One of the more banal cliches about the forthcoming Paresky Hall is that it will provide a “living room” for Williams, a place where Ephs can meet and congregate, talk and discuss. Whatever your opinion on the death of Baxter and the new construction, this notion of a living room is gibberish. The common areas in Paresky will function just as the common areas in Baxter did, as a place where many people pass through and hang out. But it will not be a place where people meet each other for the first time or where strangers engage in meaningful conversation.

But wouldn’t it be nice if Williams had such a place? Since WSO is meeting for the first time tonight, now is a good time to ask them to build a real living room. To some extent, the WSO blogs have served this purpose very well for the last few years. Blogs have hosted some amzing conversations, often between Ephs who would not have had a chance to meet/talk much in the real world. At times, these conversations have even included alumni and faculty. Best of all, the rest of us have been invited to listen in, to learn from what other people think and feel and say.

But more could be done. EphBlog tries to do a bit of this, of course. We have even played with forums in the past. Yet there are limits to the what we can do technically.

Moreover, I can’t even fully articulate what a (virtual) Eph living room would look like. It would have aspects of the blogs, so that people can write what they want. It would have aspects of a forum, so that discussion were easy to participate in and follow. It would allow for and encourage all sorts of Ephs — students, alumni, faculty, staff, town residents — to take part.

And it would do all of this in a cool, new, different way than has ever been done before, a way that I can’t even describe, much less implement. If EphBlog has demonstrated anything over the last few years, it is that there is a demand for a virtual community among the Ephs, a place where we can talk and argue amongst ourselves. If WSO builds it, then we will come.

[By the way, undergraduates really ought to consider joining WSO even if they aren’t experienced coders. The more experienced you are with any/all aspects of computers, the better off you will be after Williams. And, besides, WSO rocks!]

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