CIO (Haverford's ["Collaborative Information Office(r)"] is discussing the (not-so) long range plan, in preparation for a discussion with our bosses, and we've thought of developing a set of images of a day in the life of a faculty member or student. Here's my early-morning effort to think a couple of years down the road.
• rises to a first cup of coffee and the morning papers on the bedside tablet PC, then heads downstairs to her study. Her blog shows eight revised files from the seminar students and she dictates a short reaction to each. A couple of the student postings to the class space need Web resources added, and she does one of these for each student, storing a collection of screen shots and commenting as she works. She reflects that they’re getting good at thinking hypertexually, and they continue to surprise her with the trains of association spinning out from a reading and class discussion to a favorite film, a tentative political stance, a recent discussion on another class’s blog.
• The morning mail has a short video edited from last Friday’s senior seminar by the department assistant (one of the junior majors), and this she pronounces ready for the students' review and discussion as she opens access on the departmental blog. There is a clever parody of the President's discursive style from her grad school friend, and she drops this to the "humor" panel on her blog. The revised agenda for the workshop next week she decides can wait until the evening, but as she drops it onto the "professional, pending" panel she includes a note to be sure the interactive display will work at wi-fi speeds in the lounge area of the conference building, where she hopes to discuss her panel with colleagues after the plenary session. Since the next message is the Provost's second reminder, she dictates a short paragraph on how the new coffee bar in the art gallery has enhanced interdisciplinary discourse, then
• settles into preparing for her afternoon class. The draft survey from last Thursday's lab session has collected 200 and some responses from across the campus, and she checks to make sure the macros are in place for today's demo on aggregating data, producing charts, and representing the findings statistically. There are several additions to the shared links page for the course, and a particularly ingenious idea for the main study that evokes an e-mail pat on the back for the student (with links to a couple of journal articles relating to the hypothesis in question). One of the readings for today's class is a classic paper on the integration of "hard" and "soft" methodologies, and she re-reads the difficult section explaining the formulas and makes three minor changes in her annotations to the students' file copy of the reading. She will remind them that each mention of this reading in the class blog or individual work should include a link to the original document with its archived comments by students and herself and its dynamic links to search agents pointed at scholarly papers non-trivially referencing this one and to the wikipedia entry on the author.
• She starts a working lunch in a corner chair at the coffee bar, but she is joined by her colleague in the reading group (the only one of the 17 other members she ever sees in person), and they chat for a few minutes about Richard Powers’ The Gold Bug Variations, agreeing that the AV annotations offering Bach's score and Gould's early performance has been helpful, especially given the richness of the links to Hofstadter's work. They really must get the three life sciences people in the group to lead them through the genomics connotations of the novel.
• The afternoon's class goes well. The students are all familiar with the main lines of argument in the reading, and several of them have been in animated discussion on the blog intermittently during the night. She lets them continue this discussion, reflecting that these face-to-face discussions (without a computer in sight) are still where some of the best ideas develop.
• She drops by the technology center on her way home for a chat with the colleague who is planning the comparative literature conference in the spring. Since this will involve both simultaneous translation and fully hypertextual annotation across four languages it's important to be sure that the support people at the participating institutions have all the software tools needed, and that each participant has been offered a full range of training and practice resources and a blog in which to comment on them.
• She treats herself to a slow supper with an archived "Prairie Home Companion" playing on the kitchen speakers, spends half an hour with personal e-mail and another half responding to student entries in the blog, then catches up with the last two episodes of "The Mezzo-Sopranos," the crime drama to which she is unaccountably addicted. She sets a few reminders for tomorrow morning's calendar, dozes reading another chapter of Powers on the tablet, and falls asleep with the Goldberg playing softly.
• rises to a chirp from the coffee maker and scans the late-night and early-morning away messages on the various chat windows still open on the wall monitor. He echoes this to his tablet, chuckles as he reads the messages, and settles for a minute with his own "Good morning, Haverford!" chatbot, adding a witty comment on last night's plenary and a mock-soulful prediction that "The Code shall pass." He drags the (as yet unread) readings for his various classes from his blog's to-do panel to his PDA, pauses to record a witty wake-up message for his roommate, and heads off to the D.C., where he is still able to get breakfast and to find a deserted corner in which he can start reading this afternoon's assignment. He's inferred from their away message that __ will show up before he has to head to the library, and sure enough, they have time for a few words about last weekend.
• He spends an hour in the library, finding two books relevant to the topic he proposes to discuss with the prof as a term project and scanning several passages to which he wants to draw the class blog's attention. His tablet feeds him a prioritized list of resources on his project topic, and he passes this on to his semantic indexing agent for retrieval this weekend. He realizes he's unclear about incorporating classmates' RSS feeds into his indexer again, and he gets a librarian to walk him though the next several steps, as he logs the relevant URLs to his PDA. He really should set Saturday afternoon aside to think through the relationship between Freud's dream theory and “Mulholland Drive,” the film on which he is to lead next week's discussion in the Trico film club blog. Since he'll be home, maybe he could suggest that he and __ could watch it at the same time on their laptops, with an open chat window.
• Back at the room, he discovers several surprises left by his roommate:
o a pop-up window springing from his away message, in which his roommate has combined a bit of patter from the original Robin Williams film with “Apocalypse Now”'s attacking helicopters. (Maybe it was a mistake to agree to let each other hack their chat windows, so that group over at HCA never knows with whom they're speaking.)
o A screen shot of the new high-level Druid character the roommate's been playing on the MMORPG, with an easy-to-figure-out clue about where he'll be hiding in Fangorn forest later this evening. There should be time to spend half an hour getting his Marrakesh-market trickster primed to rap with the Druid on the little stage in the side room at the "Entwash," if only those so-called "posthumans" haven't taken over the whole bar…
o An actual yellow post-it note stuck to his tablet's charger, saying that __ had stopped by on the way to class and suggested he come over after dinner to talk about the weekend.
• He closes or suspends most of the windows on his PC, selects some classic rock from his media player (to get him in touch with his prof's retro perspective on things), and settles down to blog.