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The Source

CIO Chat: Adam Buchwald

January 12, 2012

Hello world. I would like to introduce myself as the new CIO at Lewis & Clark. I’ve decided to use this space to share some of the technology issues that impact all of us, regardless if student, faculty or staff. Today I’d like to discuss the tension between you as an individual, and you as a Lewis & Clark affiliate.

My staff has heard me talk (ad nauseam) about the changing technology environment on college campuses. It used to be when you came to campus we provided technology you simply couldn’t afford in your personal life. We provided you with a fast internet connection, powerful computers for research, high-end graphics capabilities and other similar large investments in technology. Today, it’s almost the opposite. Technology is small, fast and relatively inexpensive. People come to our campus with as much, or more personal technology than we provide in their role at Lewis & Clark. Here on campus we have a lot of external factors that hinder our abilities, prevent us from being as open as we desire, and force us to make decisions between usability on the one hand and security, privacy and compliance on the other.

Beyond the devices, we also struggle with software as a service. Again, historically we purchased software centrally, installed it with administrative credentials, and doled out updates and new versions as we could afford them. Open Source and Software as a Service didn’t exist – free software was called ‘shareware’ and would come on a CD inside a magazine or downloaded from a bulletin board. Today you can use the web to replicate most any desktop software. Spreadsheets, word processing, and presentation software can all be found online in multiple versions free for use. Larger software now comes as a hosted service without any need to install, nor even an IT staff. Just sign the contract and begin. How do you decide when to venture off on your own or when to involve the IT department? Is this for you, or for the institution (or both?). Technology is forcing new questions for us to address.

So this is our current landscape. We are facing new pressures never felt before and it is creating a schism between our individual selves and our Lewis & Clark personalities. The vendors who supply these services are making it difficult in terms of licensing as they prefer to work with individuals over institutions. Individuals have less influence and are easier to monetize with fewer regulations to take into account. Don’t even get me started on Apple, who has determined that life will run through your personal iTunes account regardless if you want it or not. It’s so bad even South Park has made fun of it. In IT we are working through the nuances of how we can support such an environment while still preserving both the security and privacy expected and needed. Eventually we seek to find that balance that will continue to allow intellectual curiosity and exploration with technology yet keeping us within the needed limits for safety, security and compliance. I look forward to working through these issues with the entire campus community.