Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Social Web We Weave

Can we all declare calling in bomb threats to a college campus a trend that's passed?  If you still feel the urge to disrupt thousands of lives and cost lots of money for a prank, at least make sure you're not doing it with Facebook friends.

The latest round in Texas involved a threat at Texas State in San Marcos and Texas A&M in College Station.  In Lone Star State terms, two schools not THAT far apart.

And who knew they shared a connection through their fake bomb threats.  Yes, when Dereon Tayronne Kelly was arrested for the TAMU call, police noticed he had a Facebook photo with a young woman, Brittany Henderson, the week before was arrested for the TSU call.

Actually, not just a picture with her.  It was Dereon's profile picture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Can (And Will) Be Worse

Ah fall.  The leaves.  The colors.  The insane schedules of events.  Sorry to be away, but projects have a way of soaking up energy and time.

Nevertheless, the great faux pas of Facebook roll on.  While we have survived our own trying start to the semester courtesy of a new student records system (lots of one-on-one relationship work there), it can, and will, be worse.

Consider the dilemma of Green Mountain College in Vermont.  A private school that has a strong sustainable footprint mission.  Including making full use of the livestock.  As in putting down old Ox when the time comes, and turning it into, well, what you do on the farm.

But in this case, the ox comes with a name, Lou, and even after the student referendum of how best to take Lou's fate -- the vote was for fulfilling the mission of sustainable farm management -- imagine the feedback.  Kudos to Kevin Coburn, the director of communications for GMC, for fostering a transparent process, including lengthy posts on their Facebook and not (one assumes within the reasons of good taste, language and decency) squelching the commentary.

Here's a small liberal arts institution with just under 3,000 likes but a current traffic of almost 1,000 discussing the end of Lou's career.  Takes some commitment to that transparency and a willingness to engage the students to stand up to that social media microscope (might seem like a proctoscope) at times.

WEDNESDAY PM ADDITION:  The Chronicle of Higher Ed weighs in with a nice background look.

Just to show it's at both ends of the spectrum, our colleagues to the south at LSU -- close to three-quarters of a million like -- are working through a controversy of photoshopping photos of student groups that had body painted crosses at a recent football game.  Same type of passionate opinions, and after their less than rapid early response to the September bomb threat on social media, we'd be curious to see the reaction.  Kudos there as well as once the issue became apparent, the LSU team cross posted the student opinion and sought to be more open regarding the changing of the photos.  That honesty is limiting what could be a pretty nasty exchange.

WEDNESDAY AM ADDITION: A tip of the cap to Chris Syme for adding this link from ABC News which gives you a look at the photo and other overview of the decision.

So whether you're big or small, there are social media constants:  Be open.  Be transparent.  Tell the truth.

Monday, October 01, 2012

World Bullying Day Starts Out West

I see that today, Oct. 1, we're suppose to wear blue in support of anti-bullying.  Sure hope that's not UCLA Bruin blue based on today's dispatches from the West Coast.

Seems one of the assistant SIDs let media wander to the wrong spot in practice, and new UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. let him know about it in front of the whole team.

I pick it up from one of the Bruin blogs via a colleague on Facebook.  Frankly, the Los Angeles Times source for the story is far more cutting than the blog.

Not gonna act like I haven't received or seen such ass chewings -- just not usually in full view of the public, the team and the people you're suppose to work with.

T.J. Simers, the LA Times columnist, picks it up:

It's what we've come to expect from our really good college coaches as they set out to make men out of the kids in their programs.

And you know the Bruins had to just love it, with UCLA fans no doubt also admiring Mora's drive to be the very best at whatever the cost of human dignity.

That's when a program knows it has the right guy, or as Mora put it: "I'm not going to jeopardize what we're doing as a football team because of the incompetence of some people."

I think it's pretty well understood football is the most important thing going on at UCLA, and every man, woman and child needs to understand that.

UCLA is 4-1.  It's all good.  Nothing to see here.  More along.  Just inside the house banter.

Sports might not build character, but it sure can reveal it.

Before I get emails and calls from colleagues in the field, look, you all know that you do that behind closed doors.  Even that is tantamount to creating a hostile workplace and sooner or later, it is a college campus.

Another colleague said it: coaches at that level are kings.

The collective we allows this.  Don't forget, they're winning.  Before you cluck about your school or your rival, ask yourself an honest question: would you let the coach go bat guano crazy on helpless staff if you thought it would lead to a 4-1 mark?  Hell, they'd volunteer for it (and at many institutions, functionally speaking, they do).

Oh, and by the way, that Stomp Out Bullying Day artwork?  Yeah, it's blue and gold.

Where Did My Likes Go?

Speculation that Facebook's total membership was inflated by as much as 25% and that the number of actual live users (discounting those who legitimately made accounts but do not participate on a regular basis) could be as low as 15% of the total number got a boost last week as the social media giant began purging known bad accounts.

So if your Facebook page's growth stalled last week, it's likely you didn't really drop meaningful members.

Read more.