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Monday, March 30, 2009

Campus computer labs going the way of the dinosaur?

Only four incoming freshmen were without personal computers at the University of Virginia this academic year. So the school is shutting down all the computer labs on campus in an effort to save money. And there's some lively discussion over at Slashdot about whether computer labs are even necessary anymore.

If they ever go away completely... wow. I was a computer lab manager during all four of my years at Elon. So was my filmmaking partner "Weird" Ed and a lot of others. 'Twas some of the best work that you could ever do as a student. Most of the time you were sitting on shift for three or four hours with nothing to do but surf the 'net. That is, until another student... or an instructor... came to you about "there's no paper in the printer", or "the printer is jammed", or "THE MOUSE ISN'T WORKING!" That one happened to me more than once. And it was from a faculty member who had apparently never used a computer before, and they were waving the mouse above the top of the table trying to move the cursor!

Tellin' y'all here and now, that computer lab managers were - and still are - a breed apart. We all got our war stories to tell. We are a proud but dwindling race. And now we go quietly into that long night, brought on by ubiquitous laptops and personal wireless networks.