Justin Patterson Speech - Commencement 2012
Address to the Class of 2012, Information Science and Technology (iSchool) and the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
Thank you everyone for being here today, and congratulations to the students graduating from the iSchool and COMAD colleges.
A few weeks ago I found out that I was nominated to kick off this commencement as the student speaker. Something tells me that saying “iSchool is iCool!” or “Comad is so rad!” isn’t quite enough to satisfy this honor, so I’ll say a little more.
I remember my first day at the iSchool for two things. My first roommate told me that if you wait to the last five minutes to do something, it only takes five minutes. My first professor, TJ Smith, told me “welcome to Info 101 grasshoppers, you’ve got a lot to learn.”
My time at the iSchool and the Drexel experience as a whole proved TJ right: I learned that as a developer I need to understand why people benefit from what I create. I learned that as a student, there is a fine balance of how many consecutive days jeans can be worn before washing them is mandatory. Fortunately, I had great tutors like my girlfriend to teach me.
And, lastly, I learned that as a person in a changing society, I need to change as well.
Drexel helped inspire my skill-sets in psychology, writing and digital media to change my perspectives on technological design. It didn’t help me navigate the Bossone building, so fortunately I haven’t matriculated to the engineering department.
Where do we go from here? We all have to answer that some way or another.
People tell me there’s a real world where there won’t be grades, where our progress isn’t a weighted average, where we can’t be claimed as dependents on taxes. I choose not to believe that world exists just yet, but the “me” ten years from now might say something about how Drexel prepared us for that world by involving us in its diverse community where teamwork is the only way to advance ourselves.
Again, where do we go from here? You’ll notice that jerk of a “future me” forgot to answer that. I tried asking the me from ten years in the past, too, but he just said something about cyborg dinosaurs, holograms and martian colonies. So, instead, the “me” from right now has to give it a shot.
The only answer I have for where we’re going is “forward.” The future we approach is one where cloud computing and online collaborative spaces are ubiquitous with the business world. Fortunately, Drexel reflected these changes during our time here. It’s one part technology leader and one-part community builder. In one moment, it establishes the first fully wireless campus and in the next it places students from every continent in the same spot, then lets them scatter to places here or abroad for co-op experiences. We’re ready for this technophilic, world-centric future because that’s what we’ve been training for this whole time.
As graduates of Media Arts and Design, we can craft new methods of interaction that refine and redefine the way people understand the world. That’s pretty cool. What’s also pretty cool, is that as graduates of Information Science and Technology, we can develop new methods of displaying, securing and holding information. What’s coolest though, is that if our two schools work together, in tandem with others like computer science, psychology, child development, et cetera, we can pioneer new methods of human-computer interaction that could help breathe life into better online education environments or, if we really shoot for the stars, make using Microsoft Office Word almost tolerable.
Combining our disciplines in the real world makes the future. I hope our future collaborations not only solve current problems, but problems we haven’t even thought of yet. I can hear TJ Smith nagging me even after I’ve graduated: “Welcome to tomorrow 101, grasshoppers: we’ve still got a lot to learn.”