But this time, it wasn’t to look at places Jeff might be going; instead, I travelled to Sonoma State University to give the first talk in the Philosophy Club’s “Digital Being” series (which, by no coincidence at all, was also a scheduled session of Philosophy 310: Digital Being).
I arranged for Professor Sullins to give the class an assignment: write my introduction, based on what they could find out about me on the Web, and they did a fine job. Fortunately, no one surprised me by what they’d found, but it was still somewhat odd to have a total stranger tell me what kind of car I own.
I did the talk without slides, which had its good side and its bad side. The good side, of course, is that I could talk freely and didn’t have to worry about making sure what I said didn’t just duplicate what was on the screen. The bad side is that I don’t remember exactly what I talked about, because I don’t have the slides to refer to as a guide.
But I do remember talking about the days when the Internet was “exclusive”, when what you wrote on Usenet stayed in a fairly small circle, when there was an “@” party at the Worldcon (for the few people with electronic mail addresses). And about the ways in which today’s Internet enables collaboration (Twitter and wikis and blogs, oh my!). The talk itself was collaborative – there were lots of questions (some of which lent themselves to straightforward answers, but most of which didn’t). We even talked about document formats, network neutrality, and confirmation bias (for more on that last, see Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), which I hope to review here soon).
We were supposed to finish at 6, but went to 6:15 — either the session was worthwhile or no one wanted to be obvious about being the first to leave. I can hope it was the former. And, while I can’t speak for the audience, I enjoyed the experience of giving a guest lecture (I even wore a “professorial” jacket, though I had to abandon it because the room was warm) and would enjoy an opportunity to do it again.
Thanks, John, for inviting me!