Desert of My Real Life

About Me

My name is Cathie LeBlanc.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College, and a Master’s and PhD in Computer Science from Florida State University. I have previously worked as a waitress, a pizza deliverer, a grant writer and fund-raiser and a software engineer. Since 1992, however, I have taught at the university level, first in several Computer Science departments and currently in a Communication and Media Studies department at a small university in Northern New England. The move from Computer Science to Communication and Media Studies is not as drastic as it might seem at first. As a computer scientist, I was most interested in questions of how technology can be used to aid us and how its use hinders us. I’m still interested in those questions. I now study these issues from the context of digital media, especially games and online social networks. I am particularly interested in the rhetoric of these digital media, that is, how those media communicate their messages and persuade us to think and act in particular ways.

In the last few years, my University has become a leader in re-imagining higher education. Through these conversations, I have become increasingly interested in the role that General Education plays in a typical student’s college education. Because of this interest, I will be taking on the position of General Education Coordinator starting in July 2018. I’m excited about the possibilities and am using this blog throughout my sabbatical to explore some of the ideas that I have about the value of strong General Education programs.

This blog is inspired by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. The desert of the real is Baudrillard’s phrase that explains our lives today. The phrase was made popular by Morpheus in The Matrix, when he shows Neo that the world that Neo thought was real is instead constructed by machines that are trying to keep humans under control (which Baudrillard would call a deterrence). Throughout the Matrix trilogy, Neo learns to use the constructs of that world to his advantage. So this blog is about the role that technology plays in my life in particular and in society in general. Is technology under our control or are we under its control?

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