Paul Wright’s Basketball Lessons: Perfect Form, Teamwork and Fun

By Niki Fritz

There are a lot of people in the department who like sports; those who play sports, those who research sports, those who participate in fantasy sports, those who research fantasy sports, those who just really like to tailgate. We are a pretty sports-lovin’ department. But Paul Wright surpasses us all. He played basketball in high school (and still currently shoots hoops with Reed), coached junior high and high school teams, received recognition from the IU Women’s Basketball team for being a favorite teacher, and even invented his own quasi-legendary shooting method. And this year, for third year in a row, he is teaching the Girls Inc. 10 and up cohort how to become future basketball stars. This man loves his basketball.

Girls Inc. is an organization that for decades has helped girls recognize their own potential through after-school and summer programs. The organization has both volleyball and basketball leagues as well as programs that introduce girls to the STEM fields. Girls Inc. relies on volunteers to teach and coach participants. Paul first got involved with the organization after seeing a flyer for the basketball program in Avers Pizza. He hadn’t coached in a few years because he had been so busy but was missing coaching aspiring basketball stars.

Co-Coach Jessica Tang, Team Captain Shelby and Co-Coach Paul Wright

Co-Coach Jessica Tang, Team Captain Shelby and Co-Coach Paul Wright

When his neighbor and friend, Jessica Tang, a doctoral student in Medical Sciences, agreed to be a co-coach, Paul was in, despite his busy schedule.

“It is a little bit of a challenge [to fit in coaching] because I do like to work so much,” Paul explained very earnestly. “But we only meet twice a week so the time commitment is only four or five hours a week.”

After cramming in a full day of work, twice a week from September to November, Paul heads over to the gym to teach the girls basketball skills. The girls also play eight games through the season against other Girls Inc. leagues.

Little do the girls know they don’t just have any old coach but a California legendary shooting coach. You read right; in addition to playing and coaching, back during his undergraduate days Paul created his own patented shooting method called the L.A.S.E.R. method.

“If you use my L.A.S.E.R. method on every shot, you would never miss. The laser method is 100% infallible,” Paul told me, strong words for a scientist.

Paul explained that back in the day when he was coaching high school girls basketball, a father approached him and asked him to help his daughter with her shooting. Paul realized he actually knew very little about the technique of shooting and thus the scientist began his basketball shooting research.

“I started watching videos, looking at things online and tinkering with the shot. I would think about the physics and the mechanics of the shot. It took me about a year of research. It was my basketball thesis,” Paul said. “It took me a long time to iron out the wrinkles but after that I have never felt a need to adjust it after I created the fool-proof L.A.S.E.R. method. I say that in all humility.”

Paul also wanted me to tell any aspiring basketball stars out there that there is a full L.A.S.E.R. manuscript available … at a cost. The man is serious about his basketball.

A flyer for Paul's L.A.S.E.R. shooting method with real-life testimony

A flyer for Paul’s L.A.S.E.R. shooting method with real-life testimony

However when it comes to divulging the team’s record Paul was a little evasive although he made sure to note the team was undefeated this year. Paul is quick to say though that coaching is about more than teaching the girls some fool-proof basketball skills.

“It’s not about wins or loses. It is about teaching the girls life skills and building character,” Paul said. “I don’t have kids and it is a really special thing to be involved in the lives of young people … Just to be able to be a mentor is the coolest thing.” In addition to learning basketball basics, Paul talks to the girls about college and what they want for the future. Paul also credits Co-coach Jessica with helping him integrate other life lessons into practices such as team building and having fun, a skill Paul is still working on.

In fact, Paul says one of the greatest lessons he has learned from coaching comes from the girls. He reflects on one game in particular. Paul’s team was winning and it was evident by the second quarter that his team was superior. Paul thought maybe in the fourth quarter they would take it easy on the other team; but his girls had other thoughts. In the huddle in the second quarter, the girls told Paul they wanted to let the other team get some shots in. Paul realized he had been taking the game a bit too seriously and that his girls had already learned an important lesson about having fun.

“[The girls taught me] to relax and take it easy, to have a little bit more perspective. I’m so goal oriented and they are a little bit more ‘let’s have fun,’” Paul explained. It is a hard lesson for a work-loving, uber-productive Paul, but a lesson he has been happy to learn from his basketball team.

Random Picture of the Week

Paul Wright:  “The only failsafe way to protect your dinner in TCOM faculty/staff lounge …”



T600, the Wright Way

By Edo Steinberg

When faculty members are tasked with coordinating the Media Arts and Sciences Speaker Series (a.k.a Telecom’s Brown Bag/Colloquium/T600), they each put their mark on it in their unique ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of the lectures’ subject matter. In Paul Wright’s case, it is the special atmosphere created by his often elaborate and humorous introductions and the refreshments brought by a different student each week, which makes them personalized and varied.   Paul also started coordinating with the School of Journalism, arranging mutual visits to each other’s colloquia.

“In late summer, Harmeet talked to me about what made people excited to come to T600,” Paul says. “He talked about atmosphere and food being important. I’m not much of a cook, unfortunately, so if it was left up to me, I would just go to the grocery store and get cookies and a vegetable platter, and coffee. I knew most people cook more than I do, and there were enough students in the class so it isn’t too much to ask – just one time during a semester. It worked out phenomenally.”

Paul didn’t have very high expectations of students. “It was above and beyond. I didn’t think anyone would make anything. I thought people would just buy different things, but at least each week would be a little bit different.”

The food wasn’t the only thing that took a life of its own. So did Paul’s elaborate introductions, which he hadn’t planned on making every time. “It was never really planned. I would think of the person speaking that week and then realize there was something funny,” Paul says.

Ted Castronova was the first speaker in the Paul Wright era of T600. “I knew both Ted and I went to Cal State, Fullerton, and we both came here.” Then, the next speaker was Jesse Fox of Ohio State, who had gone to graduate school in Arizona with Paul. “Everybody loves to hate Ohio State and we have a good rivalry going, and I knew she had a good sense of humor, so I felt comfortable doing this. Same with Ron Osgood. I knew his wife would be there. I met his son playing basketball, and I knew Ron had a sense of humor, too. The same is true about David Waterman.”

“Something didn’t come to me every week,” Paul says. “But when it did and I had a little time, I put something together.”

The introductions were well received by those they introduced. “I kept them G-rated and made them complimentary.”

In late summer, Sung-Un Yang, faculty member at the School of Journalism, contacted Paul to coordinate the Telecom and Journalism colloquia. They looked at the lectures each had scheduled and what would be interesting for faculty and students from both units. “I think it’s a great idea. I hope it continues next year.”

We hosted the Journalism colloquium twice last semester, and will do so again twice more this semester. The next T600, on February 21, will be hosted by our colleagues in Ernie Pyle Hall, our second visit there.

Below: Some of Paul’s Intros in one slideshow!

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Faculty Appreciation

gradspace@IUtel has received the following video evidence that two of our newest faculty, Amy Gonzales and Paul Wright have been bitten by the Hoosier basketball bug and were recognized during the IU Women’s Basketball Faculty appreciation night on February 7, 2013.

It was also leaked to us that during the event “Wright told the other departments to ‘represent!'” and “Gonzales challenged several faculty to play her one-on-one.”

Fabio’s Classroom Introduction, Dan Schiffman at the Intersections, Paul Wright’s Recognition, Brown Bag

Fabio’s Classroom Introduction, by Ken Rosenberg

Fabio Monticone, a former Italian journalist, graduated in 2011 with a BA from our department. Drawn by his deepening interest in documentary, he decided to pursue graduate studies. In the Fall of the same year, he joined our MS (Design & Production) program.

As a design and production graduate student, Fabio knew that he would be called upon to handle labs and discussion sessions—but not in the very first semester!  As circumstances would have it, in Fall of 2011, the very semester Fabio entered graduate school, the department was short of associate instructors who had the relevant expertise to handle discussion sessions of T206: Introduction to Design and Production. He was called on to step in and help out the department.

At first fazed by the fact that a few months ago he was an undergrad and now he was donning the role of an instructor, he soon found his footing.  The masterful way he introduced himself to the class set the tone for the semester.

He realized that one of the most important things a teacher must do is maintain control of the classroom. Sometimes, this means dealing with the elephant in the room. “Just get it out now,” he told his students last semester, after putting up a PowerPoint slide with a familiar face—the famous “Fabio” (Fabio Lanzoni, the brawny Italian fashion model and actor who has graced many magazine covers, calendars, TV commercials, etc.).  He told the class he was not “that.”  In effect, he first declared who he was not before acquainting the class with the real Fabio they would be dealing with.  “He (Lanzoni) ruined my name,” our Fabio said, jokingly. After coming to the States, he was often subjected to the comparison. By the time he was ready to lead his first discussion sessions for T206, he knew it was only a matter of time before an undergrad would snicker—so he beat them to it.

Having taken the class himself as an undergrad, Fabio eagerly prepared to make T206 an enjoyable experience for the students, one with his personal stamp. In addition to the required weekly posts, Fabio created his own structure for the discussion sessions. Fabio is interested in making documentaries, which helped when planning a project for his students; in groups, they made movies. Though teaching in a language other than his mother tongue made things “kind of hard,” Fabio still had an advantage that most international students do not have in their first semester as an AI: experience with the grading system of U.S. universities, which he gained firsthand, as a student here at IU—in the same class, no less.

Our Fabio certainly has his own style.

Dan Schiffman at the Intersections, by Mike Lang

MS student Dan Schiffman likes to turn ideas into reality.

Schiffman opens his laptop and pulls up his latest project—a visualization tool designed to track trends on Twitter. Schiffman clicks on the search field and plugs in “JeremyLin,” and from the digital abyss a slew of words emerge, appearing and disappearing with the trendiness of modern Web 2.0 applications. By gathering bits of informatiom from Twitter with the help of hashtag search terms, the program gives the user a feel for what the Twitter world thinks about a certain subject. Ultimately, Schiffman hopes the program will be able to answer questions about trends.

Nestled somewhere between a designer, the folks who come up with ideas, and a developer, the folks who put those ideas into action, Schiffman has positioned himself for maximum flexibility.  “I’m not a developer and I’m not a designer. I’m somewhere in the middle. I try to make things happen.” Taking courses in Informatics in interaction design and experience design in order to learn the relevant languages and tools used by designers, and courses in SLIS in order to learn the developer side, Schiffman gets the best of both worlds without being pigeonholed into either category.  At the same time, he has positioned himself to handle the turbulent waters that periodically rock the field. He has learned two very different languages, and can serve as a bridge connecting one side to another, transcending the barrier which often stalls the process that takes an idea from conception to realization, and for Schiffman, it’s all about getting things done.

As an economics major at the University of Colorado with an eye for venture capital, Schiffman has also studied the business aspect of his projects. Taking MBA courses at Kelley, Schiffman has worked to understand one of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurial ideas face—the pressure of securing funding and turning a profit. In one of his favorite courses so far, business negotiations, Schiffman learned the ins and outs of handling and understanding complex social situations, a skill not often taught in school. Likewise, he has worked extensively on drafting business proposals in his class on venture capital and in Telecom’s T505: Media Organizations.

At the moment Schiffman is currently working on a way to partner media with social outreach programs. One of his proposed projects includes SMS microloans as a tool to expand information networks and increase economic development in areas suffering poverty. (Check out a recent interview with Netsquared for more details).  In addition he has partnered with a contact in San Francisco to work on a new venture. But he also talks about couch surfing after graduation.

Schiffman’s trajectory in the program has landed him somewhere between business, design, and development, and equipped him with the ability to navigate different fields quickly and efficiently. With that kind of ability to navigate, Schiffman likely won’t find himself couch surfing for too long.

Paul Wright’s Special Recognition, by Mike Lang

Last semester starting center for the IU women’s basketball team Sasha Chaplin enrolled in Wright’s T314 Processes and Effects course.  As the semester progressed, Chaplin sought out Wright for additional help. Once a week for the entire semester, Wright would meet with Chaplin for an hour to review everything they had gone over in class. “She was just a great person, great personality, very sharp,” says Wright. As a result, she ended up with a really good grade in the class.

In the middle of February Wright received an email for Chaplin. The team had a home game coming up against Wisconsin and in was both a senior night and a faculty appreciation night. Players were asked to invite one faculty member who had contributed to their academic success. Chaplin chose Wright. As a huge basketball fan, Wright had planned on attending the game anyway, as he had been attending games for some time. So, he happily accepted. At halftime, the team trotted Wright out onto the court and presented him with a certificate acknowledging the impact he had on Chaplin’s academic success. That night, IU won its first conference game after going 0-14.

Paul Wright on the Jumbotron

Recognition for excellence in the classroom comes in many different forms. Being recognized on the floor of assembly hall has to rank as one of the coolest.

Brown Bag

Love, Loss, and Leeeeeeeroy: Aesthetic Interaction in World of Warcraft

Jeffrey Bardzell (Presenter), Ted Castronova (Discussant)

In the 1980s, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged to develop more productive, less error-prone, more learnable, and more pleasing systems. These criteria would come to comprise the concept of “usability” and help define what makes a “good” workplace computer system. Since the 1990s, however, computing has moved beyond the workplace into everyday life. Usability, though important, is no longer sufficient to define good systems; increasingly, aesthetic considerations have come to the fore in both academic and industry-based HCI. Yet understanding and designing for aesthetic experiences remains a difficult and unfinished project in HCI, partly because of disciplinary divides between the arts and sciences.

In this talk, I will explore ways that both critical and empirical research of World of Warcraft (WoW) can contribute to HCI’s understanding of aesthetic experiences. I will summarize research conducted by the Cultural Research in Technology (CRIT) group in the School of Informatics on three aspects of WoW. First is intimacy, romance, and friendship in WoW, understood as a contribution to research on user experience (UX). Second is progression raiding, understood from the perspective of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). Third is the emergent visual language of WoW machinima, understood from the perspective of creativity support software. I will also share some of our efforts to find strategies to combine critical and empirical methodologies in the first place, and then subsequently to articulate our findings in ways that can be heard in HCI and influence practice.


Jeffrey Bardzell is an Associate Professor of HCI/Design and new media in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University – Bloomington. Having done his doctoral work in Comparative Literature and Philosophy, Bardzell brings a humanist perspective to HCI and is known for developing a theory of interaction criticism. His other HCI specialties include aesthetic interaction, user experience design, amateur multimedia design theory and practice, and digital creativity. Currently, he is using theories from film, fashion, science fiction, and philosophical aesthetics to theorize about users and interaction, especially in the context of user experience design and supporting creativity. He co-directs the Cultural Research in Technology (CRIT) group:

Edward Castronova (PhD Economics, Wisconsin, 1991) is a Professor of Telecommunications and Cognitive Science, Indiana University. He  is a founder of scholarly online game studies and an expert on the societies of virtual worlds. Among his academic publications on these topics are two books: Synthetic Worlds (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Exodus to the Virtual World (Palgrave, 2007). Professor Castronova teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the design of games, the game industry, and the management of virtual societies. Outside his academic work, Professor Castronova makes regular appearances in mainstream media (60 Minutes, the New York Times, and The Economist), gives keynotes at major conferences (Austin Game Conference, Digital Games Research Association Conference, Interactive Software Federation of Europe), and consults for business (McKinsey, Vivendi, Forrester).

The audio for last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag 7 (March 2, 2012 – Jeff Bardzell and Ted Castronova)

The Year of Spinning, Three in a Row, 3D@IU, Brown Bag

Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land

Professor Annie Lang has a special activity in her life… and it has not only taken on a life of it’s own, but an entire room in her home.  While she has been knitting since she was 9 years old, it is only recently that she began spinning her own yarn.  Annie is now not only a dedicated knitter, but a confirmed spinner and fiber maker.

Once she caught the spinning bug, she became interested in not only making yarn but in following the process all the way back to the animal from which the wool comes from.  Her sitting room now holds containers of wool, fiber from animals besides sheep, and fleece in various stages of processing.  Her most recently acquired batch of wool came from a sheep named Scooter, a fleece she got for free. Once the wool is sheared from the sheep, it goes through a washing process (called scouring)

in order to “desheep”, or remove the oils, dirt, and vegetable matter from the fiber.  The oils in the wool serve to waterproof the fabric, so “desheeping” can clean the wool to a wide range of textures.  “The wool sweater that I knitted for my son was intended to be warm and somewhat waterproof, so I didn’t completely ‘desheep’ the fiber.”  After  the wool has dried completely, it can either be dyed or left as is.  Annie has used food coloring or Kool-Aid packets to dye her wool.  After the drying and dying stage, the wool must be carded, or brushed free of knots and debris.  This part of the process can be done with hand paddles or a mechanical carder.  Annie owns one of the simplest types of machine carders, called a hand crank drum carder.  After the wool is carded, the spinning can begin.

Spinning is the process by which single strands of carded fiber are twisted together to a desired thickness.  Annie has experimented with different fibers and weights to produce different textures in the knitted fabric, including beaded yarns that she strings by hand.  She enjoys working with silk fiber because it not only lightens and softens the fabric, but it also drapes much better.  The spinning wheel that Annie uses was a Christmas gift last year, which commenced the Year of Spinning.  “This year is the Year of Spinning.  Next year will be the Year of Weaving.  I’m interested in making woven rather than knitted fabric and in the fact that one can spin the fibers used to make woven fabric.”  She often spins projects while listening to audio books or while watching Green Bay Packers football games.  Yes, the spinning wheel is mobile enough to move in front of her television.

Annie is also becoming more familiar with the textures of a variety of fibers.  Wool, nylons, and plant fibers all offer varying weights and feel.  She also owns a book that details the differences in the weight, length, and feel of the fleece for many sheep breeds.  But, she’s not restricted
herself to sheep alone.  At the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival, she purchased a fleece for $20, wool that came from an alpaca goat named Stormy.  She explains that the investment will be well worth it, as alpaca yarn is often more expensive and much finer and softer than most wool yarns.  Annie continues her search for other interesting wools and fibers.  But what about the original, Scooter the sheep?  “I don’t know where Scooter is.  I know his parents moved to Indianapolis, so he may have followed them there.”

Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row

PhD student Mark Bell always tells his students to finish things.  Unfortunately, doling out that kind of advice normally requires the one doling it out to actually follow it. As it applies to Mark Bell it also applies to his novelist alter-ego, Fletcher Bell.

Bell graduated college with an English degree and aspirations of becoming a novelist. He wrote a few books, but none really measured up. Motto in mind, he recently revisited some of his old writings. If they were good enough, he decided he would finish them. While most didn’t make the cut, one book stood out – Three in a Row, a detective story.  As Bell read through the pages, he was unable to put it down, even though he knew the ending.  In Bell’s words, “Oh crap, its not bad.” Determined to finish it, Bell had his book professionally edited, a friend of his designed the cover, and he recruited a group of students to put together a trailer to be posted on Youtube. Bell decided to take the self-publishing route largely because he wanted to test its viability and learn a bit more about the community. Much to his surprise, he discovered a huge community of self-published writers who were incredibly supportive and willing to help. In addition to finding a supportive network, he also found a willing audience. Thus far the sales of Three in a Row have largely come from those involved in the self-publishing community.

Three in a Row is a detective story set in a college town in Indiana. Ben Hudson, a campus policeman, discovers the body of a dead girl, naked, with a game of tic-tac-toe carved on her torso. Teaming up with professor Tristan Clarke, the two set out to find the murderer. The mood of the book is dark, incredibly dark. In addition to the story, Three in a Row has a corresponding soundtrack written by Bell exclusively for the book. Written in D minor, “because that is the saddest most depressing key of all time,” the music sets a mood familiar to anyone who has survived a Bloomington winter; cold, wet, and claustrophobic. In the process of writing, Bell would play the soundtrack over and over again for inspiration. As Bell states, “the book is meant to be read with the soundtrack playing.”

So why the pseudonym? The answer is pretty simple. Mark Bell has a publishing track record in both the academy and in the software business (he has sold over 25,000 books). Dropping his first name in favor of his middle name, allows Bell to separate work from play and prevent any confusion on part of his readers. That said, Fletcher Bell is not just a publishing name. With a website, and a twitter page that boasts over 1,000 Fletcher Bell has taken on a life of his own.

You can purchase a kindle copy of Three in a Row from Amazon here. If you feel inclined don’t be shy about leaving a review on Amazon. They are more important for the sale of self-published books than you might think.

An Update on 3D@IU

When not busy with classes, Chris Eller and Sean Connolly are busy turning IU into one of the premiere 3D destinations in the country. 3D@IU, their unofficial title for all the activities going on around campus that relate to the production of 3D, is slowly but steadily growing. In the spring the department once again plans on offering a special section of T452 that focuses exclusively on 3D production and storytelling. So far 28 students have been through the class, and their work has been featured at the IU Cinema, the Hoosier Heartland Film festival, ESPN 3D, and Beijing’s 3d China Experience Center.

Recently, Connolly was invited to serve on a panel at the 4th annual 3D Entertainment Summit with some of the biggest names in 3D including Bill Chapman, director of 3D production at Turner Studios, Buzz Hays, director of Sony’s 3D technology center, and Howard Postley, COO & CTO of 3ality Digital.

On the production end, Eller has installed a 50 megapixel video wall in the advanced visualization lab.

Brown Bag 

This week’s brown bag presentation featured new Telecom faculty member Paul Wright and Professor Bill Yarber from School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and The Kinsey Institute.  Their presentations focused on male pornography in the United States; what it is, how it is consumed, and what it predicts.  You can listen to the complete audio of the session here.

Paul Wright: “U.S. males and pornography, 1973-2010: Consumption, predictors, correlates.”

Paul Wright joined IU this year as Assistant Professor. Graduate education: California State University, Fullerton; University of  Arizona. Teaching interests include sex in the media, telecommunications processes and effects, media and health, and communication technology theory. Research interests include media effects and health communication, particularly sexual socialization and sexual health. Some representative publications of his work in this field have appeared in The Journal of Sex Research, the American Journal of Media Psychology, the Journal of Family Communication, and Sexuality & Culture.

Bill Yarber: “What is pornography?”

William L. Yarber has authored or co-authored over 130 scientific reports on sexual risk behavior and AIDS/STD prevention in professional journals. He and colleagues from The Kinsey Institute, the University of Kentucky, University of Guelph, and Oxford University are currently focusing on research concerning male condom use errors and problems. At the request of the U.S. federal government, Bill published the country’s first secondary school AIDS prevention curriculum, AIDS: What Young People Should Know (1987). His secondary school curriculum, STD: A Guide for Today’s Young Adults (1985), is considered to have set the standard for a new health behavior approach to school STD prevention education. He is co-author of the textbook: Yarber, W. L., Sayad, B. W., & Strong, B. (2010). Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, New York: McGraw-Hill. This text is used in over 250 colleges and university throughout the United States. Bill chaired the National Guidelines Task Force which developed the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, published by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Bill is past president of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and past chair of SIECUS board of directors. His awards include the Professional Standard of Excellence from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists; the SSSS Award of Distinguished Scientific Achievement; the Research Council Award from the American School Health Association; and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Graduate Student Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award at Indiana University.

Random Quote of the Week

“A dirty book is never a dusty one.” – Bill Yarber, at this week’s Brown Bag Presentation


Nicky Lewis:  Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land, Brown Bag

Mike Lang:  Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row, An Update on 3D@IU

Paul Wright Profile, Catching up with Katie B., Waterman’s Oxford Sabbatical, Satoko Kurita Returns

Paul Wright, Our New Professor

Walking into the office it was clear that I had entered a space of transition. Two half empty bookshelves line the north wall, while a computer desk and chair, a filing cabinet, and a small portable beach chair rounded out the remainder of the room’s contents, all pushed along the western wall underneath the window. If the room had a theme it would be empty floor space. In time the paper stacks, books, journals, coffee stains, conference souvenirs and other token markers of a professor’s office will take over, but for incoming professor Paul Wright, you have to start somewhere.

He offered me his computer chair, the room’s only proper seating and joked about getting some real furniture. I declined, choosing to settle into the small beach chair in the corner. Having grown up in Huntington Beach, Wright exudes a Southern California coolness; Amiable and polite with a consistent laid back youthfulness which will likely make him popular with students.  There is no air of self-importance here, just a genuine affability and a nose to the grindstone work ethic.

Wright spent his childhood in the heart of the skateboarding scene as it was blowing up, when major skateboard publications like Thrasher magazine and Transworld Skateboarding were just cutting their teeth. His time was spent tearing up the local schools, Huntington High and Mesa View, with the likes of numerous professional skaters. He even had a mini ramp in his backyard. For Wright, board sports run in the family. His dad introduced him to surfing, and family vacations were often taken beachside. The pier at Huntington Beach was Wright’s regular stomping ground. After the California sunset it was not uncommon for Wright and his friends to head to the pier to surf by the light of the moon.

In addition to board sports Wright played basketball in high school, and began coaching afterward. He subscribes to the classic, team-first, pass five times before you shoot style and he even developed his own shooting method known as the laser method. If mastered, the shooter should have the pinpoint accuracy of a laser. Although a professed Lakers fan, he shuns most modern NBA play styles. It would be hard not to after growing up on UCLA basketball.

Wright did his doctoral work at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Surrounded by the desert landscape, Wright frequented desert trails. In one particularly bladder-loosening moment, he spotted a mountain lion just off the main path where he was hiking. One of the hikers nearby was lucky enough to snap a picture, and both were lucky enough to survive.

Here at IU Wright is teaching two undergraduate courses, Sex in the Media and Process and Effects in addition to doing research. His legacy as a faculty member in our department, much like his office, is a blank canvas, awaiting the brushstrokes that only time and experience provides.  As I walked out of the office he left me with a piece of advice, “Never stop working.” With a mindset like that, it won’t be long until Paul Wright no longer needs an introduction.

PhD Student Katie Birge Puts Her Research Skills to Work

As many of you know, Katie Birge was a key member of the grad blog team last year.  This year she decided to take some time off to engage in applied research in the tech community.  As a PhD student in the department, her research focused on the dynamics of creative communities.  Now, she is leading the development of the Bloomington Technology Partnership (BTP) for the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).  Her adventure began as an intern this summer at Sproutbox, a local venture capital firm for startup tech companies.  Because of her interests in innovation and technology, her contacts at Sproutbox connected her to the BEDC.

Katie is most excited about her work at BEDC because of Bloomington’s unique identity as an emerging technology center.  A variety of tech companies have chosen Bloomington as their headquarters – including high tech defense organizations, green technology firms, and companies like Sproutbox, who help other tech ventures get off the ground.  Katie’s responsibility is to help brand Bloomington as a rapidly growing tech community, which she develops through social media and, more importantly, applying what she has learned about creative communities to plan events and programming for the local tech community.  She credits this to the knowledge she gained while in Telecom. “This job is like a manifesto of Harmeet’s classes all rolled into one,” Katie explains, “It’s understanding the networks of the technological community and how they all work together.”  One of her biggest challenges involves connecting technological companies who need jobs filled with individuals who can fill them.  Her hopes are to learn as much as possible about the local tech community so that pertinent concepts and initiatives can be further applied at the state level. “Based on research that I conducted last semester, I ultimately want to bring technology to small towns in the Midwest.  Bloomington is a great place to observe and learn how to do so.”

Besides heading up the Bloomington Technology Partnership, she is also working part-time as a project manager at Option Six, an e-learning company in Bloomington.  It was here that she ran into former MS student Jack Chang, who works at Option Six in interaction design. “Option Six is a great place for MS students with passion for production and design.  I had no idea that several e-learning companies are located in Bloomington and they all provide great opportunities for students in Telecom.”

While we will continue to miss Katie and her contributions to the blog, she is doing great things for the tech community in Bloomington.  With all of this amazing work, what else has she had time for outside of the office?  She started making a quilt by hand – something on the opposite side of the technological spectrum.  We’ll be sure to keep you posted on its progress!

David Waterman Returns from Oxford, UK

Believe it or not, Professor David Waterman is glad to be back in Bloomington.  This after spending the last five months in England on sabbatical at the University of Oxford.  He says “it was something to experience once in your life but I’m glad to be back home.”

David was at the Oxford Internet Institute – an interdisciplinary department dedicated to exploration of ideas and research about the World Wide Web. “Considering that my last sabbatical was spent in my basement, writing a book, my family was a bit unhappy with me,” David laughed, “So that was one reason to go.”  David further explained that the work environment was wonderful.  With nice office space and no meeting requirements, he was able to hold many interesting conversations with people throughout the university and work on a project on the economics of Internet media.  David described the academics at Oxford as wonderfully interesting and eccentric. Not only did he learn quite a bit about the economics of British media, he also walked away with a new perspective on his own work.

In his time there, David, his wife Sharon, and their 14-year-old son Matthew, lived in East Oxford.

Without a car to drive to work, David learned to appreciate biking to work every day.  The hiking and biking in and around Oxford was one of the great highlights of his stay there.  David explained that footpaths are protected by law, many of which traverse through private farms and other landscapes.  “Oxford was fantastic, an academic fairyland – full of wonderful music, churches, beautiful architecture, and villages you could visit by hike or bike.”

Outside of his adventures in Oxford, David and his family also had the opportunity to travel to Belgium, Czech Republic, Scotland, and Spain.  In addition to conferences and speaking engagements there, he did tourist things with his family, which included seeing the symphony in Prague.

Now back in town, David has carried over the biking habit he developed in Oxford over to Bloomington and now bikes to school everyday.

And what about T600?  After a five and a half-year run as the colloquium’s coordinator, he has passed that torch onto Professor Mark Deuze.  “Mark will be great, I have no doubt.  He is already doing some really interesting things with it and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Satoka Kurita Returns

Last week former doctoral student Satoka Kurita returned to Bloomington to meet her collaborators at IU School of Medicine for her current fMRI studies on video games and also plan future studies.  As a graduate student, she entered the department on the MS track, but after taking T501 with Annie Lang, she switched to the MA program in pursuit of her Ph.D with a focus on media psychology.  She graduated in 2009 with a dissertation entitled “Playing violent and non-violent video games: Physiological and emotional responses as a function of motivational activation.”  She is current an assistant professor at Osaka University of Economics.  During her Bloomington visit she met with faculty members across campus including Annie Lang and Rob Potter, and took in a few concerts at the music school. Her advice to current graduate students, “know what makes you happy when you are stressed out. It’s very important.”

Random Quote of the Week

Incoming MA student Brad Cho provided an interesting revelation during the annual welcome dinner at Graduate Director Harmeet Sawhney’s home.  Brad and his wife are currently living long distance – she is a professor at the University of Minnesota.  When asked how often he will be visiting  her during the semester, Brad replied . . .

“She will be coming down once a month.  I won’t be visiting her at all.  I have T501 this semester.”

For everyone who has taken T501: Philosophy of Inquiry in Telecommunications with Annie Lang, we know exactly what Brad is talking about.


Nicky Lewis:  Catching up with Katie B., Waterman’s Oxford Sabbatical, and Random Quote of the Week

Mike Lang: Faculty Profile: An Introduction to Paul Wright and Satoko Kurita Returns