Gabriel Sean Farrell on 6 Jun 2008 08:40:08 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Drexel's Windows requirements

On Thu, Jun 05, 2008 at 01:57:49PM -0400, Christopher M. Jones wrote:
> Yea, I get it. 

You most likely mean "yeah" [1].

> Admitted:
> 1. I read the statement and I agreed, but I did not take it seriously. 
> 2. I made an erroneous assumption about what the statement meant,
> because I didn't take it seriously.
> 3. I don't blame my professor, and I agree that it is my responsibility
> to live up to the TOS, whether I understood them / took them seriously
> or not.

A sensible and agreeable admission.

> No problems there. I'll fire up my VM, if I have to. 

A suitable use for a VM.

> But I was surprised at the requirement. Drexel is a leader in it's
> field. It does great things, and it advocates great things. As an MLIS
> student, I'm proud that its Drexel people who started the Internet
> Public Library, for example. I care about technology, I think everyone
> should have access to it, and I think Drexel university should be clued
> in enough to be a bit more progressive in this very prominent respect. 

One correction here: Drexel didn't start the IPL.  The IST took over
management from Michigan in 2007 [2].

Drexel University is a large organization and, as such, is clueless [3].
There are individuals within Drexel who struggle against this inertia,
however.  Your outrage is appropriate and welcome.  Add your voice to
the mix by emailing your comments about Blackboard to

> So I'm not angry at anyone for enforcing the clearly stated TOS to which
> I agreed. I'm upset that BB seems to be so obviously defective, upset
> that Drexel, and every other U that uses BB seems to accept it, and I'm
> disappointed that Drexel can't or won't bother figuring out how to
> deploy more inclusive technologies.

The bigger the dinosaur, the slower it moves.  Yes, Blackboard sucks.
Alternatives are out there [4], but a herculean task it is to do battle
on the RFP stage against the myriad sellers of snake oil.  

> But all this assumes that I'm sane and the problem isn't that I just
> can't figure out how to submit my assignments properly.

You are sane, in that you can continue to survive within the system
while realizing its many shortcomings.  Let me know if you'd like to
discuss the use of free software in libraries and academia some more.

[1] See
[2] See
[3] Be suspicious of any organization, especially those with more than 
    150 members.  See
[4] Sakai ( is a free software project that has
    some buy-in from other behemoths.  It therefore has a greater
    likelihood of success as well as a staggering top-down structure
    and an overengineered codebase, not unlike DSpace.  Moodle
    ( lacks the Ivy League pedigree, so it's more
    usable and can adapt, but will have a harder time getting a foot 
    in the door.
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