Where I don't care what others think


March 30th, 2009 Posted in College, Personal, Stupid People

This blog will be about things I dislike.  If I was a fan of internet meme type things, I could say “Do Not Want,” however I prefer to communicate using my own special version of english.

I dislike it when The Poly doesn’t endorse candidates.  As a result, I am not endorsing The Rensselaer Polytechnic as a legitimate source for campus information and opinion… that would be the act of negatively endorsing.. not just avoiding the issue like they do.  Sure, the decision might be hard… and they’ll have to communicate with the winner, even if they didn’t endorse him/her which might be awkward… but if they are going to be in the business of endorsing people than they should do so.  If they are in the business of offering biased opinion in response to an interview than they should change their model to that, a more accurate reflection of what they’ve done the past 2-3 years.  This lack of endorsement gives me the sensation that The Poly feels neither candidate will do a good job, and that maybe I’d be better writing someone in.  I am unsure how familiar The Poly staff is with the job of GM and Student Government at RPI.  Historically speaking their ed/op articles on the subject have been terribly slanted and I view them as slightly out of touch.  No, I can’t say that I’m in the SGS 24/7, nor have I attended every minute of ever senate meeting ever, but I do my darnedest to be informed as to what is going on whereas they opt to make up the rest of the story.  I have hope that some day The Poly will write something positive about Student Government at RPI.  Despite the many failures of student government at RPI over the year, there have been a few success, which tend to go untouted outside the Top Hat column.

I dislike it when candidates running for office cite being in the “Web Tech Group” as a qualification for office.  While I think that the members of the WTG running for office are well informed people and it shows campus involvement, being in a group responsible for making websites isn’t the reason why they are informed or extra qualified for the job.  I would cite an involvement with student government or the senate.. not a distant adgency.. possibly remarking on a specific area or two that one is familiar with.  It would look very dumb if I wrote “Can write PHP, RoR, and HTML” as a qualification for Senator…  maybe if I was hoping to be CIO again I would do that.. but Senator? really?  I think back to some of the top Senator’s I’ve seen over the years, and I have trouble citing anyone who has been effective at office because they were good with computers.

I dislike it when candidates hope to better “use” the WTG to fight the campus communication battle.  Last time I checked, none of us were robots or tools that could be “used.”  As the CIO, I report to the Senate and could therefore be responsible for projects from the Senate, but at no point am I required to pass off projects the group because it has been said.  The WTG tends to do its own thing, with a strategically-ill-defined adgenda that overlaps a few broad areas that the Senate Student Governemnt is interested in.  If I have the pleasure to be CIO next year, I look working to working with the elected people to figure out what we can do to help.  I do not look forward to being used by an elected person to communicate something because they said so.  I actually don’t think this is an issue, as its likely a poor choice in words and not reflective of a mentality… never the less, I can dislike it.

People who untag themselves from photos that they are clearly in are also commiting a practice I dislike.  I won’t untag myself from a photo unless I am actually not in the photo… like when my iLife identifies me instead of my brother… a legitimate mistake which I should correct.  I guess I could be embarassed about the photo or fearful some employer might find it one day and be like “hark!  what are you doing in that photo?  remind me again why I should hire you?”  Personally, I minimize my engagment in things that I’m not comfortable being documented.  Take photos of me all the time I’m in public for all I care… you need not consult me.  If I don’t want to be documented, I’ll creatively hide from the photo, such that I cannot be identified or I’ll adjust my behavior to something I am comfortable being documented in… you shouldn’t have to adjust your picture taking efforts to me.  If you are embarassed about a photo taken of you maybe you should rethink what you’re doing… not the photo.

Traditionally, I’ve been in support of people doing moderately illogical things if they help to achieve a longer term logical goal.  Learning their is no longer term logical goal invalidates my support of the illogical behavior and I will reclassify it as a waste of time.  That said, its too bad more people didn’t have longer term goals or committments in life at a young age.  As a member of the Boy Scouts of America, there was a pretty well defined long term goal sequence (and by long term I mean like 6-8 years).  Academia doesn’t present these sort of long term committments unless you’re a faculty member, at which point you can go really really long term.  Looking around at students I think that people are unwilling to stick with something.  Its not that they are necessarily going to change and move on to something else, but rather people seem unwilling to settle down and accept a burden.  While life can be quite dynamic, there are many things that aren’t really going to change, and in my effor to better society in some way, I am interested in doing my part to help out with the more stable things… in whatever capacity I can.  Be it today, tomorrow, or 4 years from now.

  1. 4 Responses to “Anti-Likes”

  2. By Mike on Mar 31, 2009

    I think your third paragraph brings up a rather interesting question. Is the Web Technologies Group simply a “group responsible for making websites”?

    The bylaws of the Senate say that the WTG shall pursue and implement services to benefit the Senate and/or the campus community. And while a component of that pursuit may involve writing “PHP, RoR, and HTML”, code is just one aspect of a larger picture. Writing code is certainly an important step, but the creation of an arguably-effective service such as those that the Web Technologies Group has created or is in the process of implementing goes far beyond code and websites. Each project has had to begin with careful planning and positioning. Research into institute policy and legal statutes, often followed by the development of new policy to govern these services, is a vital part of what may on the surface look like “making websites”. Beyond that, gaining acceptance for new ways of operating in a largely stagnant environment requires diplomacy and dedication on behalf of the team.

    Perhaps individuals citing their experience with the Web Tech Group are doing more than trying to build their Senate resume or put a fancy name to being “good with computers”. Perhaps they feel that their experiences with these projects will legitimately affect their ability to navigate Institute policy, work with other campus organizations, and implement projects within the Senate. Believe it or not, not every person running for office has had the experience of seeing a large project through from beginning to end.

    While I am not sure what incident in particular was the cause of concern, I do hope that those on campus that keep themselves relatively informed (and those that are involved with these projects) will take a minute to consider that those involved with Web Tech do more than write code: they take an active role in improving their campus. Perhaps the candidates could have been more explicit in their listing of qualifications, but I think that the aforementioned involvement is by no means irrelevant to student government service in general or to Senate candidacy in particular.

    I’m personally proud to be involved with several WTG projects, and not just because of some code that does the behind-the-scenes work of processing data in a fashion determined outside of the coding itself. The Web Technologies Group does things that couldn’t be done even with the best of computer science: projects are nurtured from inception through implementation to grow beyond the lines of code that make up their actual selves. Introducing a new service in a stagnant environment and gaining mind share is by no means a trivial task. Concerto, for example, could never have been worthy of note had a website simply been built. Those involved will recall that it took months of meetings, discussions, presentations, policy development, and work with institute officials to develop a place for the project on campus. Although my I won’t claim that my service to Web Tech has been flawless, I feel that two years working with the not-just-technological issues faced by the group has shaped my ability to do an effective job of seeing problems, making decisions, and implementing solutions.

    If you believe that members and non-members alike may be taking credit where credit is not due, or making promises on behalf of others, that is definitely a question that must be addressed. Less than a year after the Agency’s inception it was the subject of campaign projects – and not of the constructive ‘work with’ type that you mentioned, either. I think your argument that the Web Tech Group is not made up of ‘robots or tools’ is the exact reason that the individuals that compose it are valuable, free-willed individuals that have many of the qualities needed in a senator. If the Web Tech members are in fact more than mere code monkeys working at the whim of Student Government officials, there must be something more that they bring to the table. And in my experience, that something has been the ability to spot things that need improvement, develop a solution, and effect changes at RPI with their implementation. That’s the exact reason that I’m running for Senate: because I believe that the exact skills that I’ve honed as a member of the Web Technologies Group need to be directly applied to effecting change with other topics that the Senate addresses.
    Senators don’t need to be subject-matter experts to work on the senate. Just like many of the members of the committee dealing with campus facilities are not architecture majors, Senators don’t need to be ‘good with computers’ to work with online communication. At the same time, however, the past has shown that effective senators are those who develop experience, either within or outside of the Senate, in bringing real change to their environments.

    WTG Member
    Senate Candidate

  3. By Katie on Mar 31, 2009

    First off, whoa to the person who wrote a blog length response, and then used it as a chance to state why they are running for senate…lame.
    Second I have never seen anyone end a comment with a name, a club name, and then saying they are running for something. What is this world coming to!?

    Interesting blog post. I don’t agree with you wanting your school newspaper to endorse a candidate. As a student of journalism, I don’t think a paper needs to be forced to endorse a certain candidate, there are things known as giving opposing parties equal press. Plus, it is RPI after all, they aren’t the most liberal, informed, or the most advanced in the art of communication or journalism. Basically, I don’t feel the Poly should endorse a candidate, as a university you should work together for unity, not choose against one candidate or a party. The paper should be open to all.


  4. By Mike on Mar 31, 2009

    I’m not asking anyone to vote for me, but I posted my name and some contextual information to make it clear what perspective I’m coming from to people reading this post. I think it would have been pretty unfair to respond with a defense of the candidates without disclosing that I’m one of them. That’s just common courtesy.


  5. By Katie on Apr 1, 2009

    fair enough i suppose, but repetition of it just annoyed me, because your point was already across.

    but fair enough.

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