There’s an old saying: two heads are better than one. We are putting that saying to the test this term.
For the first time in two years, both William Uricchio and Henry Jenkins are on-ground at the same time and we have decided to become co-directors of Comparative Media Studies. William is going to manage much of the day-to-day ad-ministration of the program, while Henry is going to be focusing on development and outreach with primary responsibility for launching the Convergence Culture Consortium and a new media literacy initiative, which we hope to announce soon. The history of two-headed beasts in literature and popular culture has been mixed. So far, however, we seem to be avoiding becoming a Push-Me/Pull-You.
The news we convey in this issue is bittersweet. It is a time of beginnings and endings for our program.
‘Central player’ lost
We have all been shocked and pained by Chris Pomiecko’s tragic death in early February. Chris was a central player in the development of the program. In the rocky first few years, we encountered many bumps and detours and Chris was the one who helped to smooth out the ride and make sure that no one got hurt.
We have been moved by all of the stories shared with us in recent days by faculty, students, and staffers who Chris helped through the years. And as we have dug deeper into the unfinished business created by his passing, we have come away with a deeper appreciation of his unassuming intelligence and back-breaking hard work. He made so many problems disappear that much of them fell below our radar.
Now, we have to confront them head on.
We are going to be focusing a lot this term on reorganizing the management and staffing of the program, something which had been planned upon William’s return, but which now takes on new urgency. In the meantime, we hope you will help us remember Chris’s legacy by con-tributing to his memo-
We will also soon be missing Philip Tan, who recently announced his plans to get married and move back to Singapore where he will work with the Media Development Authority of Singapore, Digital Media group. Philip has been part of the CMS community for eight years, starting as an undergraduate, then as a Master’s student, and finally as the research manager of the Education Arcade.
Throughout that time, Philip has been the go-to guy — someone who always knew which cord to bring with him or which switch to pull when it looked like the entire technological infrastructure of the program was falling down around him, someone who commanded the respect of everyone who knew him because of his unique blend of cultural insight and technical skills.
Philip is someone who knows game design inside and out. From his work as an undergraduate member of the MIT Assassin’s Guild, he developed a grounded understanding of rule systems and play mechanics, a topic he explored in his CMS Master’s thesis. He knows more computer and video games than anyone we have ever met, as is clear to anyone who has ever watched him lecture and a play a game one-handed behind his back.
His insights into game design and game culture have been key to the success we have enjoyed throughout our educational games research. In recent years, it hs been fun to watch Philip develop as a classroom teacher, a team leader, and as an advocate for games in education. We wish Philip luck for the next stages of his life.
Alongside these departures, there are arrivals. We welcome into our midst Beth Coleman (see story, this page), who has been hired by Writing and Humanistic Studies with the expectation that the majority of her time and energy will be devoted to CMS.
Coleman first came to our attention through her contributions to the Race in Digital Spaces conference we cohosted with the USC. She is a promising young scholar, a gifted artist, and a mean DJ.
In the past few years, Writing and Humanistic Studies has made a series of hires to enhance digital studies at MIT. We are now in conversations with Writing to develop new subjects that will enhance the production aspects of the program.
We have become accustomed to our faculty and student accomplishing great things and winning recognition for their contributions. But, we were especially proud to learn that John Dower, a CMSaffiliated faculty member, received a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award to support his work with CMS steering committee member Shigeru Miyagawa.
John, you make us proud!