Remembering Alan

Alan Candiotti– my mentor, boss, and friend for nearly thirty years–passed away five years ago today. I think about him nearly every day. This post will be based on remarks I made at his memorial service, additional recollections, and reflections on my life since his passing.

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Book Club — “New York 2140”, part three

A first for me, I’ve completed the book and now can blog about it leisurely. 

This is in response to Bryan’s post about Part 3 of our reading (which is Parts 5 and 6 of the book). I’m calling this post “Part 3” to remain in parallel with that, even though it’s only my second post about the book. 

Continue reading Book Club — “New York 2140”, part three

Book Club– “New York 2140”, Kim Stanley Robinson

A Friday off in the summer is allowing me to catch up on Bryan Alexander’s book club reading, the expansive, immersive “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson.  This is the first novel of his I have read, which is clearly a cultural deficit I should attempt do rectify soon.

The book’s title tells you what the book is about, largely.  The New York of 2140 is dealing with the impacts of a 50 foot sea level rise due to climate change. New York is underwater to around 30th Street, and much of the story takes place in the Met Life and Flatiron buildings around Madison Square Park, which make the story especially compelling to me as my office is only a few blocks east of here on 25th street (and whose building would be partially underwater in the book, although my 9th floor office would be above the waterline.)  Perhaps when Bryan told me I “might like this one” his is what he meant.

A few impressionistic thoughts:

  • After reading “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow, and thinking of my favorite book club perennial also-ran in voting, “2030” by Albert Brooks, we’re getting lots of scenario building and world building around the possible futures our present choices are creating.  It’s also hard for me to read 2140 and not think about the current US administration’s easing of climate legislation and rollback of environmental protection laws.  I worry that the events outlined in the book (and they are described with precise timelines) might be happening sooner than this book predicts; and also, although the Surges are catastrophic, Robinson outlines a viable world that exists after them (although the extent of devastation and displacement are not fully explored, since the story does not take place then) but a world where wealth inequality and the triumph of global capitalism are decisive and permanent.
  • I am an amateur enthusiast about the infrastructure and architecture of New York City and cities in general, so the discussion of the changes in the cityscape that the book describes are intensely interesting to me.  The book has a lot to say about present-day New York in its description of  the New York of 120 years in the future.
  • It’s also fascinating how Robinson describes both what has changed and what hasn’t changed.  The day-to-day of the denizens of future NYC is not very different than present-day, except perhaps with a lot more water.  Computing technology seems basically the same, and there’s some advancement in materials (carbon fiber and aerogels get mentioned) but these are still fundamentally New Yorkers, recognizable to us today as such.  I find it helpful to think about how 2018 New York would look to people at the turn of the 20th century–as far back from us know as we are from New York 2140.  New Yorkers would still be recognizable to us, the street grid is identical, and many of the buildings would still be there (especially north of the intertidal in the 30th-streets area).

I’m gonna get back to reading and hopefully comment more.  I just wanted to mark a few thoughts while I can.  This is an amazing book and certainly worthy of its Hugo nomination.

 

 

 

 

EDUCAUSE 2017–Quick Takes

In previous years I’ve done a complete blow-by-blow of the entire conference, and that’s really not useful anymore–many of the experiences are the same or similar from year to year, and honestly, I know and talk to a lot of people and to try and name them all would just be self-indulgent.  I’ll just go over some of my personal observations:

  • I was plagued by a few issues from home which sometimes distracted my focus but also simultaneously gave me clarity on the things I need to be doing to improve the situation on campus.  I have started to formulate a plan.  I know John O’Brien in his opening speech said that “your emails will still be there” when you get back, and that is certainly true, but the job may not be if you don’t address the issues.
  • As always I got to have some great conversations with my Frye classmates.  It was a great time to get a reading and just make sure we’re doing what we need to be and to work through challenges.
  • I was again blown away by the quality of the EDUCAUSE Award winners.  I know that’s funny to say since I helped pick them but to hear them talk just makes me even happier that we were able to select them.
  • I was excited about the opening keynote the most, but it ended up being a lot of “This is what a 1960s futurist thinks of the future” stuff, very optimistic without any sense of the issues that the future he describes would bring; and a few descriptions and terms that felt very outdated with our current sensibilities.  It was fun to watch the Twitter stream slowly start to become more skeptical of the predictions and context thereof as the speech progressed.
  • The second keynote also brought up some issues of big data, but it was interesting to hear how you can be persuasive with data and change people’s behavior.
  • Temple Grandin was an incredible whirlwind and her talk gave us a window into her mind.  She is a powerful example of why people on the spectrum are not “broken”, they’re just different, and helping them use their difference positively is a tremendous benefit to society.  It fit in well with the other thoughts of diversity, equity, and inclusion that I interacted with during the conference.
  • Much of my conference dealt with issues of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”.  I went to a lot of sessions about it, and thought about it a lot, especially in the context of the recent revelations from the entertainment world.   Also, as I am now working in a considerably more diverse environment than my previous institution, the ideas of how to keep the experience of my employees as inclusive of their differences as possible is foremost in my mind, and providing them the opportunities they need and deserve will continue to be a priority.
  • One thing (as I finish up this abandoned draft from a few months ago ;-)) that I’ve been thinking of is what it means to be good at things.  Defining success and whatnot.  I’m still working on that in some ways.  Stay tuned.
  • A shout-out to Tim Chester and his organizing the second annual (unofficial) EDUCAUSE Fun Run.  The obvious choice was up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and we had about 20 people this time (in Anaheim in 2016 it was three of us!)

All in all, EDUCAUSE remains my premier professional development event, and I will continue to participate fully,  as an attendee, as a volunteer whenever my professional association needs me, and hopefully this year as a co-presenter with some great colleagues.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and hope to see many of you in Denver this fall.

 

EDUCAUSE 2017

I should probably be packing for EDUCAUSE 2017 at this point, but I’m going to blog instead.

Again, go back through the blog for my evergreen observations about the conference.  I’m really looking forward to this year though.  Philadelphia’s a great city for a conference, the conference center is great (although I hope they’ve improved the wayfinding signs since 2011, because they were very confusing back then). I love taking the train to a conference instead of flying (going to NERCOMP in Providence on the train was a treat as well.)  My standard trick of “find people you like to hear, and go to their presentations” worked so well I actually had to cull a few presentations because I had too many choices that way.  I have also found myself making actual appointments with friends and colleagues to make sure I see them (although I almost always find everyone I want to check in with at least once.)  I think I will have to eat dinner 6 times a day though to get to everyone I want to dine with.

If you’re somehow a fan of this blog or my Twitter or whatever, and we’ve never been formally introduced, please take the time to seek me out and say hi.  Certainly saying “I’m a big fan of your blog!” is a great way to break the ice and start a conversation!   I may drag you out to dinner or drinks with whomever I’m with, though, so be warned.   Also, keep in mind the big round lunch tables are a great way to meet people–follow up with someone from a presentation, someone you met briefly in the hallway, etc.  I also usually end up in the CIO lounge a bit, if only because of the high concentration of people I like to talk to, and I suggest you do the same.  I’ll be frequently Tweeting during the conference, and probably sharing my location when I’m somewhere I want company.  And if you’re trying to exercise and want to come out, please join us in the fun run Thursday morning (I’ll be in the slow group).

See many of you tomorrow!

Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction”, part 3

I’m going to go in a little different direction this week–less on personal reflections, and trying to more directly answer Bryan Alexander’s discussion questions from his post on this week’s readings.

Continue reading Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction”, part 3

Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction”, part 2

I’m still here.  Again, I’ll point you to Bryan Alexander’s summary of Chapters 2 and 3, and just add some personal reflections on what the chapters meant to me.

Continue reading Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction”, part 2

Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

I’m finally doing it.

I’m going to keep up with Bryan Alexander’s book club.  This one should be easy–I started reading this book over the summer after hearing O’Neil speak at NYSCIO.  I got about halfway through before vacation and the ensuing chaos of the start of the semester overwhelmed me; luckily the timing of the book club is such that I should be able to carve out a little time to read it.  I believe this is a critically important book for everyone in IT, higher education, or anyone whose life is affected by data (i.e., everyone.)  Bryan did an excellent job summarizing the introduction and first chapter, so there’s little point in me reiterating it verbatim; I’ll just add a few of my personal impressions.

Continue reading Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

Nostalgia

Feeling a little nostalgic as of late.  This is because of four things:

  1. I recently passed my one year anniversary at Baruch.  I didn’t really mark it at the time because I was on vacation.  But I’ve always thought it takes a calendar year to really experience and understand new things–especially in academia where the calendar gives us more structure than some other workplaces.  Facebook reminding me of my post on my last day working at Drew and my first day at Baruch also helped quite a bit, as well as LinkedIn reminding me (and several colleagues congratulating me there.)  One year to me is also when I have to stop calling myself “new”, with the commensurate set of expectations.
  2. Last night I went to a going away dinner for yet another of my work colleagues who have left Drew. There have been several who have left since the start of 2016, and the organization will need to rebuild.  I’m extremely happy for my colleagues who have left, and I am hopeful for those who remain, they are a great team and they will do well.  It was an interesting evening also because several other colleagues who left Drew were also there, and it was a group of people who hadn’t all been together in the same place in a long time, so that felt a bit nostalgic.
  3. I’m right now on a plane to Chicago, where my Frye class of 2006 is having a summit.  Frye was (still) the single most transformative event of my leadership journey, and I’m looking forward to getting together with many of my closest professional friends, and reflecting on the lessons Frye gave us.  It’s convenient that it happens right after my first year at a new job.
  4. It’s spring.  Rebirth and all that.

So I’m feeling a bit reflective and contemplative.  It’s a good time for me to take stock, and ready myself to continue to grow as an employee, professional, and leader.  I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and yearning to do even more and do it better.  A good time to outfit my toolbox and practice my skills.

How do you refresh, reflect, and recharge?

EDUCAUSE 2016 Pre-Departure

Well, the time of year is upon us again:  The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.  This time, as in 2013 and 2010, it is in Anaheim, California.  I’m finishing up this post from the airport, waiting for my flight to Anaheim.

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