Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Spade A Spade

OK, Yes! I'm still trying to wrap up my postings here. I'd like to close with the broadest level of questions that remain for me personally. This is a dialogue that's had only narrow, narrow slices aired or explored, and I think the community has lost on that score, while it's reaffirmed for some that they have a stake and confirmed for others that they are not CLIS "stakeholders". [Re-?]Clarifying boundaries can sometimes be very good.

My opinion is that CLIS is not a culture where one can call a spade a spade, and in the knowledge production business that's fatal. This is not the result of one, or even a string of deans. It's a status quo that people in all roles accept and then operate within as an unconcious ideology, as some philosophers of knowledge call "received". Again fatal for a knowledge, I won't say truth, production system. When you reach into that realm, people get scared and defensive, it's part of the way change happens. That has definately has happened here, and not always in ways to celebrate. I think what current students accept as received knowledge is the intellectual space that the Provost should worry about, more than the physical space - and to his credit in 2003 he began the educational outcomes commission. I hope CLIS is participating in that somehow, someway.

OK, enough! of this. I have three points that as an interested observer-participant of CLIS, of the Wasserman Closure Project, of student organizations at CLIS, that I'd like ot close with.

1) CLIS needs to be able to call a spade a spade. [Concrete example: Wasserman is closing not being "reconfigured". Your transcripts mailed to your employers still read Library School, yet the web page says Information Studies. It goes on and on, I think.] That needs to be true not only of administrators who hold cards very very close to the proverbial chest, but it also needs to be true for pesky, or worse, recent graduates. Truth is not in a committee, not in the person hoarding the most information.

2) In CLIS (elsewhere on campus as well), there's a great contradiction in information technology that exists when you compare the scholarly articles and the skill-base that reflects and what appears to be a fear in applying those technologies and knowledge-bases to the operations of the college/University and the give and take of ideas inside and outside the classroom. You can't be scared of something and teach it simultaneously, and the collective soul of CLIS is very insecure about it's technologies, human and otherwise. Again, I wish the college good speed in its collective continuous improvement. The individual talent is blockbuster. [Concrete example: how many times have you noticed the lack of effective automation in the college listservs, in student files, in its own records management process?]

3) And this last one includes me as much as it does anyone else: The ethical implications of remaining in this state has consequences (thank Goodness, I'm not the judge, just one participant-observer like the rest). Good will is difficult to maintain, let alone increase. Credibility/truth becomes compartmentalized and a dehumanizing tool faction uses against faction--BOTH "sides" in this debate have done that. Intentions and actions get more and more easily separated and further the collective drops into a more difficult position than it was in before-and then the blame game starts; "those raskal-ly kids," "that trouble maker". [Concrete example: the college has amazingly successful alumni, why do they appear to be alienated? Because they don't have the big-bucks? Everyone can contribute, if the infrastructure is there.]

On that note of uplift and, I'm closing my participation here, at least for a while. Doubtful, but if a group wants to keep this space as a unifed, continuous, speaking space, I'm more than happy, as I have always been, to share this space.

At risk of sounding disingenuous, good luck one and all. NOW is a curious, curious time to be an information, information technology, knowledge worker, on the line or in the ivory (not so ivory) towers. People are the best "technology", not institutions, or policies, or whathaveyou, and CLIS/UMCP has some great (yes) people.

[Comments permissions have changed only because of spammers....if on the great improbability anyone feels compelled to respond here, I am happy to find a way for you to do so....]


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