"Where Have All the Ideas Gone?"

This e-mail message, copied from the acw-l archives, was posted by Barry Maid on June 4, 1998.


>I found lots of soul-searching, lots of "where are we now?" thinking.
>So where are we now? I saw these categories:
>1. The "nobody's doing research" crowd.
>2. The "nobody's doing my kind of research" crowd.
>3. The "nobody's doing anything at all useful" crowd.
>4. The "who the hell are we?" crowd.

Yup, I saw and heard some of that too. Almost makes you think we were at the MLA. *shudder*

But that's not all I heard. And for me, the positive things keep coming from the "younger" members of our community.

A conversation I had with Todd Taylor that started at the Atlanta airport and now seems to be continuing on the WPA list has Todd suggesting different kinds of computer classrooms. Maybe it's just a slightly different spin on some of the ideas Fred floated earlier this year, but I think Todd is actively thinking of ways of spreading the technology to more people in a cost effective fashion. I'm not sure I agree with him completely, but he's pushing things, making people think about alternatives, that's how things get changed.

I also heard Beth Kolko talk about how an interdisciplinary teaching project she's involved in is helping her "otherwise marginalized" students get good paying jobs. To me, that's very exciting.

However, what was for me the most important conversation was the one that was going on kind of sub stratum. The one with Eric Crump, Tari Fanderclai, Mick Doherty, and Anthony Rue where they all ask the question:

To be or not to be--in the academy or out?

The fact that some of our best young talent is being tempted by the outside not forced into being outside is new for those in the humanities. However, I think it gives our community an incredible opportunity to connect to the world outside our ivy-covered walls.

So, as I don my rose-colored glasses, I'd suggest the theme that emerged for me was not a "wheel-spinning" for those who teach computers and writing but rather the beginning of a connection of those who teach computers and writing with those who practice computers and writing.

Barry Maid