3.755 user-support, cont. (102)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 16 Nov 89 17:47:03 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 755. Thursday, 16 Nov 1989.

(1) Date: Thu, 16 Nov 89 11:19:50 EST (47 lines)
From: Thomas Zielke <113355@DOLUNI1>
Subject: Re: 3.746 user-support and its support (216)

(2) Date: Thu, 16 Nov 89 08:56:32 MDT (35 lines)
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Re: 3.749 support of humanities computing, cont. (55)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 89 11:19:50 EST
From: Thomas Zielke <113355@DOLUNI1>
Subject: Re: 3.746 user-support and its support (216)

almost every point brought up in the mailing I'm referring to seemed
VERY familiar to me, especially when Susan Kruse mentioned about herself
being regarded inferior by some staff members. I can remember one event
when my boss and I were talking to somebody who did some family research
on his own without being a historian and without academic training. That
man had very good material at hand which he was willing to give us for
further research, and when I was just talking to him about his data files,
how he had managed to get into the machine etc., I was suddenly interrupted
by my boss saying: "Now let's have a few historical questions..." meaning
that I of course did not know anything of history, so that it would be
better if he was doing the conversation. Well, you can easily imagine how
I felt, being a historian myself.
I also do sometimes feel as being the "tame lackey", being the one who will
always get things to do what they're supposed to do and will then please be
as kind as to leave the room when HISTORY is going to be produced.

Despite of these bitter feelings, I do like the job of supporting users,
especially when teaching beginners how to switch on the machine, but also
when power users ask me how to solve a "real" problem. I still cling to
my thesis that there are no silly questions, but a lot of silly answers.

But anyway, Susan's remarks brought up a serious point that I would also
like to have a discussion about. How do other user support persons feel
about this?

In regard to the qualities a user support person should have, I think
we all have by now agreed on the opinion that next to technical and
academic knowledge that person should have some qualities of character
like e.g politeness, the will to answer so-called silly question and the
ability to give answers even understandable to beginners. Do we all
agree then on the fact that a strong belief in one's own abilities
and qualities is also needed, especially when being regarding as


Th. Zielke

N.B. Please note that I do not yet have the degree allowing me
to call myself "Dr."...

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------41----
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 89 08:56:32 MDT
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Re: 3.749 support of humanities computing, cont. (55)

I have found a way to keep teaching history -- I give up a lunch hour
three days a week. I have a boss in the Data Center who is willing to
let me do this, and is tolerant of having students taking makup exams in
my office, etc. The university as an institution, though, so far from
encouraging me to do this and recognizing the value of what I am doing,
periodically conducts red tape raids, requiring me to prove that I am in
fact surrendering my lunch hours and not secretly robbing the taxpayers
of a few extra sheckels.

In those classes I have taught my course twice via Interactive
Television, involving an on-campus classroom and remote sites, have used
PC Storyboard as a kind of electronic blackboard in lecture, and am
currently working on delivering a Renaissance class entirely by modem.

And Norman Zacour is absolutely right -- all this _does_ interfere with
my regular job. I would probably be some dreary percentage more
efficient if I did not teach on the outside. But it's one of the
reasons I stay at the university, and in many small ways I think it
makes me a better support person.

I just wish I could get back to my research. I can do the teaching thing
because it has fixed times and institutional recognition in the form of a
paycheck. Research has always been what historians do on their own time.

Ellis 'Skip' Knox, Ph.D.
Historian, Data Center Associate
1910 University Drive BITNET: DUSKNOX@IDBSU
Boise, Idaho 83725
(208) 385-1315