Back to School

September 28th, 2006 by Team Member

By Ariel van Spronsen

Allen Library

Today is my first day back to school, entering the second and final year of my Master’s degree at the University of Washington.. The energy on campus is amazing, especially as compared to how quiet it was the week I was here for the Information Architecture Summer Institute. This feeling of starting anew every fall is one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about returning to school after 10 years. There is a cycle to it, a sense of beginning and end. I remember transitioning into full time work after I finished my undergraduate degree, and after a year or so, realizing that there was no end. I would work for the rest of my life. These days I’ve found work that I am happy to do for the rest of my life, but at that time it was a depressing thought.

I’m going to be doing things a little differently this year – I’ll be working with Exbiblio part time and taking only two classes per quarter. It’s going to be interesting to see how I manage shifting gears between my student and professional lives. Fortunately I have strong role model in john durand, who is currently doing his MBA while working full time at Exbiblio. Another difference for me this year is that I will be carrying my sexy Exbiblio-issue MacBook Pro to school. I have a laptop PC at home, but it’s large and powerful and not meant to be portable on a daily basis. The Mac, so far, has been much more convenient. I’ve already used it to catch up on Exbiblio email and blogs, as well as review course syllabi in advance of my first classes, and also to type this post while eating lunch in the HUB.

I also just spent several hundred dollars on books for my classes. One of my books, “Looking for Information” by Donald Case, was nearly $100 on its own. When I spend this much money on books I always have a little inner struggle over marking them up. Highlights and notes make a world of difference to how I review information that I’ve read, and also help me to set knowledge in my head. Effective highlighting can mean a huge time savings when I sit down to write papers and have to go back to original sources to locate support for my points. I think I’m going to be an interesting test case for the oPen. I’m going to try using it to highlight and annotate virtually. The important thing is that this be easier than I’ll be a very happy camper. It will have to be easy enough that it weighs positively against marking up my precious, expensive books.

Wish me luck!