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Information Technologies

INFO 654-03
Credits: 3
Day and Time: Wednesday 06:30PM - 09:20PM
Location: Manhattan, Room 606

Instructor: Josh Hadro (please call me "Josh")
(917) 428-4152

Office Hours: by appointment

Tech Tutor(s) for Fall 2018:



Monday 11 am - 6 pm

Tuesday 11 am - 7 pm

Wednesday 11 am - 2 pm

Course Etherpad:

[increment last digit for subsequent class numbers, e.g. -2 for class session 2, -6 for class session 6, etc.]
Course WordPress site: (invitations and logins to come)

Course hashtag: #INFO654 (optional)

Course Description:

This course introduces the fundamental concepts of computing and networking, with an emphasis on the role these technologies play in creating, manipulating, storing, and accessing information. Topics essential to the work done by information professionals will be highlighted: web technologies, database concepts, markup languages, data management, and design and accessibility. Students will conduct frequent hands-on activities to acquire skills that are immediately applicable to working with information technologies. The course will explore recent trends in technology within information organizations, preparing students for their roles as information professionals and providing the foundation for future technology-related coursework.

The goals of this course are to:

  • Introduce fundamental concepts of information technology infrastructure, internet, and web design principles

  • Develop a general understanding of the information technologies used for creating, managing, storing, and accessing information

  • Understand contemporary issues and trends in the development and changes of information technologies and their impact on information organizations

Upon successful completion of this course, a student will be able to:

  • Understand, use, discuss, and be able to help others with core computing technologies, including hardware, operating systems, software applications, Internet/web technologies and assistive technologies.

  • Evaluate different technologies to determine the most appropriate infrastructure, systems, and tools needed to solve a problem or achieve a goal.

  • Be able to use up-to-date web technologies to edit and maintain a substantial website.

  • Ability to use critical approaches when evaluating information technologies, including the evaluation of technology-related current events.


  • Aspects of this course are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any modifications will be announced and documented in a timely fashion.

  • This is not necessarily a skills class. Although we will study and use specific technologies, such as HTML, CSS and other related tools, the focus of the course will be on the role of these technologies in the information professions, not necessarily on full expertise in the skills themselves.

  1. Prerequisites

This is a graduate-level technology course. Although there are no academic prerequisites, prior to enrolling in SILS, students must be proficient in the skills listed in "The SILS Student Technology Expectations" adopted and distributed to students since July 2006 (see attached at end of syllabus). The course will move along under this assumption and SILS faculty will provide no remedial assistance during or outside of class.

  1. Technology Tutoring

Pratt SILS offers technology tutorial assistance to students taking 654 and other courses. Assistance with development components of assignments should be directed to the tutor. The tutoring service is managed through the SILS office and is available 20 hours a week either by walk-in or appointment. For information on hours of operation, contact the SILS office or see above.


There are no texts that are required purchases for this course. All required readings are provided directly or will be available online. It is expected that you will complete all assigned readings and tutorials [before]{.underline} the class session. Links to all assigned materials will be available in the syllabus and posted on Github.

Suggested Texts, Sites, and Lists

Given that technology develops at such a rapid pace, online outlets are more suited to giving the background that will give students a useful understanding of current issues in the information fields. It is highly recommended that students follow at least some of the sites and lists provided below with some regularity.

Library-related outlets featuring significant technology coverage: [Disclosure: I serve on the advisory board for this open access publication]

Email lists and Newsletters:

Center for the Future of Libraries:
Current Cites:

Above the Fold from OCLC:

Also recommended more general publications:

Twitter via Tweetdeck or other list-displaying programs or apps
Flipboard etc.

Coding tutorials: [Available to you for free with an NYPL card!]

Class Schedule

August 29 --- Introduction and Information Technology Basics

In class: set up a WordPress blog profile

September 5 --- The Internet, Networks, and Protocols

Due: Technology and Service Inspiration Post 1


A Brief History of the Internet

A Little History of the World Wide Web

As We May Think

The Cobweb: Can the Internet be archived?

Women in Programming: Erasure and Visibility

September 12 --- Web Design Basics: HTML (LAB)

Due: Reflection Post 1


A history of HTML

A Brief History of Markup

HTML5 and The Future of the Web

HTML Beginner Tutorial

The Group That Rules the Web

A battle rages for the future of the Web

The Evolution of the Web (infographic)

September 19 --- Web Design Basics: CSS (LAB)


What is code? (Note: longer piece, leave enough time to experience this!)

The CSS Saga

CSS Basics

CSS Selectors

Learn CSS in 12 Minutes

How to Center in CSS [Because it will definitely come up!]

September 26 --- Web Design Basics: Graphics and Multimedia, and Web Design Wrap-up

Due: Technology and Service Inspiration Post 2


Responsive Web Design -- What It Is And How To Use It

The Comprehensive Guide to Saving Images for the Web

Graphics Formats Explained

Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI):


Format Considerations in Audio-Visual Preservation Reformatting:

H.264 is Magic

How JPG Works

October 3 - Usability, User Experience, and Universal Design

Due: Reflection Post 2


The User Experience\*/

(Archives of the entire column run here: )

Connected UX

Web Style Guide- Chapter 2*:* Universal Usability

Usability Testing Demystified

User-Centered Design for Complex Digital Objects

An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues

A Practical Guide to Improving Web Accessibility;rgn=main

Accessibility and Design resources:

**Optional: More on responsive design: **

The Difference Between Responsive and Adaptive Design

9 GIFs That Explain Responsive Design Brilliantly

October 10 --- Structured Data, XML, and JSON


Getting started with XML: A workshop [Read Part I: "General introduction to XML"]

A Gentle Introduction to XML

XML and Databases [Sections 1-4, rest is optional]

JSON Basics: What You Need to Know (don't worry about the JavaScript and PHP parts, unless you're interested!)**

Stop Comparing JSON and XML

Structured vs. Unstructured Data

Unix Commands and Batch Processing for the Reluctant Librarian or Archivist

October 17 --- APIs and Linked Data

Due: Personal homepage


MARC, Linked Data, and Human-Computer Asymmetry | Peer to Peer Review

What Is An API & What Are They Good For?

[Sir] Tim Berners-Lee: The next web [video, 16 minutes]

What is Linked Data? [video, 12 minutes]

Linked Data for Libraries [video, 14 minutes]

An Introduction to RDF for Librarians (of a Metadata Bent)

Unlocking Potential: Where Next for Open Cultural Data in Museums?

October 24 - Data analysis and visualization, and Machine learning/AI (LAB)


Intro To Data Analysis For Everyone! Part 1 [N.B.: Make sure to watch the "Data Story Telling" video embedded in the article]

Data + Design: A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information

Chapters 1-2 and 12-13:

Information Is Beautiful Examples:

A visual introduction to machine learning

An Introduction to Machine Learning

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

Google AI Experiments

Neural Network Tinker Tool

October 31 --- Technology Law and Ethics, including Open Source and Open Access

Due: Technology and Service Inspiration Post 2


Copyright Basics

American Alliance of Museums: Ethics, Standards, and Professional Practices

ALA Code of Ethics

Silicon Valley Has Failed to Protect Our Data. Here's How to Fix It

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You --- And It Could Raise Your Rates

The Rise of Reading Analytics and the Emerging Calculus of Reader Privacy in the Digital World

Libraries and publishers don't have symmetrical interest in a conversation

The Vexed Problem of Libraries, Publishers, and E-books

The Importance of Open Access, Open Source, and Open Standards for Libraries

Open Source, Open Mind

A Primer in Risk

Git and GitHub for Librarians

November 7 --- Blank Technology Canvas Pitch Presentations

Due: Blank Technology Canvas Pitch Presentation

**November 14 --- Blank Technology Canvas Pitch Presentations **

Due: Reflection Post 3

November 21 --- NO CLASS

November 28 --- Content Management and Digital Asset Management/Preservation


Downgrading your website

Headless CMS Vs Decoupled CMS: Explained In 5 Minutes

Catalogs and Context

How OPACs Suck, Part 3: The Big Picture

DAMs Vs. LAMs: It's On!

The Case for Building a Digital Preservation Network

Analysis of Current Digital Preservation Policies: Archives, Libraries and Museums

Optional, but encouraged, especially for LIS students:
Creating the Catalog, Before and After FRBR

December 5 --- Databases and Structured Queries (and SQL Primer LAB)


What is a Database, really? Data Storage for Librarians **

Introduction to Relational Databases\_to\_Relational\_Databases

Chapter 1. Introduction to Relational Databases

I Dreamed of a Perfect Database

SQL: The Prequel (Excel vs. Databases)

An Introduction to SQL for Librarians

Extra reading (useful to try in conjunction with reading directly above):
Introduction to SQL (Interactive Tutorial)

December 12 --- Information Technology of the Future, and Wrap-up

Due: Blank Technology Canvas Final Report Site


Can We Create a National Digital Library?

How Do Institutional Philosophies Manifest in Online Collections?

Can't Buy Us Love: The Declining Importance of Library Books and the Rising Importance of Special Collections

The Robot Army of Good Enough --- May 13, 2014

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria

What Happened to Google's Effort to Scan Millions of University Library Books?


All graded assignments must be added to the class WordPress blog or emailed to the instruction before class on the due date (unless otherwise noted). If there is a medical or personal reason for absences or late homework assignments, you must present your excuse in advance and in writing, via email. Students who do not give advance notice and receive approval will be subject to a 10% of grade per-day penalty on late homework assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade, but may not receive feedback. Assignments more than 4 days late will not be graded (and will earn a "0") unless you have prior written approval from your instructor.

  1. Reflection Posts (25%)

  2. Technology and Service Inspiration Posts (10%)

  3. Personal Homepage (20%)

  4. Blank Technology Canvas Presentation (10%)

  5. Blank Technology Canvas Report (25%)

  6. Class discussion and participation (including News of the Week, In-class labs, guest speaker preparedness etc.) (10%)

Reflection Posts (25%)

Students will contribute three significant posts to the class blog over the course of the semester. Initial topic suggestions and a non-exhaustive list of potential sources will be distributed the first day of class. The posts should be a minimum of 700 words in length, and must include: an excerpted portion, quote, or embed (with Fair Use criteria in mind see Fair Use appendix below) and direct link to the source; a brief summary or explanation of the material with comment on how the material was discovered; and the student's reflection, drawing connections and parallels to material covered in class and/or ongoing concerns to the library and archives communities. A separate assignment sheet with specific blog post and format criteria will be distributed the first day of class.

Technology and Service Inspiration Posts (10%)

Students will contribute three brief (150 word minimum) posts to the class blog over the course of the semester. The posts should include: an excerpted portion, quote, or embed (with Fair Use criteria in mind; see Fair Use appendix below) and direct link to the source; and a brief summary or explanation of the connection of the technology inspiration source to the provision of service in an information resource setting. A separate assignment sheet with specific blog post and format criteria will be distributed the first day of class.

Personal Homepage (20%)

Using skills, tools, and technique introduced in class, students will create a linked series of web documents featuring biographical information, images, and outbound links relevant to student interests. Required elements will include: a home page, three additional linked pages, an external style sheet, hidden commented code in both HTML and CSS documenting sections and style choices, at least one web-optimized image on each page, inclusions of alt tags for accessibility, and at least one HTML table element. The personal homepage should demonstrate the cumulative knowledge of coding and design skills covered in the course, as well as the integration of design considerations from other sites and examples discussed in class. Students will host all files on the server space provided by the Pratt Institute. A separate assignment sheet with explicit requirements will be distributed in class.

Blank Technology Canvas Pitch Presentation (10%)

The ability to pitch ideas effectively to a group and to integrate feedback are essential skills in any information profession. As a precursor to the Blank Technology Canvas Proposal Report, students will prepare a roughly five-minute in-class presentation, covering a proposed vision for the space, their inspirations, and other relevant elements supporting their proposal. Students will have the option of using PowerPoint, Prezi (free education version), or other tools (upon approval) to create the presentation. A separate assignment sheet will be distributed in class.

Blank Technology Canvas Proposal Site (25%)

For this exercise, students will draft a proposal to develop a large information service space for a user demographic of their choice. Students will work under the assumption that a parent organization has set aside space dedicated for this purpose, and have already secured funding to award to a meritorious proposal. Basic IT and broadband infrastructure are a given, but further potential uses for the space will stem from the student's vision. The proposal should take into account the specific needs of a particular target user demographic, and will also require that students consider potential partner organizations as well as areas of potential expansion. Likewise, students will include with the proposal examples of sites -- real or conceptual -- that served as inspiration. Students will receive feedback on their proposed ideas in class before embarking on the final proposal report. A separate assignment sheet detailing specifications and requirements will be distributed in class.


Work completed for this course may be included in your portfolio. For more information on each program's portfolio requirements, please visit the program's respective webpage:

You are encouraged to meet with your advisor about including projects in your portfolio.


Attendance at all class meetings is required. A student who must be absent from a class meeting still has certain responsibilities:

  • To inform the instructor in advance, or if advance notice is not possible, as soon after the absence as possible to arrange for delivery to the instructor of any assignment due at the class meeting.

  • To obtain notes, handouts, etc. from a classmate (in anticipation of this need, each student is advised to exchange telephone numbers with one or two others in the class).

  • Points are deducted for: unexcused absences, coming late to class, or leaving class early.

  • Active participation includes, but is not limited to the following:

    • Being involved in class discussions.

    • Asking relevant questions, debating, or challenging points.

    • Suggesting new ways of looking at things.

    • Volunteering to take notes, organizing activities and helping other students.

Written Work:

Students should always keep copies of all assignments that are turned in. In the case of a piece of written work becoming lost, regardless of fault, it is the responsibility of the student to provide a second copy.

Academic Integrity Code:

Academic integrity at Pratt means using your own and original ideas in creating academic work. It also means that if you use the ideas or influence of others in your work, you must acknowledge them.

Instances of cheating, plagiarism, and improper use of intellectual property will not be tolerated. Do not plagiarize or copy from anywhere, including articles, websites, class handouts, class slides, other students' work, work you have submitted to another course, etc. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, all assignments submitted for this course must be your own work. Any assignment that includes copied material will be given an automatic zero -- this includes cases where only a portion of the assignment is copied. Depending on the nature of the offense, this may also result in failure of the course. No excuses will be accepted. For more information on Pratt's Academic Integrity Standards, please visit

Students with Disabilities:

Pratt Institute is committed to the full inclusion of all students. If you are a student with a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Learning/Access Center (L/AC) at to schedule an appointment to discuss these accommodations. Students with disabilities who have already registered with the L/AC are encouraged to speak to the professor about accommodations they may need to produce an accessible learning environment.


The best way to contact me is by email ( I typically respond within 24 hours and usually sooner. Should that change, you will be notified in advance. For questions pertaining to upcoming assignments, make sure to contact me well in advance of the deadline such that you can receive the necessary help prior to the deadline.

Student Agreement:

Attendance at this class signifies that the student has agreed to abide by and adhere to the policies and regulations specified above. It is understood that the instructor may adapt or change this syllabus and the assignments contained within it according to circumstances that may arise during the course of the class.

Appendix: On Fair Use

Fair use is an extremely important facet of the information industry, and is an essential component of the law to understand and be able to clearly communicate to patrons, researchers, students, and anyone else who might benefit from fair use.

17 U.S. Code § 107 - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include---

(1) **the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; **

(2) **the nature of the copyrighted work; **

(3) **the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and **

(4) **the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. **

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


The following are the best and most succinct informal criteria for fair use I've heard:

  1. Are you using the material to illustrate a specific point that you're trying to make?

  2. Are you only using so much as is necessary to make that point?

  3. Is it clear to the audience what that point is?

As quoted in "Fair Use Panel Cautions Against Adopting Georgia State Ruling as Definitive", Library Journal, June 26, 2012.

**Read more:
**Copyright: Fair Use:

Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors

Pratt School of Information

[Student Technology Expectations]{.underline}

Aptitude in the use of Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, the Microsoft Office Suite and core Internet technologies is expected prior to enrollment. Proficiency with the skills listed below is assumed and will not be taught by SILS faculty or staff. Remedial and refresher texts are available in the Pratt Manhattan Library.

A. Microsoft Windows

  1. Proficiency using Windows-based computers. Presently, Apple computers are not supported within the SILS curriculum.

  2. File Management using Microsoft Windows (directories, folders, files, extensions, backing up files, install and uninstall programs).

  3. Basic software troubleshooting using online help and by following instructions in software manuals.

B. Microsoft Office

  1. Proficiency in word processing using Microsoft Word.

  2. Design and creation of effective electronic presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint.

  3. Familiarity with the principles for simple database design using Microsoft Access (set up, edit, save, sort, search for and manipulate data)

C. Internet

  1. Use of e-mail (sending, receiving, replying, forwarding, backing up & deleting messages, as well as sending and opening file attachments)

  2. Web browsing and searching (connecting to website, bookmarking, using Yahoo and Google for searching)

  3. Downloading and uploading files using FTP.