Category Archives: ASU

My first batch of podcasts

This has been under the radar for some time, but I have been working on a series of podcasts called Light Bulb Moments for the Decision Theater blog of the same name.

Here is the link to the first, on the Pandemic ‘flu exercise.

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Posted by on February 20, 2009 in ASU, Decision Theater, Podcasts


Big guns atweeting – what could we learn from them?

What does the Dalai Lama‘s office, Number 10 Downing Street, and the new Governor of Arizona have in common?

They’ve all taken to Twitter, lately.

You can tell the groundswell has moved up into the corporate office. Says the Dalai Lama’s office (which counts iJustine as one of the person it is following (?): “His Holiness thought it was prudent to make his office open and assessable to a more youth and technologically advancing audience.”

By now, you’ve probably come across a dozen uses of Twitter. I’m in a group at Arizona State University where more staff members than you would imagine have been tweeting.

We may all have different uses for this uncanny upstart of a micro-blogging tool that has suddenly made a come back –since it came into being in 2007. But the best one I came across this week was from Jason Calcanis, founder of Mahalo. “if I want to leak something to the press, I can do it by just saying ‘what do you think about this…?’ and if it’s notable, it will be on 10 blogs in a day.”

Calcanis, if you have been following him even outside of Twitter, is a self-proclaimed PR machine. Maybe we could pull the different strands together and learn a few good ideas from all of them.

If anyone cares to contribute to this thread, I’ll follow up with a Lessons Learned post that includes your comments. Thanks!



When life gives you furlough…

As some of you in Arizona may have heard, last week ASU announced it is implementing a ‘furlough‘ for all staff. It was a proactive step taken while the legislature decided how it wanted to mangle education in Arizona. I could go on with a long rant about this, but there are other venues for that.

Many have asked what’s a furlough. Here is one explanation.

What’s next? There are many ways I could use my 12-day furlough, but considering that there are people out there who don’t even have job openings to apply for, I have an idea.

Job Camp. If anyone cares to join me, I plan to run a job search workshop. It would be based on my interest in the ‘social media resume‘ and include new thinking on areas such as:

  • How to reach hiring managers
  • What recruiters are looking for
  • What are the best ways to connect with them.

It would also cover some basics on:

  • Writing a strong resume / Designing a resume
  • Embedding it with social media elements.
  • Targeting your job search with your resume

Details will follow.

A few communicators I know have volunteered their time. If you like to help out, I’d really like to hear from you. Leave a message here, reach me via LinkedIn, or send me a tweet.



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Mortgaging, squeezing, railroading: running out of metaphors to describe education budget cuts

Laurie Roberts’ analysis of Arizona’s education cuts by myopic legislators, for once puts things in perspective. It also adds to the pile of colorful ways to describe what Arizona faces if it goes through with the proposed budget cuts.

Sure, everyone’s trying to do more with less, but more powerful than the metaphors is how a writer can put things in perspective:

“Put another way, the state would be supplying $358 less to educate today’s college student than it did 20 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, the state is kicking in roughly half of what it contributed 20 years ago.”

Of course she also notes that  “the ripest, juiciest and most available budget that can be squeezed” has always been the universities.

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Posted by on January 28, 2009 in ASU, Education, Media


Faced with budget cuts, duct tape and cardboard box works!

Since it’s Friday, thought I’d share something far removed from the social media and marketing stuff you see here. Call it my glass-is-half-full story.

I work with people with an unusual skills at the Decision Theater. But how often do you find someone who could put together a home-made teleprompter? With nothing more than a cardboard box, a sheet of glass he pilfered from me, some buggy freeware, and a bit of duct tape, my colleague Dustin Hampton is ready to shoot a series of videos featuring simulated news reports.


The laptop makes the mirrored text scroll onto the flat screen monitor taped down at a 45-degree angle. It is then reflected up at the sheet of glass –on the other side of the camera you see here!

Yes, like everyone else in the state, the universities are facing budget cuts. But there’s work to be done. This project involves pandemic flu planning. I like to think of this as our way of not sitting back and waiting for the sun to rise.

(cross posting from LightBulb Moments)


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Dire warning against dumbing down education in Arizona

As soon as details about budget cuts affecting education in the state (K-12 funding to be cut by $ 900 million, state university funding by $243 million) became known, the voices calling for such short-sighted actions have begun growing.

A few students put together a Facebook group, and an information-rich web site at

It includes a short video on Vimeo - watch this, links to members of the state legislature, and other ways to get more voices be heard.

I write about this not just to track how social media is being used to bring people together for a common cause. I have a personal stake in this. I work at Arizona State University, one of the three universities that will be forced to take drastic steps (massive layoffs and astronomical tuition increases) if these cuts go through.

Personal stake #2: My  son is a freshman at Northern Arizona University and I would not want to see Arizona dumbing down its education even further.

This is serious stuff folks.


See how they have responded:


Launching Decision Theater blog – Lightbulb Moments

This has been running under the radar for awhile. Lightbulb Moments, the first in a series of social media initiatives I am rolling out at the Decision Theater.

If you are interested in what decision-making involves, what goes on in the “drum’ involving visualization, 3D modeling and collaborative decision-making check us out.

If you need to grab an RSS feed, this is it.

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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in ASU, Decision Theater


Slick! ASU recognized for 2008′s great invention

For Time magazine’s pick of the top 50 inventions for 2008 Arizona State University made the list.

The invention? Green Crude, as they called it. A carbon-neutral biofuel bred by algae. Time acknowledged the work of professor Milton Sommerfeld, and Qiang Hu.

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Posted by on January 5, 2009 in ASU, Media


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2008 in Retrospect: The Good, The Bad, and The Absolutely Hilarious!

We said goodbye to some extraordinary people this year.

PR disasters and signs of the times

  • Bill O’Reilley’s studio performance over a teleprompter
  • Scott McClellan‘s unconvincing tell-all book on his White House years.
  • New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer busted in prostitution scandal
  • Alaska Senator Ted Stevens found guilty of ethics violations
  • Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich charged with corruption
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona launches immigration busts.
  • Sarah Palin ‘pranked’ by two Canadian radio DJs, into believing she was speaking to French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • The Big Three car makers, GM, Ford and Chrysler, arrived in DC to ask for a bailout in their corporate jets. They were sent back and returned, driving hybrid vehicles. One even car-pooled. Honest!
  • The Guardian in London, declares Gillette ad featuring (Roger) Federer, (Tiger) Woods and (Thierry) Henry the worst ad in 2008.


  • The 15th birthday of Hypertext – Tim Berners-Lee
  • Barack Obama elected the 44th president of the U.S.
  • The iPhone cuts its price, and adds a new model
  • The New Yorker‘s controversial cover on the Obamas
  • The 2008 Olympics in China
  • Dipnote celebrates one year as a blog
  • Blackberry introduces Storm, the answer to the iPhone
  • ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Comm celebrates 25 years
  • Saturday Night Live‘s YouTube skit on Sarah Palin
  • Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano, picked to be new Sec. of Homeland Security
  • Christian Science Monitorshifts from daily to Weekly
  • bizAZ Magazine folds due to downturn in economy
  • The horrible Mumbai terrorist attacks, which now have a Wikipedia entry

Aerotropolis, Sustainability and the mixed lexicon in 2008

Looking back, it’s been a momentous year for me. Fresh into the first week in ’08, I took up an amazing job at the Decision Theater.

In 2008, the words that made an impact, in no particular order have been:

  • CleanTech is very exciting and relevant to my job, my family, my community. I don’t have to be a technology writer to want to explore it further.
  • Sustainability, which once seemed like a big word for making responsible decisions about forests and oceans, is now a lens through which we look at entire economic, social and business systems.
  • The obscure instrument called a ‘mortgage backed security could unhinge our economy, including the free-fall of house prices in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham, England, the price of a gallon of gas, and a ‘cheap’ tree ornament made in China.
  • An ‘aerotropolis which is a compressed urban environment around a commercial airport could revitalize community life.
  • The phrase ‘lipstick on a pig‘ became a silly diversion in the run up to the elections, but also stuck out as how quickly, an unplanned cosmetic element of a campaign could generate buzz.
  • The word ‘Outlier‘ which has been cropping up, has a mathematical connotation. As in: ‘numerically distant from the rest of the data.’
  • Android, the mobile operating system from Google, could be the OS we all gravitate to.
  • Meatball Sundae –a book by Seth Godin that was actually published in Dec ’07 – is the notion that applying new marketing on top of traditional products can have a gross results.

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