SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: IA/HCI Education (summary)
Re: SIGIA-L: IA/HCI Education (summary)
From: Michael Fry (mfry_at_drexel.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 13:46:42 EST
Re: the relevance or perceived relevance of an MLS to this industry,
whatever you choose to call it...
Dan Saffer wrote:
> If I, who have been on this list for over a year and am reasonably knowledgeable about our field has [the perception that MLS degrees aren't necessarily relevant to what's required in industry], what about the recruiters, creative directors, IT managers, etc. who hire us?
Obviously I'm not without my biases. I am an MLS student and, if things
work out, a future PhD in information science. Nevertheless, it sounds
to me like you're overestimating the importance of academic credentials.
I'm quite sure there are recruiters and such who seek out graduates of
particular programs and/or degrees, but while I may be *underestimating*
the importance of my degree, I don't perceive this as an industry bound
by rules or traditions of that sort.
I'd like to think that people who hire people like us understand and
appreciate that: a) there isn't a single, preferred background for this
industry, b) lots of backgrounds are valuable and useful to the field
and c) experience is really important.
Indeed, most of the people on this list--including some of the most
visible, successful people in the field--are mongrels of one kind of
another. They have degrees in English or Anthro or Journalism or Poli
Sci, not HCI or cognitive psych.
> It sounds like people are tailoring their education (which is great), but at the end of the day, your degree is in IS/MLIS and not in HCI or Design.
Yes, but I've studied many of the same topics and have much of the same
experience. The letters after my name are different, but if I'm any kind
of a salesman, that won't matter to the recruiter. At the end of the
day, the coursework, experience and ability are what matter, not the
kind (or lack) of degree I have.
> Does this make a difference in the type of education you get...
To a point, yes. But there can be lots of overlap if you want there to
be. I could have taken "resources in the humanities," but I chose to
take cognitive psych. I could have taken "library automation," but I
went for IR systems instead. I have no background in anything related to
aesthetics or graphic design, but my guess is that most designers
haven't ever built a thesaurus. No degree, be it HCI, design, cog psych,
experimental psych or MLS, is perfect. They all have strength that fit
very nicely into this industry.
> ...OR in the types of job offers you receive?
Well, I'm an MLS working as a "Human Factors Analyst." What does that
tell you? ;) I'm sure of the other mongrels on the list will be happy to
chime in here...
> Most job listings I'm seeing these days ask for backgrounds (if not Master's degrees) in HCI, Cognitive Psych, or design. I have yet to see one that asks for information science. Perhaps that is ignorance on the part of those who hire for our roles, but it's there nonetheless.
I consider that a combination of ignorance and misguided idealism, i.e.
the MLS may not be very well understood. If you have relevant
experience, academic or professional, I don't think your precise degree
> Ten years down the line, are people going to wonder why you went to IS
school instead of a program that is more closely affiliated with design
or computer science?
Jesus, I hope not. If they do, they don't understand their own industry.
I mean, how many times do you see threads on this listserv about data
structures, object-oriented programming, mood boards or logo design?
> Hopefully this isn't coming off as a slam against IS programs.
That never crossed my mind. I hope I've answered your questions (even if
you don't agree).
College of Information Science & Technology
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:01 EST