I’ve lived in Boston since the summer of 2011. It’s been my home for almost two years. Boston is an awesome city. I love its people, places, sights, and sounds.
When news broke (via Twitter) that bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon, my heart sank. I was sitting in a coffee shop. Out of state, but not out of touch. I felt an adrenaline rush go through my body. The kind of rush that happens when you first find out that something awful has happened and you want to help, to assist, to be there for those in need.
Knowing that several of my friends were most-likely going to be watching the race, I immediately started checking Facebook and Twitter for posts/tweets. Several of my friends had already checked-in to let people know that they were okay.
This past Monday in Boston was a horrible day for so many people. Lives were lost. Lives will be forever affected.
Boston is a great city. Its people are resilient. It’s a city that is made stronger by the acts of caring and courage that took place on Monday. I’m still out of town for another week or so and my heart is heavy. I’m still processing. Still working my way through intense emotion. Empathy reigns.
The people of Boston are showing the best parts of their spirit this week: hope, love, kindness, and strength.
Dear Boston, you are in my thoughts.
Part of the experience of being a keynote speaker at the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values is that you get to do an interview with the Character Clearinghouse at Florida State University. The questions from Pamela Crosby, the editor of the site (as well as the Journal of College and Character), were stellar. Here’s an excerpt:
Why should students care about their digital identity?
Students should care about their digital identity for a variety of reasons. As members of a campus community, it is important for students to know that their online actions can have impact. Student Conduct offices are no longer just concerned with what happens in the brick-and-mortar campus spaces. Additionally, most students are pursuing future careers, and higher education is their launch pad. Social media posts can show up in search engine queries. Companies are no longer just looking at your resume. They want to know what you are doing (and saying) online too. Now, that’s more of the punitive side of things. Digital identity is about much more than just worrying about its effects on future employment or conduct violations. Students with a fluent grasp of social media can accelerate their learning, develop meaningful connections with peers, and grow their professional network. What we do online can affect our face-to-face interactions…and vice versa.
Why should higher education be concerned about students’ digital identity?
I think that when the original work on “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” first became popular, it caused an educational disconnect. Administrators and staff at institutions seemingly (without a lot of critical discourse) bought the rhetoric that students were digitally savvy. In fact, students are no better at creating and cultivating their digital identity than anyone else. We’re all digital students in the sense that we are constantly learning how to use the social tools while they are constantly evolving. Schools need to be intentional about how they incorporate digital identity development into their educational constructs. Social media are not a trend or a fad that are going to someday evaporate. We need to be proactive with teaching our students how to build their digital identity versus being reactive whenever they post something that we wish hadn’t made it onto the web. Like anything in education, critical conversations about digital identity are essential. It’s like that movie, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” we have to jump in, create our own digital identity, and educate our students too.
Read the rest of the interview at the Character Clearinghouse site.
His name is Justin Bieber…and I am a fan of his music.
Bieber is talented. He’s also 18. What was your world like when you were 18? I bet it didn’t involve performing in front of thousands of screaming fans, riding around in private jets, and being endlessly covered by the media. Bieber sings, dances, and plays at least two instruments (drums and guitar). Can you do that? I know that I can’t. Bieber was the kid from Canada who posted some videos on YouTube and then was “discovered” by Usher. Okay, that story sounds a bit too polished for me, but the stratospheric rise of the Biebs has been impressive.
When Bieber’s acoustic album came out, I downloaded a couple tracks, and found them to be just as enjoyable as his other jams. I posted on Facebook that “acoustic Bieber is just as good as non-acoustic Bieber.” Several people took my comment to mean that I didn’t like his music. Not true…I’m a fan. Talent is talent. Bieber has it. I love pop music. Sometimes we just need to take a pint of musical ice-cream out of the fridge and dive into it with a spoon. Pop music is about enjoyment. It’s not going to stand up to critical review in the same way that other forms of music do. With Bieber, what’s the point of “hating on” his music? His songs are catchy. He’s maturing right in front of us. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to form an identity in the fish bowl environment that he resides. His world is about having access to everything. Unfettered access to all sorts of good, bad, and ugly. At eighteen! I’m sure his handlers do their best to provide limits as best as they can, but c’mon… It’s a setup. We wring the talent out of someone like Bieber. There are individuals and organizations that make tremendous amounts of money off of his talent. Success has its expense.
For me, it’s not about whether or not Justin Bieber enjoys the same sort of career longevity as other musicians/performers. Enjoy his music. Stop hating. What kind of world do we live in where people hate on a kid because they don’t like the persona that the media presents? In many ways, what we know and see of Bieber is manufactured. I can’t imagine the pressures that that must exert on someone. To be something on stage, and in the studio, while trying to figure out what it means to be someone….at eighteen. Keep singing Bieber.
In my attempt to be connected to all things related to higher education, I did something that has had interesting ramifications. One day while perusing Facebook, I liked the University of Phoenix page. I figured that it would nice to see what they were up to and didn’t think twice about it.
Well, always remember that what you do on Facebook can come back to you. Seth Odell, a good friend and interactive marketer for Southern New Hampshire University, sent me a text message today. He asked why I was supporting “team Phoenix.” Little did I know that Phoenix has been running a sponsored ad campaign that shows my “like” of their Facebook page on my friend’s feed. Now, it could just be as simple as Phoenix showing my Facebook connections that I liked their page, or I wonder if Phoenix is using my brand without my permission. I write for Inside Higher Ed and do a fair amount of speaking and consulting within higher education. If that’s the case, I’m not a fan of how that looks or feels. It’s a good reminder that liking something on Facebook can be used by advertisers to promote their brand. While this certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, it is the first time that I’ve had to think about my personal brand in this particular context.
If you’re ever in need of a quick and easy way to visualize the growth of your followers on Twitter, look no further than the Wildfire Social Media Monitor. While your total number of followers on Twitter is really more of a vanity metric, the Wildfire tool is a great way to see if certain accounts have been artificially increasing their following.
According to the graph, on April 28th, 2010, I had 1,586 followers on Twitter. Whenever a client asks me to help them grow their followers on Twitter, I usually talk about providing quality content and engaging with their audience…over time, your follower count will grow on its own.
One of my favorite times of the day is when I go into the kitchen to make coffee. I associate a lot of different memories with coffee. My Grandpa Clyde used to drink an entire thermos of it on a daily basis. Coffee was part of a ritual. When I make coffee, I enjoy the process of making it as much as I enjoy the actual beverage. Measuring out just the right amount of beans into the hopper of my burr grinder, filling up the hot water kettle, prepping the French press, putting sugar and milk into my 20 ounce coffee mug…these are all parts of a break in my day where I get to reflect on what I’ve done pre-coffee and what I plan on doing after things have brewed and the timer beeps that the moment is complete. It’s a meditative, reflective experience. Looking out the window in the kitchen and letting my mind pause. These are the moments in the day that create space for creativity, stress reduction, and an enhanced clarity of thought. Making coffee. Sure, I love the bump that I get from the caffeine…the warmth that it conveys…but most of all, I love making coffee because it makes me take a pause. I appreciate those pauses.
“You might not remember us, but we met in the 90s.”
Microsoft’s new ad for Internet Explorer wants to capitalize on our collective nostalgia. Hungry Hippos, floppy disks, Oregon Trail, snap bracelets, bowl haircuts, and slow Internet access. Microsoft just doesn’t understand that while we may fondly remember the items in the ad, we are never ever going to associate Internet Explorer in the same vein. The end of the ad shows Microsoft’s Surface tablet as if browsing via IE on Surface could bring back some sort of mythological experience of yesterday. I loved the ad until the big reveal. All of those memories that it triggers somehow feel betrayed by a company that is completely out of touch with those of us who exist in 2013. A companion website was created to coincide with the ad: “The Browser You Loved to Hate.” Why would they ever want to remind us that “back in the day,” we rushed to Netscape and warmly embraced Firefox. Anything but IE was better than suffering through the default browser on a Windows PC. In 2013, Chrome and Safari have captured our clicks. Microsoft has tried dubstep in previous ads to appeal to our cool sides while this ad appeals to memories that aren’t exactly friendly to good old Microsoft.
With the closing tagline, “Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer,” Microsoft is asking us to do something that feels hollow. Why should we reconnect with something that even Microsoft acknowledges that we “used to hate?”
The most-commented, most-discussed post that I’ve ever written for Inside Higher Ed was last year’s “Where Are the Radical Practitioners” entry. It quickly collected far more comments than I had expected, and I made the decision not to answer any of them due to the epic amount of time that it would’ve taken to constructively engage with all of them. Out of frustration and needing to vent, I did write up a quick “pseudo addendum” and posted it to this blog as “Radical and Student Affairs.”
What happened after that was an intriguing journey as I was asked to talk about being radical in student affairs at the Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference. In hindsight, I don’t think I really needed the social media aspect of my Big Ideas talk. Next time!
Unlike any other conference that I spoke at last year, 99% of Big Ideas featured speakers weren’t employed in higher education. It made for a fascinating event. My favorite part of the Big Ideas experience was meeting so many cool speakers. Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere and I had a great chat about our appreciation for retro Saucony sneakers. Amber Rose Johnson gave a slam poetry reading that gave me chills. And then there was Dayna Steele…well, she’s a legit rockstar! The full slide deck and video of my talk is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
So this post is amazingly late. However, here it is… Last summer, I was asked to be on a social media panel for Mashable’s Social Media Day in Boston. The topic for the panel was on building brands with social media. Taking place at Boston University, the panel was moderated by BU’s Steve Quigley. It was my first time working with Steve and I was thoroughly impressed. He’s a PR professor at BU and I hope his students soak up as much of his wisdom as they possibly can. Joining me on the panel were Tamsen Webster and Tyler Cyr. Tamsen knows everything about social media. I’m serious. Tyler does social media for Dunkin’ Donuts…I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’m a Starbucks guy. I was thrilled to be representing higher education and to just listen to all of the knowledge that Steve, Tamsen, and Tyler dropped at Social Media Day Boston. Remember, if you go to a party, engage in a conversation..the same thing goes with social media. The full video from our conversation is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Wow. The last post on my blog was in July. JULY! How did this happen? Well, it turns out that being a speaker/writer/consultant is a full-time job (x) 1000. According to my TripIt.com account, in 2012 I took 44 trips and was on the road for 148 days. Coming up, I plan on putting together a post that lists all of the trips/cities from last year. I’ve never traveled so much in my entire life. Whenever anyone asks me if enjoy traveling, I usually respond with “sometimes” or “it depends.” My enjoyment of travel tends to be modulated by my fellow travelers. It’s always more fun when people on flights are happy. Trust me.
One of my foci for 2013 is to be more mindful of my time when it comes to blogging. Writing is something that I did a lot of last year, but it wasn’t always on my terms. As much as I love writing my Student Affairs and Technology blog for Inside Higher Ed, sometimes, it’s tough to generate content when you’re always on the go. Additionally, I realize that many of you are coming over to this blog because of something that I shared on Twitter or because of a Google search for a variety of topics. And, when you get to the blog, you’re probably wondering, “hey, where’s the new stuff?!” Well, here’s the deal, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to post, ponder, write, question, and get my thoughts on “the page.”
Now, I realize that saying and doing are two different things. To that end, I think I’ll reduce my consumption of television programs, minimize my time on Facebook (we’ll see how that goes!), and be mindful of how writing for the love of writing energizes me. There’s always time for writing and thinking.