Why doesn’t the College post all senior theses on-line? It should. All seniors writing a thesis should be required to both turn in a hard copy to the library (as they are now) and to submit an electronic version in a suitable format (preferably pdf, but html would also work). The College, or even WSO, could then store these for posterity and make them available to all comers.

I hesitate to highlight the advantages of such a scheme because they are so obvious and uncontroversial. Most importantly, it would be another small step in making Williams an even more intellectually serious place than it already is.

As an example, here is the senior thesis for John Morrison ’01. Professor Joe Cruz deserves credit for maintaining this himself, but the immortalization of a student’s academic career at Williams should not rely on the efforts of one’s advisor. Another example is Nate Foster’s ’01 thesis for computer science. Williams would encourage current seniors to take their work more seriously if it mandated that their work would live on, publically, for years to come.

It is especially nice to note that Morrison’s thesis builds on the work of Jon Burstein ’98. Professor Kim Bruce deserves great credit for creating a research agenda that enages year after year of Williams students. Alas, an interested reader [Who else besides you?–ed One should be enough.] can’t easily see how Morrison’s work relates to that of Burstein because, as best I could discover, Burstein’s work is not easily browsable on-line.[Here?–ed Gzipped postscript is not easy to browse! For you–ed And the link doesn’t even work!]

Because resources are invariably constrained, it is tough to know if a given proposed improvement to Williams is worth the cost of doing so. But there are some items that cost (almost) nothing and which everyone should agree will be an improvement. Posting theses is one of these.

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