It’s Thanksgiving this week which means that The CUNY IT Conference is right around the corner. On December 3rd at John Jay and December 14th at the Graduate Center CUNY will be hosting discussions across the city about technology and education. On the 14th members of the Commons team will be hosting a round-table and I’d love to meet everyone. If you can make it please stop by. This won’t be the first time I plug this event either so be ready. I’m excited that we’re doing this – all of the panels and workshops look great this year!
Lately I’ve spent a lot time here asking everyone to think about how tools like the Commons provide solutions that we didn’t have 10 – 15 years ago. I think that, continuing in that vein, we should also spend a little time thinking about how we could do more to bring others aboard. A couple of things have been on my mind that have had me thinking about this. Last week we passed 1,400 active members which is amazing. When I started way back in February we had just cracked 700. It’s exciting to think that in less than a year we’ve managed to double our membership! More so when you think about how much of our recruitment comes from word-of-mouth. We’ve certainly done more this year to raise visibility than we did when things first got off the ground, but it’s inspiring to me to know that we’re clearly doing something here that’s not only useful but ground-breaking.
Since this blog is, at heart, a behind the scenes look at how we keep things moving I don’t feel it’s being too treasonous to mention that there’s been a lot of back and forth within the team about how aggressively we want to recruit new members. Personally I’ve always been in the ‘bring it on’ camp, which is to say, I really like watching the numbers climb. The more the merrier. The problem there is that I’m also blithely assuming that everything will always go perfectly and there’s never anything so technically complicated that Boone and Chris can’t fix it in an hour or so.
Now, it’s not that Boone and Chris aren’t rockstars, but you can see where the sagacious wisdom of Matt and the Development Team is appreciated. Sarah, Scott and I could just go around wheat-pasting Commons posters all over faculty lounges across CUNY, but the quality of the experience here is still more important than the volume. It doesn’t do anyone any good to have thousands of members if everyone is frustrated. Growth is important, but as a qualitative term growth isn’t just about new members, it’s about new features and ease of use. Growth works on both side of screen, it’s about developing new guides and letting the culture of the place develop naturally.
If we talk about growth in these terms we’ve got a lot more to celebrate than just doubling of membership. Over the last year we’ve seen a robust blog-roll fill up with insightful, warm and occasionally cantankerous blogs. Colleagues across CUNY routinely check in every month (sometimes every week!) and share their experiences in the classroom and out in the world. Groups have flourish acrossed CUNY as well. Overall it’s a very exciting time.
On another note, I’ve been irked for a while now about the SUNY language program cuts and I wanted to point everyone towards this open letter from Gregory Petsko to George Philip, president of SUNY. Titled ‘A Faustian Bargain…‘ Petsko, writing for the journal Genome Biology, has written an amazing defense of the humanities that I would love to discuss here in the comments. If you have a moment please take a look.