Herding Cats

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By Eric Loy

Illustrations to Milton's Comus by William Blake

Changes in the weather, conspicuous coffee consumption, two or three return trips to Staples–the advent of a new semester can mean many things. The Great Leveler in academia, of course, is scheduling. We must be many places at many times, and we forever must coordinate ourselves against the variables (and the universe, in general, that conspires against us).

For even small research groups, setting up a mutually advantageous meeting time/place can often look like something out of a Beckett play. Our fearless Project Coordinator at UR, Laura Whitebell, is tasked with calculating availabilities and securing locations. With the precision and persistence rivaling a NASA launch, Laura figured out a scheme of rotating times and locations for fall 2014 that lets everyone in the group attend at least one meeting every-other week, with most group members able to attend every week. She does this every semester.

Curious to this particular instance of a time-honored tradition is the digital nature of our work. An outsider might peek in and say, “Couldn’t you just coordinate all that stuff through email, cloud drives, etc.?” Well, yes, we definitely could. And a lot of coordination between supporting institutions (like UNC-Chapel Hill) happens that way–see …read more

Source: http://blakearchive.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/herding-cats/