On Complexity, and Why We Don’t get Conference (and Classroom) A/V Right

I’m inspired today by an offhand comment by the famous (in our circles) Bryan Alexander, who is a frequent keynote and guest speaker at conferences all over the world, and has a lot of stunning and evocative things to say about not just higher education information technology, but the state and future of higher education in general.  If you’re not familiar with his work go check out his blogs and articles.  Even if you don’t agree with them he will get your brain moving.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that an offhand comment on his Facebook got me thinking:

“I’m fascinated by how conference A/V is still flawed and failure-prone, everywhere.

Continue reading On Complexity, and Why We Don’t get Conference (and Classroom) A/V Right

On Decisions

I realized something recently.

I am, in many ways, quite cynical.  The reasons are numerous and varied, and perhaps not entirely all good.  It’s not that I don’t care about anything, it’s that sometimes other people care a whole lot about things I don’t consider important.   This came about when I said that most of the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis in our work, things like what software to use, what specific methodology, etc., basically don’t matter.  Or, while we might agonize over the criteria used to evaluate one item over another, many of the differences in choices are not discernible before implementation, and may not even be discernible after implementation.

Continue reading On Decisions


Read Part 1 here.

Again, I woke up at 4:00 or so on Wednesday, despite being out a bit later the night before.  I understand waking up early when EDUCAUSE is in Denver or Anaheim or Seattle, but it seems wrong on the East Coast.  I guess I just don’t sleep well in hotels.  I did kind of get back to sleep a little bit and got out of bed at 6 to shower and get ready for my first meeting, a 7:00am appointment to be part of a focus group.

Continue reading EDUCAUSE Day 2/3

A new home

I need to write more about the things I care about.  I wonder about the future of US higher education, and I work someplace where we’re going to be dealing with those issues in a big way in the next few years.  I’m both fascinated by how little things in educational technology change and the amazing transformations that have occurred in my 20+ years in the field.  I’ve recently had to deal with professional and personal loss that I’m still processing every day and I don’t know where it’s leading me.

I’m not usually a technology zealot, but I’ve had my share of biases and prejudices over the years.  I’m actually remarkably calm these days about such issues–iOS versus Android, MacOS versus Windows versus Linux.  I don’t really care anymore.  They’re just things you use to do other things, and in some you click here and in others you drag there, and in my mind the incremental differences in usability are usually balanced out–some things are easy in one, and other things are easy in the other.  Use what works for you, when you need it.

What’s important is to understand the underlying issues–how is technology shaping the way we learn, and perhaps our very definition of information itself?  What is important for the well-rounded individual to know and understand about technology (I think people should understand the basic principles of computers, devices and networks; and know enough programming to be able to think algorithmically about solving problems.  I also think people should know calculus not because you’ll use it every day but understanding the basic ideas of how calculus works puts a permanent dent in your worldview that shapes how you attack other problems and how you examine complex systems.  I don’t do any VAX/VMS systems management any more but the principles of computer organization and levels of a system shape how I view our complex multivendor network.

I’ll try and write weekly about things that interest me.  I may refer or respond to people I know or who I think are saying things that need to be said.  Perhaps I’ll present a contrarian view.  I will probably also document significant professional events.  I will not betray confidentiality or air my or others’ dirty laundry, despite the fact that those stories are often the most informative (you’ll have to at least buy me a beer for that.)

So welcome, and let’s hope I keep this alive instead of being one of those half-started blogs that are so popular on the Internet.