In the house of CogDogBlog, most blog posts are written in the moment; no draft and reviews, just… splat. But this one has been bouncing around; it seems petty, whiny, un-necessary. Yet it keeps grinding away in my gut. Let’s see what happens.

Countless are the times I watched the epic Cecille B. DeMille production of The Ten Commandments. One of many memorable scenes was where Moses, after discovering his true heritage and having reacted to the cruelty of the Egyptians toward his people, is brought in chains before Sethi.


The old Pharaoh, who had raised Moses as a son, torn between the man he had loved and what he was forced to do, banished Moses (with heavy bass drum beats):

Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet…
stricken from all pylons and obelisks,
stricken from every monument of Egypt.

Let the name of…
Moses be unheard and unspoken,
erased from the memory of men…
for all time.

moses pharoh3

I had always thought this also included the classic finality of command…

So it shall be written. So it shall be done.

But my memory is faulty; that line is later where Ramses (son of Sethi, played by Yul Brynner) dismisses Moses who had returned to Egypt to rattle Ramses.

And here is where I go out on a stupid limb, because I am certainly no buff Charlton Heston, nor have I talked to God in the desert, nor have I known a Pharaoh or split a sea… Yet, the sweep of work I had done proudly in a previous job life has been.. stricken from all pylons and obelisks of a part of the web I built, my name was made unheard and unspoken of in an organization.

This March will be almost 3 years since I left my role at the New Media Consortium.

I’ve not looked back much, and I am not here to dig up any old bones. As explained in that post, with the help of a generous inheritance gift, I was given a chance for something new, and adventure, an odyssey of some 15,000 miles traveled over 5 months. In many ways I have not fully processed that whole experience. But I was ready for something different. Thank you, again, Aunt Martha.

Since then, with the exception of 6 months working at the University of Mary Washington, I’ve been… unemployed well doing mostly my own thing. Kind of a long, self funded sabbatical. And now it looks possible that enough side work is there to extend it a while.

My five years working at the NMC were extraordinary, it put me at whole new level in the ed tech game of cards.

It opened many opportunities (e.g. the 2007 Australia Tour) that seem to still be simmering along. I got to be connected to a huge community of peers of NMC members. I poured a lot of myself into that job, and one may conjecture it put a dent in my marriage (let’s leave that one alone).

The thing that bothered me the most at the time, and still nibbles away, is that no one in the membership was ever told I had left. I was just… gone. I got emails in June 2011 asking why I was not at the summer conference (something I had attended every years starting in 2002 as a member from Maricopa and 2006-2010 as NMC staff). Some had heard I was on sabbatical. I guess that was kind of true. But I was off on my first leg of travel, and all I was thinking about was being out on the road. NMC? rear view mirror.

I miss a lot of those people I knew and worked with over the years; the day after I quit I was removed from the membership listserv. I miss the board members who were strong colleagues and friends, and now I am lucky these days if I can get a Facebook comment out of. People move on, and I certainly can shoulder some responsibility for not staying in touch.

A few weeks ago I was trying o remember the name of a former board member. I was looking around the NMC web site, which I have to admit, looks much cleaner and modern than the version I had worked on 2007-2011 (kudos to someone who kept the old site as an archive– one of my obsessions was building a rather complete history of the site from long before I came on board).

Two small things caught my eye- the first was this little call out on the projects page… “We do Cool Stuff”.

nmc cool stuff

There was a board meeting I recall where the topic was a new vision or mission statement, and I joked that if we wanted to really be blunt, we could boil it down to “We do cool shit”.

It was a joke. So it’s nice to see it sort of got folded in. But that’s trivial, and it is more likely someone else thought of it independently. Originality is a myth of vanity.

But the second observation is what called up the ghost of Moses.

Way down at the bottom of a page that lists the past board members who have been named emeritus for their service (a page I maintained at one time) was a second heading for “Staff Emeritus”.

And listed there is one former staff member… Rachel Smith, who was there one year before me, and left 3 months before I did; we were both Vice Presidents.

nmc staff emeritus

Hmm. I did not make the cut.

Oh well the desert is a nice place.

I am not stomping to be added, and by now it means so little scientists cannot measure the intensity, but it feels… odd, like I have been… banished from the history.

Maybe I overestimate my contribution.

So I’m not on any of the NMC pylons or obelisks. That’s okay, I can make my own.

When I came on board in 2006, the NMC web site was all hand rolled HTML, and the conference and membership registration system was in FileMaker Pro. It took a whole year, and the development expertise of the Longsight Group, and lot of my inner guts torn by banging my head against drupal. But the site I worked on and managed maintained all of the membership database, had a completely online conference registration system (ecommerce), a conference proposal and review system, and an entire back end of report and dashboard tools for the office staff.

The site was way busy with links. But hey, it was the late 2000s. I experimented a ton with system that allowed members to input content (a job board, a shared conference calendar, a place to list successful projects). I pushed and pulled modules, added custom code, lobbied every bit of activity to have a web presence.

I did special series like the podcasts and summaries for Gardner Campbell’s First networked New Media Faculty Seminar, a partnership with Bryan Alexander on a joint NITLE / NMC market simulation on ed tech trends, a series of conversational webinars we called “Connect@NMC“.

This was also the period when i really dove into the customizations for a series of NMC wordpress sites- the first one I really began theme hacking was for the Pachyderm Project (still alive). There was a podcast series I ran and published as NMC Conversations (database fail, link lives in Internet archive). There was major custom coding in the Second Life project blog, The NMC Campus Observer (toast, but available in Internet Archive). The companion service site for NMC Virtual Worlds is still running (more custom coding).

I made a huge effort for years putting all of the major NMC publications on the web not just as PDFs, but inside CommentPress (still alive), a multi-site blog. There are hidden gems like The Golden Age of Multimedia, Kristina Woolsey’s history of early work at Apple. And Co-Evolution of Technology, Media and Collective Action from a keynote presentation by Howard Rheingold.

And maybe the most complex and versatile wordpress work was for the MIDEA project, a site that got me into custom post types coded from scratch (and still actively used now).

And I was not just building the sites, I pretty much was the one doing a lot of the writing and media development. There were 5 or 6 MediaWiki sites that escape me now.

I got NMC set up on a streaming media server at The StreamGuys, and was using Nicecast long before ds106radio to beam out virtual conference from Second Life out to the web– I am leaving out a ton of things that went into supporting, running, the virtual worlds events. It was a rather exciting thing to eb part of, as dated as it may seem now.

For what it’s worth, I was a dog in Second Life. In a suit.

I got NMC set up with a hosted Wikispaces account, and developed 12+ wiki sites for the Horizon Project and other ones. Actually, a huge unsaid thanks for those wikis goes to Jo Kay — she actually provided a custom design for those wikis. And she never responded to me emails telling her to send them an invoice for the work.

And a sophisticated custom tool I built for NMC that most people never saw was a voting tool for the Horizon Project. I am guessing it is still in use, I see it at Before that, the delphi voting process was done by sending out word documents that were then hand tallied. The structure of the voting is one that defied existing web survey forms, and I saw an opportunity to not only simply the management of it (so we as managers could chart the progress, send reminders to people who had not voted, etc), but build a system where Horizon Board members could see a record of their work on past reports, and get a visual representation of their current voting progress

horizon voting

2011 voting

It was a great run for me on many levels- I took my technical skills to new places, but also broadened organizational ones. I got to travel. A lot of travel. In one two week stretch, in 2008, I went completely around the world, testing Ze Frank’s earth sandwich going from Wellington New Zealand to Barcelona span in one long segment.

And you know what? That is all I need. So the heck with being banished or getting recognized, I chose to go off to the desert, and am pleased I did. And I can acknowledge my own achievements.

Right here.


So it shall be blogged. So it shall be done.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I went to my high school reunion a few years ago – it was a small school, so numerous reunions were rolled into one – for me it was the 25th, while for others it varied from 10th to 40th. I was more than a little surprised to find myself completely expunged from the history of the high school. No clippings, no trophies, nothing from my years at all. Those four years consumed my life, and I thought I made a big impact. But I guess not.

    So I know a bit of how you feel. Blog on, CogDog.

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