In 1992, while I was an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, some fellow students and I started an ambitious project to connect residence halls to the campus network and the Internet. After all, the web was just being created in ’92! At the time, our Lab Sciences House (Wright Hall, now gone... sniff... sniff) had a single mainframe terminal in what amounted to a large closet. The mainframe terminal was old, clunky, and not reliable or particularly useful. We wanted more.
The UConn administration bravely allowed my friends and I to design, deploy, and manage computer labs, networked dorm rooms, and most especially our own services. Personally I was really excited about our Gopher server*, but we also offered our classmates email, FTP, Usenet news, and a few shared applications like WordPerfect. In the 19 years since, campus technology has evolved – and so has UConn.
Today I’m especially proud to announce that my alma mater – UConn – is going Google. Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer David Gilbertson says that the switch to Google Apps for Education stemmed from the recognition that students’ expectations about technology have changed dramatically in the past few years. This move to Apps will also bring significant benefits and cost savings to the University as a whole.
We Huskies were ahead of the curve in ’92, and we’re still at the cutting edge of campus technology today with our switch to Google Apps for Education. I know the UConn community will find amazing and innovative ways to exploit the tools Google is providing. And to all those students out there: even though you can’t knock on my door at 3am so I can fix the server anymore, rest assured the teams here at Google work 24 x 7 x 365 to make sure we’ll never be the excuse for your paper being late.
* Gopher was an early system for distributing, searching and retrieving information over the Internet. I thought it was really great that I could get National Weather Service forecasts for anywhere, whenever I wanted (you can still do this** via Gopher today!). Now though, I just ask my phone. Yep, the Internet has come a long way.
** Okay, that link is cheating – it’s using HTTP to get you to the gopher server – but chances are good your browser doesn’t even support the real Gopher.