Middlebury Web Context

In replacement of this week’s Campus weekly feature, I bring you a collection of thoughts on Middlebury’s emerging/evolving web community. First, some developments that you should keep in mind:

  • (new) New MiddleburyCampus.com website. No lying here, I spent many an hour prepping the site and will spend many more sprucing it up. Comments welcome on new design, features, and suggestions for improvement.
  • Dean Spears posts “Blog on Blogs,” kicking off a comments conversation on why there are no dissenting opinions re: Ron’s post on 51 Main. It’s true, of the 74 comments, only one is not positive, it’s neutral. Dean Spears asks larger questions, though, about changes of communication and interactivity for Middlebury.
  • Speaking of blogs, Wesleyan University launched a redesigned website last week and includes a giant community blog. That said, it feels at once institutional (inauthentic) and wildly crazy at the same time. Meanwhile, Wesleying (MiddBlog for Wesleyan, aimed at students) goes on strong, without blinking an eye. But is Wesleyan’s new website anything like our new website?
  • Our new website is drawing closer by the week. Cruise around the functional homepage (not filled out with content yet, just an example of how technical stuff would work. Stay tuned for info on participating in deciding some of the content for the student gateway page.

MiddBlog has been pushing blogging going on three years now (our birthday is in October). Commenting on stories has seen recent spike. Our statistics tell us more and more people read MiddBlog daily. But we still don’t see the strength of the offline community online. Dean Spears frames this as a discussion on blogs above, but it could be in any online form, including Twitter (don’t knock twitter until you’ve used it consistently for a few weeks. Some of Middlebury juiciest and timeliest tidbits are in MiddBlog’s twitterfeed).

It’s not as if we as a community don’t spend any time online, but we choose to disperse our attentions. Then, when we do choose to contribute to Middlebury’s larger web universe, we get stuff like this – energies put into individual projects that lack any sense of connection with the community. If you want to participate in the larger Middlebury web, know what’s out there and make sure you’re linked in with them, not just typing into the abyss. For instance: Thinking about music? The WRMC blog. Thinking about what goes into a liberal arts education? Deans Spears Blog. Have something to say about the trees and landscape at Midd? MiddLand. So, start a blogsubmit a storytalk about your experience abroad but do so with context as to who else at Middlebury is working on and talking about similar stuff. It’s not easy, but that is what will make Middlebury’s web grow organically.

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7 thoughts on “Middlebury Web Context

  1. I will agree that none of Midd’s communications seem to bring on any kind of passionate dissent (although year long study abroad concept came kind of close). It actually reminds me of the story of the boy who wouldn’t speak. His parents took him to specialists all over the place who could find nothing to determine the reasons behind it. Then, one night for dinner the mother served soup. The boy took one spoonful and then dropped his spoon into the bowl and said, “Wow, that soup is hot!” His parents looked at him in complete disbelieve and said, “Honey, you spoke! Why have you been silent all these years?” The boy shrugged his shoulders saying, “Well, it’s been pretty good up til now.”

    Apparently the soup must be a fairly good at Midd.

  2. I don’t know, Midd Parent, we’ve run some pretty passionate letters in Middlebury Magazine that have dissented, passionately, with a writer/topic/prior letter writer.

  3. Yes, Matt. While I’ve only enjoyed a few issues, I see that. However, I was more or less referring to the blogosphere and the weekly student newspaper, which seem somewhat more timely and immediate to day-to-day campus affairs/issues. But your point is well-taken.

  4. Hey ryan,

    the new campus website looks great. appreciate the simpler interface and i think it’s a significant step in terms of getting Midd’s web presence up to speed.

    Only complaint is that without much color, it feels a little flat. if the images on the homepage had a little more pop to them, this might not matter as much. not sure what to change, maybe a few touches of an accent color here or there might help.

    Though not related to the web design, my one major gripe is the logo and the wordmark that goes with it. Logos should be simple. While i like the idea of using mead’s steeple, it’s a bit too busy (particularly for the web). And that font…to me, it doesn’t say anything about the campus nor middlebury. reminds me of bad powerpoint presentations in middle school.

    the campus is a publication with significant history and integrity, as such I think it deserves a better type treatment that speaks more to its character. also especially if the type is uniquely for the web, maybe something that is something clearly contemporary but with classical proportions.

    on the whole, very impressed by the update and interested to see where you go with it.

  5. So what’s the word.. will the new website unveil on Monday like their timeline predicted?

    Growing a little frustrated with outdated content on current site. 😦

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