Hello world!

I have worked in University computing for virtually all of my adult life.  My first job in computing was keypunching [“data entry” is the more modern term] in the Statistics Lab of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Education in 1964.  Since then I spent two years as a half-time programmer in a social research center, 15 months as a programmer in the Mathematical Physics department of an English university, about the same amount of time as an administrative systems  programmer in a community college, and 30+ years as a “senior systems analyst”, helping faculty and students do everything from FORTRAN programming to microcomputing to supercomputing to the Web.  Most recently, I’ve been adapting and integrating web-based systems for teaching and learning, including Mediawiki, SharePoint, Blackboard, and others.

I have put all this time and effort into the University because I love the idea of it, though I am not blind to the divergence between the ideal and the real.  In fact, the sources and consequences of that divergence have been the subject of many, many conversations with colleagues over the years.  By repeated application of my penchant for analysis, I have attempted to surface the mostly-unrecognized assumptions that limit the people whose lives are entangled with the institution.

Conversation is fun, of course, and the free flow of talk-thought can be mistaken for enlightenment all too readily.  Besides, the shelf-life of ideas that spring up in a chat over coffee may be nearly zero.  Also, the audience (and thus the potential value) is severely limited.

This blog is an attempt to tackle the subjects that animate many of my conversations, but to do so in a medium that addresses these limitations.  Most particularly, I am interested in reactions, extensions, counter-proofs (and yes, encouragement) from the people (I assume there are many on the ‘net) who believe in and care about higher education with a focus on human development for all involved — even computer jocks such as myself.


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