Volume 2

Volume 2, Number 20

April 6, 2004

9 pages738 K bytes

Dumpster Diving and Information Responsibility: Research Projects as Change Agents

Elia V. Chepaitis
Fairfield University
Fairfield, CT 06430

Abstract: This paper describes student projects that encourage “thinking out of the box.” These projects address changing business information needs, socio-economic impacts, and professional challenges in information systems (IS). A number of action-based projects are presented, ranging from student-authored textbook proposals to board games. One non-traditional project from 2002-2003 is discussed at length--the author and her class examined computers discarded in dumpsters, city curbside collections, and second-hand shops to ascertain if the information on the hard disks has been erased. On 42% of the retrieved disks, data had not been erased. “Dumpster diving” illuminated much more than another security problem—it showed how computers have become throw-away commodities in popular culture. Classes examined internal and external factors and consequences of this careless habit. In conclusion, the paper considers how this project advances information literacy, specifically within Standard Five of the Information Literacy Competency Standards of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) for Higher Education. This emergent topic, information responsibility, supports a transdisciplinary and flexible approach to IS.

Keywords: disk sanitation, information ethics, CSO, Chief Security Officer, privacy, environmental waste, legacy projects, information literacy, information responsibility

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Recommended Citation: Chepaitis (2004). Dumpster Diving and Information Responsibility: Research Projects as Change Agents. Information Systems Education Journal, 2 (20). http://isedj.org/2/20/. ISSN: 1545-679X. (Preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of ISECON 2003: §3222. ISSN: 1542-7382.)