The research and education environment of the future will reflect fundamental change spurred by information technology.

  1. Collaboration: communities of researchers, irrespective of physical location, will collaborate both on the provision of information and the review and analysis of it. Virtual centers of topical expertise will provide the vehicle for these communities to come together.
  2. Trans-disciplinary conceptualization: the research disciplines of the future have not yet been defined. These research disciplines will transcend current disciplines and will depend on the capacity and flexibility of the academic environment to facilitate, accommodate and incorporate alternative and emerging perspectives. The IT infrastructure will provide the necessary virtual home and digital media will provide the digital language, flexibility and nimbleness to accommodate the dynamic and distributed nature of new ideas.
  3. Information assimilation: networked repositories of digital media will become the new and significant vehicles for doing research. These repositories will require data structures that reflect the requirements for merging, linking and managing diverse, interdisciplinary digital assets. These data structures will manifest the language of the future disciplines.
  4. Insight: significant and new insights into information will be possible through the perspectives and perceptions afforded by visualization and the presentation of digital media. The richness of insight will depend on diversity of perspective.
  5. A New Literacy: the convergence of human-machine media into a single digital language of data, the increasing sophistication and scale of carrying out individual tasks for generating, organizing and manipulating data, the aggregate effects of bringing combinations of tasks together, the unprecedented ability to link and combine information to generate new insight and the world-wide scale and scope of application and impact, come together to contribute to a new literacy.

The successful research university of the future [omit comma] recognizes that the future requires creating an environment of digital adventure and fostering an emerging culture that encourages exploration and fosters relationships beyond traditional disciplines. The IT infrastructure must be developed and used not only to position for but spark advances in as yet unknown directions. The ability to embrace digital media in bringing the perspectives of disparate disciplines together is a necessary condition. Exposure and experimentation by faculty, staff and students about living in an information age encourages a culture of digital adventure and builds the perspective and know-how for moving forward.

We propose the formation of an Institute for Social Interfaces and Networks, Advanced Programmable Simulations and
Environments, or SINAPSE.
The mandate for SINAPSE is three-fold:

  1. It will increase collaboration and communication among UCLA faculty and graduate students working in digital media through Internal Fellowships that will provide release time and a collegial setting for discussions, collaborations and catalyzing interactions. A limited number of External and Visiting Fellowships will bring into this community distinguished researchers in digital media from elsewhere around the country and the world, increasing the visibility of SINAPSE/UCLA and promoting research in digital media.
  2. SINAPSE will further enhance collaboration and communication by serving as a juncture with other UCLA Centers and Institutes. Digital media will be used to connect SINAPSE electronically with every other Center on campus doing research related to digital media and willing to partner with SINAPSE. These could include, for example, the Center for Digital Innovation, the Brain Research Institute, the California NanoSystems Institute, the Center for the Study of Evaluation, and the Center for Computational Social Science. Events in these Centers would be streamed live into SINAPSE, either passively or with the capacity for SINAPSE participants to interact live with the on-site lecturer and audience. In addition, events at SINAPSE would also be streamed into these Centers, creating a rich and diverse interdisciplinary environment of lectures, conversations, debates, and research collaborations in digital media. In this way digital media becomes both the focus of SINAPSE research programs and the method whereby SINAPSE integrates and catalyzes research in digital media . . .
  3. SINAPSE will serve as a coordinating center for grants and extramural funding in digital media, drawing on the collaborations and research agendas of participants to develop grant proposals in simulations, interfaces, and networks. To carry out these mandates, SINAPSE will have its own space of at least 6,000 square feet, additional space in a South Campus facility, 5 FTEs for Internal and External Fellowships, an equipment budget, a Director, a full-time administrative staff person and technical support staff.

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