April 2008

I used to say that I was geekier than most of my friends, but lately I’ve added more geeky people to my network, largely because of the tools geeks use to find each other and stay connected. I walk in two worlds. One world twitters. The other is baffled by it.

I’m a fairly frequent twitterer, but I try to keep my twitters somewhere between light and and newsworthy.

Here’s what Twitter has done for me. I have found some great recipes when I sent out a Twitter call. I know when friends are stuck in airports (I cringe with them) and when they make it home safely (I feel relieved). I know the coffee shop they’re working from and can stop by if I’m in the neighborhood. I know who is talking to whom about what. I can throw out a personal twitter much like office workers who chat over the cubicle wall. And I get instant technical support from my twitterverse.

This video does a great job of explaining Twitter and it’s value.

(By the way, I found this video from Cesar’s Twitter referencing a blog posting he wrote. He does a good job of describing his way of using Twitter)

I may be silly, but when I say, “how are you doing?” or “what have you been up to?” when I meet people on the street, I really want an answer to my question. But I don’t often randomly run into my friends from Austin or NY or DC or SF or PA. With Twitter, I get these chance encounters and learn what people are doing throughout the day. It gives me a connection that I need as I work at home alone.

But I also learn a lot of useful information from my friends’ twitters. Andy’s twitter turned me on to the idea of edu-Twittering. Writing for Fast Company, Marcia Conner coined the term “edu-Twittering” and even has a game plan to implement twitter-learning:

Imagine the potential for discovery if the people who you follow through Twitter or any social-network status updates rounded out their contributions with something educational. Learning would zing wild and flow free.

Here’s how you can help.

1. Add news-to-use.
If you micromessage personal feelings ala “… is feeling lazy tonight,” add something for the rest of us like, “Pizza at BestPitza on Sole Rd saved the night.” Even 1000 miles away, I might tuck away the tip and think to myself, “Lazy and clever” rather than “Lazy and wasting my time.”

2. Provoke us.
Howard Rheingold recently wrote, “http://tinyurl.com/2ycryk Excessive texting may signal mental illness.” I enjoyed seeing what Howard’s reads, and the article itself reframed my thinking about IM.

3. Promote something special.
Two films on my go-see list came from recommendations by people who I rarely talk with about movies. “Saw Making Trouble tonight. Good film, well done.”

4. Inspire us.
An amazing friend uses her lines for gems like, “…is choosing conviction over convenience.” Reminds me to sit up a bit straighter and do the hard work.

5. Ask for advice.
I recently saw this plea for assistance. “looking for a great job. mine’s a dud. if you know something I should pursue, tell me quickly.

I’ve already seen how that works. I know immediately when some of my blogger and podcaster friends have written or conducted an interesting interview. I get word of the latest cool toys from people who monitor those sort of things. I know what questions are floating out there and I answer them if I can. And I get instant technical support from my twitterverse.

I’m twitterfied and satisfied. And I don’t have a mental illness.

Oh and thanks for the heads up about Fast Company Andy! Just another example of something I learned from my twitterverse. I see that you just wrote an NCDD twitter with a link to an article about 9 benefits of Twitter for Bloggers. I’ll have to read it later.

Getting up from the computer to prove I don’t have a twitter mental illness.


Terri and Becca went to stay overnight on the Lexington in Corpus Christi and Brent was in NYC. So I did “Tia” duty and stayed with Ben. Unfortunately (actually we decided it was GOOD fortune) he got sick so we spent the day together.

He wasn’t deathly ill so I made him do his math homework while I read two chapters of a colleagues Ph.D. dissertation in preparation for her speech to my class later in the day.

Of course as any parent knows, having a young person doing math in the household means you get into the action too.ben math

Once I won the battle of wits against the typical 7th grader questions about when, why, how algebra (I think it’s algebra. Isn’t that when you mix letters with numbers?) will ever be used, we hunkered down over his math book – it IS algebra; it says so on the cover – and I immediately began to ask myself when, why, how algebra has ever been important in my life.

But then we came to a word problem. I’ve always hated word problems (probably just a reflex), but this one made sense to me. It was about calculating telephone minutes with multiple rates. If the first 25 minutes are $1.01 and every minute after that is .09. How many minutes did Jenny talk if her bill was $9.56?

I know this answer. You take out the $1.01 from the $9.56 to get $8.55 which you divide by .09 per minute for 95 minutes. Then you add back the 25 minutes you took away when you subtracted the $1.01 and the answer is 120 minutes. Voila

But we weren’t off the hook just because we solved the problem.

Oh no!

We had to have an equation!

An equation?

Who needs a friggin’ equation?

We solved the problem.

Poor kid, he’s on his own until his dad comes home!

That was pretty grueling and since he’d been sick the night before, I managed to convince him to nap a 30 minute nap. Personally, I probably needed it more than Ben!

While I facilitated my online Technology, Colleges and Community Conference (TCC2008) and the Civic Entrepreneurship class I teach for the UIUC grad Library School Community Informatics program, Ben was in charge of dinner. But before it was time to start prepping dinner, Ben was right behind me in his father’s office offering words of support and encouragement during my interview with Ellen Knutson a recently appointed Ph.D. who did her dissertation on libraries and civil society. Not wanting to break my concentration on my screen and my introduction on the phone line being piped to my students, Ben resorted to ichatting me from 5′ away.


It’s pretty cool to have a cheerleader in the background while I’m in class!

For ninety minutes, I sat in the family office just across from the kitchen trying to focus on libraries and civil society in Russia while scents of onions and garlic wafted under the door. When class was done, Ben escorted me (with my eyes closed) into the dining room and this is the sight that greeted me.


Ben had made a fabulous dinner of Ratatouille with Gnocchi, and Olive kebobs with Turkey, and Merlot (for me). He had OJ!!!!

Olive oil
red pepper
2-4 crushed garlic cloves
4 small zucchini sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c chopped basil
parmesan cheese
cooked gnocci

Saute onion and garlic. add zuke and tomatoes. Cook about 30 minutes. Add gnocchi

After we cleaned up the kitchen, we watched Ellen deGeneres’ stand up show, “Here and Now” for about the tenth time and took turns reciting the punch lines along with her.

We danced to songs on my iPhone (I even let Ben lead!) and then he went to bed early just to make sure he would be well for school. Pretty good date!


with ben

I am participating in the 14th annual Technology, Colleges and Community [TCC2008] online conference Keynote session, “Chasing Squirrels in Online Learning” with Learning Times Founder Jonathan Finklestein. Here’s the speech description.

In this keynote, ‘Chasing Squirrels in Online Learning’, Learning in Real Time author Jonathan Finkelstein will explore unique, real-time online group and social networking activities that take learner engagement to the next level. Find out about innovative learning techniques and facilitation strategies that will open your eyes to what is possible while teaching and learning online.

He began his talk by asking us to reflect on a memorable learning moment. There are 91 participants in this speech and the responses were amazing. My response was, “When a teacher described me in a way I had never thought about. I wanted to be that person.” I didn’t add this point, but I feel to some extent, I am BECOMING that person.

I occurred to me that this is a great exercise for opening our Central Texas Dialogue and Deliberation Summit this Saturday. Do I dare suggest yet another change? It is certainly appropriate given our goal of creating a learning community.

This post sounds like me. I love gadgets, add-ons and upgrades. Toys, Toys, Toys!
clipped from www.nytimes.com
For them, no gadget is unnecessary, no add-on excessive, no upgrade superfluous. Now, I know this is not just a generational divide. Some people of any age — we all know a few — buy every new gizmo, the more bells and whistles and buttons, the better.
blog it

I’ve never understood why this nation of immigrants never adopted the siesta so popular in many other cultures. Were we just too busy conquering western horizons to stop for nap in the heat of the day?

I’ve discovered that power napping gives me – well, it gives me power. Twelve minutes between about 2:00-3:00 (much later than 3 and I’m groggy the rest of the day) is just enough umph to get me over the afternoon lag.

It’s always 12 minutes. No alarm. My body just seems tuned to that 12 minutes. It’s just enough to reinvigorate me, but not too much so that I’m dragging the rest of the day.

Yep, I’m ready to go the distance after a 12 minute nap.

Well, after that and a cup of chai tea with sweetener and cream. That’s my other afternoon indulgence. I started that in NY last December at my friend Susan’s house. (I also got engaged on that trip, but you’ll have to read Views on Marriage to learn more about that!)

And to make it extra special, I drink it from one of the hand-painted benjarong ceramic cups I brought home from Thailand!

benjarong cup

I’d write more, but I’m late for my power nap.


Gary David Goldberg, creator of Family Ties and Spin City was interviewed in Reader’s Digest April 2008. When asked if there was anything he might have done differently in his career, he responded with wisdom that I think we could all follow:

Early on, if you were in my way, I was willing to eliminate you. Now I don’t want to beat anyone at anything. The guy you beat has a family, he goes home – there are ripple effects. I’m aware that things can be over in a minute. I value my relationships. I feel blessed.

In the end, it really is about the relationships we foster and the “ripple effects” of our action. Both are within our control. That’s worth remembering when we feel beaten down and tempted to use our sharp elbows to work our way back up.