Ten Years, or My New Job

Lawrence Lessig once said he thought ten years was a good length of time to work on a project. After that, he said it was too easy to stagnate (and too easy to prevent others from coming in with new ideas.)

I was a professor one year longer than that, but today that comes to an end.

I officially (and finally) accepted the job as Director and Editor for the ETC Press, which is run out of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. Our mission is to build a world-class publishing press, and to use technology (and good old fashioned print) to put our books, writings, and stories in as many hands as possible. My last day in a classroom — and my first day on the new job — will be in July.

I have enjoyed working with my students, particularly on the big projects we did outside the confines of classrooms. I’ll carry with me the memories of those big ass productions, from Linus to Transmedia Indiana to The Invictus Writers to the EMDD Labs.

But the hardest thing I’m going to do is leave behind the longest, best, and most humbling partnership I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t have survived and thrived for the last eight years without my friend and partner-in-academic-crime Jennifer Palilonis. Her friendship, support, super-brain, and force of will can’t really be summed up adequately and so I won’t even try. Instead, I will say that because of her, we can look back at what we’ve done and say, “Yeah, we built that.” The Center for EMDD is poised to become a model for what modern graduate education look like. (You’ll be hearing more about that in the coming months.) 

More importantly, I can’t begin to tell you all how powerful it is to have a professional partner with whom you share absolute loyalty and trust. If you have that, you can change the world. Of course, Lessig failed to mention was that you will meet — and then have to leave — people like Jenn when you start over. That was unfair of him.

But I’ve been thinking about those words — ten years — for the several semesters, and I realized that — at least for me — his idea rang true. Ten years was enough time to spend on Project Professor. My mind had been wandering — and wondering — “What’s next?”

And I’ve found that answer. In that, I also found the stuff of life: joy, sadness, laughter, tears, and always at the end…love.

And so the new clock begins today. Ten years and counting: Now is the time. And this is the place.