Thursday, September 13, 2007

Living and Thriving

I'm pretty impressed by the new big boss ... we've had a few conversations that have focussed on new directions. I only seem like a stick in the mud. I want to grow and thrive and move as much as any other mover and shaker, provided that the growing and moving is grounded in the reliability and integrity that is the irreducible core of any university.

So the new regime is feeling better and better.

Anyway, this post is about a curious comment he made as a way of introducing a new direction. He noted that he had bought a new bed and the instructions, as if one needs instructions for a bed, were on a jump drive. But his new remote for the TV came with a packet of paper instructions. Seems backwards. But that kind of reversal illustrates something about audience. The TV company figures its users are a bunch of dolts, but the bed company wants to improve its customer profile. So the first panders and the second breaks new ground. The modern technology is hidebound, but the most ancient article of quotidien life gets a jump drive.

The key to taking book information online is not to lose the authority that comes form print by reason of the infinite malleability of electronic media. This is an issue that relates to audience ... to keeping the faith of the audience even as you provide it with tools that it might not be able to imagine. Academic journals have only circled around this problem and more or less refused to come up with an answer. I may have an opportunity to work on an answer for this in some measure. But simply pouring the print into a web site is not the same as making a usable, multi-networked resource that still bespeaks the academic integrity of the institution.

I intend to speak obliquely about this stuff here because this aspect of this blog is not about the particulars of what I do but only about the generalities of handling and presenting information in the academic context.

But right now I am excited to have some new horizons and a new perspective.

Photo by Arod of the mural on the back of the Safeway at Duboce and 14th

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