Tuesday, February 17, 2004

6:30 – Enter Wendt computer lab. This is my lab, I’m here all the time. At this time of day it’s practically empty, which for Wendt means 6 people, 7 if you count me, on a total of 30 computers. This part of Wendt is almost always empty, partly because the engineering students (Wendt is the engineering library), all have special computer labs in this building with more expensive software and bigger monitors. There are no women using these machines.

6:33 – Just across from me, a guy with a Nalgene bottle reaches down to check his cell phone. Part of the reason I come here a lot is that it’s probably the most quiet computer lab on campus. Nearly half the people in this library actually leave the building to use their phones, which I consider a pretty astonishing number these days.

6:45 – Behind me, a guy in a black leather jacket packs up his things and leaves. It takes him about 45 seconds to get everything together. Eject zip disk, detach headphones, put everything in backpack, put on hat and coat, and walk away.

6:56 – A guy in a green jacket sits down behind me. It takes him about 5 minutes to get set up. Log in. Attach headphones. Insert CD. Check Email. CD boots up in Windows Media Player. Find Song. Minimize Media Player. Continue checking email. Finally, he must have finished, because he went to a site titled “American History 102.” I assume this is why he’s here.

6:59 – Two people walk by chatting and Nalgene bottle looks up at them, watching them pass. One guy keeps walking, the other peels off into the lab to talk with another guy in a blue sweatshirt. They whisper quietly for about three minutes. The guy walks away.

7:02 – A big guy with blond hair walks in and sits down.

7:05 – Another blond guy sits down. I get up and position myself among the bookshelves, a place where I can see his monitor, but his back is to me, so he can’t see me.

7:10 – I return. I would have observed longer, but how long can you watch a guy check email? Anyway, one interesting thing I saw was that he sat down, logged in, signed on to WiscMail, opened a message, then took his coat off. What if there was no message? Would he still have taken his coat off? Anyway, on my way back I did a quick survey of what everyone was doing. There are now seven people other than me in the lab, all men, all aged approximately 18-25.
Person 1 (Gray Hat): Some sort of message board, I think he was looking at a band’s website or something.
Person 2 (Brown Sweater): Yahoo Games: Literati
Person 3 (WiscMail): WiscMail
Person 4 (Big Blond): Microsoft Word
Person 5 (Nalgene): Instant Messaging, with Microsoft Word in the background.
Person 6 (Pen Mouth): Microsoft Word
Person 7 (Headphones): American History 102: Paper Topics
7:16 – Nalgene Bottle gets up, leaves for several minutes, and returns (appx 7:18). I assume he went to the bathroom, and briefly wonder if he washed his hands. I hate public keyboards for that reason.

7:19 – A guy in a red Wisconsin Hoodie sits down. He takes off his coat, then logs in. My UW, then to WiscMail.

7:22 – I do another quick survey of the place and find out somebody sat down while I wasn’t looking. He’s on Yahoo Mail. I walk around to figure out what everyone is doing.
Grey Hat: Still the message board. FFForums it’s called.
Brown Sweater: Still Yahoo Literati
New Guy: Yahoo Mail
Red Hoodie: WiscMail
WiscMail: MSN Messenger open over Microsoft Word
Big Blond: Microsoft Word
Nalgene: Still the Microsoft Word and IM
Pen Mouth: Microsoft Word
Headphones: American History 102: Civil War to the Present

7:30 – Another guy sits down, blue jacket. He keeps it on.

Final Tally: There are now 10 people other than me using the computer lab, all men aged 18-25. A total of 11 people have used the lab in the last hour, none of them women.

Paul Medenwaldt

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