Monthly Archives: November 2009

From RWW: Obama, Kids, & All Tomorrow’s Web Apps: President Focuses on Tech Education

Heres to teaching our kids about Science and Technology.




via ReadWriteWeb by Jolie O’Dell on 11/23/09

At the White House today, President Obama talked robots, hung out with the guys from MythBusters, and launched a campaign designed to create smarter, techier American kids.


“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” said Obama.” That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] education over the next decade a national priority.”



The campaign involves key partnerships with organizations from Sesame Street to Sony (whose PlayStation 3 console will be used for strengthening young minds through game design competitions), and it also features help from individuals such as Sally Ride (the first female astronaut) and a handful of digitally focused CEOs.


The Geek-In-Chief is also starting an annual science fair at the White House to inspire and promote young geeks who are doing great things in hardware, software, technology, science and robotics. We need, he said, to teach children to “be makers, not consumers.


“If you win the NCAA champtionships, you get to come to the White House… We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”


And why do American kids need this level of convincing? Brace yourselves for bad news, patriots: Kids in the U.S. rank in the mid-twenties when scored against 30 other nations for math and science literacy. We are being drastically outperformed in these areas; in a time when technological innovation is the foundation and impetus for a lot of other cultural and economic factors, can we afford to not develop competencies in tech and science?


The President doesn’t think so, and he’s directing funds accordingly. He further announced that the $4.35 billion Race to the Top school grant program will give preference to states that commit to improving STEM education.


Obama hopes the campaign will increase STEM literacy for students, improve the quality of teaching in these areas, and promote better education and work opportunities for underrepresented groups – such as women and minorities – in tech.


In the recent past, we’ve told you about Obama’s financial and moral support for startups, his masterful use of the social web – both as a candidate for the office and as President – and the change, recovery, data, and health care reform initiatives he’s conducted online. He may not personally use Twitter (yet), but he does use a Creative Commons license for his Flickr photos. It seems fairly clear to us that Obama cares about where the country is going technologically, and we hope this focus on STEM education will help us all in the long term.


Check out the President’s 18-minute address, which outlines his plan to use the $260 million-valued campaign to bring struggling American students into world domination:



Check out some of the implementations of the partnerships Obama references above on the Digital Media and Learning Competition website, and look out for Discovery Channel’s commercial-free block of science programming for kids launching next year.


And for those of you with an inclination to volunteer, check out this National Lab Day website matching classroom needs to volunteer expertise. American kids apparently need to learn about phone app programming, entrepreneurialism and plain old hardware just as much as they need to focus on engineering robots – a favorite topic of teachers, students and the President, as well.


“I believe that robotics can inspire students,” he said while introducing a student project designed to collect and throw moon rocks. “I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything.” We officially love you, Mr. President. And yes, let’s get those kids into labs and in front of glowing screens – for the right reasons this time. Discuss


From FASTForward: Posterous – the power of simplicity

Interesting blog post about a new service called Posterous!




via The FASTForward Blog by Rob Paterson on 11/14/09

Here is a very special interview between Robert Scoble and the founders of Posterous. The interview I think highlights many issues that seem to escape most of us in North America and Europe as we think about the 2.0 world.

There are billions of people who are now connected but whose primary tools are handsets, texting and email.

These people are very poorly served by our western tool sets – computers, the web and social software.

While the uptake of Facebook is impressive at around 300 million – this is nothing compared to the universe who rely on the handset, text and email.

Like Twitter, Posterous is amazingly simple to use. It gets around many of the barriers for the hesitant. Billions know how to text or use email. Now they can have a place to share and show what interests them without having to learn anything new or to buy anything more.

I suspect that the Posterous guys have spotted something huge here. They have truly been thinking about the “underserved” Clay Christenson concept. They also know that it is best to start with “Good enough”.

But Posterous also helps the Western Hard Core Blogger.

As a long term blogger and user of the western tool set – my use of Posterous has transformed my own participation on the web. I find it sooooooooooo easy to use. In particular it enables me to aggregate the best material that I can find on my blog and to ensure that what I post gets the widest distribution.

Here I think is the nub.

Aggregation in focused areas –  mine would include the emergence of the network (local and global) in all sectors – such as in organization of all kinds, food, media and energy  – is where content value is enhanced. I have my own ideas but they are made better when I add related ideas of others – not just as links – but in large chunks – for after all I have a lot of real estate. You can see in a second whether you wish to read on or not. A set of links is more of a mystery ride.

I am finding that my blog has much more depth for very little added effort – my readership is up both in terms of views and time on the page. So others seem to agree.

The other part of the value is in giving me better distribution. With one simple action on Posterous – I not only post to my blog but to Twitter and to Facebook where I have overlapping but often different readers. As the social web becomes every more real time, I can throw a bigger rock into the river and cause more ripples.

These features I think can help those in media who are also seeking more focus on their web offerings and who seek a wider following. Posterous will enable hard pressed TV and Radio staff add more value and widen their reach.

Like Twitter, Posterous is deceptively simple. But also like Twitter, I think that we will see that this simplicity is key to its potential power.

Is this not a lesson for all adoption? To own a car in 1900 was to demand that you also had a mechanic. Over time, cars inside became ever more complex, but using them became ever more simple. The more simple, the cheaper, the more people adopted them.

Simple isn’t it!

Social Media Policy – Part 10 – Conclusion

In summary, I have found in my research that a social class=”mceItemHidden”> media policy should attempt to answer the following:

What is the organization attitude toward social media?

What is the organization definition of social media?

Should employee be able to use social media while at work?  And if so, how and how often?

Should an orgainzation encourage or discourage employees to identify themselves as employees?

Should the organization require or encourage the use of disclaimer on employees personal websites?

What level of privacy will employees be afforded?

Should the organization be concerned about employees talking about work related issues that do not directly impact their work area?

What is the consequence of misuse or violation of the policy?

However, in the end the need for a social media policy is important to help employees navigate the world of social media as it relates to the workplace.  A social media policy is also important to employers because it will help provide guidelines and a framework to be used when addressing issues involving employees’ use of such technologies.

What are your final thoughts?  Did I miss anything?

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The Power of Linked Data

I recently began particpating in the W3C eGov Interest Group and learned about the concept or practice the connecting data to other data avialable on the Web.  It is a concept that Tim Berners-Lee calls “linked data“.  The potential is huge.  I don’t fully understand the details, but I was pointed to following presentation by Tim Berners-Lee at the TED Conference.  The video introduces the concept and the underlying potential.

Link to the video:

Social Media Policy – Part 9 – Productivity and Impact of Misuse


 Social media tools can be valuable resources when used for work-related activities, but inappropriate use of these tools can be a drain on employer resources.  Therefore, if an employer supports the use of social media tools during work hours, then that employer’s social media policy should include a reminder to employees that their use of social media tools should not negatively impact their work productivity.

So what is your experience?  Are people more or less productive when allowed to use social media tools?  How should employers address this issue?

Impact of Misuse

A final and critical component of a sound social media policy is a clear delineation of the consequences that will follow violations of the policy.  In many cases, this component may be addressed by extending misuse of social media to those guidelines already contained in the existing employee handbook.  However, it is critical that the social media policy be clear about the consequences if the policy is violated.

What should be the consequence for misuse?  Termination? A fatherly disapproving talk from a boss (which might make getting fired look more promising)?

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Social Media Policy – Part 8 – Confidential Information, Terms of Service, and Legal Issues

Although it may be a matter of common sense that employees should follow terms of service and the law and also not to disclose confidential information, most social media policies include clauses stating that employees are responsible for their actions with regard to confidential information, terms of service, and obeying the law.

What else should be considered in this area?  Does the policy need to be explicit?

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Social Media Policy – Part 7 – Commenting and Posting on Topics Related to Work

In addition to personal use of social media tools generally, employees may participate in and comment on discussions, news stories, blog posts, etc. that deal with topics related to the organization.  The organization should consider how such interaction using social media tools might impact the organization.  In addressing this issue, the organization should consider whether and under what circumstances employees’ use of social media tools to respond to topics, such as blog posts, related to the organization may be appropriately constrained; or should the organization leave its concerns in this area to the general common sense discretion of its employees?

What is the best policy for an orgainzation in this case?  Should organization say anything about indirectly work related issues?  Or should the organization rely on the best judgment of employees?

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