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February 12, 1988 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-12
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

A Hi-tech world

. qm

catches up

ith

the

'U'

"It's only natural to resist
change at first," LSA senior Linda
Lewis said. "(Change) seems weird
and scary and harder to work with."
But eventually most people come
around to change, and as time goes
on, once radical changes seem more
and more commonplace. So it is
with computing at the University.
"My first year, I never used them.
I just did everything on a typewriter,"
Lewis said. "Then my sophomore
year, a friend of mine began using
the Macsat the Unioneand telling me
how great they were. After a few
months, I used one and I haven't
stopped since."
Typically, Lewis said, she has
grown more and more comfortable on
the computers and has advanced from
MacWrite to more complex word
processing programs. Recently, she
said, she has begun to explore the
non-word processing uses of
computers.
The University's microcomputing
services' rapid growth have paralleled
Lewis'. This year's graduating
seniors will be the last students to
have entered the University before
microcomputer use became com-
monplace.
In the fall of 1984, there were
only 50 microcomputers available to
non-engineering students. But accor-
ding to Doug Van Houweling, vice
provost for Information and Tech-
nology, the University now has over
900 Macintosh and Zenith units.
"We have a target of 1500 for next
fall. Angell Hall will be very large."
Van Houweling was referring to
the Angell Hall microcomputing
center now under construction and
due to open in September. The center
will add 300 computers to the
system. The Church Street Center,
currently the largest center, houses
only 183 machines.
As the numbers of terminals and
student users have grown over the
past several years, a new bureaucracy
has also grown to deal with the new
demands.
Van Houweling's position was
created three years ago to oversee the
university's entire computing sys-
tem, which is divided into four
departments - Network Services,
Software Services, User Services, and
Administration and Facilities
Services.
The rapid expansion of computers
is reflected in the Microcomputer
Photos by
John Munson
Gregory and Paul are WEEKEND
Magazine Editors, Pollak a
Daily staffer

Students and faculty realize full benefits of computers

Education Center (MEC). Founded
by the University in February 1984,
the center oversaw microcomputer
education, consulting, and documen-
tation. They employed one full-time
staff consultant and two part-time
workers.
By last fall, seven full-time
consultants and a large part-time staff
had been hired. By that time,
according to coordinator Conrad
Mason, microcomputer usage had
grown too large for one department
to handle, and the MEC was reor-
ganized into the Computer Resource
Center (CRC) and became part of;
User Services. Ironically, CRC's1
responsibilities were both narrowed
and expanded.
"The whole computing operation
has become larger and more bur-
eaucratized," Mason said. "At one
time, MEC did consulting, educa-
tion, and documentation. Now ed-
ucation and documentation are separ-
ate parts of User Services."
However, the CRC is no longer
limited to servicing microcomputers.
"We found that there really was an
artificial distinction drawn between
mainframe and microcomputing,"

said Ed Saunders, associate director of
the Computing Center for User
Services. "We're trying to encourage
people to go to both sides of the
fence. You should survey what
you're doing and ask 'what is the
task?' and then decide what is the
best means to complete that task."
"It's all one large environment and
we really encourage people to know
the whole environment."
The CRC now employs 65
temporary consultants and 12 full-
time employees. However, according
to CRC Consultant Supervisor Liz
Sweet, because they now work on
both micro and mainframe compu-
ting systems, it is impossible to
compare CRC figures to MEC
figures.
"We had a recognition of the fact
that there's a whole continuum of
computer usage at this university,"
Sweet said. "For a large portion of
our users, microcomputers make
sense but we had created an artificial
distinction."
While figures remain hard to nail
down, it is clear to everyone involved
that there has been a dramatic
increase in student usage of computer

facilities.
"The usage is clearly growing,"
Sweet said. "More students in non-
scientific areas are using the
facilities."
Van Houweling sees the growth
of the University's computing
services as a natural occurrence.
"People on this campus want to
use more and more of this stuff and
students are really getting into it, so
sure our staff has grown and our
budget has grown," Van Houweling
said.
One reason for the growth is that
while computers once seemed like
unfriendly mechanical monsters to
many neophytes, more and more
entering University students have
tamed the beast before coming to
college.
"We see a larger and larger number
of students who have computer
experience from high school," Van
Houweling said. "This number was
almost zero a few years ago."
Still, there are people wandering
around who are more or less clueless
to the opportunities open to them.
Saunders said that the division of
User Services attempts to reach

uninformed students, staff, and
faculty to teach them about the
available computing opportunities.
"We're always trying to find'
increased ways of educating people, "
Saunders said. "We have around
15,000 attendees a year in our
courses."\
User Services statistical graphs 4
reveal a 45 degree ramp in course
attendance over the last three years
and Saunders is proud of his
department.
"There's a significant commit-
ment on this campus to all of the
user services compared to otherN
campuses."
Van Houweling agreed that the
University has made concerted efforts
to teach uninformed students and help
them take full advantage of the
computer operations available, but,
he said, many students still have a
lot to learn.
"Students don't get the full
benefits, though of course, it varies
from student to student," Van
Houweling said. "It's exciting to me
how much more students use it now
than just a year ago. And realist-
ically, there's no way we could have
met demands if everyone came around
to it at once."
Many non-eingirieering students
are unaware of the varied functions
computers can perform, often view-
ing them as little more than elaborate
typewriters. Saunders doesn't think
that this is necessarily a problem.
"You use computers for the things
you do in daily life, and students
write," Saunders said.
Van Houweling said he thinks Art school studen Chris Saucedo designed this sculpture on a computer
that the University meets student before he built it.
needs - with the exception of the

computers also allow students to
experiment with mixing colors and
organizing the composition of
paintings.
Beside serving as an educational
tool, Levy said, computers have
given rise to a new art form.
But can work rendered on com-
puters be considered fine art?
Ratner thinks so. "Fine art is not
defined by the medium, but what you
do with it," she said.
She said many artists have started
using computers in their work and
are selling these computer-aided
pieces in galleries.
Although she has heard criticisms
likening drawing with a computer
mouse to drawing with a bar of soap,
Ratner said she has seen illustrations
done with a mouse that looked like
photographs. "You can get good at
it," she said.
But Michael Rivilis, an art school
sophomore, said he thinks it is easier
to draw by hand. "Basically, I don't
think these (computer) programs are
up to drawing yet. It takes a lot of
patience."
Ratner agrees drawing smoothly
with a mouse takes a lot of adjust-
ment and practice, but she said some
artists like it.
She said, working with a mouse
causes many artist to re-experience
the awkwardness they felt when they
first began drawing. "Sometimes you
get things you couldn't have ex-
pected," she said.
- Stephen Gregory
Mission
Impossible
The mission sounded simple.
"Find a person on this campus who
still uses a typewriter," the editors
told me. "Someone who thinks a
Macintosh is piece of fruit. Some-
one who doesn't know how to dou-
ble the size of a paper by increasing
the print size. Someone who actu-
ally flinches after typing "teh" in-
stead of "the" on the last page of a
term paper. Someone..."
"All right, all right," I said, still
as calm and controlled as a laser
printer. I didn't think the job would
be so hard. After all, I could still
remember when a floppy disk was
something you did to your back.
When external drive was something
you did in your car. When boot up
was something you did before shov-
eling snow.
See COVER STORY, Page 11

j;.

midterm and final examination
periods - and that "that demand will
be met."
Demand is certain to continue
growing as the number of students
who cower in fear of computers
shrink, and the generation of students
raised on computers make their way
to the University system.
-Alan Paul
Computers
for art's sake
Art School - the word conjures
up images of students furiously and
attentively painting, sketching,
drawing, sculpting, or photograph-
ing. But these days a new word
should be added to the list -
computing.
Yes, you read it right, computing.
"And what," you may ask, "are com-
puters doing among the keepers of

aestheticism?"
According to Art School Dean
Marjorie Levy, they are doing a lot.
Levy said computers allow art
students to experiment with designs
more easily than ever before. "In the
process of studying design, structure,
and patterns, on computers you can
generate many choices and pick the
best ones without starting over," she
said.
Art school senior and design
major Lori Young agrees with Levy.
"On a computer you can create
perspectives to work with in a matter
of minutes rather than a matter of
hours." Young explained that before
computers, design students drew the
grids on which they make designs
by hand and were only able to
consider one aspect of a design at a
time.
To look at a design from a
different angle or to change its scale

or dimension, Young said, students
had to make completely new draw-
ings for every change. "It took a lot
of tracing paper and a lot of time,"
she said.
But now, she said, students can
call up grids, perspectives, and dim-
ensions in a few seconds on a
computer. "You can put them in 3-
D, rotate them, or put them in many
different perspectives without having
to go through a lot of re-rendering."
She said computers have quick-
ened the education, process. "You
spend a lot more time on the designs
themselves rather than on how to do
it."
Levy said she doesn't think
computers improve the quality of
the designs students make, but rather
they enable students make them
more efficiently.
According to Esther Ratner, a
graduate student in industrial design,

Just think... what would you do if all computer were suddenly gone?

I

olr a

PAGE 8

WEEKEND/FEBRUARY 12, 1988

WEEKEND/FEBRUARY 12, 1988

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