Bad Alan. This has been lingering in the to do pile too long.

On my route home from Canada last month, I made it a specific point to make my last stop in St George Utah, to visit Carl Berger. He’s been retired from University of Michigan for some time, but that does not mean he’s idle. At 79 he’s teaching, playing with technology, and doing regular photography.

We pegged my last visit there in 2010, on my way back for what turned out to be my last NMC Conference (the one in Anaheim). On that one, we did a day trip to Zion, hw turned me on to HDR photography (and I ended up buying Photomatixc Pro). One of those photos still sits on my iPhone’s background screen:

This trip there was a lot of haze in the air, so we instead did a jaunt to Snow Canyon, and amazingly gorgeous stereotypical southern Utah Canyonlands type area right outside of his town. He was right with my scampering up the petrified dunes. This photo is titled “Where in the Sandstone is Carl Berger?”

And again we talked a lot about cameras, he’s got a handful of micro 4/3 cameras and scoops up old lenses. And again, after seeing how he processes his photos, I was buying yet another software package, Intensify Pro (plugin for PhotoShop and Aperture).

I got to know Carl first in my work at Maricopa, and his connection/friendship with then Vice Chancellor of Technology Ron Bleed. In 2002 he was a guest speaker for these event I coordinated called Ocotillo Technology Visioning Forums

Dec 2002 Ocotillo Visioning Forum (Wayback Machine)

Dec 2002 Ocotillo Visioning Forum (Wayback Machine)

Carl was talking a lot then about “Killer Apps” for education (see his article from Technology Source)… remember this was well before mobile technology was a thing, the iPod had only been out a year. His app sounds a bit like what’s in our pockets now:

I envision a student walking to campus one day when, suddenly, something inside her book bag starts to chime. She reaches down and pulls out a miniature computer, one even smaller than what we have now. She opens it, because it is chiming to tell her that she has received a series of messages, notes, and comments concerning group assignments that she is completing for a class. Of course, the entire campus is wired; her notebook computer chimed because it knew she had walked onto campus. She sits down on a bench and opens several documents on her computer. She finds a pen and starts sketching on the screen and/or typing on the keyboard. She makes changes to an assignment, circles them, sends a note to one of her friends, sends another note to her professor, and closes her computer, which chimes with a different tone to let her know that all of her messages have been sent. She continues her walk across campus, never realizing that she just used the next killer app.

I got to know Carl more through my work with NMC. He was always someone who had time to chat, and was so enthusiastic to not only tell you his ideas, but also to listen to yours. And he is insanelt curious:

I was hoping to sit with Carl record some conversation where he might talk of his path in this field, and whatever else we came up with. But he beat me to the punch when he asked about ds106 radio— I was like “let’s do a live broadcast”.

So I showed him my Nicecast setup, we went live, and talked for about 15 minutes; I was checking things and realized we were just connected to the local server, so (FUTZING!) I had to break and start over.

No one was listening, but I have an archive. Carl shared his start in computing on a UNIVAC in the late 1950s, and how his path went into first education as a teacher, then as a researcher, and his path back in was with the first microcomputers. We talked about mobile, and even MOOCs, and things like his current interest in VR.

Carl is just an embodiment of a love for teaching, experimenting, and he has a great laugh. I will make every opportunity I can to visit again (and expect to end up buying yet another photo software Carl recommends).

top/featured photo credits: flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Great post and I will be sure to share that quote on “future technology” on campus with my colleagues and students.

    I’m listening to the audio now and loving this. Thanks for making these recordings.

  2. Another quote I take from this: “What am I going to learn today?”
    And yes, people are listening.

    Also I love the transition from bookworms to phoneworms.

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