Disclosure: I am no longer the webmaster for UTMB. I no longer manage the main home pages, haven’t done so since before Hurricane Ike. Like a kid I helped raise, I am still interested in our pages, want to see them grow up to be great. But I no longer start each morning (or end each night) with a review of what’s on them, of what’s coming up and needs to be on them, of what info’s outdated or links no longer work. That responsibility now rests in the capable hands of our colleagues in Public Affairs, and I’ve shifted my energies elsewhere.
I can understand why many people think I’m still involved; I did it for a long time, starting back when our web looked like this. The web in those days was still a very academic and research-oriented enterprise. Academic Computing’s Dr. Don Brunder (now Academic Resources) took me under his wing and we started working, with help from an advisory board and a shoestring budget. One year we replaced UTMB’s main web server with a few leftover budget dollars; that machine hummed for years, as did the ones that followed—all named after fish: marlin, bluefin, wahoo. The dot com boom and subsequent bust were still a few years away. The air was ripe with the promise of this new technology, and like with most things revolutionary, it was overhyped in the short term and its long-term impact was underestimated.
The web was still new and amazing those days, and like everyone, we learned as we went. There were still pundits who thought the web was a fad, who didn’t want to commit institutional resources until we could show ROI. Great applications and uses were being built by talented UTMB programmers to support the clinical enterprise. UTMB was trailblazing. But the public web and our home pages? That would be a “mom and pop” operation for several years.
Jump ahead to 2010. Young professionals joining us today grew up with the web, have used it most of their adult lives. Our students, our patients: the web’s no more mysterious or magical to them than a television or telephone. It’s just there, expected to be as consistent as a light switch and to deliver the information, applications and capabilities they (and we) need in a speedy, seamless and effortless fashion. Amen, it’s a good place to be.
When I go to the new UTMB home pages, all this is what runs through my head. I’m proud of the work that’s been done, like the way it looks and works, am happy to have it reflect well on our institution. I’m proud of my colleague Mike Cooper, Toby Smith and the team in IS, and many others who’ve toiled to make it “speedy and easy.” I’m looking forward to the next great thing…