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An Open Letter to Blackboard

An Open Letter to Blackboard

Blackboard_Logo.gif

Dear employee(s) of the Blackboard “Course Management System”, I imagine most days are pretty monotonous at Blackboard HQ.  Outside of the orgies with the guy who runs CAESAR, the guy who decides what hours the dining halls are open, and the guy who kept the doors of Deering Library closed for forty-two years, there isn’t much to do.  Most days probably just consist of the occasional updates to change the website’s format right after everyone feels comfortable with the old one.  That's why it’s so difficult to understand where you were today when your website stopped doing the only thing that it does, in the middle of the afternoon.

You had one job: keeping your website running in an efficient and intuitive manner.  However, since you already pretty much screwed the pooch on that job, we were all willing to settle for the next best thing: a course website that would remember which courses we were in (even if the home button didn’t work, accessing grades was impossible, and four out of the five boxes on the homepage were entirely useless to anything that anybody uses Blackboard for).  So, it hardly came as a surprise when Blackboard managed to delete thousands of students’ schedules from its system this afternoon.

I would have assumed that the worst-case scenario for you and the rest of your Blackboard staff would be the website going down for a few hours.  I would assume this, because I would assume that your website deleting the courses of nearly every student in its directory wouldn’t be a scenario at all. That’s like the website equivalent of including a “self-destruct” button on your spaceship.

In a way, I should thank you.  You’ve provided an invaluable excuse for hundreds of students who would be doing assignments for language classes tonight.  No, the excuses won’t work with professors, but it will justify a few hours of Netflix viewing.  Meanwhile, you and the rest of your motley crew of Northwestern, internet-based super villains—CAESAR, Northwestern internet and its shithead brother, Guest-Northwestern—can keep doing your thing, because, like milk brands in Soviet Russia, we have no other options.

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