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Post-Mortem Assigment

So, what do I think of the Social Web for Social Change class now that it’s complete? I think that it is a necessary course in a world where were are sharing information faster and easier than ever before—technically. I feel the ability to be able to share your voice and not get lost in the noise is a crucial skill that anyone who wants to be able to influence others must intimately understand. That being said, I think there is some work that must be done in order to transform this course into a “graduate level” class…

Pros:

  1. Introduction to Social Web: Christopher Allen did a great job introducing us to the social web. By taking the mixed media approach to deliver content (videos, books, blog posts, academic articles, interviews, etc.) there was something for everyone. I think the class succeeded in bringing everybody to a basic level of understanding in this area.
  2. Basic Competence: Many people came into the class never having made a video, written a blog, or posted on a social media site. By the end of the class, there was not a single person who couldn’t put together a compelling story, edit it, and have it ready for public consumption within four hours. Not too shabby.
  3. Many found their voice: One of the biggest concerns I kept hearing early on was that people didn’t know what they wanted to say, how to say it, or where to share it. Many were concerned with the types of feedback they would receive. Now there’s a greater understanding that a conversation is just that—a conversation. We must be open to share, receive, and grow.

Possible Improvements:

  1. More critical analysis: Most of class centered around synthesizing the material assigned from homework. Although it was good to see other perspectives, I would have enjoyed spending more time discussing how the material has been applied in the past, how it’s being applied now, and discovering new ways to push the envelope.
  2. How/Why did you do that: I saw a lot of work where I thought to myself, “how did they do that?” and, “why did they do that?” What I mean by this is that I was often impressed by the way somebody decided to deliver a message. Why did they choose that specific medium? What were some of their challenges? How could this be done elsewhere?
  3. Blogging isn’t for everybody: To put it plainly, blogging just isn’t for everybody. Not everybody has a desire to blog. In many cases, blogging may be an inferior way for them to share their knowledge with the rest of the room. I have a friend who struggles to put together 300 word blog posts, but can produce in-depth scholarly works with ease. I would like to see the space made available for other outlets. Although I think blogging is a skill we all need, I don’t think that the amount of blogging required for class is suitable for everyone.

Advice For New Students:

  1. Be fearless: Don’t be ashamed or afraid to discover your voice and be your authentic self. What you have to share is worth sharing. Get over yourself and allow room to experiment, and yes, even fail.
  2. Be open: Not everyone will share the same perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and interests as you. Follow your colleagues blogs and other works to expand your own frame of reference.
  3. Be you

Don’t let a lack of response stop you from sharing your voice

After finally catching up on some summer work I missed while in China, I watched a recorded class in social web for social change. In that class, we learned about participatory media, stickiness in ideas, and influence using the social web. One of the things that stuck me was when one student stated that they find it difficult to remain motivated to create content when there is a Bueller Effect in which there is no response. When this happens many feel as though their efforts are wasted. So with that, here are a few reasons to keep blogging, writing, drawing, etc.

  1. Know your purpose: Are you creating content to spark conversation? If so, maybe you will be more effective by finding other, more well-known media sources to share your content. Also, ask more notable contributors blog on your own site. This will naturally help you engage with a wider community. If you purpose is to share yourself or serve as a creative outlet, take satisfaction in the act of creation itself.
  2. Numbers lie: Looking at response alone does not tell the entire picture. Many more people consume media than actually participate with it. Just because you don’t see comments does not mean your content isn’t being read. I’m often surprised when I run into people and they tell me, in person, about a recent blog post I wrote. Although they never left a comment, they were keeping up with the content.
  3. Controversy Sells: Look at the stuff that sparks the most discussion. Sex, controversy, scandals, and technology all spark more conversation than the content you might be producing.
  4. If you want feedback, ask for it: I’ve read many blogs. The ones I see with the most comments and participation are those who ask for it. At the end of the articles that have an active discussion, they often ask their community to leave their feedback, ask questions, or otherwise join the conversation.
  5. Your voice matters: Regardless of what happens, know that your voice matters. If you have something to share, share it.

Job Seekers, Do NOT give your login and password to potential employers

Transient

Job seekers, do NOT, under any circumstances, provide a potential (or current) employer with your login credentials to your Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media account. Security in all its forms is to be taken seriously. As employers and recruiters have taken to the social web to carry out more comprehensive background checks, social media profiles are becoming increasingly seen as a way to get an inside glimpse of who you really are. Posts on Facebook, updates on Twitter, pictures on Instagram, etc. all provide a peek through the firewall we often put up in the form of résumés and cover letters.

As we have become increasingly aware of privacy issues and concerns, many people have set their privacy settings to block certain people from viewing certain content. What you decide to share or not is your prerogative. Just know that the decisions you make regarding your privacy will impact the way you are perceived by people researching you. The more open you are, the more likely someone will trust what they find as representative of you. To get around restrictive privacy settings, some prospective employers have been asking applicants to provide them with their user names and passwords to allow them full access. Please understand that this is a violation to your right to privacy and is not common practice. For me, asking for this information shows a lack of trust and I see no reason to work with people I can’t trust or who don’t trust me.

Read the response Facebook posted about employers asking for login information.

Life lessons from a missed flight

The Service Center at Delta Airlines

There are many lessons one can learn about the human condition when stuck at an airport. The one I learned today is how easy it is to lose perspective of what's important when something doesn't go the way we want it to. I'm writing this blog post at a table in the food court adjacent to gate S4 at the Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, Washington. The time is 7:21 p.m. This morning I was supposed to catch a flight at 6:00 a.m. destined to arrive in West Palm Beach, Florida later this evening. (And no, not for play. It's for work, but with an amazing group of people. Check out For The Children) Obviously, that's not what's transpiring. Due to various circumstances (some within my control; others not) I now have a seat reserved for 10:40 p.m. I've had plenty of time, and several opportunities, to observe things going on within me and the diverse group of people here.

I knew something was wrong this morning when traffic to the airport was backed up all the way to the exit…at 5:00 a.m. I'm no stranger to airports, but even I was unprepared for this. Once finally at the entrance, I soon found out what was causing the holdup. Least of my concerns was the ridiculously long line that looked like an advanced game of "Snake" on an old Nokia cell phone at the ticket booth. I saw that and thought, "I'm glad I checked in online and don't have any bags to worry about." But then, there it was…the longest line I've ever witnessed at security…ever. And believe me, after being asked to "please step over here" an obscene number of times and being detained at Heathrow for four hours, I'm expecting there to be a slight delay during this part of the process. But this was another level. Looking around, I saw the distressed and frustrated faces of people who were well aware there was no chance of catching their flight on time but were still holding out a small inkling of hope that "maybe this line will speed up." Wishful thinking. I was one of those people. I knew it wasn't going to happen, but hey, I tried to keep hope alive.

I finally made it through security with 13 minutes left to make it to the gate. At this point, I thought the airline crew would surely be somewhat sympathetic to the extreme circumstances. Nope. As I arrived at the gate, I locked eyes with the person as they closed the door. I might have imagined it, but I could have sworn I saw a little crooked smile gleam across their face as they closed that door. However, it could have been my frustration that saw that (It was actually most likely my frustration that saw that).

Seconds after closing the door, the person approached the microphone and asked, "Is there anybody who has a confirmed ticket who has not yet boarded the plane?" Three of us immediately felt prematurely relieved and approached the counter. As soon as we approached, the individual said, "You missed the flight. Head over to the service counter to find alternate arrangements." As I was walking over to the counter I couldn't help but play the what if game. What if I had just come out here last night and slept at the airport as I planned? What if I had taken one minute off of my shower? Did I really need to take out the trash before leaving? I knew I should have chosen the other line at security. However, there's no winner in that game so I didn't play long.

As we waited for the agent to arrive at the service table, I became aware that this was a shared experence among a large number of people. Of course there were some who figured they would yell until they got their way. Some were crying. Others were extremely silent. I was coming to the realization that there wasn't much I could do at this point, so the time was quickly coming to let it go. Bob and Russell seemed to be in a similar emotional state. This probably explains why we gravitated towards each other. "You missed it too, huh?" asked Bob. "Yeah, where were you trying to go?" I replied. Russell, while remaining calm, mentioned that his mother was going to be upset.

To make a long story short, here's what happened at the service counter (a special note: this was the only pleasant treatment I received from any staff today at the airport. Thank you, María and Lilian.)
* We'll put you on standby for the 7:30
* The 7:30 was "overbooked"
* We'll put you on standby for the 12:00
* The 12:00 was "overbooked"
* We can confirm a place for you on the 10:40 p.m.
* I'll take it
* People watching and occasional snoozing began (my self-imposed diet wouldn't allow for my unexplicable obession with gummy bears fill this void)
* Cheated on diet (gummy bears are so good)

I try not to worry about things over which I don't have control. I figured that, since I can't change the fact the plane is no longer here and there aren't any seats until 10:40, it was time to let everything else go, accept it, move on, and make the best of the day. Obviously this is not what the vast majority of people were thinking. Today was one of those days that put everybody behind. Not only was each flight overbooked, the extended time spent passing through security caught many passengers off guard. By 7:30 there were already 49 passengers waiting in standby just for my flight alone. The negative emotion was palpable. Numerous times I felt embarrassed on behalf of all passengers, and sorry for the agents who were berated one irate customer after another. I understand the frustration we were all going through. After all, some people were trying to get home after long business trips or vacation, others had to get to "important" meetings while still others, like myself, had to catch connecting flights to make it to their final destination. People had families to see, places to go, and things to see. However, my personal frustration quickly turned into sadness as I watched just how despicable we can be to each other.

This blog post is already getting rather lenghty, so I'll go ahead and try to get to the point and wrap it up. Here goes…

As I stood there looking around at blinking monitors and people running around, yelling and screaming, a couple things came to mind:
One: Let it go and be grateful.
Two: I'm standing here, able-bodied and healthy. Sure, my life isn't perfect and I have my problems just like everybody else. However, if my biggest concern in this moment is missing a flight to Florida, I really should check myself. There's a shot of perspective.