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I had a productive, if not at times frustrating day today. Information architecture in a highly restrictive environment is challenging, to put it nicely.



We had a nice retirement gathering for a colleague today, at which I honored her "with her own words." Saroj is NCSU's "accessibility person." It's not that she's the only person doing accessibility work on campus, but she's the focal point for the entire university.

What I did was:

  1. Searched for her name, Saroj, on ncsu.edu, which produced 13 pages of results, or approximately 130 hits.

  2. I clicked on each entry, and looked for things that Saroj said in them. A lot of them were minutes of meetings at which she presented status, meetings at which she presented or facilitated, and presentations she had written. I highlighted phrases that included things like, "Saroj said," "Saroj pointed out," "Saroj replied," and "Saroj asked," and copied and pasted them into one huge text file.

  3. After going through all 130 entries (only a couple of which turned out to not contain useful content), I ran that huge text file, with all of "Saroj's words" in it, through Wordle.

  4. I futzed around with the formating and colors until I got an arrangement I was satisfied with and saved the .jpg file to a flash drive.

  5. I took the flash drive to Kinkos, where I had a color print made of the .jpg file, and then had that laminated.
Wordle is a data visualization application that counts the frequency of words and then represents that frequency graphically, by size—with the more frequently used words in larger font and less frequently used words in smaller font.

Here's what I presented to Saroj—her "Digital Word Legacy," if you will:


Saroj really seemed to appreciate it, and I got a couple of affirmations afterwards from other folks about it being a very sweet and thoughtful idea. Yay!

I had an interesting chat with Saroj's husband, who doesn't work with us, but who was invited to her gathering. He's writing a book, and he told me a little bit about the first five chapters, the first four of which are done. We exchanged contact information, and he's going to send me the first four chapters to check out. Cool.



I took the #2 N. Campus Reverse Shuttle bus over to the Witherspoon Student Center, where the Campus Cinema is, and where I was going to see Welcome to Durham, a documentary about gangs—not in the big cities like Chicago and New York, but right here in our own backyard.

I got there at about five after 6:00, where I found the box office window closed, the theater empty, and three folks sitting in the office area behind the box office window.

"The show's at 6:30, right?" I interrupted a story one of them was telling.

"Uh, show? We don't have a show going on tonight," one answered, while another nodded in agreement.

"You don't? The Durham show—about the gangs—it's not tonight at 6:30?" I asked.

"Oh, that's Wednesday night," someone answered, but got on the Web, and after poking around said, "Yeah, it's Wednesday."

And then, "Ut-oh. But the flyer does say Monday. I'm sorry. It is Wednesday, though."

I said okay and started walking back to the bus stop, and then remembered that Wednesday night is supposed to be another film, The Gun, the Flag, and the Noose. I went back.

As soon as I got around the corner, back at the office entrance, they said, "You're right. It is tonight. But one of our notices says 6:30 and the other one says 7:00. And we don't even have the film. We're going to have to make a few calls, but we'll show it at 7 if it comes."

"No problem," I said, "I'll just wait around the corner," where I took a chair and read a little bit of Lost on Planet China.

They proceeded to scamper around trying to find out what had happened, who had the DVD (it surprised me that they show it from a DVD), and if they were going to be able to get it there by seven o'clock to show.

At about 6:25, people started to show up, and I heard them telling the first few people that came what was going on, and then the people already there began telling the people coming.

Two girls sat in the chairs next to me, and when one found out that it might not even play, she uttered the quintessential student response, "Well, I hope we gettin' credit for it. That's the only reason I'm here."

Right at about this time, the smell of cooking—okay burning—popcorn wafted through the hall. In consolation for eventually canceling tonight's film, they offered free popcorn to everyone there.

I carried myself back to the Wolfline bus stop, where I caught the Werewolf B bus back to the library, where I crossed the street and picked up the #12 Method Road city bus.



On the bus, over on Method Road, the bus driver got on her cell phone, which I'm almost positive is absolutely forbidden while driving the bus. My first thought was, "I should report this when I get home," which reminded me of when I did the same last year some time when one of the Wolfline bus drivers was on the phone almost my entire trip home.

Since I was sitting in the very front, I was able to see her riding just a little bit left of center and then correcting herself when she noticed. Looking around the bus, I did a quick mental count of how many lives she was taking into her own hands—or more precisely, ear. Eight. Including mine.

All of a sudden she pulled over toward the curb between stops and says to the person on the phone, "Let me go. I done passed someone up at a stop."

Personally, I didn't see anyone at the previous stop, and nor did anyone else, evidently, as she asked three times, "Did y'all see that person at the last stop?" and the only response was crickets.

"I know I saw someone at that last stop. He was on the other side of the pole. That's why y'all didn't see him," she said to the bus.

Collective thought, I'm sure: "Uh. O-kaaay. Then why isn't there anyone running up to the bus to get on?" After about a minute, she drove on.



At home, I had a late dinner, and started getting Manbites Dog Theater Company registered on grants.gov.

I got to bed early, at about 9:30, and reading until falling asleep at about 10:00.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
wail_o_years
Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
Two girls sat in the chairs next to me, and when one found out that it might not even play, she uttered the quintessential student response, "Well, I hope we gettin' credit for it. That's the only reason I'm here."

Seriously, when the University Scholars program was initially started, it was a great idea and did improve the overall "roundness" of college curriculums. Since then, it's become nothing but a joke. Of course, I'm assuming that they were meaning credit for Scholars. It could've been for another of their classes. Regardless, I really think it's pointless how they parade the students in and out of films, concerts, and symposiums when the students aren't getting anything of merit out of it when they show up, fill in their little card/information, sit through an event while listening to an iPod/MP3 player or texting on their phone and get NOTHING from the event as a whole.

Anyways, that's my soap box for the day!
dailyafirmation
Dec. 2nd, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Ha, Aaron. I agree with you. If the person's not getting anything out of it, what's the point?

I guess there's always the outside chance that someone will be engaged by something once there that they didn't anticipate, and in that case it would have been a worthwhile experience.

Oh well. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Oh just thought of this additional positive consequence: At least when they're at concerts and symposiums, their "under duress" presence gives the performers and presenters practice in dealing with indifferent audiences. :-)

Edited at 2008-12-02 07:42 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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