Conway delivers informatics commencement address

Associate professor Paul Conway delivered the commencement address to the graduating informatics class of 2013 on May 3. As one of the six faculty members who designed the informatics specialization, Paul noted with pride the growth of the program over the six years it has existed at Michigan.

In addition to congratulating the students, his talk ranged over a variety of topics including reflections on his own career, his own form of mid-life crisis, the surveillance society, and the lack of true anonymity online.

Here’s an excerpt from his address:

“I had imagined that my mid-life crisis would come in the form of a red convertible, or fantasies of an illicit affair, or tattoos, or piercings. Instead, mine has come with an intense and nearly unquenchable desire for that birthday not to be recognized. I do not want to blow out 60 candles. I do not want a free cappuccino from Starbucks; I do not want my Facebook friends to make corny jokes on my wall or send me little virtual bouquets or glasses of beer. I do not want mailings from the AARP. I don’t want samples of Viagra.

“But it is impossible (right?) to hold back the march of time; and equally impossible to don the cloak of anonymity in the Infosphere that demands the date of birth as one of two foundational cornerstones (along with any unique number) of our identity. We are born and then we search, right?”