Monday, January 14, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: I'm Eating Up This re.web Thing

I don't like coleslaw. Usually.

Nonetheless, the cabbage-based side dish played a supporting role in my new favorite dining experience, which happened at a small restaurant in Williamsburg called A Chef's Kitchen. There chef John Gonzales, author of two cookbooks for Colonial Wiliamsburg, prepares all the food in plain view of the patrons. He tells stories. He explains choices. He answers questions. It's the sensory equivalent of immersion into the Food Network, minus the obnoxiousness and the colorful sweaters.

Turns out that even coleslaw, which I would not miss if I never saw its mayonnaise version again, can be put together one carefully chosen ingredient at a time and creatively distinguished from the norm (in this case with extra kick from wasabi) in a manner that appeals to me. This particular coleslaw tasted so good that I wondered whether I genuinely liked it that much, or whether I merely admired the thoughtfulness that went into its preparation. Then I wondered how meaningful that difference is. Then I wondered whether my wife would finish all of hers, because I wanted more.

Fortunately for all of us, the re.web project employs some of the same techniques for transparency, minus tastes and smells (for now anyway). The hope, and so far the remarkable achievement, has been to instill respect for the process and acceptance of the outcomes, even when all the stakeholders don't agree with every decision along the way. And if you have any doubts about the transparency of re.web, check out some of the unfiltered, critical feedback in the comments section.

Implemented properly, William and Mary's new website and web governance will embrace a similar level of transparency. Only then can we confront the often artificial distinction between message and messenger. Only then can we open up the website as the organic cross-section of campus life that it needs to become, an artifact as revealing about our decision-making processes as it is about the decisions themselves, and all the more enticing as a result.

Otherwise how will all the prospective applicants, potential donors, reputation influencers and desirable hires who think they don't care for William and Mary learn to appreciate how wrong they are?

posted by Henry Broaddus, dean of admission and guest blogger

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like coleslaw, but only my recipe. Your analogy is a good one, though.