Davis Foulger

I currently teach (http://davis.foulger.info/vita), on an adjunct basis, at Brooklyn College/CUNY (http://davis.foulger.info/brooklyn). I've been teaching on an adjunct or visiting basis for five years now, and I've recently concluded that while the foray has been a critical success (award winning papers and many kudos from students), it has been a pragmatic failure insofar as it does not appear that any school is likely to hire me on to a long-term full-time contract. I find that sad, but I've had so many other successes in my life that I see it less as a failure than as a balancing of the books. We don't get to do everything we want to do. The change to teaching was a recent one. I've spent most of my career designing and building software (http://davis.foulger.info/resume), mostly at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, NY, but also at startup companies and as an independent contractor building and designing software, systems, and web sites.

At this point, I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. I'll probably continue to teach (on an adjunct basis) and write (but without the support infrastructure I was hoping to get with a university position). The question, at this point, is how I can make a reasonable living while continuing to write, do research, and enjoy to world around me. I keep my hand in software and system design through a small business (http://evolutionarymedia.com). I may try to develop that more aggressively now.

I also maintain MediaSpaceWiki (see http://evolutionarymedia.com/wiki.htm), which is mostly used for the purposes of teaching and discussing the variety of human communication media. You will find the class lecture notes for every class I've taught in the last three years there. I now operate several wiki, including the Human Communication and Technology Division (of NCA) wiki at http://wiki.hctd.net. I've done several customizations of wiki on these sites. The most interesting is my implementation of table support, which is very different (and I think a lot more powerful) that is found on other wikis. Those customizations have lately turned to fighting WikiSpam, which I've managed to fight fairly effectively with a small rule set.

As a minor historical note, I started a bit of a bruhaha here in 2001 just before I started the first of these wikis. The content below this line is detritus of that bruhaha, preserved as an object lesson in ways you can mess up on first contact with a new wiki. -- Davis Foulger

A group of my friends and colleagues may be using this page: DavisFoulger to discuss the ethics of polluting a focused, longstanding wiki community with a bunch of irrelevant pedagogical rants when you already have your own server where you could host them and you could easily run up one of the myriad free WikiClones there instead ... -- PeterMerel.

I'm sorry you and your friends feel that way. I took the WelcomeVisitors page at its word, and have created three pages, including this one, as experiments while I worked on setting up my own Wiki. I haven't polluted other pages on this Wiki, and I don't think I created any of the rants associated with the ones I did create (except maybe now on this page). The second page I created, MoralQuestionInMedia?, was intended to demonstrated the power of Wiki as a collaborative medium to a group of scholars. I had proposed that we (the group of scholars) set up our own Wiki for the purpose of collaboratively developing Ethical Cases across a variety of fields. The demo, which started out as about 100 words in WikiWikiSandbox, did a pretty good job of demonstrating that value, and the "rants" made a useful contribution to the demo. I moved it to a new page from Sandbox so the demo would be preserved for continuing use over the next week or so. The second page, SuicideOnChildrensTelevision?, was intended to solve a specific problem some students were having this week. My apologies. I have since moved them to my own Wiki. -- Davis Foulger

[Note that Peter has his own wiki! Try using 'minor edits'. Also see WriteNewPages?.]

Thanks for prodding me into exploring further. I really didn't want to like Peter after his threatened gang violence against my trivial little experiments in Wiki use. I was ready to push him off in a corner as just another software guy who has made up a weird and pretentious title for himself, but now I've read VeryGoodSeats, and I like Peter. I'm sure that, if we met on an airplane, we would share witty puns and discuss some interesting backwaters of language choice. Heck, I've made up weird and pretentious titles for myself too.

You like me?! Now the gang is going to have to really rough you up! Ward, hand me the tire iron. Um, Ward? Hey, fellows? Gang? Hey, wait up, where are you all going? -- PeterMerel hulking off striking surly poses and kicking cans.

:-) -- Davis
Davis, after a week away from Wiki I realized when checking RecentChanges tonight that I must have missed all the excitement! I have also found on Wiki that discussion of certain topics - especially programming, music, and science fiction - is pleasant and agreeable, but discussion of controversial topics leads to more heat than light. I'm certainly a newcomer to Wiki myself and can't speak on anyone else's behalf, but I am dismayed to learn of the negative reception your new pages received. Please let me know if you will be accepting non-academic visitors to your Oswego wiki when it is set up.

Thanks, a nice comment about the value of the "minor edits" button has calmed me considerably. Controversial topics do create interesting problems for discussion groups, and there are elements of Wiki "style" that may actually make Wiki a more difficult place to have controversial discussions. It certainly appears to push discussions towards a format that I've referred to as polar debate in previous research. I'll let you know on the scope of the Oswego site after I have it set up, but it's nice to know that someone may be interested. Practically speaking, there may not be much I can do to keep folks out, and I can't think why I would want to, but first I have to set it up, and given my recent experiences with Windows and Sun-based CGI serving, the first step will probably be to set up a Linux box.


Moved from WriteNewPages?:

MentalHealthWiki?

Share your views on Mental Health Issues here. MentalHealth MentalHealth&Work

I guess I'm almost sorry I created these pages, and I promise to move them off to my own Wiki as soon as I can: SuicideOnChildrensTelevision? and MoralQuestionInMedia?. -- DavisFoulger (yes, all three)


YorktownHeights?! Working there was one of my all time dreams! Tell us more about it!

I loved working at Yorktown. I think that, if I could have worked at the IBM Research I joined in 1983 for my entire life, I would have hated "retiring", because despite my long hours, I never thought of working there as "work". My job, at least at first, was to make it easier for users of personal computers to get their work done. I did that with telephone consulting, weekly seminars, and the creation of a long series of software packages, many of which accidentally escaped IBM such that you might have encountered them. Only once, in that time, did I build a program that somebody else asked me to build. Over and over again I discovered needs that IBM Research employees had and built software (often in collaboration with others) to satisfy that need. Among them were such varied offerings as The Yorktown PC User's Workbench (one of the first soup to nuts software installations delivered to users on new PC's), FileMan? (which evolved, with SubTree? Plus (STP), into OS/2 and MicroSoft Windows File Manager), HELP (possibly the first tag or intent-based hypermedia markup system and one of the first hypermedia systems to enable distribution of hypertext from network servers to hypermedia browsers; HELP became OS/2 Help Manager, a U.S. Government maintenance document system, and several other products), the E editor (eventually OS/2 enhanced editor and, through a rewrite, SlickEdit), and others systems. In other words, I had a blast.

Later my attention turned to my primary research interest, computer mediated communication, as I operated and enhanced (again in collaboration with others) IBM's global computer conferencing systems. Starting in about 1989 the development focus for conferencing turned to moving Mike Cowleshaw's outstanding Tools/Toolsrun system from VM to local network servers. But 1989 marks something of a major turning point for IBM Research. It's about that time that Development started to become the big D of the division and R started to become a little R. I never did another day of work in IBM, starting about that time, where I didn't have to find the funding for my work outside the division. I did that very successfully for about ten years, but by then I had even had to move my research and development team from IBM Research to IBM Global Services. IBM Research was no longer interested in research projects that didn't promise development returns in six to twelve months. That, unfortunately, hasn't changed much since (my significant other retired from IBM Research eight months ago, so I'm still pretty in touch with what's happening there.

It's still a great place to work. There were, and still are, a lot of very smart people there who do interesting things. Many of them are still friends. I don't question, however, that almost none of the software that I built while I was at IBM Research would never have been built at all under the current management system.

Funny how times change. Hope I didn't burst your fantasy. -- Davis Foulger


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