Commons Connect

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Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ keep them Blogrolls Rollin’

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After taking a look at Scott Voth’s (@scottvoth) new layout for his Wiki Wrangler blog I had an idea to revamp my own. I changed my theme from Fervens A 1.1 by Design Disease to Magatheme 1.0.4 by Bryan Helmig. While the new theme wasn’t as flashy as the Fervens Theme, I was tired of the old color scheme and wanted something with more of a newspaper type of feel.

I also reworked the widgets on my sidebar. I wanted a blog that felt a little less cluttered so I deleted the RSS feeds from the Community Team blogs and opted for a simple list of blogs that were associated with the Academic Commons Community Team. My process for this was simple… I selected ‘Add New’ under ‘Links’ on the left navigation bar of my Dashboard. From this point I added the name of the blog’s author under ‘Name’, cut & pasted the appropriate URL in the ‘Web Address’ bar and added the name/tagline of the blog under ‘Description’. Then I added the category ‘Community Team Blogroll’ to better organize the links. I decided to have the links open in a new window by selecting ‘_blank – new window or tab’ under ‘Target’. Lastly, I selected the ‘Add Link’ button on the top right side of the page.

I didn’t stop there because I got thinking about the many blogs that belong to members of the CUNY community that are housed outside of the Commons. I wanted to provide a comprehensive list of blogs for members to browse, get ideas, access information, etc… To facilitate this new idea I searched through blogs linked to a given member’s profile and followed the same process as listed above. The only difference is that I created a new category ‘CUNY Blogroll’ to organize all these blogs.

In order to make the Community Team Blogroll and CUNY Blogroll links appear on my blog, I added the ‘Links’ widget to my sidebar then selected ‘All Links’, ‘Show Link Name and ‘Show Link Description’. Lastly, I chose what position I wanted to links to appear in relation to my other active widgets and selected ‘Save Widget’.

While I have gone through many members’ profiles in order to add blogs to the CUNY Blogroll, (and get to know a little more about everyone) I’m sure there are many missing from the blogroll. If you would like to add your blog please feel free to message me the blog URL and I will gladly add it to the CUNY Blogroll.

PS– The other active widgets on the sidebar of my blog are ‘Subscriptions Options’ and ‘Tag Cloud (Simple Tags)’, which can be found under the ‘Plugins‘ on the left navigation bar of your dashboard (picture above). Interestingly enough I was able to sync my podcast feed URL with the green email icon under ‘Subscriptions Options’. Metablogging is fun.

5 Questions with… Adam Wandt

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Welcome to the first edition of ‘5 Questions’!

With so many great things going on throughout the CUNY community, I thought that podcasts could be a great way to help facilitate conversations within (and outside) the Commons. My first interviewee is Adam Wandt, who was willing to meet me via skype for an hour long interview. The 5 questions below highlight some topics covered in the interview, but I invite you to listen to the full podcast either through iTunes or directly from my Podcast Revolution Feed List. The podcasts are available in mp3 or m4a format, depending on which device you use to download your podcasts.

With the topic of ‘process’ coming up a few times throughout my interview with Adam Wandt, I plan to write a short post going through my process of creating this podcast and uploading it to iTunes. And now, 5 questions…

Professor Adam Scott Wandt is the Deputy Chair for Instructional Technology of the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and also serves as John Jay’s Provost Representative to CUNY’s Committee on Academic Technology (CAT), which is the group that was put together to start the Academic Commons. Professor Wandt started blogging about six years ago with the creation of his iDive Underwater Photography blog and started blogging on the Commons a few months ago with his Academic Technology: Research and Development blog .

1. What is your favorite aspect of the CUNY Academic Commons?

It’s the way people connect, without a doubt. If you look in social life how people use Facebook to connect to the outside, this is kind of like a professional version of that. It’s the connections that you make, the people you talk to that you ordinarily wouldn’t be talking to — that is kind of my favorite part.

2. Do you believe that blogs have some special type of social function?

They have several functions depending on why you’re blogging. Some people blog to report other people like myself in the academic technology blog, blog to start a conversation. I think there are many types of academic technology conversations that we either need to have or we’re in the middle of having and I think that the ones we need to have … certain blog entries of mine start to spark those conversations and the conversations that we’re currently having, hopefully I could add to those.

3. Have you ever stepped back and deleted something after posting?

I’ve added to a few things, I’ve posted some information and said maybe I should have provided additional information or hyperlinks so I’ve updated. I haven’t had the need or the want really to delete anything from my blogs yet, but I did do one video interview for one of my classes with a US Marine and after I conducted the interview with the US Marine, I was asked unofficially by some groups to take down the interview… After consulting about it and thinking about it for a while and actually even discussing it with some of our reference librarians at John Jay I decided not to take the interview down, but I understood the reasons why people did want it taken down.

4. Has Twitter changed anything about your blogging habits?

Every time I put an article up there I throw it out through Twitter and I’ll monitor the bit lead link to see how many people click on it… I use it to notify.

My use of Twitter itself is more as an academic technology research and development project to try to test out and develop Twitter to see if it can be used as an academic technology tool… It’s become a very quick way for me to throw things out to my students. In the past… if I had an article I would want them to read I would have to take a hyperlink , then I would have to go into an email program, then I would have to write out an email, then I would have to send it out. It’s not really so easy to do that if you have 60-80 students each semester and they’re constantly rotating. You have to keep a fairly signification email list if you want to be able to email things out directly from a laptop or from an iPad and not go through Blackboard. So one of the things Twitter has done for me is I hit a button, I type in a hashcode, maybe a line and then it’s uploaded to Twitter where my students — at their leisure — could check it and the whole process from my point of view takes less than 5 or 10 seconds.

5. There are a lot of different projects going on in the CUNY community. When groups are public it’s a lot easier to see the process of start to finish and I guess with private groups it’s a lot harder. Would you have any suggestions as far as people doing projects on the Commons to help other people to understand the process of collaborating and sharing things with each other?

Most certainly, my first thing is being that we’re in academia, being that we’re researchers we always need to remember exactly what you just said — that people could always learn from the process of what we’re doing. In that, there are certain things like keeping blogs, project blogs, there’s making information available as it could become desensitized. There’s running a project with the expectation of different types of publications at the end — certain publications towards one group, certain publications towards another. I think that whenever we go and we run any sort of research we need to remember number one that we’re doing it to grow knowledge and that eventually the knowledge that we’re growing needs to be disseminated and shared. One of the interesting things about studying technology is that more often than not we’re studying how that information gets shared; we’re studying the process of how things actually get done… I think that whatever projects we’re doing, if we’re going to sensitize and if we’re going to shield what people see, we need to realize in doing so that  the information that is being shielded should eventually be desensitized — if appropriate…

The other thing too is that people need to learn from process. Allowing people as you just said to see how things are done are important, but it always needs to be up to that individual or researcher or blogger or person — they always need to have the decision to say private, not private or when to publish… If everything that we’re doing is always open to full scrutiny the question then comes to will we be able to focus in on anything?

6 Degrees of Facebook

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To quit or not to quit, that was the question… 30,000 users, that was the answer.

Whom among the Commons folk? Well, I know for sure Matt Gold (@admin) after reading his blog post “Why I Left Facebook“. Giving links to great resources, Matt forgoes the basic Facebook=Bad conversation and instead explains why he personally felt the need to leave Facebook. I couldn’t agree more about not wanting my child’s pictures being used without permission — not cool Zuckerburg!

I also know Boone B. Gorges (@boonebgorges) quit after reading his post “The Meat of Facebook“. Boone thinks that Facebook should be regulated in the same respect that the government regulates the meat industry.

“The government is justified in protecting its citizens at their most vulnerable (you might even say this is the primary reason for government).”

Despite the company’s humble roots, they have grown to be what anyone would call a “big business” — with an estimated net worth of nearly 4 billion dollars. We all know happens when big business is not regulated,  cough cough… BP… cough.  After Zuckerburg recently admitted at the D8 Conference: “When I was 18 or 19 years old, I did a lot of stupid things“, he reveals Facebook’s ultimate mission statement — via hoodie!!

While I like the recent steps he took to simplify privacy settings and the concept of the new insignia, what the H is it doing on the inside of his hoodie?? More importantly couldn’t this be done on any other platform? Yes. Well, not really. Definitely, but not immediately. I’m sure Facebook with not be the last place to connect people online. Myspace used to be the place where everyone had to be, and now it’s primarily used to promote bands. When the time comes, Facebook will also have relinquish it’s throne (and grip).

When that time does come (or if they do something uber creepy), I will be more than ready to jump ship like @lwaltzer. While I agree with everything Luke said in his blog post, “I Can’t Quit You Facebook“, from his reasoning behind not quitting to his thoughts on Twitter, the following quote really stood out to me:

“Many, but not all, are to the left of center, and most are to the right of me.”

I have (what some of you might alright know) a diverse set of friends on Facebook, most of whom are to the right of me. As someone who views web 2.0 platforms as a means of promoting social justice, I find that Facebook is a great forum for political (yet civil) discourse.

Some may argue that facebook and politics should never mix, somewhat like beer and politics. As someone with experience in the service industry, I certainly appreciated when these rules were adhered to by inebriated customers! In regards to Facebook, however; I would have to disagree. Of course (as with everything), there is a line. There have been many groups and individuals on Facebook that have crossed this line, but I’d like to consider myself a cut above (or a world apart) from these types of individuals.

So I posted an update on my Facebook profile about considering leaving and shortly after I saw that my cousin joined the group 1 Million Against the Mosque at Ground Zero!, which prompted me to post this religious AND political update…


With over 40 comments I thought the discussion was finally over, but it continues 5 days later. This thread, along with my other cousin’s comment, “@Sarah M M: thank you for posting this, and putting up with all the abuse. This is why you shouldn’t give up on facebook” made me realize I still had a vested interest in Facebook! In this thread alone I learned that one of my high school friends served as the New York State chairman of the Patriot Party, worked as an Arabic linguist for the Marines, and helped work search and rescue on the north side of the pile near the Winter Garden on 9/12. He also points out in one of his comments:

“Most of the other people I talk to who were actually there just want peace and reconciliation.”

Sure, most people won’t sway from their political or religious opinions, but if that thread was able to make one person think about the issue from another perspective then I’m more than OK with that. If you need three reasons why I am still on Facebook:

1. Community

2. Betty White Hosting SNL

3. This (thanks @wrhernandez!)

While I certainly didn’t quit Facebook on May 31st, plenty of others did… did you?

6 Degrees of the iPad

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Last week, the Commons bought a few iPads for the Community Team to experiment with and after spending some one-on-one time with an iPad and reading some great resources I wanted to write a review — 6 degrees style. *This is an overview of my experience thus far, incorporating information from member’s posts as well as outside resources and opinion. 

When it comes to the iPad everyone has an opinion. The last time I used an Apple product, I was a Media Arts student at USC so I am not that familiar with the iPhone and I’m new to the whole Apple App Store thing. Either way, I will try to present a review that is as objective as possible. My first thought as I held the iPad in my hands was this… 

image credits: http://gizmodo.com

Matt Gold (@admin) posted this flowchart on the Academic Commons Project Management Base Camp back in April as a visual resource for creating new help documents on the Commons. Luckily, I’ve been beating the odds of this flowchart, but I often think of it as I eagerly await the back-ordered case! 

Holy Credit Card Batman!

Why does Apple need my credit card information?? I use my Zune and Zune Pass to satisfy my music needs (in addition to Pandora), so I was a little disappointed that I had to download iTunes on my computer again in order to start the iPad. I had to create an account and give my credit card information… which I did … because I didn’t really have a choice. After forking over some personal information I was finally ready to see what this iPad thing was all about and why Obama wasn’t a fan

Apps

There are a lot of them. A lot of apps seem useless, as Obama suggested in his commencement speech at Hampton University. Obama claimed that with new technologies such as the iPad, “information becomes a distraction”.  This is how most headlines read, but what these commentators overlooked is that Obama said they can be used as “tool(s) of empowerment… the means of emancipation”. I’m going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt here about his understanding of technology, especially after @kdelorenzo said: 

“…during the inauguration Obama is reported to have greeted Aretha with “You’re on my iPod!” so maybe he was fibbing a bit. Or maybe his younger daughter programs and syncs it for him.” 

On this topic, I would have to agree with Bill Maher’s take that Obama is putting on a cutesy political act. Obama says he doesn’t know how to use an iPod because “Americans conflate out-of-touch with adorable”. Lest he forget the power of the Internet during his presidential campaign! OK, back to iPad apps… 

In addition to @omanreagan’s ipad posts from his blog about Apple technology, Michael has also written a blog post about “religion applications available for the iPad” from his blog about interdisciplinary studies in Religion. Talk about a ‘tools of empowerment’ — good stuff Michael, thanks for sharing! 

Other apps that I consider to be tools of empowerment include: 

  • Calendar (pre-installed) This is your basic calendar. I’m able to keep myself on a tight schedule with reminders and repeating events. It’s not as customizable as I was hoping for (no task organizer).
  • Mail (pre-installed) I’m able to sync multiple Gmail accounts as well as my CUNY email. Bonus.
  • Videos>Podcasts (pre-installed>downloaded via iTunes)  I’m currently learning how to fix redeye from the Photoshop//Power Tips & Tricks Podcast. I wish the iPad had the ability to go outside of iTunes… non-jailbreaking style.
  • Notes (pre-installed) I’m able to quickly take notes from a meeting. I can tag notes to find them quickly and email them to myself, but there’s no ability for bold, italic, color, underlining, etc…
  • Todo ($4.99)  While I was hoping this app was going to be free (or included within the Calendar app) I am glad I downloaded it! Todo helps me keep track of multiple projects both at home and at work and can send reminders via email. Highly recommended.
  • Pages ($9.99) Mac’s version of Microsoft Word. You can use templates and have greater control over the layout and font style than you can with Notes.
  • Keynote ($9.99) Syncs great with Mac Keynotes. I am able to edit presentations (with limited capabilities). 
  • iBooks (free) I was able to download a lot of free books by typing “free” into the search bar.
  • Free Books (free) The name says it all — good stuff!
  • Pandora (free) I can  listen to a custom generated mix (unfortunately not while doing anything else on the iPad… without jailbreaking it).
  • Pocket Pond (free) Watching goldfish swim and interacting with them is extremely calming after a long day at the office.
  • Disney Digital Books: Toy Story (free) I am able to multitask — I can some work done at home while providing interactive entertainment for my pre-schooler!
  • Siri (free) Possibly my favorite app thus far! (see video below). The speech recognition and overall intuitive nature of this app is incredible! My favorite part is when you say “remember,…” and it will send your speech to your email… or saying “tweet” and your twitter status update bar is brought up for you to do just that. This was originally created for the iPhone.

Thanks to Adam S. Wandt’s post we also now know how to shop for our groceries in under two minutes using the Fresh Direct app!

In non-iPad app related news I also share @awandt’s feelings of disappointment that the iPad has no forward facing camera and wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T network-related concerns were at the root of this decision. This camera (or lack-there-of) news was also revealed in @jugoretz’s post: Early iPod Thoughts.

There are some great aspects of the iPad and the overall intuitive nature is very user-friendly. There are also many features that fall short of what a truly innovative tool the iPad should be.

Lastly, the question that everyone is asking … or perhaps just @brianfoote — WILL IT BLEND???

Yes, yes it will.

Upgrade Changes For Groups

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Greetings to all Groups on the CUNY Academic Commons! As promised, @boonebgorges has delivered a major upgrade to the Commons which leads us to the inevitable question, how will these changes affect us? Well, I am here to help you better understand our new group features and how to use them.

Group Wire —> Updates & Replies

As I’m sure most of you now know, where once there was a group wire now there is no more. Some of you may have had your Settings>Email Notifications set to receive an email when a member posted to the wire and while that option no longer exists (see *UPDATE below), it has been replaced with something very similar… only more customizable — Updates. This is much more similar to Facebook than the Wire and I will demonstrate via these screenshots below.Group administrators and moderators can post an Announcement to the Group Page, which can be used to quickly connect information to the entire group. Group members can “Reply” to any update, much like leaving a “Comment” on Facebook. When someone replies to a conversation you are involved in, you will be sent an email notification. Replies are no longer limited to Forums — yay!

*UPDATE 5/6/10 –  developer @boonebgorges has just Added an “email to members” checkbox to the BuddyPress group activity stream. This means that administrators and moderators now have the option to push out a specific announcement to all group members via email. Thanks Boone!

@Mention System

There is also another way to include particular members via email notification. You may have noticed in both the screenshot from Facebook and the Academic Commons that a “friend/member” was hyperlinked in the update. While the “tag/@mention” process is done somewhat differently, it has the same effect — it links others to the profile of the individual while notifying the individual of the mention via email. This @mention system was first implemented by Twitter, but has been adapted by Facebook and now us!

If you are trying to reach out to specific group members, simply put the @ symbol in front of their username and it will send a notification to their email address. This is a great way to bring members into conversations that can otherwise be easily overlooked in the frenzy of Web2.0 information overload. Don’t know a member’s username? Just go to their profile page and their @handle will be listed directly below their name.

Filters

The Buddypress upgrade has also made it easier to navigate through Groups via the new filterable Recent Group Activity stream where you can choose to view: Updates, New Forum Topic, Forum Replies, New Group Memberships, Wiki Edits and my personal favorite… No Filter! The main landing page for groups is No Filter, so members can see everything at a glance. If you prefer to view group activity without necessarily being logged into the Academic Commons, there is also the option of subscribing to the group’s RSS Feed.

Reply, Reply, Reply

Another great thing about the new Reply feature is that it’s not limited to Updates. I can welcome members to a group and organize conversations in ways that used to be impossible — as seen by my reply below to a New Group Membership.

Being able to reply to a specific comment or activity allows the conversation to continue in a structured way and hopefully makes it easier for members to keep track of different conversations throughout the Commons.

If you have a request or suggestion for your group please let us know.

6 Degrees of the Commons

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6I was just browsing through the Commons and came across a new blog: HunterGraduateSocialResearch. This peaked my interest not only because I’m interested in sociology (like these fellow members), but because I had recently checked out Hunter’s website for the MA in Applied Research when considering getting back into school.

After reading through the blog I figured I’d check it out Hunter’s website again and clicked on “Thinking about a Master’s Degree in Sociology or Social Research?”. Not only was the article interesting from the perspective of a prospective student, but I was just introduced to the publication Footnotes — an ASA online publication. (not to be confused with our community facilitator Brian Foote’s blog: Footenotes).

What I really liked about my new source is where I read under Changes at Footnotes! that they were making the online edition the official version that would be downloadable as a pdf (which means I’m probably getting access to material I wouldn’t have been able to access during snail-mail only times). This new change reminded me of our recently updated wiki Open Access Publishing. Through a little exploring on the Commons I noticed it was also related to the Academic Commons’ groups: Open Education at CUNY and CUNY Law Green Coalition. Folks it doesn’t end there!… I was also able to find relevant material in the blog posts: Print is Dead…Now What? and Convince Me To Go Green, both from the blog: York College Comm Tech.

*That reminds me, if you have a video that you would like to enter in the Sustainable CUNY Shorts Video Contest, please remember:

“Your submission can be in any form, skit, demonstration, song, short film, etc., but must be submitted to the Sustainable CUNY YouTube channel by April 21, 2010. The judging will be done based on both content and views, so make sure to get your videos up quickly and tell everyone you know to watch it.”

And that folks, is 6 Degrees (or more) of the Academic Commons.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us…

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Sorry for the Zero Wing reference, but I was wondering which category the game would go under for CUNY Games Network’s discussion on Categorizing Video Games??  I kid, hopefully no students are playing that game as it was poorly translated when imported from Japan — in the 1980’s!

This topic was posted earlier today by Eva Fernandez, who is working with Michelle Faboni on an upcoming student survey at Queens College about technologies students use in and out of school. This discussion got 1o replies in less than 5 hours and not just to the author, but to each other! Feedback was built upon through open collaboration, which is exactly why the CUNY Academic Commons was created. Resources such as The Civil Potential of Video Games (White Paper), from the Pew Research Center, are now accessable to members from different academic backgrounds. All because a member with this resource was able to share it through a hyperlink on their forum post (yay)!

Since CUNY Games Network is a public group, members throughout the CUNY Academic Commons Community and visitors alike can access this information. While some groups on the Commons were created specifically with private/hidden membership in mind, group administrators should be aware of the positive collaborative aspects of public group access.

The Categorizing Video Games discussion is just getting warmed up, so tap into your inner gamer and post your thoughts!

Somehow the Vital Connection is Made…

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…anyone remember that Elastica song??

I was trying to think of a song with the word “connection” in it and opted for Elastica’s “Connection” over Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” … Here are the videos for both in case you’re feeling nostalgic for 90’s chick alt-rock music or 1970’s Jim Henson —  Sorry for the musical references, my mtvU VJ roots run deep!  ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzEfXU5Gsu0

Elastica- “Connection”

Kermit the Frog- “Rainbow Connection”

Read the rest of this entry »

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