The WCDU debate on cluster housing is going on right now. Alas, I can’t make it. But, looking back over the last few weeks of this controversy, it is amazing how easy it is for an interested alum with too much time on his hands to be connected to Williams.

It was not always so. Prior to EphBlog, the last time that I was vaguely connected to campus conversation was via an early sort of Williams discussion board in 1995 or so. I think that it was called something like “williams.discuss”. It was all so rudimentary and just as fascinating.

But, in days gone by, the Record was the only way to have a sense of what is going on at Williams. And, as Eph media critics have pointed out for generations, the Record is not the same thing as reality. Moreover, there was a time during the mid 1990’s when the Record folks in charge of alumni subscriptions spent too much time studying and not enough time sending out papers. Or was I the only alum who received an entire semester’s worth of papers one day in December?

A decade ago, I received a letter from an irate alum (Anthony Moro ’55, I think) railing against a variety of Williams problems, mostly from a conservative perspective. I was never sure how he got my address, but I was struck by how hard it would be for him to ever organize enough alums without the blessing of the College. Things are different now.

Yet even with WSO and the Record on-line and the web, connectivity is far from perfect. I can’t see the debate as it goes on. With luck, the WSO geniuses will figure out a way to put the video up, or even just the audio. A transcript, which is what I really want, seems unlikely.

But just imagine what life at Williams will be like for Ephs now my daughter’s age. In a decade or so, every debate and public lecture will be streamed free of charge for alums (and others) to see and, possibly, participate in. Many athletic events will be covered, perhaps even from multiple camera angles. Some classes will probably offer outsiders the ability to listen in.

Technology will make it possible for some of us to never really leave Williams.

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