Local: May 2008 Archives


I was one of the judges for UC Berkeley School of Information’s 2008 Master’s final projects competition this afternoon, helping pick the best among the projects in the information systems implementation track. We saw several really interesting student projects. Most of the presenters held up under the heat and stress, and I enjoyed seeing the level of attention to detail that the best project teams brought to the table. Thankfully, the judging wasn’t all that difficult; Peter Merholz, Jeff Ubois, and I came to a decision pretty quickly. The winning project team will be informed during their commencement ceremony tomorrow.

Seeing the students getting ready to graduate was bittersweet. I took a leave of absence from the school’s masters program nine years ago. Getting into the program, then called the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS), was all I wanted to do with my life. I was admitted as part of the second entering class, but eventually left school to try to launch a startup around a class project that was gaining traction online. Though it was clearly the right choice to make, I still feel like I gave up on something really important. I’m glad to be able to be a part of the school’s extended family, through links with past professors, fellow alumni, and current staff.

Kriss Worthington: Democrat for California State Assembly

On Saturday, I went precinct-walking for Kriss Worthington, a Berkeley city councilperson now running for the California State Assembly. I went door to door around town, talking to neighbors about Kriss and his campaign.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Very few people want to talk about political candidacies on a Saturday afternoon.
  • Of those that do, most don’t follow the state assembly race.
  • Local politics matter; one man told me he’d never vote for Kriss, because of his position on a local park issue.
  • Voters are interested in more than data. I found myself deviating from the suggested talk points on issues and endorsements, and talking about why Kriss made an impact on me and why I was out walking for him. I felt like I swayed several likely voters during a couple of long conversations.
  • It felt really good to know I wasn’t alone, as I met several other intended Kriss voters.

It was my first time precinct-walking, and I was paired up with a sixtysomething white woman. As the day went on, we realized we shared something more than our support for the same candidate — a common address. It turned out that she used to live in our house, renting the condo right underneath ours for several years through the 1960s; she cared for several of the trees still in our backyard. We enjoyed catching each other up on the building and the neighborhood, and made plans to meet up again. Small world.


Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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This page is a archive of entries in the Local category from May 2008.

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