Differences in the Liberal Arts

At a doctoral colloquium in the Information Systems group at Stern the students introduced themselves and described the papers they had written over the past year with the faculty of the department. At a doctoral colloqium in the Media Ecology program the everyone talked about the classes they were teaching, the students described their efforts to find a good dissertation topic, and the faculty described the books they were working on. It was quite a stark difference to encounter within the same week. Of course, I’m not necessarily faulting the liberal arts program in that I hope to be writing books and articles one day, but it is indicative of a challenge I should be mindful of.

Ported/Archived Responses

andreas on 2003-09-27

I recognize the value of meeting my fellow monkeys in order to discuss the latest, but it raises a question: Are those papers available at any other time? Is it centralized, decentralized? Part of the impetus for writing my thesis (which was not required and therefore not assessed) was that 6400 graduate students gathered at Harvard with the most reputable professors and over the course of 1 year produced 1 million pages worth of writing. Almost none of it is able to be located. Except through direct exchange with the individual who wrote it. I looked at myself as an individual policy maker who helped create public problems by not addressing the issue in my own work.

Harvard has trouble letting go of solving everyone else’s problem.

andreas on 2003-09-28

Even more disturbing is that the student looses it as well. You and I both have developed systems for storing things for the long term. That allows us to keep it as part of a more robust and diverse personal knoweledge ecology (pardon the jargon and rhyme). This allows for the cultivation of more comprehensive architectures when we design. For those where it might be found an ms word doc without any of the resources gathered in constructing it.

I feel that we are exploring to aspects of this that could prove very useful over time for ourselves, and I hope, for a lot of other monkeys. The dynamic balancing of the needs of IT infrastructure and interoperability with generalizable personal knowledge management skills and tools that emerge from the bottom and not imposed from the top down is work that needs to be done. That is if we want to use these new fangled gadgets for more than digitizing quill and papyrus.

Joseph Reagle on 2003-09-27

Yes, it’s amazing. At the W3C/MIT we were focussed on getting all this information up and interoperable! At NYU, there’s so much valuable information, outlines, glosses, papers, and bibliographic databases that just “goes away” when the student leaves the class.

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