The Beast that Shouted “Notice Me!” at the Heart of the Web

With apologies to Harlan Ellison. While the story “The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” itself has not stuck with me over the years, the title certainly has, certainly not the same way that I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream has done so.  Regardless, the question is this. Is “”Notice Me!” all that much different from Love?

In the 90s, I played with a lot of different technologies on the web. I wrote a fair amount that I never put online nor tried to publish. I actually had more time then than I do now. I don’t  know that I have all that much more to say, but I seem to have a greater desire now to say it or to get document my thoughts.

When we rolled out our revised/renewed website in the fall of 2012, we built social community structure into it with a blog, wiki, and user forum. The forum has not taken off at all, but this did not surprise me. The institutional research community has never been much on such things, and that has been our primary target audience.  I started the blog over there with one thing in mind, but it has morphed into something else as I have blogged there about weekly for most of the year.

At the same time, I created the @SCHEVResearch Twitter account and used it very little for several months. I figured initially we would just push notices that out that way to supplement other avenues. As I spent more time on Twitter, I found out just how useful it is to connect with some really smart people doing good work and stay current on what is going on. Then I began to see the need for a more personal interaction on Twitter that was less appropriate for the account representing a department in a state agency, so I dusted off the unused personal account and announced that I would be moving some activity there.

So, as I eagerly scan for page view accounts and new followers, I wonder two things.

Am I shouting “Notice Me!” loudly enough?

Why, oh why, am I shouting “Notice Me!”?

I think the answer to my first question is probably that I am not. I need to tweet more, follow more people, use more hashtags, all that stuff. Part of the problem is that I still have to be mindful of the limits of free speech for a public official. I censor myself a lotto provide the illusion that I am a serious, thoughtful person.

As to why shout “Notice Me!” that is easy. I am little tired of the lack of awareness of some of things we are doing, that I am doing. For example, I get kind of annoyed when faculty bloggers from Virginia institutions or presidents of Virginia institutions who write op-ed pieces attacking PayScale or USED’s ratings proposal to include earnings measures fail to mention what we are doing in Virginia. While I am glad they are not attacking our work (although some of the presidents seem to like to do that face-to-face) they could at least demonstrate an awareness of what we have done and why it is different. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away – it is the law.

As is the new requirement that all colleges and universities receiving general fund dollars (with direct appropriation or student aid) from the state shall post a link on their websites to our reports (the italics represent new language):

“for each degree awarded by each institution and shall, at a minimum, include the percentage of graduates known to be employed in the Commonwealth, the average salary, and the average higher education-related debt for the graduates on which the data is based; rates of enrollment in remedial coursework for each institution; individual student credit accumulation for each institution; rates of postsecondary degree completion; and any other information that the Council determines is necessary to address adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education and alignment between secondary and postsecondary education.

School divisions and high schools must also provide a link to the reports. Clearly the patron of this bill is paying attention to my work, and more importantly, likes it.

In many ways, the highered world is becoming more socially directed and those that are not paying attention are going to find themselves to be lost. Those that fail to try to be found, will be equally lost. Scott Adams once suggested in either The Dilbert Principle or The Dilbert Future that the need for a personal webpage may become so pervasive that there would be government subsidies for the homepageless.

I’ve taken a hiatus from membership and involvement with Association for Institutional Research. For many years, that was a large part of my professional life. I’m returning to the Forum this year, and we will see how that goes.

Notice Me!






Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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