Today, the OU’s Vice Chancellor, is giving a speech to Council (the OU’s governing body – like the Board of a company) and an internal audience on ‘Scholarship in the Digital Age’. She will be speaking “about the impact of new technologies, including Web 3.0, on the University’s business: how it affects teaching, research and the student learning experience”.
I’m really encouraged: this is exactly the focus we as a University need to be taking. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my area and so I obviously think it’s important. (Although there probably is an element of that.) I’ve said before that the VC is reading the right stuff (e.g. Here Comes Everybody) and there was further proof in the internal publicity for the talk – it was accompanied by a big copy of the xkcd Online Communities map:
But I’m also worried about whether to bring my laptop or not. Last time I liveblogged from a talk by the VC, people complained – entirely reasonably – that I was disturbing them with my typing – which I was. I did a post arguing (not entirely clearly) that the fact that such typing was disruptive showed that we have a mountain to climb in getting the OU to where we need to go. The discussion generated more traffic – and blog links – on here than anything else I’ve written, and ended up with me realising that by (inadvertently) reinforcing the stereotype of laptop users as antisocial inconsiderate types, I’d set things back, not forward.
Just to be totally clear: I am not saying that people are wrong when they say they are being disturbed. They are being disturbed, and that impairs their ability to hear and understand what’s going on. And with this particular presentation, people who aren’t (yet) natural laptop users and bloggers are the ones who really need to hear it: us techies are the choir the VC is preaching to here.
So do I bring it or not? If I do, it’ll disturb people. If I don’t, we lose (some of) the benefits of doing just what (I expect) the VC will be exhorting us to do.
Happily, our Comms team have come up with an excellent compromise: there’ll be a blogger area outside, with a screen showing the VC, and we can hammer away on keyboards to our hearts’ content without disturbing people who find such things distracting. (There may even be sufficient power sockets!)
It’s not ideal – to exclude this group from the room itself is a little unfortunate. But I’d rather leave the people inside free of distractions from technology so that they can come to love (appropriately used) technology.
… and I’m also going to try to keep the meta-discussion about liveblogging separate from the actual stuff, at least on here. I’m sure there’ll be all sorts of stuff on Twitter.