After three solid days of onscreen administrivia - many thanks to Jennifer for this wonderful term - my eyes felt like rusty pins. We’re putting together documentation for a new Masters Programme (6 Masters awards, numerous intermediary awards, and sheaves of modules). I’ve barely been online at all apart from some cursory searching and blogging back home. But nonetheless, I’d been staring at the screen so much that the thought of using obstinate drawing tools in Word was just too much at 4.00pm on Friday afternoon, so I thought I’d do the business by hand. Do you remember those old tools, pencils and rulers? Loads of people in the building thought they’d got a ruler and maybe even a pencil, but after rummaging around in bags and drawers most drew a blank. It took me a good 20 minutes to assemble the kit, and then Jonathan showed me how easy it is to use draw tools in Powerpoint. So whoppee, in 5 minutes flat I’d acquired a new approach and that saw me through till 6.00pm and just about got the job done!
That got me thinking about how quickly we’ve got used to doing old-fashioned things, like putting together a formal print document, with digital tools and in the process freeing up a whole labouring class of typists who have now been repurposed as administrators and tell us what to do, rather than the other way around. But I also got thinking about academics use of the Internet, how often in a normal week, I google or scholar.google, how often I check colleagues blogs or websites to see what’s going down, and how often I check e-databases (every so often) and institutional sites (less regularly)…and also, I guess, how much of my email traffic is about academic stuff as opposed to purely social (friends and family) or institutional administrivia. I’d like to see some studies of this, find out how colleagues use new tools, new literacies and what the variation is…..and then I suppose construct a story around how new technologies may or may not disrupt traditional hierarchies and power flows in academic life and research. I’d like to know about the different ways colleagues spend their lives online and whether this changes things in deeper ways.