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Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 21:48:38 -0500 (EST)
From: Justin Hall <jahall@cyborgasmic.com>
To: astillm2@swarthmore.edu, balky@condor.sccs.swarthmore.edu,
    byang1@swarthmore.edu, crose2@swarthmore.edu, dsagoll1@swarthmore.edu,
    ethanb@condor.sccs.swarthmore.edu, jbenton1@swarthmore.edu,
    jderder1@swarthmore.edu, jhall1@swarthmore.edu, jhoffma1@swarthmore.edu,
    jlinder1@swarthmore.edu, lehmann@engin.swarthmore.edu,
    mbernst1@swarthmore.edu, mpeelle1@swarthmore.edu,
    rrichey1@swarthmore.edu, jim@condor.sccs.swarthmore.edu
Subject: my command

Thanks for being here -

      progress on your wishes:

Today I spoke to Rich Schuldenfrei in Philosophy about credit for the 
class.  He's never been on the web, he was open minded but initially 
passing me off.

Upon further conversation, his interest piqued, and he reached out to his 
wife, who works on the web, to see if she would help him do this.

I proposed to him a side-by-side of philosophy/ethics short readings with 
the existing courseload.

He's going to get back to my by Thursday.

We had quite a chat.

He said, the class is like the web because it is about
connections between departments without being grounded in any.

Most, if not all, of the academic officials of the college want you to 
approach a subject from their perspective -

- sociology, get some data on people and analyse it.

- math, prove it.

- english, analyse the texts.

If I'm saying I don't need the discipline to understand the material, 
then people are going to be pisst.  It's their life work we're talkin' 
about here.

So he encouraged me to master the specific technique of a department or 
field and apply it to the web.

But an essence of what I am teaching is the interdisciplinarity of the 

Well, if you don't have a field, a technique I can talk to you about,  
how do I know you're not bullshitting?

I listed for him my publications and qualifications; magazine mentions 
and speaking engagements.

When he heard 18,000 readers a day,
  he leaped up to call his wife to ask first,
if that was a lot,
and second,
if she would dig working on the project.

things looked good,
  but he took pains to warn me that everything was unlikely.

I liked him.  We got along.  A straight talking academic.

He said I was like a visitor from a tribe he'd only read about.

  (afterwards, heated, I wrote an article for the phoenix about all this).

Anyways, if he does, great, we'll work it out.  We'll all learn a lot.

If he doesn't, I'll have another distanced faculty patron, like Ken 
Gergen in Psych, Tim Burke in History, and probably others I haven't 
bothered to call in favours from yet.

If we have enough broad, but not specific, support from faculty, and you 
guys are pumped, one idea is to push for the creation of a media studies 
concentration.  Like Interpretation Theory (or perhaps within it) that 
is authorized to give credit.

There are concentrations, indeed Ken Gergen is willing to sponsor us 
within Interpretation Theory, but the rules (the Provost's rules) say 
that concentrations can't offer courses.

I've talked to Al Bloom, Martin the Registrar, numerous faculty, the 
heads of the CompSci Dept and English.

CompSci will co-sponsor the course with another dept.  InterpTheory if 
they could.

If it comes down to that, I can't push for the creation of a media 
studies concentration/department alone.  There are certainly other 
faculty (Patty White leaps immediately to mind), and other students who 
would in all likelihood be interested in this stuff.

We could use the momentum from our course to push that through.

I carry a lot of baggage around Parrish these days, and my time is 
taxed.  Together we can do a lot that I would kill myself just trying.

It means that you guys will have to put in time organizing and lobbying 
faculty staff and students.

If Schuldenfrei doesn't pull through, then we'll talk about this over 
e-mail and briefly in class.  I don't want to take up class time 
strategizing for academic approval, but I will gladly keep the info 
flowin' electronically and meet with folks in person to make this happen.

As Howard sez in his .sig file;

what it is ----->is------>up to us

I was initially put off by the idea of compromising with the clueless, 
and though I have developed more respect for swatprofs, I would be quite 
happy to conduct the class the semester long without their assistance.

Not that they don't have stuff to offer, they do.  But this is a new 
field, I believe, and it demands intense interdisciplinarity - 
something immediately foreign to folks who've studied a specific subject
for 40 years.

I would gladly work with someone that is cool, that thinks the class is 
cool.  But we're not here to learn what dead white guys have to say 
about the Internet, even if they had focus.

Now the notion of creating a place at Swarthmore for future classes like 
this excites me.  We could set an important precedent.

But precedent setting here is a group effort.  This place moves 
sloooooow.  I have seldom encountered anything quite so entrenched.

It ain't a bad thing, everybody is doing what they believe will make a 
better Swarthmore.

We would have to show them the wisdom of our ways.

and then we might fail.

or we might succeed, and the class will be a different place.

I never want to fear change, especially when I'm working with great 
folks.  So together, it doesn't matter; we make magic, with or without 

Each time I talk to an official, I get a different idea for how to raise 
credit.  Some speak of signing each of you up as though your were doing 
an off campus work study.  That would still require a department, but 
perhaps we could easier utilize sympathic faculty.

If you haven't gotten a sense of it already -
  this is a major bitch, and I'd like to see what you come up with.

After talking to Schuldenfrei, and hearing his skepticism about my 
approach to academia, I'm beginning to believe I might not leave here 
with parchment.  That is to say the struggle for a degree, agreeing with 
Swat on a fun focus, seems increasingly futile - I might rather just take 
interesting classes and leave when I am done.


Today I dropped Art History 1 (which I haven't attended in weeks) and 
signed up for a credit conducting this class as a tutorial with Ken 
Gergen in Psychology.

For Thursday, check the web page.  Non-Linear, interactive narrative, I 
posted some fiction references to look over.  Most of you have probably 
read one or the other, it'd be nice if you could share your thoughts on them.

More web references to come, by tomorrow afternoon, in other words, keep 
checking in.

And please send me anything cool you find!

Please feel free to use e-mail to hash this stuff out.  I urged Cooper to 
send you his opinion because I didn't want to keep it all to myself.  Each 
of you should feel welcome to go off!

Have a good night,
stay warm, I think there's cold days ahead.


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