Put up the site today for the Research in Informatics and Networking Group. Hopefully, we can do with RING what we did with the NMRL in Washington. I have been thinking back to why that came about, and I realized that part of it was to keep me at UW. I was deciding at the time whether to jump ship and join another program, and when Diane Gromala left the program for greener pastures, she left behind a lab with an amazing amount of potential. The department basically sealed it up and pretended it wasn’t there. When building constraints made them look for places it cut, it was the first on the chopping block.
No one really wanted to have anything to do with the place, so I made a move to colonize it. Along with some other students who were central to keeping alive a sense of exploration in the lab (Verena Hess, Sean Baker, and a number of extraordinarily talented undergraduates), we got a solid (re)start of things. It seems that it has now vanished entirely, leaving a room of computers for teaching in, renamed the Media Lab.
When I took the position here at UB, it was because I saw a diamond in the rough. The School had just changed its name to the “School of Informatics,” and there was a new Masters of Informatics in the offing. I wanted to be a part of such an environment. Things have moved more slowly than I might have liked, but I still think the department and school are capable of creating something unique and cutting-edge.
I hope this group can be a part of that effort: a cadre of the best students and possibly faculty who are neophiles and are willing to push the limits. That means finding areas in which we can excel, and putting on a good face for the rest of the world to see. I came here for a reason, I came here with a mission, and I plan to take up that mission with renewed vigor.