Bumbling forward

A bumble bee, presumably "bumbling"


You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.” — Frank Gehry

Every person I know, every project I work on, and every part of my life is currently in transition.  Truly Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” could be my current theme song. (Here’s a version done with eight pianos for those of you who need a refresher). I know all of you have busy lives as well–balancing family, multiple projects, travel, and personal time.  What has been much on my mind recently is my transition from producer of tools for museums using new technologies to a user of new tools.

This summer I’ve learned to use new online course software and it was weeks before I saw the new software as a real opportunity to change the way I teach my courses (both in the classroom and out of the classroom) and even the way I think about the subjects I’m teaching.  Fall 2010 will be pretty much starting over from scratch but I’m looking forward to it because the reward comes this spring when, at long last, I will teach a course in Renaissance art history after lo these many years of wandering in the land of new media.

I’ve not yet started biting my nails about the spring semester but I am aware that the last time I taught this subject the technology du jour was two slide carousels and involved the careful arrangement of often 100s of slides on a a light-table prior to placing them (hopefully the right way, upside down) into the carousels and heading off to class with two carousel boxes, a pile of notes, and books.   And, to be honest, that time with the light table is what I will miss most–that and the searching through file drawers of slides for just the right comparison and often finding, serendipitously, the perfect slide that I hadn’t known existed either just before or after the one I had chosen.  I will also miss the camaraderie of the slide library–being able to turn to a colleague on either side and ask a question, or having access to the slide librarian–a big shout out to Sara Jane Pearman and Vicki O’Riordan–who were always there with a suggestion or an answer.

Many of you have probably already read Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other” and understand the opportunities and the challenges posed by being plugged in all the time.   That said, I’m heading into the new school year optimistically embracing the abundance mentality.  I hope to bumble my way into a carpe diem existence where I expect more from technology AND more from others and give back more than is expected of me in return.

I want it all:  the flight, the hive, the nectar, and the honey.

Busy is as busy does–gotta bumble.


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