Tag Archives: rochester

#hewebroc: a sort of homecoming.

So, this is happening:

… and if you work in anything involving higher education and the web, you should mark your calendar for June 27 for the HighEdWeb Rochester regional, aka #hewebroc. A bunch of great speakers, engaging companions and fresh ideas … all for just $30! Or, if you answer our Call for Proposals and become one of those speakers, we will waive your registration fee.

I’ve attended two previous regionals, at Cornell and Vassar, and those events were very informative, well-organized and excellent networking opportunities. Even though this has come together fairly quickly, I’d paraphrase Margaret Mead’s adage and say that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens (webizens?) can change the world … or at least how we use the world wide web. And that it takes place in Rochester, the birthplace of what is now the huge and influential HighEdWeb annual conference, is an especially nice touch.

The Call for Proposals opens Monday, so give that some thought. And block June 27 for a low-cost (hard to beat $30!) informative conference full of awesome #highered web folks. Hope to see you then!

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yesterday’s newspapers = tomorrow’s geosocial community builders?

It’s no secret the entities once known as newspapers continue to transform into multimedia, multipurpose organizations. But can they also use new tools — especially geosocial media — to lead the process of online community-building? The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s score! app raises such intriguing possibilities.

While the company did not return an interview request from this lowly blogger, this interview on WXXI and this Nieman Journalism Lab story provide interesting context — the project started as an alternate-reality partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology, then had another short civic-engagement run around the midterm elections. It relaunched a few months ago as a full-fledged social gaming site with location-based challenges.

“[T]here’s this huge community in Rochester that we can send people to all these cool places they don’t know about,” project developer Mark Newell told WXXI. “We have reporters and contributors that are trying to get more stuff out there. … We have this amazing cache of knowledge that I think we’re trying to get out in more ways than just writing newspaper articles.”

Sign-up takes less than a minute if you connect via your Facebook ID, and the site is pretty easy to navigate. You can pursue missions, which may include logging onto the score! mobile site for checkins like any geosocial app. Missions point users to both known places and hidden gems, such as New In Town with Driardonna Roland by the D&C’s young professionals beat reporter or Ashish’s Sport and Spice by an intern on local spicy food and sports hangouts.

And score! represents a merging of user with content and, for the D&C, revenue potential. The missions tie in advertisers as destinations, while giving users a chance to discover local flavor (perhaps literally), all the while promoting Rochester as a vibrant community. Quite a brilliant concept, really. User activity seems decent, albeit not overwhelming, and it’s hard to predict a development curve.

The question at the heart of this is: Could colleges or other businesses create a similar homegrown solution? (By which I DON’T mean: Drop a huge chunk of change to an app developer.) The D&C benefits from economies of scale — they already have a large staff of content providers, backend development support for their website and a well-used communication vehicle. Some colleges have those advantages as well.

Colleges establishing their own rich geosocial applications and networks — to better connect students to each other and their institutions — would require not just resources, but a paradigm shift in some traditional roles and expectations. But hey, if print media, (erroneously) considered dinosaurs by some, can jump on this kind of innovation, why shouldn’t other industries consider it too?

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thursday travelogue: rochester’s rising south wedge.

The reborn South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester, N.Y., shows that sometimes when you want to wake up a community, you just need a little coffee.

Boulder Coffee's tasteful decor.

Boulder Coffee's tasteful decor.

And while the Boulder Coffee Co. didn’t single-handedly revitalize the neighborhood from its once-seedy reputation, it’s a cornerstone location from which regular live entertainment, a farmer’s market and festivals radiate. I visited in the middle of the Boulder Festival, featuring bands, an eclectic selection of vendors, flavorful food and drink, and a sample of the diverse neighborhood’s residents and customers. A caterer called Freshwise — with a slogan of If It Ain’t New York State, It Ain’t On My Plate — served great food that also reminds us to buy local. Young ladies with hula hoops, maturing urban hipsters with families and the occasional hairy gent who dances to everything gathered with a friendly vibe flowing.

The Boulder Festival on a Saturday afternoon.

The Boulder Festival on a Saturday afternoon.

OK, I’ll admit a bias to hoping this particular neighborhood succeeds. A former intern of mine when I worked in the festival business and his wife, both Oswego grads, played a major role turning the neighborhood into the hip place it is today. They started with Boulder Coffee and now own some 30 buildings in the area, many of them reclamation projects. Throughout South Wedge — which has, one should note, its own Ning — you’ll find funky eateries and bars, bakeries, second-hand stores, salons, a seller of parts for historic homes, parks and a planning committee that advises local doings. All things urbanists would say makes for a great community, so many of which happened organically.

[Hula] Hooping it up.

(Hula) Hooping it up at the Boulder Festival.

But you look at vibrant revived communities and they often circle back to a few dreamers, often artistic types. SoHo started with artists squatting in abandoned buildings and evolved into a place whose cool attracted everyone. Atlanta’s Little Five Points, Fremont in Seattle, Buffalo’s Allentown district and countless other neighborhoods owe their pedigree to folks who wanted to do their own thing, create something different and cultivate a living style envied from miles away.

The many historic homes in the neighborhood have a business catering to their particular needs.

The many historic homes in the neighborhood have a business catering to their particular needs.

When I look at cookie-cutter subdivisions that can’t draw tenants and compare them to vibrant neighborhoods who celebrate the spirit of individuality, it’s no surprise the latter attract more attention. And South Wedge is one such place, a surging hot spot that oozes urban cool.

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not missing the forest for the tweets.

When I was an arts and entertainment editor, I couldn’t help noticing that covering any concert, play or festival — stopping to take notes and mentally write the piece — took away from the enjoyment. And sometimes I wonder if stopping to tweet, post photos or status-update that which is happening also detracts from appreciating the experiences at hand.

This Saturday, a long trip to Rochester and a very full day, was an example. The trip featured lunch with fellow Brockport grad Kelly Sabetta of Betta Book Publishing at Jay’s Diner, meeting @LoriPA of the University of Rochester, a visit to the Boulder Festival in South Wedge and the headline event of a concert by The Tragically Hip in the Highland Park Bowl. What I didn’t do was describe every part of the day on Twitter or Facebook. Oh sure, I posted some photos and did the occasional tweet, but generally doing things, being in the moment, took precedence over describing the action less than 140 characters at a time.

Hip lead singer Gordon Downie could have stayed dry, but chose to get drenched with the fans.

Hip lead singer Gordon Downie could have stayed dry, but chose to get drenched with the fans.

Earlier in the day, I was moving too fast to pause and pull out the iPhone to post. Later, the weather cooperated by not cooperating. After The Tragically Hip’s first few songs, the rain started coming down, harder and harder. Harder still is the ability to take photos in a deluge, let alone with a drenched iPhone as the rain soaked through any and every pocket. Even getting something poignant like Hip lead singer Gordon Downie choosing to come out from under the canopy to play in a downpour and show solidarity with the fans became difficult.

But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with putting away the iPhone and enjoying the concert. Which is what I did. So without all the picture-taking and tweeting and Facebooking, I could just concentrate on having fun. And perhaps that’s the way it should be.

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