Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do Any People Actually Read Their Alumni Magazines?

The latest edition of my college alumni magazine (Duke Magazine) arrived this week.

I don't know about you, but up until fairly recently, I just skimmed past everything else to get to the alumni notes (a notable exception being last month's profile of Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely [PhD '98]).

However, lately, I've noticed a dearth of alumni notes from the Class of '93. I guess there's not that much new to report: It's been 15 years, and everybody (else) is either mired in middle management, shepherding the kids through middle school, slaving away towards partner, working through the wreckage of their starter marriages, or whatever else it is that adults are supposed to do.

So I've been paying more attention to the articles.

Not the campus life stuff -- for that, I check in on the campus newspaper fairly regularly (mainly to chuckle, condescendingly, at whatever trivial campus concerns the undergrads are worked up about, or to cluck at the misfortunes of the football team -- though I note they beat Navy last week, and JMU a few weeks prior).

I knew the magazine was "award-winning," but I'd always just assumed it was in that "everyone-gets-a-trophy" self-congratulatory way. So I was surprised how some of the articles were kind of... excellent.

In this most recent issue, there was a piece on how reference librarians are adapting to support scholarship in a world of IM, Google, and Wikipedia ("Brave New World" -- note that they still haven't figured out how to make Facebook work for them in a meaningful way).

And for those of you who aren't in the navel-gazing world of social media, there was a piece on alum Bill Werber, a 100-year-old former Major League Baseball player, who got a golden shower from Babe Ruth and played bridge against Lou Gehrig ("Oldest Living Major League Ballplayer Tells All"). It was a good read. And this is coming from a guy who thinks that baseball is only marginally less boring than golf.

Anyway, good writing is good writing, whether it's a literary journal ("Boring!"), ad copy, or a trade magazine.

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