Project 365: #3

Photo opp during lunch with Craig

Taken: October 26, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

The Board of the Center was meeting on Thursday and Friday. On Friday, Board members had lunch with Center Fellows, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with mentor Craig Calhoun. To social scientists Craig should need no introduction. To others, I’m not sure it will mean a lot to find out that he’s the President of the Social Science Research Council. (To be sure, the SSRC plays an important role in the social sciences, but it is not clear how widely it is known otherwise.)

In any case, he’s a very careful and interesting thinker and I had the good fortune to meet him exactly ten years ago when he moved to New York to chair the Sociology Department at NYU just as I was starting my graduate studies there. For those who don’t know the details of my grad career, I left a year later to join the Sociology PhD program at Princeton. However, I continued to stay in touch with Craig.

He was already thinking carefully about the social aspects of information technologies in the 1990s, which made conversations with him particularly interesting for me. One of the first related pieces I read in this domain was his paper on Communities without Propinquity Revisited [pdf]. Since he’s been thinking about these issues for quite a while, I’ve always found him to be a very helpful sounding board for ideas about my work. He kindly agreed to chat with me about where my thinking on my book is these days and gave me some helpful feedback.*

One of Craig’s unusual abilities – that is, it is way too rare among academics – is his capacity to make meaningful comments without elaborating on points at unnecessary lengths. I also find him to be one of very few sociologists who uses “big” sociological terms in a way that actually makes the discussion more meaningful and succinct rather than derailing the conversation and suggesting pretentiousness. It’s such a pleasure to engage in discussions with him.

It was great to have him here and thus my Project 365 photo dedicated to our lunch.

The photo is posted with Craig’s permission. Here’s a more traditiona shot.

* I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that I’m working on a book. You’ll be hearing more about that here as things move forward, I’m sure.:)

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