Notes from Newport Beach (part 1)

Well, I’m just about recovered from my first Sakai Conference since I officially took up the Executive Director position. I left simultaneously exhausted and energized, if that’s not too much a contradiction. My experience of the conference is definitely not typical, of course, as I’m involved in organizing it (although very little, thanks to the excellent team) and I use the opportunity to meet with people who have traveled from afar to attend. A few highlights, though:

  • Sakai Board Meeting: The board meeting took place on Monday the 3rd in an air-conditioning challenged room at the Marriott. All board members attended including the newly-elected Josh Baron and Lance Speelmon (they were in “observer” mode as their official term starts January 1). The main business at hand was the foundation budget for 2008. Those of you who saw my Sakai Foundation Update talk know that the budget includes increases in spending on quality assurance, an important theme for 2008. These dollars (I wish they were euros!) will come from cost savings on conferences, not revenue increases. I’ll be posting a summary of the budget for 2008 (and spending for 2007) as soon as it is approved in January.
  • Joel Thierstein (of Rice University and Connexions) was Tuesday’s featured speaker. Joel’s talk focused on maintaining quality in an open source world. It was particularly interesting to me because the Connexions Project has both content quality and software quality concerns. Joel’s examination of the relationship between governance models and quality was quite relevant to the community, I think, as we discussed both of those issues during the project planning meetings and throughout the week. You’ll find his talk here.
  • Bob Sutor (of IBM) I had the privilege of introducing Bob Sutor, who has the coolest title in big business. And I mean big. Bob mentioned that IBM has, give or take, 1/3 of a million employees. All over the world. Even with the best retention imaginable, that’s a massive hiring and training operation, so IBM has quite an interest in higher education. It used to be, in the days of the manufacturing economy, that what corporations wanted (factory-ready workers) was seemingly at odds with the mission of higher education. Bob’s description of what he needs from his team at IBM, including a comfort with ambiguity, strong analytical skills and the ability to work “virtually”, looks a lot more like what I think many higher education institutions are aiming for. (I think I’ll blog about this subject separately, and leave this unsupported for now.) In any case, Bob’s review of what has changed in the last 13 years, the time it takes to go from kindergarten to college, shows how much change we’ll need to adapt to if we want to be ready for my kids. And I have a vested interest in that. In any case, you can find Bob’s talk here.

Okay, I’m running off to meet Peter Knoop who happens to be in San Francisco this week, so I’ll pick this up later….


One Response

  1. I like the speech of Joel Thierstein,but his governance model was too simple for me to fall for it totally

    best regards

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