Nov 17, 2009

A Workday without Internet and Email

For most of the day I was unable to access my email and Web accounts in my job at Bowling Green State University, a problem that the IT people indicated was due to a severed fiber optic cable in central Ohio. Especially problematic for me in particular is the fact that I am teaching three online sections of history classes, meaning that my courses were essentially dead today.

Luckily for me (though not necessarily for my students), Tuesdays are quite slow, as many online students use the weekend to complete their assignments and take quizzes. Still, it was quite odd to be staring at DNS error messages all day and not being able to visit my course shells, and the outage today was a reminder of just how dependent I have become on computers and computer networks.

Even stranger was the lack of email access, as most of my communication with my students and colleagues occurs via email. I suspect that I have experienced only a few weekday work hours without email access this semester, and today there was a span of over eight hours when messages did not get through to me. Of course, they still piled up and caused a virtual avalanche this afternoon when I finally accessed my account, but it was a rather surreal day for me.

This also happened to be a day when I guest-lectured for an ROTC class at BGSU, giving a brief overview of the history of the Middle East for the next generation of military leaders. So I traveled back in distant time to the era of face-to-face lectures and telephone communications, living the old-school academic life for a day.

And everything worked out in the end.

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