Monday, August 29, 2005

Is there a dirty little secret at SJSU?

Dirty Windows

San Jose State University is a great university. It has beautiful grounds and talented faculty, students and staff. The view of Tower Hall seldom fails to inspire. But, there is something dark and dirty here. Sometimes it seems to me to be a bit of a facade when you can step a few feet away from the lovely lawns and see sights like this that just scream neglect. These dark and dirty places at SJSU that just seem to get darker and dirtier. Some messes here just never seem to get cleaned up. I don't understand why our great university tolerates such malaise and mediocrity. Is it that the folks who make decisions are so mesmerized by what they want people to see that they are blind to details that so plain and out in the open? How can our institution tolerate and fail to see the malaise that has so long been in the open and begging to be cleaned up here? That, in my opinion, is a huge mystery.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Spartan Daily Letter to Editor

The Spartan Daily ran a story today [Link] singing the praises of the new SJSU On-line Directory. In response to the story I submitted this letter to the editor:

The SJSU on-line campus directory [Link] is a major tool for providing information and support to the university community. It is very important for students to be able to get accurate information about how to contact professors and university staff in order for folks to achieve their academic goals.

Unfortunately, the new directory has some major problems that still need to be resolved. At least one staff person, James King, has continued to be listed up to the time this is being written, even though he died four months ago.

The University Help Desk, the Computer Center, the People Soft Help Desk and Human Resources have been made aware of this issue, but it remains unresolved. Other listings are in the directory list employee names but no contact information.

This must be frustrating for our clients to deal with and, in my opinion, are bad examples of customer service. It is very important that this tool be accurate. We can do better. I am looking forward to having some important improvements be made to our new SJSU on-line directory.

Steve Sloan
Information Technology Consultant
SJSU University Help Desk
Academic Technology

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The corporate weblog manifesto

Robert Scoble wrote this manifesto [Link] and it is an important document for those who blog in the workplace. It would be interesting to re-mix this for education, if somebody else has not already done that.

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Freedom of speech & blogs in the workplace

In my opinion the most important thing about embracing blogging and podcasting, etc. is not the technology itself, it is the mindset that empowers the technology. The whole point of these emerging technology (emerging pedagogy) tools is that they enable global collaboration and conversation. This is a conversation that transcends boundaries and institutional lines. Within the blogosphere/podosphere all voices (like all IP addresses) are equal. There is a thesis in a great book on the subject called the Cluetrain Manifesto, "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy." Of course this requires institutional buy in. I believe it is more important to have institutional leadership that "gets it" than it is to have a blog server solution. Without this kind of mindset I would never trust an on-site solution to host a blog of mine.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Getting in and out of the saddle

Me riding my bike

In his start of the school year address University President Don Kassing told a story about the Tour de France, showed bike racing videos and told the university faculty, staff and students assembled at his Monday August 22 speech how we should be inspired by Lance Armstrong's out of the saddle hill climbing style. I was so inspired the next day that I rode my bike to work. Continuing on that thread of inspiration after I get off work today I think I will go on a bike ride. Yes, I am feeling very inspired.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

No shortage of rude motorists

Big car, small space
The university has an abundant supply of small spaces and drivers who drive huge cars. Even when other spaces are available, drivers of land yachts will cram into the small spaces to save themselves from having to walk an extra 100 feet a day. I wonder if they are ticketed by University Police? Since they seem to do it day after day, I doubt it.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

We have much to learn from Scoble at SJSU

In my opinion our university is so not ready for staff blogging, emerging technology and/or the principles of Cluetrain.

For university employees to feel free to speak and engage each other, students and the public in a conversation about the university and academia; there has to exist an atmosphere of tolerance where staff feel free to be critical of the university without fear of retribution.

In other words, the management at the university has to create an environment where staff feel that freedom of thought, expression and speech is not just tolerated, it is nourished. What has made SJSU alumnus Robert Scoble [Link] so successful at Microsoft is his willingness and ability to be critical of his employer and his employer's willingness to accept this. Only by feeling such a freedom at our campus will the staff and faculty at the university be able to speak with a voice that is candid and believable. Only if they are believable will the folks who work at our great university be able to engage in a genuine conversation.

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Another SJSU Podcaster!

SJSU Mass Communications student Ryan Sholin is podcasting! So far, it is just a couple of test shots done with Audacity. It is great to hear his podcast. Ryan is one of those inspiring students that makes working at this great university so much fun. I am looking forward to hearing the interesting conversations I am sure Ryan will have.

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Lets use SJSU Technorati tags

I have started using "sjsu" (no quotes) as a Technorati tag. I only use this on blog postings about San Jose State University. The syntax for this is to include this code into your HTML:

<a href="" rel="tag">SJSU</a>

If you do this it will take you to the Tag site located at this URL:

Why do I think this is a good idea? Because then we have one place to see posts about SJSU. This is much better than doing a search on SJSU because authors, by including this code, are telling readers, "this is about SJSU." This is very different from what you find in a search. A search result just says, "this mentions SJSU." Think of this in terms of a conversation (which of course this is.) By doing this we are enabling the conversation about our university to be viewed in one place. Plus, it also has an RSS feed. This is the URL for that:

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Campus-wide wireless dead for Fall semester start

I am very disappointed that the new campus-wide wireless network is dead on arrival for the Fall term. This was discussed in a wireless meeting this morning. So, when will it be ready? When will we have a campus-wide network? September? October? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Will Santa be bringing a new wireless down our chimney?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dead people still haunting the SJSU directory

James King Listing

It has been going on three months since Jay King died. During that time I have complained numerous times about the fact that he is still listed in the campus directory. I think every manager in the University Computing and Telecommunications center has heard about this from me, not to mention most of the folks I know in Academic Technology. He is still there folks. Is this really the best we can do?

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Monday, August 15, 2005

The revolution is happening here and now

If you haven't been following the conversation on Technorati, you should. The conversation about Cindy Sheehan [Link] is a great example of the global conversation that blogging, RSS and the real-time web enable. Hey folks this is where it's at, it is at Camp Casey and it is here, right here and right now at SJSU! I have moved my part of the Sheehan conversation off this blog and over here [Link.] Whatever your passion, the time is now to join the global conversation. We need to figure this out at SJSU before it is too late. But, I don't think that will happen. From what I see, at least not soon.

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Is it good SJSU does not host blogs?

The more I blog the happier I am that my university does not have a blogging solution. If SJSU did have such a solution, I may have been tempted to host my blog on the domain It is the difference between having a conversation about my job and having a conversation as a mouthpiece of the university. What I write is my own unfiltered opinion about what I do and where I work. The words I write are mine and are not subject to filtering by my boss or the institution where I work. I think this gives me more credibility. Hosting my content off the campus where I work is the price I pay for freedom of speech. The more I ponder this the more I think our university having a blogging solution may be a big mistake and may be contrary to the principles of cluetrain. Perhaps employees of an organization risk loosing the authenticity of their voice when it is hosted by the organization that pays them.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

President Bush, Meet with Cindy

Cindy Sheehan

I found this thanks to Joe Trippi's blog [Link]. It struck a resonance with me as a father of three sons. On the way home from work I saw these folks on a corner in Willow Glen. Joe Trippi is an amazing guy who wrote an amazing book [Link], and he is leading a charge to evangelize the cause of Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq [Link.] This is the letter they are gathering signatures to. When I checked over 12,000 patriots had signed. It is a real Internet movement:

Dear Mr. Bush,

On August 3 you said the soldiers who were killed in Iraq, "died in a noble cause." Cindy Sheehan's son Casey died in Iraq, but she takes no comfort in your words. She wants to meet with you to ask you directly: Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for? We, the American people, urge you to meet with Cindy Sheehan to answer her questions.

Please consider signing the petition here [Link]

Maybe we should call it emerging pedagogy?

According to wikipedia, pedagogy is the art or science of teaching. [Link]

In a recent conversation with an associate it came to my attention that that the courses I have been teaching in the Center for Faculty Development and Support (CFDS) at San Jose State University on emerging technology have been categorized along with other tech skills courses, like how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and Filemaker Pro. My courses are courses on Emerging Technology, things like: Weblogs, RSS, Wikis and Podcasting. In the CFDS skills courses are considered secondary to pedagogy courses. One professor wrote on my evaluation for my course on wikis, "what does this have to do with pedagogy?"

It is at times like this that I feel like I am hitting my head against a wall. I had a whole part of my presentation on uses of wikis in education and he still didn't get it!

Dear professor, read Cluetrain, read Joe Trippi, read Scoble, read and listen to  the Gillmors. This is not about technology, this is because of technology. Making this about technology is like making libraries about printing presses.

This is about political science, this is about journalism, this is about pedagogy and this is about everything else that is potentially changed by the whole new wave of global communications and virtual omnipresence that is afforded by the emergent Internet and enabling devices, services, software, infrastructure and protocols. So, perhaps we need to drop "technology" from our conversations about emerging technology and couple it to things that are more relevant, more important and so much bigger than just mere technology. This is a societal change, a change in the way people relate and communicate with each other and that, dear professor, is very much about pedagogy!

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We're hiring at the ITSS Help Desk

The word that we are hiring student assistants is spreading virally. There seems to be a steady stream of folks coming in and submitting applications. These are great folks, almost all are international students. We have already selected three of the five new positions we are filling. This is part of the ramp up to support the new campus-wide wireless network. I am really excited to be working with these fine young people.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mission Impossible at SJSU for me

Many of you know I have two virtual assignments at SJSU. I coordinate the ITSS Help Desk and I teach technology courses in the Center for Faculty Development and Support. Before I came here both of these positions were staffed full time. Since I came both positions have grown. At the Help Desk, in the latest month statistics are available, we closed 400% of the tickets we closed in the same month of the previous year. With my 50% assignment there that is an 800% effective workload increase year-to-year.

At CFDS enrollments are up so high for technology courses that we have had to add extra back-to-back sessions. Therefore I have requested that I be relieved of one assignment so I can concentrate on the other. If management does this and assigns me to the Help Desk full-time that means I will no longer be teaching Emerging Technology classes (such as blogging, wiki’s, RSS etc.) at SJSU. My first choice would be to teach full-time and develop a semester long series of emerging technology sessions that would include Web 2.0, Open Source, Mobile Devices and other emerging technologies.

I will miss this a lot, but I do not feel I can do either job well given my current assignment structure. I will still be a blogger and a podcaster. Just like my photography, I am still a photographer. It is an avocation, not a vocation for me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A new South Bay Blogger Meetup Group?

The South Bay Blogger Meetup Group is looking for a new leader. The old one resigned.

About a month or so ago I attended a South Bay Blogger Meet-up meeting. I enjoyed meeting the folks there! They were very nice people. It seemed at the time that it was a pretty established group of friends. I got the impression that with meet-up now charging almost $20 a month, that the group was planning to leave meet-up and start a Yahoo (I did say Google and that was wrong) group. Comments I heard were to the effect of, "we are all friends and we don't need meet-up anymore to get together."

I am interested in reforming the meet-up group as a new South Bay Blogger Meet-up group closer to the University. This would be a new group (I hope the old members participate!)

With the new group perhaps we could leverage our closely located city library to move it there. I am not trying to impinge on the folks that started the South Bay Blogger Meetup Group, but I don't want it to go away either. Okay folks, here's your chance to comment. What do you think of this idea?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sifry on the State of the Blogosphere

Blogosphere doubling each 5.5 months
Dave Sifry of Technorati submitted this post [link] on the growth of the blogosphere. According to Sifry:

As of the end of July 2005, Technorati was tracking over 14.2 Million weblogs, and over 1.3 billion links. Interestingly, this is just about double the number of blogs that we were tracking 5 months ago. In March 2005 we were tracking 7.8 million blogs, which means the blogosphere has just about doubled again in the past 5 months, and that the blogosphere continues to double about every 5.5 months.

The significance for this in education is huge. Blogging, and audio-blogging (a.k.a. podcasting) are the hottest things going on on the Internet. As political technologist Joe Trippi [link] notes:

Just like with blogging software, podcasting and videocasting will become a commonplace, one-click-and-you-get-what-you-want kind of platform.

The impact of this on the many institutions in our society is, in my opinion, huge, really huge.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Train vs. Cop, who will win?

Will the train hit the cop car? Watch and find out. While I was reading the Atlas Forum, I've found this link to a video from a recent episode of "Cops".

Monday, August 01, 2005

We need to do a better job than this!

I am frustrated that we cannot do a better job than this. On July 18 I reported on this blog [link] that Jay King, a staff person who had died about three weeks earlier, was still in the on-line staff directory. I reported this fact weeks ago to the head of the telecommunications department and this was not then fixed.

James King

Well Jay is still there!

Jay King Closeup

It has now been over a month. This is supposed to be our new more accurate directory! How can we serve our students well when we are unable to give them access to resources without such gross errors? We need to do a better job than this!

We lost one of the best

I guess I can talk about it now, for example, if you scan down on this post [link] you can read this:

Dennis Dunleavy, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. His research emphasizes the role digital technologies play on photojournalistic routines. He maintains a daily Weblog called "The Big Picture?" which focuses on visual culture and emerging technologies. His weblog is located at

My friend is leaving and I will miss him terribly, so will SJSU! We may never know the richness he could have brought to our university.

Scoble being hounded by trolls

Robert has been hounded a lot by mean spirited trolls who have been posting to his blog.

I have a rather obscure blog and sometimes wish I wasn't so far out on the long tail. However, after seeing the crap being thrown at Robert I am happy with my obscurity.

I have known Bob since he was a student at SJSU and can say without reservation that he is the real deal. I have never seen him be anything but sincere and passionate about technology and the empowerment that it gives people. Is he perfect? No, but then none of us are. However, I can say he is a far better person than the trolls I see commenting and hiding behind anonymity. If I am "taking the bait" by rising to the defense of a friend and an honest person, so be it.

Please, Blog On Bob!


Required Reading: The Cluetrain Manifesto

Get a Clue(train)!
In my opinion this book is required reading if you have any interest at all in where technology is taking institutions in our world. The book is written from a business perspective, but I think the principles apply just as well to education. I cannot emphasize this book enough. It may be the most important book about the Internet and emerging technology and it's impact on the institutions of our society I know of. Everything that Dan Gillmor [link] and Joe Trippi [link] have written is based on these principles. You just must read this book. It is even free on-line here [link].

Levine, R., Locke, C., Searls, D., Weinberger, D. (2000). The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. New York; Perseus Books Group