Today is a day to celebrate some unsung heroes – the people who make our lives possible in this 24×7 networked age. I’m talking about System Administrators.
Without them our computers couldn’t talk to one another, our email would remain undelivered, our VoIP phones would fall quiet, we couldn’t teach and learn online. System Administrators know that we’re counting on them to keep the electronic services we’ve come to rely on, up and running. They usually only hear from us when we’ve got problems – system down, forgot my password, laptop infected with a virus. They put in long hours on nights and weekends to ensure that the rest of us experience minimal disruptions. How often have they been the calm voice on the other end of your phone line reassuring you that everything is going to be all right?
Today is SysAdmin Day, the day to say thanks to the fine men and women who keep our networks, servers, websites, laptops, printers, and entire IT infrastructures humming.
For the most part what is written on a chalkboard is erased soon after. In fact, that is the whole point – the ease of writing followed by ease of erasing repeated ad infinitum.
But there is an exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford that focuses on blackboards even as they are vanishing from our daily lives in the classroom and meeting spaces. The exhibit is called “Bye-bye blackboard… from Einstein and others.” There are some real treasures to enjoy here. And if you’re in Oxford and have a chance to visit it in person – let me know what you think.
I probably shouldn’t write
this blog post, because I’m talking about a book I actually haven’t read yet. However,
not being fully qualified to talk about a topic has never stopped me before . . . as co-workers, family, friends, and the occasional random stranger are likely to confirm. In fact, "not being qualified" is sort of the point of this post.
One of the debates making the rounds
on education blogs (and blogs in general) this week stems from Andrew
Keen‘s recently released book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s
Internet is Killing our Culture. The basic premise of Keen’s book seems
to be that Web 2.0, especially when
applied to media, is robbing us of our culture and replacing it with rampant
Was that a man in a three piece suit who walked past my office door? That is a sight one doesn’t see every day at generally business-casual Blackboard. Actually, yesterday I saw quite a few suits walking around. What was all the fuss? Then it hit me, of course – it was Non-Casual Tuesday!
On the second Tuesday of each month the Product Development Team celebrates Non-Casual Tuesday. It is the day when engineers, QA staff, product managers and requirements experts dust off their suits and make a date with their iron. The usually casually dressed team gets all gussied up and, well, makes everyone smile.
It all started a couple of years ago when Michael Chasen was in charge of Product Development. He moved his office from the 11th floor down to the 7th floor where Product Development was located. Along with his desk, and one for his administrative assistant, he also brought his executive dress code. One Tuesday morning the entire Product Development Team decided to dress up too and thus Non-Casual Tuesday was born.
Here are some photos of our non-casual developers:
Each year the Blackboard headquarters in Washington, DC, holds a day of creative events to celebrate the national “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” program.
Last Thursday, 21 kids joined us for a series of fun activities, including drawing games during a very official morning meeting in one of our conference rooms, a “Passport Tour” of various departments throughout the building and a “PB&J Break” in the afternoon (when grownups are often running out for coffee).
Before the Passport Tour each child received her or his own employee ID card on a lanyard and a small booklet shaped like an actual passport (but branded with the Blackboard logo). The group toured the building and stopped in various departments—Client Support, Product Development, Marketing, Sales. At each location our young executives saw where their parents work and learned a little about the kind of projects members of those teams complete, and were encouraged to ask the teams questions. Before moving to the next location in the tour, the children received a stamp in their passports, just as if they actually were traveling from one country to another. Pretty cool.
Here are some photos of the day taken by Naku Mayo, a technical support manager on our Client Support team. (Yes, that’s Naku and his daughter at the end of the slideshow!) Enjoy.