Blockchain and education

For any company in any sector specialists first of all are important. However, how the diploma provided when applying for a job can be checked? Take the word? That is not an option! Believe what’s…


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Untitled, (from Mullins’ the forthcoming publication “Exposition” on the first removal of a statue of a President of the United States in Arcata, California)

After a semester-long sabbatical replacement gig in the small town of Arcata California, I’ve been rushing around to maximize studio access, before heading back to San Francisco. In my haste to leave the lab last night, I left behind my SSD drive with pretty much all of my work from the semester on it. Yes, I have it (mostly and recently) backed up, but I don’t want it floating around either.

So today, while I was already packed up to process files at the local Eureka coffee shop, I found myself frantically rushing back up Highway 101 across Arcata Bay to Humboldt State at 7:30 in the morning. As a visiting faculty member, I am not a participant, but it didn’t take long for me to remember that it was graduation day. The roads were crowded for a Saturday morning on this usually abandoned slender strip of 50mph road between the 27,000-resident, Eureka, and the smaller 18,000-resident, Arcata. There are exactly three entry points (that I know about) to get to the 20-minute zone behind my department. They are all 4-way stops. And they were all more clogged than a fast-food- regular’s arteries. After an endless, and still panicked crawl behind excited, but lost, parents with armies of relatives smashed into SUVs, minivans, and one Tesla, I made it to the department. I ran up the stairs and burst into the upstairs hallway toward the lab.

As I flew around the corner, in the near distance was the silhouette of a colleague, who appeared to have managed the straight-jacket method of wearing his graduation regalia. He was struggling with it, like Houdini might. I trotted past him, calling out, “I left my hard drive here last night — I HOPE!” His face expressed that knowing sympathy of those of us who share the fraternity of dependence in the digital arts, even to spite the fact his current predicament — trapped in a masters’ robe with one hand lodged in the oblong sleeve elbow, half-human, half harbor seal.

I secured the drive. Whew! I popped back out into the hallway, now able to express empathy again myself. He had escaped, and now had it wadded under his armpit.

“Do you want some help?” I asked. “Yes.” He said, seeming somewhat relieved, “I don’t understand any of this.” He’s Canadian. Don’t judge me, that’s what he was thinking too. And this was his first graduation as a new tenure-track faculty member at an American university. I explained that the part in which he had previously had his hand snared, was a sort of elbow, and that somewhere in there, one wrist hole exists for the hand. I refrained from telling him that his hand had just been where the snotty tissues go when one weeps at graduation, because there are no pockets. On many occasions, in rented robes, I’ve encountered the last occupants’ detritus. He handed me his hood and tried again with this newfound knowledge, and out popped his hand. “Oh! It zips!” he exclaimed.

Now the hood. I’m not great with the hoods, even after four graduations a year at my last teaching appointment. But along came another faculty member, a senior professor. She was completely dressed, mortar board in place, hood and gown were pressed to perfection, and several ribbons and pins adorning her gown. He had now put the hood over his head, and it dangled backwards from his throat. She reminded us about the secret button or hook in the front of the gown; the anti-strangulation feature! While he worked to secure the hood to that, she went around the back and set about to flip the hood to show the colors the right way.

Yesterday, in the last faculty meeting of the year, the chair talked about various tenure-related deadlines for the many younger faculty in the department. Observations need to be done of not just one class, but trying to cover lecture, critique, and lab. Letters need to be written by senior faculty espousing upon the virtues of these younger faculty, not just on teaching, but on service and research successes. Binders need to be made. The path of the faculty career is marked by much work and worry; much mentorship and learning; much service and seeking. Many of these activities senior faculty do for junior faculty can be a nuisance, and on a small faculty, with many new colleagues, there’s a lot of work to be accomplished. It can be easy, I imagine, to forget that this busy work is in the service of teaching a student of Professorship, the path to a career in academia. And much of it is invisible to students. For the junior faculty, it’s like trying to teach, but spending all of your spare time, in which you aren’t grading or prepping for the next class session, learning to perform a stick-and-plate juggling act, hoping to get to the point where you can balance it on your nose before you have to introduce the next chapter of InDesign.

“There we go. Now it’s right. It’s not intuitive.” she said, as she hand pressed a last crease.

Happy Graduation.

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