Over the course of the last few years, the IT Division has hosted a number of technical question & answer sessions of various forms. These have ranged from formal presentations in lecture theatres to walking tours of various facilities on campus. The idea of these has been to provide an insight into some of the behind-the-scenes activities of the IT Division, and they've always been aimed at geeks -- the more tech-savvy people on campus who might be interested in knowing why things work the way they do and the nuts-and-bolts of how they work. Previous events have discussed the technology behind our Internet connection, how networking is distributed on campus, the history of the Internet in South Africa (and Rhodes' role in it), our telephone plant, etc.

Because they fall outside the normal support structures, and aren't strictly "necessary" (in the sense that nobody needs to know any of this in order to use the services we provide), we've always struggled to judge the demand for these sorts of events and to arrange them. Attendance at previous events has ranged from surprising good to completely dismal. The latter is very disheartening for us, since our staff volunteer their time (usually after hours) to arrange and present these things.

We haven't hosted anything like this for a couple of years, largely because interest seemed to wane. However, given the cyclic nature of universities and the many recent changes in technology, I'm interested in seeing if this trend has changed to and to get some idea of the current demand for this sort of thing. In the absence of a forum in which to ask this question, I've set up a mailing list rtfm@lists and invite anyone who might be interested in participating in future events like this to subscribe. My intention is to see how many people subscribe over the next couple of weeks, and use that to inform what might follow. There are no promises :-)

Note that this is the only place I intend announcing this, largely because the target audience is the sort of people who'll read this post anyway. However, if you know of people who might want to be included, please feel free to point them at this post.