Universities are peculiar places

January 2, 2006

In particular, universities have a computing environment that is more peculiar than I think a lot of people realize (sometimes even people inside universities, because from some angles it is very easy to miss). I wrote about one example of this (and the practical effects it has) back in UniversityFirewalls.

One of the ways that they are peculiar, a way that I think is at the core of a lot of things, is this:

In most parts of most companies, communicating with the rest of the company is far more important than being on the Internet. (Hence, among other things, the enduring success of company firewalls.)

In a university, most groups are the other way around: if forced to choose they'd take being on the Internet, probably without having to think hard. A physics department would be annoyed if it couldn't talk with the rest of the university; it would be crippled if it couldn't talk with the rest of the Internet.

(Maybe it wouldn't be crippled in the short term. But in the long term you would find everyone working at home with GMail accounts and DSL lines, or something similar.)

Written on 02 January 2006.
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Last modified: Mon Jan 2 01:56:03 2006
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