New Years

Outside my new house, which is currently full of half-unpacked boxes and lamps waiting to be reunited with their shades, there’s a palm tree. If you go out and descend the fourteen steps from the front door, you’ll pass a series of low houses, and, finding yourself at the corner of a shady boulevard, you can arrive, after another minute, at a large sign reading Whittier College, where I’ve just started working as a postdoctoral fellow.

I got hired largely because I had a background in both anthropology and web programming. These past few years, while I was finishing my dissertation, I was also working full-time as a web applications programmer for the University of Chicago’s Humanities Division. Mainly I built administrative applications for them — internal software to keep track of student progress, keys, endowments, course scheduling, that sort of thing. I also worked on some research projects — Scrolling Paintings and the Digital Media Archive were the most interesting — and used a bunch of handy technology, like ansible, solr, ruby on rails, ember.js, drupal, shibboleth, LDAP, nginx, postgres, or redis. It was an unusual job, because a lot of universities don’t have in-house software development, but I learned a lot there.

In any event, my new job in Whittier is half in the Anthropology Department and half in the Digital Liberal Arts Center. This spring I’m teaching a class on digital cultures, and next fall, I’m thinking of teaching a class on anthropology of education, and another about web programming. And I’m working on a couple of book projects coming out of my dissertation — one’s going to be about the French faculty protest movement in 2009, the other about the Philosophy Department at Paris 8 — and hope to be able to blog much more regularly, at last.