TITLE: History Mournful and Glorious AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 27, 2009 11:19 AM DESC: ----- BODY: While prepping for my software engineering course last summer, I was re-reading some old articles by Philip Greenspun on teaching, especially an SE course focused on building on-line communities. One of the talks he gives is called Online Communities. This talk builds on the notion that "online communities are at the heart" of most successful applications of the Internet". Writing in 2006, he cites amazon.com, AOL, and eBay as examples, and the three years since have only strengthened his case. MySpace seems to have passed its peak yet remains an active community. I sit hear connected with friends from grade school who have been flocking to Facebook in droves, and Twitter is now one of my primary sources for links to valuable professional articles and commentary. As a university professor, the next two bullets in his outline evoke both sadness and hope:
Perhaps we existing faculty are limited by our background, education, or circumstances. Perhaps we simply choose the more comfortable path of doing what has been done in the past. Even those of us invested in doing things differently sometimes feel like strangers in a strange land. The great hope of the internet and the web is that it lets many people teach who otherwise wouldn't have a convenient way to reach a mass audience except by textbooks. This is a threat to existing institutions but also perhaps an open door on a better world for all of us. -----