Baylor University welcomed to its campus yesterday the CogDog himself, Alan Levine, for conversation, tours, and an afternoon presentation titled “NMC 101, An Introduction to the New Media Consortium.” Baylor joined the New Media Consortium last fall, and yesterday Alan gave us a great overview of what the NMC offers. We learned how Baylor can not only participate in the work but be a vital contributor to it as well. Folks in the audience included deans, department chairs, faculty from Environmental Studies, English, Business, Social Work, Film & Digital Media, and other departments I’ve no doubt overlooked, There were grad students, as well as staff from IT and the Baylor Libraries, including many of my colleagues from the Electronic Library (which co-sponsored the event along with the Academy for Teaching and Learning). It was a great mix of people and a good turn-out for a Friday afternoon.
Alan’s presentation was comprehensive and engaging as always. We even got into Second Life for a bit, and talked with some folks who’d answered Alan’s call for help with a live demo. By the time the event ended, there was food for thought for many mental meals to come. There was also a sense in the room that our horizons had been expanded, with excellent opportunities awaiting for individual work and for fruitful collaboration.
That bonus round was just having Alan here on the campus. We toured current digitization projects in the Baylor libraries. We toured computer labs, a neuroscience lab, and other sites where creativity and information technologies were melding in interesting and productive ways. (I learned a ton myself, seeing it all afresh through Alan’s eyes.) And during every moment, I could see Alan catalyzing conversation, putting people at their ease, showing genuine interest and a playful sense of expectancy in each encounter. I know it’ll embarrass Alan for me to say this, but I’ve got to do it: he’s got a tremendous gift (I’d call it both playful and soulful) for bringing out the best and happiest qualities in people. I listened carefully to the way Alan asked questions, to the way he made people feel good about their work and excited by the possibilities ahead. I could feel both energy and openness increase in every room.
I’m certainly feeling that way myself, and I’m also feeling very grateful to Alan for spending some time with us.
When I think of the amazing people I’ve met over the last six years, I’m humbled. These are the people who’re heeding Doug Engelbart’s call to change the world. This is the caravan I want to be part of.