1979, B.A. in “General Arts and Sciences” from Penn State. I was a strong practitioner of taking courses that appealed to me. After I began my fifth year of school, and my parents reminded me they hadn’t agreed to pay for more than four years, this was the major that my cobbled together courses best added up to — which admittedly may have eased my way into graduating with highest distinction (summa cum laude). By far, the most important parts of my undergraduate days had to do with my Honors Program, my work with the Free University, and, of course, meeting Marie.
1985, M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel. At this time in my life, while still living with Movement for a New Society, I was a committed believer in the empowering potential of social capital, and applied to (and was accepted by) both Drexel’s College of Information Science and Penn’s Annenberg School of Communication. In choosing between the two, I felt that Annenberg offered much more in terms of theory (in which I was already awash), while Drexel was more nuts-and-bolts (which felt like more of a need — and was the right choice).
1983-84, Reference Librarian (part-time) at the Ridley Township (PA) Public Library. My only experience working in an actual library, the most meaningful aspect of this stint was starting the Learning Network.
1984-85, Intern at IBM. Worked for ITIRC (IBM Technical Information Retrieval Center), an HQ department in White Plains, NY.
1985-2002, various positions at Telebase Systems, Philly suburbs. This was my most extended (17 years!) professional experience. Hired right after getting my M.S. as its fifth employee, I was immediately charged with hiring and managing a 24/7/365 online reference (customer service) operation for Telebase, which provided a transaction-based, user-friendly(?) gateway and front-end to online information from over a thousand databases from vendors like Dialog, Lexis-Nexis, and a dozen others that nobody nowadays has ever heard of. During my tenure at Telebase, I held multiple positions, eventually as Director of Operations, though I got my greatest satisfaction from product development and vendor relations. With the emergence of the Internet, Telebase discovered it was being “disintermediated” and cast about for alternative products and services — which it found primarily in music (on CD’s), creating Music Boulevard (which merged with rival CD-Now, and then with N2K, and finally succumbed to Amazon). During this period, I wrote a proposal for another product line, involved in disseminating information (as opposed to retrieving it). This was the first manifestation of what has become Expressive Commons — but back in 1995, nobody else at Telebase came even close to “getting” it, so it went into a drawer. The less sexy and financially promising information side of the business (that I stayed with) was sold to WinStar, a hotshot (for a time) telecom company, and became part of WinStar’s Office.com business information service. Eventually, Telebase became dangerously overdependent on reselling business credit reports from Dun and Bradstreet, while WinStar rode the dot.com boom — then bust, and went bankrupt.
1997-2000, Adjunct faculty, Drexel. For five terms I taught online searching to graduate students of the College of Information Science (or whatever it was called at that time). This was at the tail end of command-line, proprietary interfaces, about to be swamped by graphical user interfaces on the web.
2002-2012, Principal, CommuniShare Consulting. After Telebase imploded, I, like many of my laid off colleagues, identified as a consultant, rather than unemployed. The first part of this period was dedicated to launching CommuniShare, a web-based service for community networking. But, CommniShare (the community networking service) failed, and after several short-term consulting gigs, I landed at the AFSC in late 2005. My first 6 years at AFSC were, officially, as a consultant, billed as CommuniShare Consulting. But since it represented virtually 100% of my “consulting clientele”, I think of these years as AFSC years.
2004-2005, Standardized patient work at Drexel, Penn, PCOM, Temple. Hardly in line with my professional “track”, it was great fun (and much needed income) to work with medical students, role-playing patients with a variety of histories and symptoms, and then providing (hopefully) valuable feedback — out of role.
2005-present, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Initially as a consultant, and now as an employee, I am currently “Information Architect and Intranet Manager”. Working out of the IT Department in the Central Office in Philadelphia, I spend my time and effort on providing support for organizing and managing information, particularly via our Intranet. Recently, I have devoting increasing attention to introducing social network analysis and network weaving tools into the organization’s peace and social justice program work.