Monthly Archives: April 2012

#140cuse in review: talk about the passion.

If one word resonated across the inaugural edition of the fast-moving #140cuse conference, it was passion. Sure, the conference of mostly 10-minute presentations at Syracuse University focused on social media and the real-time web, but the passion of presenters and speakers for communicating, for connecting and for humanity came through loud and clear. Some examples:

  • George Couros, an education leader at the Parkland School Division in Alberta, discussed “140 Characters of Kindness,” including a heartbreaking story about how many people connected with him when his beloved dog died. Just as relationships are the foundation of good schools, he said, hashtags are the foundation of community on Twitter. “If you think the web’s just a place to ‘look up stuff,’ you’re missing the best part,” the connections, he noted.
  • Harrison Kratz, the community manager for the MBA program at the University of North Carolina, said things like the battle against SOPA, Occupy Wall Street and 2008 election provided examples of how to rally people behind causes they believe in. He noted that while leaders are important, without the passion of followers no change is possible.
  • Jeff Pulver, founder of the #140conf movement and VoIP pioneer, discussed “Being Vulnerable in the Era of the Real-Time Web.” Noting his passion for ham radio, he said connecting — not technology — is what drives social media. He believes listening, connecting, sharing and engaging are the four most important actions and that emotion is the medium’s truest currency.
  • And Amanda Hite of Talent Revolution closed the conference in style, urging attendees to pull together their most passionate advocates to do a one-day focused call to action. She discussed her 30-day lifestyle challenge via social media which picked up an amazing number of participants. She charged everyone at the conference to tweet something they wanted to accomplish with a #bethechange hashtag, and the results were wonderful.

Other topics included building community among cancer survivors, a few different sessions on connecting passionate sports fans, engaging citizens in scientific discovery, music fans across the web bonding over their first concert and how passionate social media users can make a difference any day.

Oh, and I did a session on our 24 Hours in Photos project, which was neat and I’m happy people responded positively to it. But the real news was learning about the amount of passion out there in social media just waiting to connect, and what awesome things are possible when it happens.

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higher ed, vendors find common ground; webcast at 11.

Fox News and MSNBC would have been disappointed, but four professionals actually discussed the often-dicey relationship between higher education and outside vendors on Higher Ed Live with nary an insult, shouting match nor discouraging word. Despite a lack of sensationalism, the result provided a lot of substance, room for understanding and even common ground on what makes for a good college-vendor partnership.

It all begin with my blog post expressing frustration over apps vendors “fishing with shiny objects,” or rooting around trying to find buyers for products that have more cool factor than actual benefit to our institution or our students. That brought an interesting rebuttal comment from Brent Grinna of EverTrue, a company that builds apps to meet an institution’s missions and goals. Brent eloquently noted that the bad past relationships of colleges and vendors made it hard for startups to get traction in such a competitive environment. Then old friend Kyle Judah of RecoVend, a startup whose goal is to help colleges find worthy vendor partners, provided additional perspective on how problems lie on both sides of the vendor-college relationship. The whole debate was so juicy I pitched it to Seth Odell, who happily invited us all to probe the issue on his Higher Ed Live online talk show.

If you saw it live or watch the replay, you’ll see how much common ground reasoned people can find when engaged in productive dialogue. I’m glad Brent contributed his viewpoint because it’s helpful and humbling to hear another side of the story and remind us never to oversimplify anything. We noted that vendors who excel and constantly help us try to better serve our campus and our students are really more like partners, and credited the likes of readMedia and Kevin Prentiss of Red Rover.

And it is, of course, wrong to cost all blame on outside forces. I keep a copy of John G. Saxe’s poem The Blind Men and the Elephant and realize how many entities within colleges don’t see the whole picture. Encased in silos with limited vision, they feel the tusk and sense a spear, feel the leg and imagine a tree, feel the ear and envision a fan. And miss the elephant in the room, which is that only by working together can colleges best serve their students.

And if you can’t work together, there’s most definitely not any app to solve it.

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