The Spirit of Things
Boy, you guys really hate the “Any person, any study” slogan. Personally, I rather like it. And I’m not just saying that because it was the brainchild of my VP (Tommy Bruce). I have been affiliated with Cornell in one way or another since the late 1980s and I will confess to always being a little dissatisfied with the motto. I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Put that on a t-shirt and you’ll need 12 point font to do so. (Serif, preferably, so it doesn’t render in such as way as to make Kafka look like Katka…)
But my opinion is neither here nor there. Let’s break it down and compare to the slogan on the page, shall we?
Many of the complaints we’ve seen about the slogan (my term for it, by the way–not an official name) indicate that they believe it implies that ANY person can get in to Cornell to study ANYTHING. This is, obviously, not true. One must have the grades (and other admissions desirables) to get in and one may not study in a field or major that the university does not offer. Yep.
I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study. – E. Cornell, 1865
Hmmmm. Looks like Ezra was implying the same thing, wasn’t he? Obviously, he was prepared to let anyone into Cornell and also prepared to hire professors to teach them whatever they wanted to learn right? Or, maybe he was speaking loftily and metaphorically.
And maybe the new slogan was penned with the same in mind. Maybe neither was intended to be taken so very literally.
So? Why do I like it? (Thank you for asking.) I think it’s true to Ezra’s vision (as stated by the man himself) while being succinct. If you look at, say, Yale’s motto (Lux et Veritas), it, too, is short and sweet. Translated, it means “Light and Truth”. Does this mean that everyone who goes to Yale is given a flashlight and a lie detector test? That you must be pure of heart to get in? No. It’s a shorter version of an ideal. Much like the “Any person, any study” slogan is a shorter version of the ideal set forth by Ezra way back when.
Plus, it fits on a t-shirt.
FOUR images a day? That’s all??
Jason (and others) have been compulsively hitting their reload button and figured out that the main image on the home page only changes four times each day. First of all, your mice have called and kindly request that you give their poor buttons a break. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, however, swear that there are actually *six* pictures a day and that you are simply not reloading enough…
There is nothing particularly magical about the number four. Nor is there anything particularly permanent in it.
The number was chosen because we only had time to pick and manipulate 12 images for that space (and when I say “we”, I really mean designer extraordinaire Will Morris) and, rather than spend all our proverbial cash in one place, it was decided to split them into groups that went evenly into a dozen. Tangential to this decision was the hope that people would see that there were only four per day and move on to surf other parts of the site rather than using the home page as a low-speed movie of campus views.
Diane, Will, and Wendy Kenigsberg (another fantastic designer) have already been having meetings about how to expand the selection. If you place your orders now, those new mice should get to you with plenty of time to spare before the new pictures are added. You might want to inquire about bulk discounts.
By the way, when I say “we only had time for X”, what I mean is we built this site in ninety days, folks! You can’t even grow a pumpkin for the clock tower in that short a span.
Okay, I lied about the 10 Minutes thing…
Dan is still concerned about the news cycle on the Cornell home page. Me too, Dan. And Diane. And Tommy. I don’t have an answer to your question of how far are we from the Phase 2 solution. Not yet, anyway. Rest assured, though, that it’s high on the priority list. Probably #1, right after fixing some known bugs in the site.
While I’m here, though, let me take the opportunity to explain how the site it updated; because the tone of some of the comments leads me to believe that you folks think this is an instantaneous process.
Here’s the deal:
There are three versions of the site. The first is Development. This is where we implement changes directly (we being the OWC) and where the WPG works on the “back end” of things that are code-driven. At the moment, the site is made up of static pages. Cornell is working toward a content management system, but it’s not in place yet (and probably won’t be before the spring, at the earliest). What this means is that someone (me) has to go into every page that needs a change and type in that change along with any accompanying HTML code necessary. Then, I upload the new page to the Development server.
From there, we check our work and then request a push to the Staging server. Staging is designed to be a passive environment. It mirrors the live site and we use it for more testing. Once changes have been looked at on Staging and approved, we request that they be pushed to the live server.
So, if my fingers serve me correctly, that’s five steps we must go through before anything can be made live for you to see. These five hoops must be jumped through every single time. So. for example, when someone (like me) lets a typo slip past them onto the live version of the home page, it means that there are five steps to take before I can fix it.
If that hypothetical typo is caught during business hours, this can take as little as 10 minutes–assuming that everyone necessary to the process is in place, fingers poised on keyboards, commands at the ready and not, say, in a meeting or taking a bathroom break or the like. If that typo is caught after hours, it has to remain there until the next workday when the stars align and everyone is in their places.
Take last weekend, for example. A push went live on Friday afternoon with a typo in one of the headlines on the home page. Because of the circumstances, it wasn’t fixed until approximately 11am on last Monday. But, look, the world is still turning, isn’t it?
Or maybe it stopped and THAT is why we have been getting poured on for the past seven days. We’re stuck in place and the weather cannot move along. Mea culpa.
That would fit on a t-shirt, too.
Patience Remains a Virtue
John asked if there was any discussion about putting a temporary logo on the site until the new insignia is released in October.
Well…sort of. But no.
The problem with doing that is the fact that, like Meg Ryan said in When Harry Met Sally, once something is out there, it’s out there. The cornell.edu web space is frenetic enough as it stands…adding one more piece of chaos to the mix is simply a recipe for disaster. Look at the fiasco with the Class of sites a few weeks back.
A version of the logo was “released” (she said, heavy on the sarcasm) and, within moments, it was being used on sites on campus. If we put a temporary version on the site now, the same will happen. And, what’s worse, it will have a tacit stamp of approval because of the fact that it was placed on the top-level page.
We know the header looks a little bland without an insignia. Honest, we do.
Everyone clap your hands if you believe in Trustees.
It will happen. I promise.
Locker Room Chatter
Jeremy Hartigan (Interim Director of Athletic Communications) was here in the office on Friday last, fresh from a meeting with Diane about an Athletics bridge page (in the same vein as Research or Outreach). So, two things:
1. There will be an Athletics bridge page on our site. This will likely include information about varsity sports, club sports, intramurals, physical education, and up-to-the-minute info on where to buy the freshest fish to throw at Harvard when they dare to show their mugs in Lynah.
2. Jeremy also told us that Athletics is working on a redesign of their own, which he hopes will be live within this academic year. We plan on working with him closely (and also having discussions with the company they contract with) in this endeavor.
Fish are friends, not food,