24 February 2012

Why the AIR Nominees Should Join Twitter

I voted today in the officer elections for the Association for Institutional Research. AIR is the main professional organization in North America for the people who do reporting, business intelligence, and assessment for higher education—my professional colleagues. Like most such organizations it relies on its members to serve as officers, board members, and committee members to function. The slate of candidates seems quite capable. I don't know any of them personally, though I've connected with one virtually (more on that below). Certainly, I am grateful that they've volunteered their time to make a great organization work.

I have been a member of AIR for about a year, so I hardly know the players in institutional research. But as someone who is active in the AIR LinkedIn group and who follows a fair number of institutional researchers on Twitter, I expected to recognize at least some of the candidates. With the exception of Ellen Peters, who is also involved in the LinkedIn group, social media users are absent. So far as I can tell, none use Twitter. Not one of the candidate's statements mentioned AIR's social media use. And that's a problem.

22 February 2012

How Many More Syrians?

The deaths of three journalists are little in the grand narrative of somewhere between 3,000 and 7,500 lives lost in the Syrian uprising. But I had followed Marie Colvin's reports from Homs, saw Remi Ochlik's photographs of Libya and stayed up at night watching Rami al-Sayed's live video of Bama Amr. They, and others as well who have had the courage to tell Syria's story, made the conflict human for me. And in doing so, it made them human as well. So today I feel their loss.

It feels so trivial to write a letter to my Congressmen about this. I was a Marine; I feel like I should join the fight somehow. But this simple act is what the people of Syria are dying for: the right to say to the government that it should change its course. It isn't trivial for them.

I sent the following to my Representative and Senators today:

06 February 2012

The Real "Bill Gates" Rules

So I’ve grown tired of the endlessly circulating "Bill Gates' Rules for Life" graduation speech that never actually happened. Had any of the last generation of business, technology, or intellectual leaders followed them we would still be using paper ledgers to build Ford Pintos. These rules are about as far from what we should be teaching students as one can get.

Let's think about what the rules would really be in today's economy.

Rule 1: Life isn’t fair. The people who want you to get used to it usually benefit from it at your expense. Don’t get used to it; do something about it. 

Rule 2: The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem. But if you wait until you accomplish something to feel good about yourself, you’ll never accomplish anything. 

Rule 3: Whether you make $60,000 a year right out of college has a lot more to do with your parents’ social position than anything you did in college.