emeriti.wlu.edu: A Virtual Geezer Box

5 May 2005
A thought while walking in to work this morning, listening to ITConversations podcasts:
Emeriti are a deep and powerful resource if they have ways to participate in and contribute to the life of the university.

What could be built to facilitate this? How could a portal be constructed to encourage the continuing engagement of retirees? And what resources would be required to support and continue the development of this service?

Another facet: I'm only the first of the retirees who has a substantial Web presence, and there will be others. What can we do to preserve and encourage the repurposing of such digital legacies? This is to some degree a library issue, and a matter for Special Collections, but it is not simply a matter of archiving: many emeriti continue to be active researchers, and would probably welcome conduits that keep alive their connections to the university.

Chance favors the prepared mind. As I was thinking all of this, I just happened to see Amy Goetz on a converging path, and she told me that she's thinking about a project on... emeritus faculty... serendipity or what?. We agreed that a cabal was imminent...

watch this space...

A central idea: the Web is a read/write environment, once the necessary tools are readily accessible. Nowadays these surely include blogging and podcasting and wikis, though at the moment there's no support for those social software implementations at W&L (except in under-the-counter and stealth implementations, like bloggery.wlu.edu and the service that Rance Necaise is building for Computer Science). Is it possible to build what's necessary, with minimal demand on scarce resources?

30 August
Well... the world isn't ready for emeriti.wlu.edu just yet. There are (so far as I've discovered) no emeriti who are interested in the prospect, and the various powers at W&L aren't ready to plunge in any precipitous experimental directions. I guess I've come to realize how very little active and innovative Web activity is occurring or is likely to occur without somebody snapping at the heels of the herd... So it was a good idea, before its time. I hope to have the luxury of eventual "I told you so"s.