Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May Omnitopia Update

Mid-May brings the conclusion of my initial roll-out for City Ubiquitous. It's been quite an adventure. Inspired by local newspaper coverage of the book, several people and organizations offered me the opportunity to share my work in person.

Three SJSU faculty members invited me to present class lectures. Classes ranged from sociology to internet commerce to a group of students working on a project with NASA. Each of these presentations helped me hone my hour-long multimedia show, learning what to emphasize and what to prune. It's always a bit guilt-inducing to imagine that a class lecture is helping me practice for the next lecture, that I'm presenting a draft version of something, but that's been a fairly common aspect of my teaching thus far. I'm always training. As long as folks get a reasonable degree of proficiency and useful material, I figure they won't mind that I'm still figuring some of my own ideas out.

Following those lectures, I presented my show off-campus. Cal State East Bay's Conference on the Future was my first stop. An alumni presentation in Phoenix was my second. And just yesterday I presented the talk to a Mountain View luncheon group who meets monthly to discuss technology and society.

That first talk gave me a chance to get to know colleagues at a nearby campus and, ideally, broaden opportunities for our departments to collaborate. I suppose I was most nervous about the second one, given that I was sharing the stage with our university president. Even though the organizers were pros, I lugged my own LCD projector to Phoenix, just in case. Of course my over-the-top stress related to tech-issues was unnecessary. The third one was the most unique of the bunch, as my audience was eating their Szechuan lunches during most of my remarks. That said, the audience was hardly passive. They peppered me with thoughtful and challenging questions and observations. And when I completed my allotted hour, they encouraged me to stay for an extended Q&A session. I barely made it back to campus on time for my 3 p.m. class, and I didn't mind a bit. The group was swell and the day was a delight.

What's next?

I have been invited to present my talk to another alumni event on October 3rd, entitled "Classes without Quizzes." And, of course, I yearn for opportunities to visit even more distant campuses and give guest lectures. I've received a few nibbles and I look forward to developing these plans in more detail.

Do you know of any opportunities where I can provide a guest lecture on City Ubiquitous? Let me know. I pack light and I'll travel anywhere.

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