Monday, January 11, 2010

In Memoriam, Scott Swanson

Today Scott Swanson, a dear and brilliant colleague at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy passed away.  Scott graduated from IMSA back in 1990, and until recently, served on our Information Technology team.  Having battled lifelong health problems, he finally ran out of cures.

But he never ran out of friends. During his last days in the hospital he was constantly supported by family, alumni, staff and others who loved him.

One of the things I will remember about Scott is his uncanny and lightning quick digital information fluency.  I'm pretty sure it came easily to him. As part of the incoming student orientation, Scott would ask for a volunteer. After getting the victim's name, he would proceed to "stalk" them online. It was always a memorable event as Scott was able quickly to compile a profile based on information about the student gathered from the Web. Scott knew keywords and where to look. Students were often surprised (or shocked) at everything he found.

It was always a good lesson to be careful what you post.

In Scott's memory, I'm going to call this Swanson's Cyberstalking Technique. If you want to get and hold your students' attention using search skills, this is a guaranteed winner. Fortunately, many students today have an active Web presence, so it works pretty well. Google their name. Find their Facebook page. Look for keywords of interest and follow the clues.  There's usually a pretty big trail to follow. That's how I found Scott's picture, above.

This is pretty much the same thing one could do when evaluating an author. Thanks for the great example, Scott. We'll miss you dearly.


Bill said...

Scott was my neighbor in 1504 my Sophomore year at IMSA. We weren't incredibly close, but we ran in many of the same circles, and his presence was palpable in many of the activities that made IMSA home for me: The ITL, hanging out with Ken and Uge and Wiga, singing along with Steve Blunt, making Ramen in the microwave (which mysteriously burned out from a 60-minute potato bake that year). We revered the upper class - they were the one of the last classes to have known the charter class - but Scott never made us feel inferior. In reading this little obit, I was struck by how much of an influence he had on me as a 15-year-old kid, living on my own for the first time at. I will miss him.

Parker said...

Bill, I'm glad to hear the story. I remember him telling us about the times all of you constructed a network in the school behind security's back. He was a legend in the school, it would not be what it was if it were not for Scott Swanson. You may have been mentioned in some of those stories.

Carl Heine said...

Here's a link to the tribute page to Scott on IMSA's site:

There's also a more recent photo there.