I left Texas A&M University in 1988, and went back home to Philadelphia in 1989 with my collection of literary writings and the aspiration of pursuing my goals as a poet, playwright, and essayist. Throughout the early nineties, I participated in many open and featured poetry readings in Philadelphia and New York [Listen: Heckle Slam, 2MB; Nuyorican Poets Café, 5MB <explicit>; Painted Bride Art Center, 9MB; Poetry Live, 3MB]. In 1990, I had my first full-length play produced, Something like the Weather, at the Theater Center Philadelphia. From there, I continued with a couple of performance pieces (Therapy [Listen , 8MB] <explicit> and I Was a Mutant Student [Listen , 9MB] <explicit>) that were produced in Philadelphia and New York as well.
While employed as the Audience Services Manager at the Painted Bride Art Center (1992-94), I wrote art reviews for the New Art Examiner (Chicago, 1993-94) and ART PAPERS (Atlanta, 1994-95). (NOTE: a fictional account of this experience, touring galleries for review, can be found in the novella Change Hell [listen , 1.5MB]). My largest success was the interview of Poet Ntozake Shange. The interview appeared in Poets and Writers (New York, May/June 1993).
My literary aspirations took a significant turn when I presented my first essay abroad at the International Society for the Study of European Ideas conference (Graz, Austria 1994). The essay was entitled "Living within Multimanifestations." This essay was my manifesto for living paradigms: a means to study and interpret culture and art from a local as well as global perspective. I received a lot of positive feedback from other participants at the conference, and was encouraged to continue with my writing. I continued to do so. The problem was that I had been laid off from the Painted Bride due to budgetary cutbacks as a result of decreased NEA funding. In order for me to continue writing and going to conferences (Association for Cultural Studies, Semiotic Society of America), I realized very quickly that I needed to find a full time opportunity with a higher probability of job security and with a salary that would cover my expenses.
I worked as the Program Coordinator of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women DREXEL UNIVERSITY: College of Medicine (1995-98). I was able to make good use of the organizational skills I obtained while working at the Painted Bride. My willingness to learn new skills helped me to quickly adapt to this professional setting. The Director of the ELAM Program encouraged her staff to incorporate CQI (continuous quality improvement) and TQM (total quality management) paradigms when working throughout the day. This was an excellent exercise for me because of my interest in "living paradigms." While working, I began to study how I completed tasks and office processes, and how these processes related to the institution's policies and regulations. I became an efficient bureaucrat. This experience coupled with my writing served as interesting theoretical topics for the essays that I presented at conferences.
Three years later, being an efficient bureaucrat began to loose its appeal. The Internet was burgeoning, new and exciting. There was an opportunity for me to make a lateral move and work as a web developer on a web-based multimedia online lecture series, Virtual Grand Rounds (1998-2000). Unbeknownst to me, this was my first step to becoming an Internet/New Media Consultant. I had to quickly learn a new set of skills, but I thought the rewards would justify the intensity of the project. The project was funded for two years. When the team presented the online lecture series at the NIST Just-Enough Just-in-Time Education Project conference, we were met with respect for completing a job well done.
From this positive experience, I jumped into to the dot.com world of Internet/New Media Consulting. I had a firm understanding of workflow processes as related to website design. For a year-and-a-half (2000-01), I worked as an Information Architect and Management Consultant. As an Information Architect, I worked with clients to define, functionally specify (prototype), and document business processes for human computer interaction via the Internet: considerations given to user (customer) experience and interactive design. As a Management Consultant, I worked with senior management to conduct market and product analyses as well as write executive summaries, which helped the executive team enhance their service offerings.
Consequently, my research took a decided turn. The books I read during this time dealt with New Economy and Cultural issues (e.g. globalization, knowledge management, online community building, value-add services, business and revenue models). No amount of reading, however, would have prepared any individual working in this arena for the swift downturn of events. As dot.com companies turned into dot-bomb investments, budgets and jobs were cut. After two successive layoffs within a year, I thought it was time for me to regroup. (NOTE: a fictional account of this experience can be found in the comedy DotCompany.)
I have taken my skills and experience back to my aspirations within the Arts. I have worked as the Membership Services Assistant at WRTI, Temple University Public Radio October 2001 - July 2003. Recent accomplishments above and beyond my daily responsibilities include standardizing and documenting Membership Services business processes, documenting technical instructions for database software, and project managing database software upgrades.
The Membership Services department was recognized for the 2003 Station Development Award - Membership at the Public Radio Development and Marketing Exchange Conference sponsored by the Development Exchange Inc, and National Public Radio. As of August 2003, I have been promoted to Technology Manager.
Meanwhile, I am regaining my literary focus by continuing with research, writing poetry, and reworking my manifesto (and collection of essays) into a treatise.
My latest project is Eat Ingredients--a podcast and website dedicated to anecdotal cooking as expressed through my poetry and foodstuff listings.
© by Edward
K. Brown II
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