I am so proud to be a part of my alma mater right now. Really, really proud.
A couple hours ago - a few minutes past 10pm here in Boston - I threw out an email to the Olin alumni mailing list that started like this:
Olin's got about 22 hours to write and submit a draft proposal for our
Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) to ARB - the GCSP being
something we're pioneering for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
in our usual role of guinea-pig; other schools are going to be
implementing GCSPs, so this is an attempt to translate Olin's existing
culture and curriculum into this format so it's portable to them.
We need feedback and help. Big time. If you imagine bleary-eyed,
sleepless, incredibly hosed Olin students holed up in a team room just
before the Candidates' Weekend crunch, you'll have roughly the right
And lo, edits began to flow all over the wiki, everything from small typo corrections to structure additions to comments to tough questions and their answers. My various IM screens lit up; we flooded into an IRC channel and kept debating. "I'm about to sleep but this is awesome and I'm going to look at this when I wake up tomorrow morning" messages started to hit my inbox. (I mean, I did send it out at 10pm, and apparently some of my friends sleep now...)
There is an 8pm tomorrow evening deadline and hence a 6pm feedback-on-current-version cutoff - the feedback will continue to go and improve the current draft, but a couple students will be freezing a snapshot of whatever version/feedback is there at 6pm and branching it off to polish for improvement and submission to ARB (Academic Recommendations Board - the group at Olin that decides the curriculum).
It is now 2am; most folks online have now gone to sleep (a lot of Olin alumni stick around the Boston area - although we did get David Nelson popping in from Japan, which was ubercool). I got asked if logs would be sent to the list, so of course now I'm going and sending that out before I can pass out (which, at this point, I very, very, very much want to do, even if it's early).
Oliners know how to work together to change things quickly. You just have to give them the chance to care. The cultural similarities between Olin and the open source projects I love and work in every day are striking - and now I really think we're starting to see the two converge. FOR GREAT JUSTICE.