Friday, July 29, 2005

More geoWriting

More thoughts on geoWriting (a name I tire of already). I was really looking forward to attaching every Amherst user's plan (their blog sort of thing, see planWorld entry below) to their dorm room, but it is becoming fairly clear to me that people won't be comfortable with that. I cynically assume that anything that someone can associate with the word "stalking" will never be allowed by the public, even if it does not reveal any information that wasn't already available. This will make for a good rant later, but more to the point I have some further thoughts below suggesting that the project might still be worthwhile. Whether all this is a sound contemplation on many of the topics discussed in our program so far, or just late-night induced overoptimism, will be determined by the light of day, and by your comments.


Add photos of your favorite places and attach them to those places. Add little text notes about your favorite nooks on campus and attach them to those very nooks. Keep a weblog and a gallery of recent photos attached to your dorm room. Attach diatribes against the football team to the gym, complaints to the President on the President's House, suggestions for the IT department on the Computer Center building. Write a hint for great places to read on the Library steps or a party invitation on the Quad. Attach bird song to the bird sanctuary, concert audio to the music building, a recorded sermon to the chapel.


Then: glide over your favorite parts of the campus to see what people say and think and see about them. Find out what parties are going on in a part of campus on a given night. Read the writing of people who live in a totally different part of the campus then you, and see how similar or different they really are.


Prospective students can see, read and hear our physical campus. Alumni can see what current students think of their old haunts, and pass on their own thoughts about any given place. Current students can get a better feel for the diversity of the campus.


Encourage a sense of community on the campus. These are, after all, the people that you're living with. Read what your neighbors are thinking about.


I think this comes from an article that I read and dismissed some time ago. It talked about how the internet had removed the barriers of location, how that had been a nice thing and all, but how now it was doing the exact opposite, and how really great that was. I think the idea was that content was determined by your location, but I think it also mentioned the idea of locating content by geographic location, like pinning your photo to your own front door.

The Internet was so great because it let us ignore characteristics like location. You could find people that were just like you, and not have to interact with the very different people you were stuck with next door. So perhaps the beauty of this system is that it's, in a way, unfiltered, uncustomized. You see what everyone thinks, and the commonality is the place, not the demographics.

It may not be the case that this glorious melting pot will remain forever -- I quite expect that if this is used significantly, communities will pop up such that certain geographic sections are de facto bordered off for non-geographic communities. But I am hopeful that organization in this way will be different enough to break those closed communities a bit, and let them re-form, slightly changed, all the stronger and better.


Blogger saratoga said...

Gosh, I wish I could have this at my school. Have you thought about maybe just doing a generic model and them pitching it to schools to use?

12:11 AM  

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