Social Media Wisdom from Princess Leia

This weekend I attended a free one-day Higher Education conference put on by two fabulous women, Renee Hirschberg and Lori Ioannone, from Boston University’s School of Education.  The program was chock-full of great speakers and interesting insights into the emerging challenges and opportunities in our field.  I took enough notes at the conference to write six blog posts, but today, I am going to focus in on just one topic, the Social Media wisdom of Princess Leia.

Attendees of the conference will remember the hilarious moment in Eric Stoller’s presentation when he inserted a Star Wars quote to illustrate the psychology of social media use.  This got me thinking: I bet there are many more gems from the beloved movie series that would be applicable to our approach to social media.  After all, Star Wars was inspired by the work of anthropologist and psychiatrists (as articulated by Joseph Campbell) and the movies contain lessons  that be can be much broader than the stories they are contained within.

 “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” – Princess Leia

Eric Stoller used this quote to illustrate how difficult it can be to try to control Social Media.  The bottom line is that we can’t.  We won’t be able to ban students from talking about their roommates on facebook, posting pictures of classmates without permission, or slamming your office via twitter.  These things will happen whether or not you are on social media channels, so the question really is whether you want to be a part of the conversation.

Once you are on Facebook taking to your first years on the incoming 2016 page, you have the power to shape the conversation by giving great information about your services, funnel the correct questions off-line, and most importantly, be present where your incoming students are “hanging out.”  Eric argued that while it may be frustrating for you as an administrator to see your students posting pictures of other students without permission, anything that a student puts online “belongs to the internet,” so students must understand that as soon as they put pictures or statement online, anyone has access to reuse, remix, or reinterpret what they put out there.  We can’t control what students use the internet for, but we can guide the conversations before and after incidents happen and engage in those “teachable moments” we love so much.

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
So you are captured by the evil empire, being held captive by a man that can crush a person’s throat with his mind, and being threatened to have your home planet blown up.  Under these circumstances you have an excuse to ask for rescue.  But I have a hunch that many of you are not facing this particular problem; so I am going to say, don’t sit around waiting for the right person to be hired to bring your office into the social age. Do it yourself.  Feeling intimidated?  That is okay!  Eric Stoller gave us the advice, “Play in the sandbox, get dirty.” Try things out and watch others to learn.  Also, visit for guidelines on how to get on twitter or visit Ed Cabellon’s blog for a multi-part blog post on teaching twitter to higher education colleagues.

“This is some rescue. You came in here and you didn’t have a plan for getting out?” – Princess Leia
Luke didn’t really think everything through and perhaps that got them into a bit of trouble.  Leia was a woman of action, but didn’t have time to get a plan in order.  Try to find the balance between jumping right in and having a plan on what areas of social media you want your department to be involved in.  Don’t try to start a blog, open a twitter account, a facebook page, a pinterest, and a tumblr all in one afternoon.  Build each platform one at a time so you can do it well.  For more information on creating a social media plan visit:

Princess Leia: Luke, don’t talk that way. You have a power I don’t understand and could never have.
Luke: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have. The Force runs strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And… my sister has it. Yes. It’s you, Leia.
One thing I have recently been coming to terms with is how often women discount their own contribution.  Leia didn’t want to believe that she was as strong as Luke, or perhaps even stronger than Luke in the force. Leia came across as strong-willed and directive to others, but she was too comfortable being in a supporting role fighting the rebellion.

It is important for us as women to be leaders in the field of technology.  You have the power to inspire the students and staff who work with you, and you have the ability to show how women can be leaders in social media just as well (or better) than our male counterparts.

One of the things I took away from #WLSALT/NASPA’s Women in Student Affairs Knowledge Community webinar with Tara Sophia Mohr is that we need to silence our inner critic.  Give your inner critic a name, a face, and a personality. That way the next time you hear them telling you can’t do something (like a new type of tech), you are more likely to give them a piece of your mind.  Just imagine what Princess Leia may have accomplished if she had just envisioned her inner critic as Darth Vader (or Han Solo).  Leia would have been the one throwing the Emperor to his death, because women are just that powerful.

Social Media Wisdom from Princess Leia

Highlight An App: Kindle

by Kathryn Magura

I had a hard time trying to figure out what app to highlight for this post. We’ve already covered Instagram and I probably shouldn’t tell you how terrible I am at Draw Something, so I thought I’d go the more practical route: Kindle!

Kindle App

That’s right, there is a Kindle app! Why would you want a Kindle app? Well, if you’re like me, you have a Kindle (I have Kindle Fire) but don’t always have my Kindle with me. I also have an iPhone and iPad for work. In order to not become a complete tech cliche, I’m not going to keep all three of those devices on me all the time. What am I to do then?

Well, I’ve recently discovered that the Kindle application uses cloud technology to bookmark the location of where you left off the last time you were using a Kindle device or app. What does this mean? Well, it means I can read my book on my Kindle Fire by the pool on the weekend, on my iPhone while walking around campus (I don’t really recommend reading while walking, but you get the idea), and on my iPad during my lunch break. Perfect solution for someone who loves to read!

Highlight An App: Kindle

My First Five

by Jennifer Keegin

I follow Maria Popova (@brainpicker) on Twitter. She is the founder and editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for WiredUK, The Atlantic, Nieman Journalism Lab, and Design Observer, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

She recently answered the question: “What are the first five websites you visit every day?” She mentioned Open Culture, Its Okay to Be Smart, MetaFilter, Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, and Coudal. After this terribly interesting post, I decided my blog for today would be about my First Five.

  1. The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) The Commons webpage. The Association’s blog of sorts, I always appreciate the posts from other colleagues around the country regarding College Unions and Activities.
  2. Tumblr. I maintain my own blog and our Campus Activities page via Tumblr, but I also love catching up with some of my favorite feeds like NYCgov photos, i love charts, Feel Good Blogs,  Texts from Hillary Clinton, Dads Are the Original Hipster, and The Kids Should See This.
  3. Design Sponge. This gets my creative juices going and I love it when they imagine living in a film.
  4. I’m trying to avoid mentioning that of course I check Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ ’cause don’t we all? I check my email every morning on my cell as I slowly wake up in the morning. I clean out my mailboxes (I have 5 accounts) and usually this leads to learning about any new comments or etc. that I need to know about with my social networks. So when I actually get to work and turn on my computer, I don’t need to jump right on those sites. However, I usually like to catch up with my friend Jeff Lail, who is posting short video clips everyday via his Google + page. I love getting a dose of his brain every morning just to get me thinking. I wish more folks would do this. Short clips, a topic to ponder for the day.
  5. Huffington Post. I like their various topic pages. Tech, Women in Tech, Women, and next to CNN and Twitter, its where I go to read the news.

What are YOUR First Five websites?

My First Five

Linkage Love: Randomness

As Kristen noted recently, it’s April. If you’re in Student Affairs (well, or higher ed at all), you know what that means.

So it will come as no surprise to y’all that I am super wicked behind on my blog reading. Luckily, I have clever Facebook friends who read interesting things — so here is a collection of random, but interesting, links curated by my Facebook friends:

A Feminist Professor’s Closing Chapters — looks at Susan Gubar’s new book chronicling her experience with ovarian cancer. Not tech-related, but a fascinating piece. I definitely need to get and read her book.

Prof Hacker helps us (yes, staff, too) schedule our “endless” summer. I’ve already downloaded Diacarta and am so far having fun with it.

Lewd Dude Messes with the Wrong Olympian — lesson: be careful to whom you “sext”

Can Microsoft Come Back? — an interesting chronicle of a month without Apple or Google. Although, as the friend who shared this pointed out “only, you know, make it be about women.” Someone want to write that?

“Dear Lena Durham — I Exist” — Racialicious on Girls and Race

Finally, a publishing exec on “Why I Break DRM on E-Books”

See, I told you it was random! But really very interesting. Happy Reading! And may you survive April in one piece.

Linkage Love: Randomness

Blogger’s Choice: Innovation in Technology

by Meghann Martinez

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about innovation in education and what that means. Working with technology it is common for colleagues to look to technology to perform the work of “innovation” and “cutting edge”.

What is innovation and what does it mean to be innovative?

Innovate: to make changes, to do something in a new way

We could argue that everyday something is considered innovative and with the bells of technology almost everything could fit this definition above. While I don’t have all the answers or even the perfect definition of “innovate,” I do know what it looks like and feels like when I see it.

With conferences focusing on un-conferencing, big ideas, small ideas, new ideas, researched ideas- How do we distinguish what is truly innovative in higher education and student affairs technology? Have you attended conferences of this type and what do you feel is most innovative?

Below are links to some of my favorite upcoming or recent projects/ creations in education and/or technology. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.

  1. The $75 tablet, bought to you by the “One Laptop per Child” folks
  2. Interactive Whiteboard Community, yes, that boring “smart” board. Promethean Planet, free.
  3. McAllen ISD in Texas rolls out iPads and iTouches to thousands of students and staff
  4. Google Smart Glasses
  5. Nike’s Fuel Band
  6. BrainHoney, who says you have to be a teacher to teach?

Last question, I’m in a solutions mode. So leave your life/work hiccups, problems or grrrrs below and I’ll respond with a solution.


Blogger’s Choice: Innovation in Technology

Tech Reading

by Kristen Abell

One of the types of posts we’ve been doing lately are internal blog prompts – prompts we come up with for ourselves just to keep things fresh and interesting. My prompt for today is all about books – a stretch for me, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it’s a wee bit more focused than that – I’ll be discussing books on technology for y’all today. So get your GoodReads profile up (or whatever mechanism you use to make lists of books), because I’m getting ready to drop some good suggestions on you.

First up, it should come as no shock to anyone that I’m going to suggest a book about blogging: Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg. Though I’d been blogging for a little while already by the time I read this book, I had no real understanding of the history of blogging and the impact it had made at that point. This book does a great job explaining the hows and whys of blogging, and pretty much every time I present on blogging, I recommend it to my participants. I can think of no better book to give you a comprehensive overview of the history, as well as the many reasons someone might blog, and how we can continue to use blogs in the future. Of all these books, this one is probably the only one I would absolutely, postively call a “must read.”

For those of us in student affairs, another great tech-related read is The iConnected Parent by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore. Okay, it’s not strictly about technology, but it does discuss the impact of recent technological developments on the relationship between students and their parents, as well as parents and their student’s university. Well worth a read if you work with parents…I mean students.

If you’re at all curious about how certain things began and became what they are, especially those with big names behind them, I have three book recommendations for you: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick (also known as Zuckerberg’s Whipping Boy), The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Let me break it down for you:

The Facebook Effect, while written by someone who has obviously had more than a little taste of the Zuckerberg Kool-Aid, is still a dang good read if you want to find out more about how Facebook became, well, Facebook. And despite the fact that he’s such a fan – or maybe because of it – Kirkpatrick does a great job explaining what the original intentions of Facebook’s creators were, which, if you’re like me, makes you appreciate why they seem so anti-privacy at times.

Fun fact about The Perfect Thing – each chapter was written as an individual piece so that you could start on any chapter and not need to have read the chapter before it. Also, there are several different versions of the book – each with the chapters in a different order, much like the iPod Shuffle. That’s how cool this book is. If you’re looking for history about the Walkman-to-iPod transition, this is your book. Also, it’s funny to read the author’s story of meeting with Steve Jobs when he had a case covering up the beautiful design of the iPod (the author, of course, not Jobs).

Speaking of Steve (yeah, I’m on a first-name basis with him…in my head), if you haven’t had a chance to read it, his biography is a fascinating look at how Apple was born…and then re-born. To tell the truth, the first half or so of the book is a hard read. The man was just a downright asshole (sorry, there’s no nice way to say that). But if you skim that part or at least stick through it, the second half has some fascinating history on how Apple became the company it is today.

I’ve got a few more I could share, but I think that’s enough for one post. What tech-related books have you read lately? I’m always adding books to my list, so please share!

Tech Reading

Highlight a Woman: Dr. Latanya Sweeney

by Anitra Cottledge

To steal a phrase from Brenda, normally, the “highlight a woman” post features a female student affairs professional. Unfortunately, I couldn’t immediately think of student affairs women outside of my co-bloggers who are focused on/passionate about technology.

But today, luck would have it, I came across this lecture by Dr. Latanya Sweeney, and it seemed apropos to highlight a woman, while not in student affairs, who works in higher education. And frankly, Dr. Sweeney had me at “digital privacy.”

SweeneyDr. Sweeney is the director and founder of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard University. A brief highlighting of her accomplishments, in her own words:

Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, with almost 100 academic publications, 2 patents, citations in the Federal Register for 2 regulations, and 3 company spin-offs. I have received professional and academic awards, and testified before federal and international government bodies. In 2009, through a national GAO search, I was appointed to the privacy and security seat of the Federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee.

Amazing. In 2000, Sweeney debunked assumptions of anonymity when she “analyzed data from the 1990 census and revealed that, surprisingly, 87 percent of the U.S. population could be identified by just a ZIP code, date of birth, and gender.”

Please take a moment to wrap your head around that statistic. True, Dr. Sweeney’s focus is that of a computer scientist, or as she would say, “computer (cross) policy” scientist. My lens, much like yours, may be different. Your frame of reference for these issues could be educational uses of technology, social media, or the law, just to name a few. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that issues of data, privacy and the digital landscapes in which we all live and work are issues that extend well beyond student affairs and beyond higher education.

Dr. Sweeney’s mission? “The goal is to allow society to reap the benefits of emerging technologies while enjoying privacy protection.”

I think that many different people share this goal, and the potential for interdisciplinary work in this arena is huge and exciting. It’s fascinating to see the approaches that diverse groups of people take towards this and similar goals.

And if you aren’t sold yet, Dr. Sweeney writes poems, rides motorcycles, and one of her favorite quotes also happens to be one of my favorite quotes by the indomitable Audre Lorde: “When I dare to be powerful -to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

I’m so excited that I stumbled across this amazing woman and her work! Who are some other women who are doing incredible work in technology?

Highlight a Woman: Dr. Latanya Sweeney