The End of the Year Round-Up!

by Brian Michael Foote

courtesy of saxcubano/flickr

Hello Commons!

I can’t believe 2011 is over!  While you were putting on the party dresses I was here sifting through a year’s worth of blogs looking for the 5 best moments in 2011 on Commons.  There was the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Japan, bin Laden, Gaddafi, Occupy, and so on.  I’m sure you’ve been through your share of ‘Year in Review’ blogs so we needn’t pick over the meal but you must admit this was quite the year.  And of course that’s just the world news.  There was so much to remember here on the Commons as well as our little community grew by leaps and bounds.  I always get a little sentimental for New Years so before I move on to the second glass of wine and get extra sappy I’ll just say that I hope that 2012 is filled with marvelous gifts for all of us.  It’s always a pleasure to read everyone’s thoughts and stories and I’m especially lucky to work with such a talented and amazing team here on the Commons.  You folks are the best.

So without further ado here are the five best moments on the blogs this year:

5.  The Kitchen Sink – Back in February when 2011 was just getting its sea legs Joseph Ugoretz threw his name in the hat for outstanding Commonser by posting an exhaustive list of online resources.  The community took note, suggesting other resources in the comments and the whole project was moved to its own wiki page where it took on a life of its own.  This whole event was really outstanding to me because it was one of those moments where the community and the tools available on the Commons intersected in such a way that everyone on the team just sat back and thought, “Hey, it works!”  Thank you Joseph and everyone who contributed (and is still contributing) to this amazing resource.

4. The Chess is a Lie! – Tim Wilson is without a doubt one of our most prolific bloggers.  He’s had so many mentions on Footenotes I wouldn’t know where to start really.  In tribute I’d like to point towards the infamous Wells Fargo Chess Ad FAIL post.  I can totally see how it happened.  Some ad firm pitched a story about a grandfather and his granddaughter playing chess, no doubt imparting to his legacy the wisdom of opening a Wells Fargo checking account, over a friendly game of chess.  The Wells Fargo suits loved it and threw a suitcase full of money at the ad firm and they let the photographer and crew go to work.  No one was counting on people who actually play chess to look at the ad and realize the game was failed from the beginning.  Tim Wilson was there to count the ways.  I loved the post not only for what I learned about chess but because it’s amazing to learn what kind of knowledge and talent is here in the Commons community waiting to be tapped into.  Thanks for all of your blogging Tim!

3. Zines Live!  I wasn’t even a tiny bit bashful about announcing my undivided love for this blog the moment I saw it.  Zines at Brooklyn College Library crawled out the basement of a Kinko’s and headed to the Commons back in May and has been awesome ever since.  There was ‘International Zine Library Day‘ and the trip to the New York Public Library.  There were the blogs where the interns left and the good news that the collection is still growing!  If this blog doesn’t make you want to by an X-Acto knife and some rubber cement I don’t know what to tell you.  I can’t wait to see what 2012 holds for the Zine crew.

2. Aaron Knoll Called It – If there’s one thing the Commons hates it’s Facebook.  Look, that’s not true – we’re actually a bunch of nice people who don’t really hate Facebook at all.  In the early days we used to cringe when someone would compare us to them.  It irked us.  So maybe secretly in our hearts, just a little, we were kind of excited when Google announced that it was launching Google+ and it was going to be amazing and awesome and make Facebook the new Friendster.  Aaron Knoll had some doubts.  Aaron’s blog has always been a must read for those of us interested in social media and adventures in technology ethics, so it was nice to see (so far) his instincts prove true on Google+…even if it means we still have to field a few Facebook comparisons now and then.

1. The Commons Goes to Washington – Well, not exactly, but this was the year where we saw our members use the Commons to help make a difference at CUNY and the academy at large.  Maura Smale posted about making the pledge to make open access a priority in education.  She blogged about why it’s important for us as scholars and as an institution to work towards a better system for the transference of knowledge than our current structure of subscription based journals that often charged exorbitant fees to university libraries.  In a digital age it’s time to reconsider such a platform as we work to expand the limits of human knowledge.  Towards that effort the Open Access group was all over CUNY this year and helped get  a motion of support from the University Faculty Senate.  Likewise the year is wrapping up with Adam Wandt’s inspiring proposal for eBooks at CUNY to help students shoulder the costs of text books (and the weight).  There’s already a ton of action in the comments and if the success of the Open Access group is any standard there’s no telling where eBooks at CUNY could go.


It’s a real gift to be able to follow the blogs each week and many thanks to all of you for keeping at it.  I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings for the Commons and have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve.


Till next year.