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Information Studies: Information Systems (track)
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Sebastiaan de Stoppelaar

Prior education: Bachelor's degree in Artificial Intelligence (University of Amsterdam)

'I guess I've always been a bit of a computer nerd. As a teenager I developed a system, together with a friend, to help us with our homework. We made some tools so we could import words and the computer would examine us. In the end we actually spend more time on developing the programme than on studying! But in a way I have always been interested in the role that computers can play in our society and in what way they can really contribute and help people.'

'In the beginning it definitely was different. During this Master's programme I had to spend quite some time on literature, reading papers and reflecting on it. That was different from Artificial Intelligence, which in a way was more practical because of all the assignments. At Human Centered Multimedia, now known as Information Systems, we focus on how things could and should work on a more abstract level, to get some more background knowledge.'

'I have a job for two and a half days a week at an internet development company, where I mainly work on web design. Because of that, it takes me two years to finish the Master's programme. During my bachelor it was easier to combine my studies with work, it's quite busy now. But I think it's worth it, because work experience in the field helps you figure out what you want to do in the future.'

'Intelligent Interactive Systems was really interesting. You look at how certain systems can interact with humans in a smart way. For example in the area of healthcare, there are systems that can help older people to remember taking their medicine or performing certain tasks. Or smart surveillance cameras in parking spaces that monitor people's behaviour, so that strange conduct can be noticed. For me it's fun to think about these kind of complex systems, instead of seeing a computer only as a thing you can use for simple tasks. I also enjoyed the course Knowledge and Media. There is so much knowledge available, so many databases, but there are still a lot of questions on how this data can be connected. How can you really extract the right information from these databases? During this course they give you insight in the way networks are connected and show you how to make mindmaps, a presentation form of the information that is available in your brain.'

'We did a really interesting research project called 'political discourse bubbles', where we looked at the programme of Dutch political parties from World War II until now. We scanned all the words that were most frequently used and presented them in a bubble form on the screen. The more the word was used, the bigger the bubble. That gave some funny results, you could see which subjects were 'hot' in a certain time. Female rights, for example, was a very popular subject in the 1960's. I really liked this assignment, because it shows how you can get information out of a database that would normally be hidden.'