Response to my Friend D’Arcy, 2010 Style

In an old school move, I started to leave a comment on D’Arcy Norman’s post and it turned into much more than I expected … that hasn’t happened to me in years. D, I know you’ll forgive me for leaving it here, in my own space 😉

If people are to manage their own content, forming their digital identities, they need a way to host software and content that doesn’t require obscure and detailed technical knowledge. Us early adopters are not normal. We’ve been so close to technologies, for so long, that we forget what it’s like to be new to the stuff. Or not to live and breathe tech every day. Most people are not like us. They don’t know what HTTP is. It’s just some silly letters before the address of a website. They don’t know what DNS is. They don’t know what FTP is. They don’t know what SSH is. Or MySQL. Or PHP. Or Perl. etc. And they shouldn’t have to know these things in order to be full and meaningful participants in online discourse.

D’Arcy’s post is great on so many levels and really shines with the comments, especially the ones from his parents. I have been thinking about all of the things he brings up again so much recently. I have arrived at the place where I can’t worry about where to host my stuff anymore — none of it really seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. If I host my own WordPress at Dreamhost I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year … if I host it at TypePad I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year … if I host it all at I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year. I’ve been publishing content online for close to a decade and that amount of “stuff” carries a cost.

What I am arriving at is this simple and disgusting fact — it doesn’t matter. With that said I need places to publish and manage my stuff. I pay Flickr and am happy to do so because if I didn’t pay for it Yahoo would revoke it like they are talking about doing with delicious. I pay TypePad because I trust them to let me write and export stuff. I pay DreamHost because my ego demands I own and not because I really need to host my own blog. My online life is getting expensive.

I have moved my content from blogger to my own host to to over the last ten years only to come to realize that at the end of the day I rally just want a place to write, share, and connect with others. My audience is me and those who care to show up. I need a space to reflect and collect … I am not a business.

Is it really important to have a domain of one’s own in this day and age? Is facebook evil? Is twitter stealing my identity?

I don’t have answers and my opinion has become lost in the noise of the Internet. My advice is to follow the people you trust in your community and write where it feels right to you. And don’t be sad when your name isn’t on the A-list … because at the end of the day if the notion of keeping track of your thoughts is important then it doesn’t matter where you deposit them. As long as you can record your thoughts, get them out, and move to the next thing you are in good shape.

Interesting Functionality

Ever notice how when you are reading a NYT article on the web as you approach a certain part of the scroll a little slide out panel presents itself with a recommendation on what to read next? I’d seen it but never really jumped on it in any way. I was thinking about it this morning and find the functionality very interesting and could see it put into place in eLearning design, web-based game design, and even on service pages to prompt you to get started.

I think more than anything I am just trying to get my mind working again after Holiday break.

Things have Changed

I was doing some morning reading and came across this post illustrating just how much things can change over a period of ten years. I can only imagine what the next ten years will bring for us a global society.

image from

In my own life there has also been huge change in the last ten years. If I take a few minutes to reflect on it I am a bit astonished by it all. Both of my children were born during the past decade … That in an of itself has been beyond transformative. My personal life has been enriched by new friends and colleagues. My wife and I have had a wild ride trying to come to terms with parenthood and we are stronger today then we were ten years ago.

I've worked at Penn State for all ten of those years, and have tried to make the most of the environment by building my own research agenda, learning how to manage organizations, and teaching both undergraduates and graduate courses. I've had several jobs over that time, moving to the College of IST right before 2000 where I eventually became the director of the IST Solutions Institute. In 2005 I left IST to become the director of Education Technology Services where I learned how complex, demanding, and humbling it is to try to run a large group at a big University. And just this past November I became Senior Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology for Penn State. I count myself as truly blessed for the opportunities I have had here at the University.

I'm not much for resolutions, but I will try to resolve to write more, spend more time with my amazing family, and keep pushing myself to be better at what I do and who I want to be. That includes getting back on the treadmill — as soon as vacation is over.

Embracing Change

For our facility, the Media Commons is partnering up with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences in 20 Hosler Building. Its a smaller room, with cinder block walls and tall windows, not the most suitable environment for a full on video studio. But it did get me thinking…maybe it doesn't make sense to have a full video studio…maybe this is an opportunity to create something totally different and satisfy a need that otherwise would go unresolved.

My first thoughts were to investigate the types of projects being worked on in EMS and the technology that would inspire both faculty and students. Luckily for me, my husband happens to be in the College of EMS and had lots of ideas for me. Especially in the area of mapping (his option is GIS),….and that's when the light bulb went off.

Google Earth…interactivity….smartboards….video….editing…


I came across a post from my friend and colleague, Hannah Inzko this morning about our Media Commons facilities. Hannah has been with the MC since before the beginning — she was a leader in the creation of its predecessor, Studio 204. What I want to point out here is how impressive it is when people step outside their own preconceived notions of what a service or offering has been to think critically about what it could become.