Indiana University      Research & Creative Activity      September 1999 Volume XXII Number 2

The relentless pace of change in information and communication technologies is leading to a revolution in research, teaching, and the arts in higher education that is being felt throughout society.


by Michael McRobbie

Michael McRobbie, vice president for information technology, chief information officer, and professor of computer science, philosophy, and computer technology at Indiana University. --credit

Extraordinary gains are occurring daily, both in the theoretical understanding of information technologies and in their widespread deployment and use. The availability of huge amounts of digital information and the extensive use of information technology are causing dramatic transformations in areas as diverse as research, teaching, health care, science, entertainment, government, international markets, and electronic commerce. This in turn has opened new perspectives on such issues as privacy, collaboration, and intellectual property rights.

A key to these technological advances is the increasingly tighter interweaving of computation, communication, and content supported by theories of information and computer science. Many schools, departments, and programs at Indiana University are making fundamental contributions in these areas. And in the schools themselves, the methods of research, experimentation, creative activity, and scholarly communication are transforming disciplines--ranging from the sciences to the arts and humanities, and the professional fields.

This issue of Research & Creative Activity presents a wide selection of some of the most significant work in the use and application of information technology being done at Indiana University. The diversity of this work is impressive and the results compelling. It truly underscores IU's emergence as an information technology leader. This work is drawn on the following areas:

Fundamental to the support of IU's research programs and enabling their breakthrough work is the university-wide information technology and telecommunications infrastructure that is the responsibility of University Information Technology Services and the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology. Major developments in that infrastructure have recently taken place in high-speed networking, high-performance computing, visualization and virtual reality, massive data storage, digital media, and digital libraries. Significant new investment in information technology by the state of Indiana in its recent budget will ensure that these developments will continue.

The information technology strategy for IU is set out in detail in "Architecture for the 21st Century: An Information Technology Strategic Plan for Indiana University." This strategy is guided by President Myles Brand's vision for the university. In his 1997 speech, "State of the University: The Next Step," the president set a challenge for Indiana University to "take the next step in institutional academic excellence and move into the top tier of the nation's public universities."

Academic excellence will depend in part on the university's ability to apply and use information technology to advance the creation of knowledge and sharing of information. The president has set IU's leadership in this area as a specific goal.

In many areas IU already leads in the applpication and use of information technology to advance research and creative activity. Some outstanding examples of these are presented in the articles that follow.

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