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Social Media

On Social Media – What Resonates Gets Our Attention

I recently became more interested in Yik Yak, the anonymous and location-based social network, a couple of weeks ago when controversy arose from its use of it by some student affairs professionals attending the NASPA national conference in New Orleans. I read through the comments, and different types of comments were posted from what could be considered sexist, unprofessional, and provocative. There were also other comments that some would consider fun and positive. Most of the discussions revolved around the first set of comments I described above. I also read the reactions of other student affairs folks on the matter, and their perspectives varied from their interpretations of the comments as well as pointing out related topics (social justice, professionalism, etc.) and even the motivations behind the comments.

Since two weeks ago, I’ve begun to check YikYak more often just to observe what our students are posting. In addition, my team did an April Fool joke on the students by re-introducing a checkbox feature on our student information system’s login screen, a feature that was not too popular when we had it available two years ago. I wanted to see the student’s reactions to our joke. What I noticed was overwhelmingly positive. Students found them funny. One of the students even posted this – “Props to the people running GOLD for having a sense of humor. I wish I knew who you were to bring your cookies. :P”

cookies\There’s another major event in the town next to our campus (Isla Vista) called “Deltopia” happening this weekend. Google the term, and you won’t see too many positive comments about the event. One of the major factors attributed to the problems at last year’s event was the tremendous number of out-of-towners that came to UCSB as the event became well-known throughout California and beyond through social media. A theme I’ve noticed the last few days is how UCSB students are very strong in their opinions about not having “oot” (out-of-towners) visiting Isla Vista this weekend. As one of the comments shows, “The fact that OOTs are so ignorant about what’s happened in our town and have no respect for it really upsets me. Blaming a lot of things on us when most of it is the cause of them.”

deltopiaOther general comments I notice are related to expressions of wanting connections and loneliness (“I don’t have any friends, and I don’t know how to meet people.”) and most, if not all, of the responses to these comments were offers of help. There are also comments about their lack of personal confidence (body image), sex, and other topics that I would guess would not be shared if they were not anonymous.

As I read through the comments, I find most of them to be of a positive tone though I read some crass comments from time to time. Another thought that also comes to mind is – Is my perception/interpretation of YikYak different from others, even if we are reading the same comments? Is how we perceive the comments on social media and their use based on our personal biases? Certainly, as I mentioned at the top of my post, there are different comments on YikYak, but do we focus on the comments that resonate with us?

As the saying goes – “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Is our interpretation of social media and its use of them based on our perceptions shaped by our experience and value systems? I was reminded of a situation many years ago when I was still a student. I was the President of our student organization, so I was the coach for our basketball team at a tournament. I wanted to represent our organization well, so I was in a suit and tie.  A few friends complimented me, but one called me a “poser,” a not-so-positive term. I don’t know why these friends of mine, who were looking at the same person (me), had different reactions.

Another analogy applicable to how we perceive social media is that some folks will somehow see something negative in every situation. A story that I’ve read is something called “negative farmer,” and it goes something like this:

A (positive) farmer who had a dog with an unusual skill invited one of his friends (negative farmer) one day to go duck hunting. The positive farmer was excited to show his friend what his dog could do. So, they hopped on a boat with the dog onto the middle of a lake. The positive farmer shoots a duck, and the duck lands a few yards away from their boat and on the water. The positive farmer commanded his dog to retrieve the duck. The dog miraculously walked on water. When the dog returned to the boat, the positive farmer excitedly asked his friend what he thought of his dog. The negative farmer just shook his head and says, “I knew it; your dog doesn’t know how to swim.”

Going back to YikYak and my observations, perhaps my view of YikYak is more positive than others because of the types of comments that resonate with me. I don’t know. What do you think?

IFTTT for Integrating Cloud, Mobile, Wearable, Social Media, and Internet of Things

IFTTT for iPhone - Intro Screen 01I like gadgets and discovering how I can use them beyond how they come out of the box. One fun part about having these gadgets is figuring out how to integrate them with other devices and services. This is where IFTTT (If This Then That) comes in. IFTTT is a service that, through triggers and actions, can enable different devices and services, including cloud, mobile, wearable computing, social media, and the internet of things, to work together. I use Evernote, Dropbox,  iPhone/iPad/Samsung Galaxy Note, Fitbit, Pebble watch, Google Glass, Nest Thermostat, Automatic app, and various social media platforms. I’ve experimented with some IFTTT “Recipes,” a combination of triggers and actions, just for fun and to see what I can use for productivity. Listed below are a few of the recipes I’ve used:

1) Fitbit activities to Google Drive. This recipe saves daily activity summaries to a spreadsheet on Google Drive.

2) Automatic/Nest Thermostat – turn on Nest with the car. This recipe turns on the Nest thermostat when my car, which has Automatic, is detected within a certain distance from home.

3) Automatic/Nest Thermostat – turn on the fan for 15 minutes when the car is home. This is similar to #2 above.

4) Twitter favorite creates a note in Evernote. This recipe creates an Evernote containing the tweet I marked as a favorite.

While this post is about IFTTT, I also want to mention an application I have used to issue commands to my Nest Thermostat using voice commands from my Google Glass. As this page shows, this app called “Google Glass App for the Nest” can be used to issue different commands, which include adjusting the Nest thermostat temperature to a certain temperature.

Klout recently gave me a Parrot mini-drone as a “perk.” Currently, there are no IFFFT recipes published for it, but just like the Google Glass App for Nest, I wonder if I can control the mini-drone with Google Glass. It seems some companies, including this one, have tried it.

It’s fun trying to integrate these technologies through IFTTT and other means. I do them mainly to explore what is possible for entertainment’s sake. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they do. But, I do explore these possibilities as part of my thinking of what the future may hold. There are ethical and privacy considerations with these technologies, and so as I do these experiments, I think about the implications. As I mentioned in this blog post about why I decided to buy Google Glass, to truly understand how these technologies work and the implications behind their use of them, one must have real-world experience with them. Just like golf, there’s no substitute for actually swinging a golf club to understand how a swing works.

Going back to IFTTT, there are thousands of recipes for you to try. Check it out and have fun with it!

Photo credit:

Technology as Enabler of Student Network Development Through Information Sharing

About a couple of weeks ago, I bought some lunch from the UCSB Filipino-American student group to support their fundraiser. While eating, a student introduced himself to me, and we started talking about my association with the organization through the years. He also shared with me that he knew about me and, in particular, that I helped develop our online portal (GOLD) used by students to register and manage their courses, among other functions. He then asked me a seemingly simple question but one that I had to think about for a bit. His question was, “Can you tell me what’s different now with UCSB compared to how it was back then?” I responded with something obvious like, “these buildings you see around you weren’t here back then.” But, I also mentioned to him how technology has transformed how students find information and conduct their business with the campus. For one, when it comes to general information, students no longer have to rely solely on on-campus staff to obtain it.  Second, students no longer have to physically visit the departments to find information and conduct their business as they can now do many administrative (e.g., financial aid, billing) and academic transactions (course registration) online.

As I shared with the student when I was a student at UCSB in the 1990’s we had to visit the departments physically and speak with the staff to find information. They had a monopoly on the information since it was not readily available beyond their offices. There were printed course catalogs and pamphlets, but students could not share information they knew on a mass scale.

With social media and the web, students have become consumers and information producers.  Just observe the activities on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms, and you will notice students exchanging information amongst themselves. Information students share includes deadlines, orientation, financial aid, housing, courses, and other campus services. Most of the time, the responses are accurate. Sometimes, other students will chime in and offer corrections when a wrong answer is provided. They offer advice to each other, including how to waive health insurance, how to get to the airport or bus stations, how to fill out forms, and which courses to take for their majors.

What I find interesting as I observe these information exchanges is that relationships and social networks are also being created. I’ve also seen some students assume roles as community leaders and credible sources of information. What is missing in all of these interactions is the campus staff. In a way, these online interactions somewhat change the dynamics of interactions between students and staff. I don’t have data to prove this point, but I wonder if the frequency of physical contact between staff and students is less now than how it was back then before the age of the web and social media.

There was one time not so long ago when I observed a student who seemed new to the campus since she was trying to figure out a campus map. I offered to help her and asked her what department she was looking for. She told me she was looking for the Registrar’s office. I asked her if she was new to the campus, and her response surprised me. She told me she was a second-year student but never visited the Registrar’s office.

As I think about how social media and the web have become platforms for information sharing amongst the students and not relying on staff, I wonder if there are still some staff who still see themselves as the sole source of information and maybe not be too appreciative of the idea that students do exchange information and provide help amongst themselves. I think it’s great that in sharing information, they develop networks and social relationships that may contribute to their success at UCSB.

Digital Lollipop Moments

“We all have changed someone’s life – usually without even realizing it.” This is a message in Drew Dudley’s TedX talk on Everyday Leadership. The video resonates with me because 1) I work with and for students at my university, and 2) I don’t see myself as a “leader” in the sense that I don’t think I have made a significant impact in this world, not in the way of social activists, politicians, artists, educators, etc. I go about my daily professional and personal lives just by making a living, pursuing goals, trying to help others, and enjoying the company of those I care for. However, sometimes I’m reminded that even when I don’t realize it, what  I do and write impacts others. Generally, I do think about the potential impact of what I write. After all, I know my supervisors, students, and other folks in my professions do read them. But, it’s when others tell me in person, like a colleague did this week,  or via email and social media, how a blog post I had written gave them a sense they’re not alone in their thoughts, a sense of connection, or a sense of direction that reminds me what I write and what I do matter.

As I wrote in this post, my blog has become a place for personal reflections and a part of my identity development and exploration. It’s become a place to express my perspectives that I don’t often find represented in what I read. I don’t find many mainstream media articles talking about Filipino-American immigrants’ experiences and what it all means. But, if what I write positively impacts others, even just one,  I find that idea very humbling and gratifying.

There was a chat session on Twitter last week about blogging, and I tweeted that maybe I should look at my blog’s activities and audiences through Google Analytics to grow and shape my posts. Maybe, I should spend more time publicizing my posts. Still, I’m satisfied with knowing that even if my posts don’t attract hundreds of thousands of readers, if there’s one person who was positively impacted by what I’ve written, that is rewarding enough.

Some Folks You May Want To Follow – Real People/Fresh Ideas

Social media, specifically Twitter and blogs, have become key components of my personal learning environment (PLN). For as many books I read, social media provides me information and, more importantly, access to a variety of experts/up-and-coming thinkers and their ideas that none of the books provide. While books may provide thoroughly examined and edited concepts, theories, and even real-life case studies, I find it refreshing to read the experiences and ideas of my contemporaries in student affairs and technology fields. These are folks whose ideas may not have been heard if they were not through social media. One of my core beliefs is that everyone has something to contribute. Specifically, in our field of student affairs, I value the insights of students and new professionals. Their voices need to be heard more regarding the current and future states of student affairs and higher education. I also value folks who are not afraid to challenge conventional thinking. Here are just some of the folks I’ve come to follow:

– Josie Ahlquist (@josieahlquist). Brilliant writer as she can present academic concepts about digital leadership and student development theories that are enjoyable and easy to understand. She is one of the few folks I know researching digital leadership and the use of social media in student affairs. Check out her blog at

– Trina Tan (@trinastan). It’s refreshing to read Trina’s adventures as a Filipina-American graduate student. She shares some of her personal and career challenges and lessons learned along the way. Check out her blog at

– J Chase (@JChase_). Do you want to follow someone who’s not afraid to call things the way we all should? Follow this guy. He makes a lot of sense, too. From assessment to critically looking at the principles/practices of student affairs, his commentaries provide different perspectives. Check out his blog at .

– Josh Kohnert (@joshkohnert). Josh is one of the emerging leaders in using social media for digital identity development amongst students and staff. I like the fact that not only is he writing about his ideas, but he is also actively sharing his knowledge through his presentations and his work as well. Check out his blog at

– Joe Ginese (@joeginese). Joe is full of ideas and innovative ideas. What I respect about Joe is that he is a thinker and a doer. He will provide some ideas when he identifies an issue, like how conferences can be improved. Too many folks, I think, can say “here’s the problem” and stop there. Joe will present some possible solutions. Check out his blog at:

I could add so many more folks to the list above, and the ones I mention represent the folks I enjoy reading for their unique and fresh perspectives.

Who are the folks you follow who bring new ideas and even challenge you?

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