Near Disaster!

In our quest to determine (among other things) how educational visual design impacts student behavior…

we battled my incompetence and insane anti-piracy technology,

  • The first struck as I was copying our experiment files (written in Medialab, the same program that we did last semester’s research) from the shared drive to the C:\ drives of the individual computers. I overwrote the old installed Medialab copies with the new Medialab files. To the extent this put new experiment and questionnaire files on the individual computers, this was great. Less great was…
  • Medialab philosophy that its users are thieves and must be dealt with harshly. Copying a new copy of Medilab onto the drive in the same location as the old one trips some sort of DRM nonsense. Not only did our registered copies stop working, but re-entering our registration codes would not work. If Medialab was more impressive this may be understandable, but Medialab is little more than what a talented highschooler could whip up over a weekend.

Fortunately, with literally four minutes to go before the first forty participants start filing through, the day was saved by

  • John Fulwider, graduate student extraordinary. John called MediaLab’s parent company after the end of office hours, and somehow managed to get through to a real person amidst the voicemail. Talking to a MediaLab rep (a company whose terrible DRM system is matched only by their out-of-this-world-amazing customer service), we managed to get everything up and running in time.

Starting up a human-subjects experiment is stressful. The combination of technology, technique, and humans always is. But it’s a great experience. Of all the friends and teachers I have met in the Department of Political Science — and there are many — Dr. John Hibbing and fellow student John Fulwider are the two absolute role-models. Hibbing is everything an R-1 professor should be. And Fulwider is everything an R-1 professor-to-be should be. I am incredibly lucky & proud to know them both.