She researches the ideological origins of inequality in the technology world, with a focus on utopianism, childhood, and learning. More at
    Michele Pridmore-Brown is the science editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with an emphasis on the history of science. She has written and taught on subjects like Virginia Woolf and radio technology, gender and science, designer babies and the history and future of reproductive technologies. Her work appears in scholarly and popular venues. She is a research fellow with CSTMS. More at

Nov 22: Ankit BANSAL & Mugdha BHUSARY: Final progress reports.
    Ankit BANSAL: Protecting World Leaders Against Deep Fakes
    The creation of sophisticated fake videos has been largely relegated to Hollywood studios or state actors. However, advances in deep learning have made it very easy to create sophisticated fake videos called deep fakes. These pose a significant threat to democracy, national security, and society. Researchers have developed forensic techniques to typify an individual’s speaking pattern. However, these methods need to scale. So I am working on a technique to automate the creation of deepfakes in order to provide a better test environment for forensic technique developers. I will also be addressing the current challenges in the creation of these videos.
    Mugdha BHUSARY: Managing Pedestrian Privacy in an Age of Self Driving Cars.
    Self driving or assisted driving cars are equipped with 360° cameras. They are constantly recording people and license plates around them. However using the protected information of people's faces and license plates for a task is not acceptable. Through the time of this course, a project has been developed that would look at the potential of differential privacy and adversarial machine learning to tackle this problem. It would evaluate the possibility of adding a perturbation (measured noise) while ensuring model accuracy is not affected. Further, once we realise the potential of building such a model, the project would tackle the question of where and how the notification should be implemented.

Nov 29: Thanksgiving. No Seminar meeting.

Dec 6: Clifford LYNCH: Developments in Networked Information: Review and Prospects.

    This is the now-traditional extended preview of parts of the plenary talk that I'll give at the CNI fall member meeting in the week of December 9. It will cover recent developments that I'm tracking, and discuss near-term prospects and opportunities. Since we have more time than I will at the CNI plenary and the scope of this talk is more constrained, I'll be able to go into more depth on some of the topics.

Dec 13: Niall KELEHER: Demographics, Social Networks, and Mobile Phone Usage: Introduction and Take up of Community Cellular Networks in the Philippines.
    In the context of remote locations of the Philippines, I investigate the determinants of cellular network adoption. I leverage unique circumstances where all households in seven localities were interviewed before the installation of cellular network towers. I link rich socio-economic as well as social network data with call detail records from the initial months of cellular network service to shed light on the drivers of network usage. The results contribute to the literature on cellular networks by revealing household-level characteristics that should be taken into consideration as “last-mile” ICT interventions are considered.
    Niall Keleher is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His background is in development economics and research methods. His current research focuses on the application of machine learning to improve the targeting of public and private services. Niall completed his Ph.D. at the UC Berkeley School of Information. More at
Spring 2019 schedule and summaries. Spring 2020 schedule and summaries.