December 11, 2012

The Community-Sourced Human Intellect Experiment: The Ghost in the MOOC

Submitted a proposal to the June PSUWeb Conference for 2013 tonight. It is:

The Community-Sourced Human Intellect Experiment: The Ghost in the MOOC

“knowledge is not an object but a series of networks and flows…the new knowledge is a process not a product…it is produced not in the minds of individuals but in the interactions between people.” –Jane Gilbert, citing Manuel Castells

Addressing conceptual criticism that MOOCs are failing to cultivate the dynamics of genuine academic experience, this talk will emphasize the formative mechanics of “pleasurable experience” and “authentic community” and a more thoughtful address and blending of traditional models of education, for-profit competition and burgeoning interests and genuine possibilities in digital humanities. This “social” MOOC opens the process in 3 key areas:

  1. Content –crowdsourced collection, transcription and translation, field recording, archiving and multimedia annotation.
  2. Delivery Mechanism, shaping the structure and navigation –social tagging, indexing and self-organizing maps.
  3. Evaluation –peer based accountability and calibrated grading.

This talk uses real world data and experience from cultivating, collecting and analyzing the intellectual energy from 16 years of evolution of, an online community and knowledge archive of folklore and traditional music origins and the creation and cultivation of community interaction with digital rhetoric multimedia content and synchronous and asynchronous participatory instruction of FreeWrite, under the aegis of the Philip K. Dick Digital Exegesis at and sponsored by the Penn State Department of English, Directed by Professor Richard Doyle in collaboration with Professor Trey Conner, USF.

December 11, 2011

Last Year’s Rejected Proposal

I submitted it to the Penn State Web Conference, but I’m not expecting anyone to have the courage (certainly can’t blame them) to accept it. It’s still quite an oppressive environment for those dumb enough to open their mouths. Anyway here’s the abstract:

21st Century Crisis Management: How Cronyism, Ignorance and Bravado Are No Substitute for Strategy, Knowledge and Talent. A Worst Case Study

“We live in a world where [organizational] reputations are fragile and where crises seem to be occurring more and more. The role of the communicator in this environment is critical. Furthermore, the communication planner who might foresee and prepare for such eventualities is a significant player in our interconnected and changing world.” -Risk Issues and Crisis Management, Michael Regester and Judy Larkin

A traditional understanding and warning by proven leaders in the public relations world. But what happens when your communicators measure in the hundreds, or even thousands and extend beyond the traditional understanding of influencer, stakeholder, empowerment and even employment? The Social Web spreads out that role of  communicator, and it’s significance, throughout an organization and beyond, blurring the lines between organization and public.

In the case of Penn State University, there are  96,000 students, 67,000 direct and indirect employees, 557,000 living alumni, and countless stakeholders and fans. Penn State pursued a reactive change strategy and adhered to a precautionary principle which left the organization with little agility in the face of crisis and alienated all the people in a position to help, leaving them disempowered, uninformed, vulnerable and largely impotent at the time of the greatest need.

21st century crisis management (and Penn State University) requires a sense of urgency, humility, agility, openness, cooperation and a profound ability to change what could be centuries old norms, ideals and behavior. This session addresses the models and tools of modern crisis management principles, online and off.

November 9, 2011

Handcuffing Your Employees is Just Bad Business

Dear Whoever Locks Down Their Web Template,

In today’s fast paced world of business and industry a quality company is marked by it’s agility, not by it’s girth as say IBM once was, or by its volume of content like AOL/TimeWarner or by its pristine shine like Disney, nor the throwing your weight around too big to fail strength of Bank of America.

Agility is the new sexy gold standard.

To stay afloat and on top of the tumultuous economy, it is all the more important to be able to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. I’m going to want my company to be agile, and I need to spot flaws and opportunities before they impact my bottom line, not because they impacted my bottom line. So as I consider your product I’m going to want to see that you too covet this quality and desire it for your own company.

Today, I expect my television to be in HD, so If an ad company sends me a reel in Standard Definition, I will judge them. I don’t like to pay taxes, so I’ll expect that my accountant is up on the latest tax codes. If I’ve heard about a loophole from any other source before I hear it from my firm, I will judge them… harshly.

When I heard that your company locks down it’s Web template from its own people who trying do their jobs to help you succeed, who are experts you presumably hired to do so, well… I judged you.

The pace of the Internet is a new normal, a standard of excruciating, heart pounding seat of your pants, environment of exciting and constant change. The data that a Web site today creates is extraordinary, add to that the demographic information that Social Media integration adds to traditional traffic analysis, you have yourself instant market research. That there is priceless. Today, before my 2nd cup of coffee, I’m able to tell that 35 year old left handed pregnant women are buying my product 12% more than right handed men this morning, but only east of the Mississippi and in locations that its not raining.

So when I ask myself if your product is going to be able to keep up with the demands of my shareholders of ever increasing agility in this maddening world that changes so fast it’s nearly chaos, I’m not feeling very comfortable if you lock down your Web template. If you aren’t swapping data in and out of your Web site 18 times a day, you are not only filming in Standard Definition, your still filming in black and white.

In my consideration of if you’re the solution that my company needs, I have drawn my conclusion from this. Your product is a reflection of your corporate culture and identity and organizational strategy, and by assessing your company rather than your product, I am able to evaluate your next product, and the next, and all future versions for years to come. And for you, HD is a decade out.

This is just not important to your company, so it won’t serve mine.

Please let me know if and when you have decided to enter the 21st century and I will give you a fresh consideration.

Thank you,
John Q. 21st-Century-CEO

I been there, I know.

November 6, 2011

hypostatize verb \hī-ˈpäs-tə-ˌtīz\

Do want to know how to use social media? This. This is how you do it.

The Facebook integration adds value to the product (I got a better understanding of the word by reading the various diverse quotes users posted), crowd sources content creation (Us adding our quotes is adding content which is picking up new users from new search results now that PK Dick and Dewey, etc are mentioned), and cross promotes (also posts to my Facebook wall). Form and function at its finest.

I find it hillarious, the 4th post down, you got: heavy quote, heavy quote, heavy quote, looking up words I don’t know that people write on my daughters Facebook wall, so awesome. You’re fine dude, your daughter seems smart enough to take care of herself.

hypostatize verb \hī-ˈpäs-tə-ˌtīz\" class=

Also appearing on my Facebook wall.

March 14, 2011

Alienate Few – Localizing Facebook Status Updates

We were jeering Facebook Events at this week’s Social Media Monday, and I got to thinking about my local audience versus my distant audience. Any posts for one might alienate the other. My rule 1b is to alienate as few things-in-this-world as possible.  So what if I wanted to post on Facebook about a local event or news that my distant audience would likely not travel for or care about?  To add emphasis, what if I wanted to do that a lot? Piece of cake, all you need is these three little bits of information:

1 ) Below your link or status update text field, is a little lock and arrow that when clicked is usually set to Everyone.

2) If you choose custom, you get these choices:

3) Make your geographic choices (multiple locations can be chosen, eg. State College, Bellefonte or Ohio, New Jersey).

Any questions?

November 24, 2010

Photo Tagging on Facebook Pages

I learned something new today and wanted to share it before I forgot it. One of our Facebook pages, Environment and Natural Resources Majors in Ag Sci at Penn State, posted some pictures of an event and asked their students to tag themselves in the photos. They were unable as they did not see the usual tagging option when viewing the photo. Browsing through the settings for that page was of no help. So, I began reading the Facebook help forum. On page 11 (a year later) of a discussion titled “tagging photos on facebook pages” someone finally found a workaround.

1) Go to your Facebook Page.

2) Directly below your Page’s Profile photo, click on “Edit Page”.

3) In your browser’s URL, note the number that comes AFTER ‘edit/?id=’ That number is your Page ID.

4) Go to this URL, but change REPLACEME to your Page ID from step 3:

5) Click the setting for “Allow All Fans to Tag Photos”

6) Save your settings.

Facebook Photo Tagging Settings, Pages

In case anyone wants to know why this works, all it is doing is accessing the “Photo Application” settings by using the Application ID (the Facebook Photos Application ID is ‘2305272732’).

Let’s hope the Facebook Gods add a fix soon so we can easily change settings without having to run backdoor fixes. =)

This is the 2nd time in a month that I have modified settings on our pages through a secret URL. Got to stay on your toes and do some figuring when dealing with a company with 500 million customers. Hope you find this useful.

October 14, 2010

The Social Gardeners

I started my new job on Monday. I’m still with Penn State, though I moved from Outreach to The College of Agricultural Sciences. Yesterday, the 4th day of work at my new job, I got to speak with Master Gardeners about Social Media.

I am delighted to be exposed to these cool concepts as a part of my job. The Master Gardeners Web site explains the awesome:

What is the Master Gardener Program?

The Penn State University Master Gardener program was established to assist
Cooperative Extension in reaching the consumer horticulture audience. The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in many phases of gardening. In return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teaching horticultural information based on university research and recommendations.


That simple. Volunteer to help out, and they’ll help you garden, armed with arguably the best agricultural research on the planet. Sounds like a pretty good deal.


The sort of assistance is limitless. All sorts of questions on all sorts of things. It would seems to me that YouTube, Facebook and Twitter would be great venues for this sort of interaction.


The wrinkle might be that there are (I think) 67 different Master Gardener programs in the state, in every county of Pennsylvania, and every county of every other state from the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters. That’s a lot of identities to have out there and locality (localness) is key.

Facebook, if anything at all, was the clear favorite of the group. That’s a great venue, in my opinion, for the variety of interaction and content that could be ballied about. MG’s and… anyone really, could share photos, videos and audio and could utilize the Discussion Forum and Events infrastructures AND it all has analytics. A Facebook Page or Group (no analytics) would be the way to go. The Page vs. Group argument changes every day, so search Google for “Facebook Page or Group” to read the latest. My take is Page if you have intent and Group if you have altruism.

I took a picture of them as I began the conversation. It didn’t turn out well (the photo, that is), but just good enough to tell that those smiles are genuine. It’s a happy, passionate bunch of good people doing good work. That’s pretty great, and great things do well on Facebook.

A whole lot of stuff is going to roll out and be available in the next year for Master Gardeners, and some notable Social Media gains will be cultivated and nurtured much like the plants at the end of all this. It’s going to be fun to watch.

Oh, and I’ll gladly volunteer my Social Media enthusiasm to the cause in return for help with my garden next season.

April 6, 2010


Engaging Social Media with Existing Content
(The Third of Five Parts)

  1. RSS (The Grunt Work)
  2. RSS for Twitter
  3. RSS for SEO
  4. RSS for Creating Mailing Lists and Newsletters
  5. Share
  6. Working with Social Media and Web site Analytics Together(hidden tracks) Yahoo Pipes & Aggregation


Google Webmaster ToolsYahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Center are free tools that allow you to optimize the relationship between their search engine and your Web site.

Arbitrary Photo

Cool picture, huh?

In Google and Yahoo, you can tell them all about your shiny new RSS feed, which in theory, feeds your fresh data directly into their search databases. (Bing does not explicitly say you can do this with RSS, but adding it as a sitemap does not cause an error) Checking just now, I see that 102 new URL’s on my site were delivered to Google today. This great for my active discussion forum. With 800 new messages per day, our conversations can be indexed and appear in search results while the topics are still timely.

Interestingly, our community has become the de facto news, reference and support network for ailing musicians, their families and fans.

Feedburner is another free Google service that is much like Webmaster Tools but for RSS feeds. It takes the crazy data and makes sense of it, displays it pleasingly, and gives you several tools to publicize and deliver your feed. It ends up looking like this.

Of the Publicizing tools is PingShot. It is the next evolution of RSS, the PubSubHubbub protocol (yes, that’s its real name). RSS creates the illusion of pushing data, while PubSubHubbub actually does it. By enabling this, any listening hubs will be “pinged”, telling them you have new content.

Feedburner keeps analytics for your feeds that provide you information about where your data is going. In mine, I see “msnbot-UDiscovery/2.0b”, which is the Bing crawler, as a subscriber to my music blog’s RSS feed.  This means, to me at least, that they’re listening.

Feedburner also allows you to connect your Twitter accounts to do things like automatically tweet about your new blog post.  The catch is that Google uses their own proprietary url shortener which provides no analytics or control, which is why I use for that.

You can also use this service to setup, feed and manage an email mailing list. It even generates the code for you to put on your Web site to allow people to signup. It keeps and allows you to manage your subscriber list. It does not, however, allow you to load a list into it. A service such as MailChimp takes the final step to the RSS-Feed-To-Email-Newletter process, both in aesthetics and direct marketing management.

All of these things, seemingly, getting the word out.

Just a quick note on blog SEO. Note my title of this one, and therefore the URL it ends up having. It is important to use thoughtful keywords in the title that very specifically describe the core message of your post. It weighs heavy in Google’s decision that your blog post is relevant to the keywords used in the search.

The title of part 2 is an example of what not to do. We’ll see if I can garner a few extra hits to this post with this little tweak.

I also applied every trick in this post, today, to this blog. Let’s see what happens…

April 2, 2010

Engaging Social Media with Existing Content – Part II

(Part 2 of 6)

  1. RSS (The Grunt Work)
  2. RSS for Twitter
  3. RSS for SEO
  4. RSS for Creating Mailing Lists and Newsletters
  5. Share
  6. Working with Social Media and Web site Analytics Together(hidden tracks) Yahoo Pipes & Aggregation


My goal was merely to extend the availability of the information that is collected on this site everyday. Our members are kind of hard core. Real music and history freaks. Creates a bit of a closed society. But we talk about, research and document things that are more universally… interesting. The Twitterverse is new real estate with a new demographic. I see it as putting up a library in a new town.

So I created a Twitter account and fed it, with full disclosure, with my new RSS feed.

The RSS feed takes the title of the forum topics and the number of messages within and are sorted by date.  I use another free and easy to use service, to take it from there.

All I do there is paste in my RSS feed link, tell it how often I want it to post, how many updates at a time, whether I want it to add hashtags or if I want it filtered by keyword.

Filtering allows you to set up various feeds to alter the hashtag depending on the subject matter, or for other specific applications. As an example, @tgw108 over at WPSU filters all my tweets from @MaxSpiegel and @MudcatCafe and pulls anything that mentions the word “blues” and has it post to The Blues Show section of  It keeps the page timely and makes it really easy for me to promote underwriters and local live blues music.

Also in the TwitterFeed setup, I can enter in my account information to automatically track every link that is posted and how many times it’s clicked. Pretty good analytics from this including referrer so that I can tell if the click came from my FriendFeed, Buzz or other Social Media site that includes your Twitter Feed as a part of its offering. Please note that URL shortening can be used anywhere, not only on Twitter or other social networks. It has become an instant and free vanity URL factory.

bitly.Pro provides even more analytics and allows you to connect your own shortener domain name to help with the branding. I ordered from, followed a few simple steps and was all connected within an hour.

This vanity URL shortener is important to note because an objection to using outside services, such as all these that I’m mentioning and blogs and such, is that they’re all working to brand their own services and it can detract from a cohesive feel to your presence. I want to control my brand, not diffuse it with Google logos or URLs.  It may also detract from the integrity of the brand. Penn State, for instance, is a big bad mother (shut your mouth) and shouldn’t need any outside services to help it.

Tweeting one’s new blog post is just about mandatory now days, that is to say, most people do it consistently. So I also use to check my music blog for new posts, and to tweet the title and link to those. Removing steps from the process, simply automating what I would do anyway. If we try to get faculty or our administrative leadership to engage with Social Media, removing as many steps as possible can only improve our chances.

The analytics of my personal blog indicate that over 17% of the traffic comes from the tweets about new posts.

The items that I “share” in my Google Reader are also checked every half hour. I follow several music blogs and have Google Alerts set up for certain musicians that I like, and if I see something interesting, I click one button, and it’ll tweet the next cycle.

All in all, I am providing an information resource concerning traditional music that is either generated by my content, my interest or the activity of the membership to a very specific interest group. While it is automated, it is inherently vetted, edited and moderated.

Coming next is how to use your RSS feed for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This simply means to have your content findable, and quickly. Social Media moves fast, and is here and gone. For it to be useful to marketing, our content needs to move fast too.

Continue on to [Part III – RSS for SEO]

March 31, 2010

Being Aggressive in a Culture of Fear

I must repeat this story twice a week.

It seems like I’ve been defending marketing my entire career. When budgets get tight, non-marketing bean counters just decide to lop a percentage off the top of the marketing budget without concern for the effects of that. Sadly, in my experience, a relational drop of expectation does not correspond to the budget cut.

I am a soldier. The war that we are in is heating up. We’re taking new hits. If we keep doing the same thing, there’ll be nothing left of us. The enemy is closing in, we need to make adjustments. I got an idea… lets use less weaponry.  Absurd.

So, I tell the “Kellogg vs. Post story” when I try to defend marketing’s place in this tumultuous environment.

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.

Read more of about this in The New Yorker article “Hanging Tough” by James Surowiecki.

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