New Job, Day 2

(Trying once again to be disciplined about blogging.)

What did I learn today?

The terminology for the people I work with (or for, depending on your POV) is clearly going to be tricky. Conversations at my last position showed that the rampant use of “client” by academic admin units thinking that they are becoming appropriately businesslike is extraordinarily wrong-headed. This is intuitive for me, as well. Faculty are not clients when the staff they work with are not freelancers. They’re not merely “participants”, either, but “partner” can be an aggressive word for staff to use. My preference when speaking generally about the varied spectrum of people we academic technologists work with is for the political metaphor of “constituents”, but that itself gets problematic when speaking about any particular person or persons on any particular project. “Team member(s)” works for me generally, but I’m more comfortable with the sports metaphor world than many in academia; it also may have the built-in tinge of presumption from the perspective of people who want to put us in a strictly service relationship, just like “partner”.

More often than not, I’ll probably end up using “person” or its appropriate pluralizations, but I like specificity so I’d prefer to find something that acknowledges the relationships among people (see?) working on a project, the wholeness of each individual, but also the appropriate boundaries on each person’s reach in the project process. Part of my agenda poking out of that last clause is that I want to, in my own small way, raise the status of academic technologists at my institution. We are, it should be needless to say, more than strictly service people. I’ve been in strictly service jobs (legal assistant, cafĂ© staffer, barista) and while giving good service is very difficult, requiring healthy doses of skills, it’s not the same as being a respected colleague on a project. The service person gets a dollar tip, but the colleague gets mentioned in the final project credits, gets to present on the project, and puts it on a CV.