Over thirty years ago, David posed the following question to his class of graduate students.
“What if an interactive personal computer was combined with a cable TV system?”
David discussed the Qube system, an interactive cable TV system, which by that time was nearly phased out. My students got the concept, later labeled digital convergence. Of course, none of us in the room could perceive that within 25 years hand-held, wireless boxes with more functionality than the Qube cable boxes would be ubiquitous. The future is funny that way, even when you are trying to anticipate it.
Being user-oriented has always marked David’s interactions with computer systems. Though a designer and implementer of systems large and small, and across multiple generations of computer technology, David has always asked “how best can technology serve us?” And that is all technology, whether old or “new” media.
In an academic career that spanned three decades, David first challenged “data processing priests” who insisted that normal people could not make informed decisions about information technology. He witnessed and taught about the disruptive organizational changes that personal computers were causing. He lobbied to teach introductory students issues such as managerial resistance to technology and forward-looking concerns such as digital convergence to a curriculum that was then still too focused on detailing parts of a CPU, teaching binary code tables, and other technical minutiae.
Seeking better ways to incorporate instruction into the classroom led David to a novel interdisciplinary doctoral program where pioneers of what then was called new media helped David gain new insights. A turning point was when David was asked to teach a honors seminar whose theme was looking back at the previous 20 years. David’s prepared premise, that more and more we view the world through a “digital filter” caused him to think about the important role that data analysis plays in representing the facts of the world. This had led to his current interest in exploring how to teach statistics and analytics to a general business audience. That “digital filter” premise turned out to be relevant in ways David never imagined when giving that seminar over ten years ago. The future is funny that way.