Shane! Come back!

Very funny and poignant post over at Scott Leslie’s place detailing his “Twitter cycle,” one that I suspect describes a lot of us after Twitter‘s hairball-after-hairball performance over the last week-plus.

The practical consequences of his goodbye, however, are hard to contemplate, so I’m hoping Scott will reconsider. I remember a former colleague (and continuing colleague in the larger sense) being so frustrated with Second Life that he tipped his hat in similar fashion and Just Rode Away. Alan called “come back.” Today that colleague is the proud owner of land and elegant housing in SL. And we can all play in his happy world.

So here’s my open letter to Scott Leslie. Not calling you out, Scott, but trying to enlarge the recent UMW lovefest to say “hey, come be one of the Augmenters! Come tweet some more!” Chris is getting into powerpop, Jim is preparing a culture war (I hate the term but I’m curious about the response, ’cause who doesn’t like reading Jim’s stuff?), Serena’s starting a new job after being locked out of her apartment overnight, and that’s just since 4 a.m. I need a Scott Leslie update!

I know you’re not fishing for folks to say “please oh please come back,” but please oh please come back. I fixed the problem of my messed-up friend/follower database (what did Twitter do to me?) by putting all my updates on the public timeline again. Why not? I’ll not be arranging choreographed illicitness on Twitter, anyway. And I’m digging Twitter for all the reasons you cited–and being very frustrated for all the reasons you cited–but digging it less with you not in the mix.

Second Life used to make me gnash my teeth. Still does at times. Catch SL at the wrong moment and the colleague I’m encouraging to try it out will run screaming from the room. The same things have happened with just about every bootstrapped, cash-poor startup I’ve encountered. If Twitter is still behaving this way in a month, I’ll say adios too. But right now, it’s the best thing going and has the best chance of mattering to me for at least the short term. Jaiku is like a poorly mastered CD played too loud. Twitter is a shambling wreck sometimes, but it has a homespun charm and looks much less money-centered (sure, that may be why the servers lack sysops).

But my main argument here is that Twitter would be much cooler for me if you were still around, so I could get to know you better and tap into your expertise, sensibilities, and wonderfully apt surname. A Hammond B-3 is a finicky, heavy beast, but there’s no substitute for that sound through a Leslie….

Remembering and recognition

Martha’s reflections on risk, inspired by what she rightly terms Barbara Ganley’s “call to arms,” make me think hard about our vocation.

It seems to me, tonight, after a fine first day of Faculty Academy, that risk is at the heart of authentic teaching and learning. Both roles are exceptionally vulnerable, and must be so, if a genuine encounter is to occur. All authentic human relationships involve profound risk. And real school requires extraordinary openness if it is to succeed.

The alternative is not safety. The alternative is death. Why give any part of ourselves to death before we must? I am not advocating recklessness; rather the opposite. Reckon the cost, and do all due diligence. Professionalism and true collegiality require no less. But seek guarantees, or seek safety for its own sake, that is, for the sake of being left alone and untroubled, and there can be no authentic educational encounter.

Today doesn’t clarify my commitment so much as it clarifies how precious the community of risky commitment truly is. It clarifies for me that I must not forget my gratitude to that community. I must not forget my calling and obligations to my colleagues in that community, no matter how tangled the circumstances or fraught the encounters.

It’s hard to keep all that clear in the dust and noise of the factory floor. I will try harder.

TLT Fellows first-year panel discussion


Steve Gallik, Charlie Sharpless, Marjorie Och, Ernie Ackermann, and Craig Vasey are discussing their work as UMW’s first cohort of TLT Fellows. It’s great to hear their responses, particularly the extent to which their group meetings were important. Cohorts can yield impressive synergy. They can also help to form real school–at a very intimate level. I’m proud of my colleagues for their commitment to a year of hard work and intense fellowship.

Send not to learn for whom the faculty develop. They develop for thee.