“Greatest Story Ever Told”

After the first class, Professor Groom shared with us a link to what he called “the greatest story ever told”– that is Robert Shaw’s Jaws sililoquy. While that post was not necessarily an assignment, I believe the ability to respond to that thought and have it “count” within the academic sphere, as well as the creative freedom that this forum called the internet allows, speaks to the message conveyed in our first “real” assignment– Garder Campbell’s Cyberinfrastructure (or “the bags of gold”) lecture.

Therefore, I will begin this post with one of my favorite movie moments that captivates me every time. It might be the Michael J. Fox/Michael Douglas combo. They aren’t necessarily telling a story in the clip, per Robert Shaw, but the clip itself tells a story about a citizen’s responsibility to both question leaders and be prepared to differentiate between good and bad leadership.

Lewis: “People want leadership, Mr. President. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”

Andrew Shepherd: “We’ve had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink it because they don’t know the difference.”

I feel the responsibility to know the “sand” from the “water” is especially important as rapidly growing technology creates faster, easier access to information regarding what issues we choose to engage and which leaders we choose to represent ourselves as individuals and as a nation to a world that is ever-connecting.

We have a new alphabet.

This is, perhaps, the most revolutionary part of Campbell’s lecture for me. Maybe it reflects my relative immaturity in regards to all things computers, that the most elementary of concepts helps me to understand the most complex of concepts as we tackle and engage the web this semester. For a long time, though, I’ve  considered myself merely a consumer. Google is something you do to get information. But to give it? To express my own ideas, with my own identity? Certainly that is too complicated for me to approach.

Then again, I wouldn’t say “no” to a bag of gold, would I?

So I am reaching out my hands, that they might be filled with a new currency. Complicated as it may be at first, this is the stuff of relevance and change and revolution. Gardner Campbell’s theory of personal cyberinfrastructure is, at its core, the invigorating message that I have something meaningful to share. Servers and domains and webspaces may sound confusing, but somewhere in there is an identity I have to be willing to claim for myself. The web already knows who I am as a consumer– it is just that good. It is high time that introduce myself to the web as a producer.

What  I already love about the structure of this class and Campbell’s vision as the framework is that it basically exists to introduce us to a new alphabet and provide thought-provoking prompts. We choose the words we form with the letters and I am confident that will prove to be a diverse collection of ideas. Isn’t that the point?

I believe Campbell would agree– and have something much smarter to say about it. It is time to explore the expressive capabilities at our fingertips and appreciate the ability to do so within the academic realm. This is the alphabet of higher education. And while mine might not be the “greatest story ever told” (I assure you it is not), I am excited to learn a new forum through which to tell it and to hear from others through their own design.

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