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Archive for December, 2011

Why Information Technology?

Click the pdf download here. You may edit, remix, email, distribute, share or upload this document to anyone anywhere as long as you don’t remove the credit and proper attribution to me.


Summer Engineering Institute

Courtesy:  LEAD Program

What is a LEAD Summer Engineering Institute?

During LEAD Summer Engineering Institutes, students reside and attend classes on-campus at 6 of the nation’s top engineering schools for 3 weeks. Summer Engineering Institutes provide diverse, high-achieving high school sophomores and juniors the opportunity to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers.

Students are empowered to confidently make better informed decisions when choosing their university and career through exposure to various fields of engineering, such as mechanical, chemical, biomedical, civil and environmental, and electrical and computer.

How can I benefit from a LEAD Summer Engineering Institute?

The goal is to immerse students early in their academic development to the innumerable career opportunities in engineering and computer science, and to equip them with knowledge and expertise from our nation’s leading universities and corporations, empowering students to confidently make better informed decisions when choosing their university and career.

What are the objectives of this program?

  • Engage students in an intense, hands-on curriculum comprised of engineering instruction, computer programming, problem solving, and data analysis.
  • Provide students with first-hand knowledge from engineering professionals through mentoring and corporate site visits.
  • Develop students’ presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Impart principles of responsible leadership.
  • Engage students in cultural and social activities.
  • Prepare students for college.

Why Solo Entrepreneurship?

I will let The Technium do the explaining and it is in part due to the Long Tail:

 The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly.  Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans…..

A few caveats. This formula – one thousand direct True Fans —  is crafted for one person, the solo artist. What happens in a duet, or quartet, or movie crew? Obviously, you’ll need more fans. But the additional fans you’ll need are in direct geometric proportion to the increase of your creative group. In other words, if you increase your group size by 33%, you need add only 33% more fans. This linear growth is in contrast to the exponential growth by which many things in the digital domain inflate. I would not be surprised to find that the value of your True Fans network follows the standard network effects rule, and increases as the square of the number of Fans. As your True Fans connect with each other, they will more readily increase their average spending on your works. So while increasing the numbers of artists involved in creation increases the number of True Fans needed, the increase does not explode, but rises gently and in proportion.

A more important caution: Not every artist is cut out, or willing, to be a nurturer of fans. Many musicians just want to play music, or photographers just want to shoot, or painters paint, and they temperamentally don’t want to deal with fans, especially True Fans. For these creatives, they need a mediator, a manager, a handler, an agent, a galleryist — someone to manage their fans.  Nonetheless, they can still aim for the same middle destination of 1,000 True Fans. They are just working in a duet.

Third distinction. Direct fans are best. The number of True Fans needed to make a living indirectly inflates fast, but not infinitely. Take blogging as an example. Because fan support for a blogger routes through advertising clicks (except in the occasional tip-jar), more fans are needed for a blogger to make a living. But while this moves the destination towards the left on the long tail curve, it is still far short of blockbuster territory. Same is true in book publishing. When you have corporations involved in taking the majority of the revenue for your work, then it takes many times more True Fans to support you. To the degree an author cultivates direct contact with his/her fans, the smaller the number needed.

Intro to YouTube

Courtesy: Michael Wesch (Digital Ethnography)

presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008. This was tons of fun to present. I decided to forgo the PowerPoint and instead worked with students to prepare over 40 minutes of video for the 55 minute presentation. This is the result. more info: http://mediatedcultures.net

0:00 Introduction, YouTube’s Big Numbers
2:00 Numa Numa and the Celebration of Webcams
5:53 The Machine is Us/ing Us and the New Mediascape
12:16 Introducing our Research Team
12:56 Who is on YouTube?
13:25 What’s on Youtube? Charlie Bit My Finger, Soulja Boy, etc.
17:04 5% of vids are personal vlogs addressed to the YouTube community, Why?
17:30 YouTube in context. The loss of community and “networked individualism” (Wellman)
18:41 Cultural Inversion: individualism and community
19:15 Understanding new forms of community through Participant Observation
21:18 YouTube as a medium for community
23:00 Our first vlogs
25:00 The webcam: Everybody is watching where nobody is (“context collapse”)
26:05 Re-cognition and new forms of self-awareness (McLuhan)
27:58 The Anonymity of Watching YouTube: Haters and Lovers
29:53 Aesthetic Arrest
30:25 Connection without Constraint
32:35 Free Hugs: A hero for our mediated culture
34:02 YouTube Drama: Striving for popularity
34:55 An early star: emokid21ohio
36:55 YouTube’s Anthenticity Crisis: the story of LonelyGirl15
39:50 Reflections on Authenticity
41:54 Gaming the system / Exposing the System
43:37 Seriously Playful Participatory Media Culture (featuring Us by blimvisible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yxHKgQyGx0
47:32 Networked Production: The Collab. MadV’s “The Message” and the message of YouTube
49:29 Poem: The Little Glass Dot, The Eyes of the World
51:15 Conclusion by bnessel1973
52:50 Dedication and Credits (Our Numa Numa dance)

Objectivity and Subjectivity

Objective – what and how

Subjective – why

In education,

  • elementary – schools teach concepts, ideas, definitions (what)
  • high school – more concepts, ideas, definitions (what)
  • college – teach career, technical or entrepreneurship skills (how to earn money)

But the more important question is “Why?”

Why is subjective, hence the province of oneself, or at least the responsibility of your parents, your religion or your government.

So how do you reconcile the objective what and how with the subjective why?

The truth is, only you can decide. In life, you have to cultivate what your passion is.

Behavioral economics may teach us a thing or two:

  1. market norms – is focused on how (how to earn a living)
  2. social norms – is focused on why (altruism, human nature, existence, philosophical, spiritual)

Thomas Alva Edison once said:

Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Factors like family, religion, education, government and the economy are external factors that combine for just 1% of inspiration, the rest is one’s action.

As Jim Collins would say:

Whether you prevail or fail depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.