At 3pm today the College will turn off all non-essential power.
The idea of turning off the power was first pushed by Assistant Dean Nick Tatar after hearing about several experiments to turn off the internet on other campuses. “The reports coming back from those campuses were incredible. It was like the weights had been taken off everyone’s shoulders. Everyone seemed so happy to not have to keep one eye on their inbox and the other on Facebook and Twitter. We’re just taking this one step farther by turning all of the power off for the day.”
The initiative has required a great deal of coordination. The dining hall has cut down on perishable food orders so that the refrigerators can be turned off without causing food to spoil. Facilities has been working closely with any faculty who have chemicals or other materials that have to be kept within a defined temperature range. IT has been kept in the loop so that Olin’s servers don’t overheat (the back-up fans have limited power supply) and the fire department has agreed to be present while the sprinkler system is down.
A couple of faculty members have added their expertise to the initiative. Professor Siddhartan Govindasamy has agreed to put up some wifi dampening technology in the oval that’s he’s been developing. This will prevent community members from creating their own wireless hotspots and Mark Chang (Former ECE professor, now working for Google) has helped the cause by inserting code onto every Olin community member’s computer so that it will be impossible to connect to off-campus servers and wireless guest networks. “I’ve learned a lot about this sort of thing since joining Google…. [Nefarious snicker] The real trick on my end was making it impossible to change the clocks on everyone’s computers so that the timing works out just right. The rest was easy as eatin’ chicken wings! ” said Chang.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to get students, faculty, and staff talking again” said Assistant Dean of Student Life, Nick Tatar. “Those first few years at Olin were defined by face-to-face conversations, not tweets and anonymous feedback surveys. Facebook in those days meant talking to someone and reading a real book. If all goes well in this experiment, I’ll ask Rick and the Trustees to lengthen the experiment next year.”
Tatar said he does not expect everyone will be ready to unplug and that the experience could be traumatic for some students, staff and faculty. To aid community members who are struggling without internet access and electricity in their lives OSL is bringing in Colony Care for additional on-campus hours and a Q&A session in the EH 1 lounge with the R2s.