"You gotta help me… it’s an EMERGENCY!"
A panicked voice cracked through the din of activity at AV-1 HQ, high atop Puzzler Tower.
A friend in need learns the value of Web2.0 tools del.icio.us and flickr to streamline due diligence reporting from InfoComm, while prototype of holographic video conference unit is put through its paces…
Chapel Hill, NC. It was Bucky Bentley, my childhood pal from the Bronx. We had each taken different paths yet ended up in similar gigs. Bucky graduated from Bender College with a PhD in Spelling just as the bottom dropped out of the market (a pox on Microsoft and their spell checker!) so he took a job in the college cafeteria and eventually worked his way up to Director of Classroom Technology.
"Schuchie, pick up the phone!"
Of course there was no phone at all, since we’d been evaluating a prototype of the new 3-D holographic Telly-Talker. Bucky’s voice came through in hyper-sonic 3D sense-surround so I could physically feel his shuddering fear and, thanks to the 3-D display, beads of sweat the size of crystalline kidney beans could be seen rolling from his forehead. I mashed the "accept call" button and turned toward the display.
"See here, Buck-o," I said, "nobody’s called me Schuchie since the Ford administration," knowing full well that one always cuts one’s homies some slack when they’re in a jam.
"Look, this is urgent. My new boss, Stella Pennipincher, just stormed into my office and demanded to know why the College is sending me and my managers on an all-expense-paid vacation to Las Vegas next week. Next week is InfoComm and I tried to explain to her that I go every year, but she kinda swooped in and stormed out. What do I do?"
He blotted his forehead with a roll of paper towels. The Telly-Talker’s resolution enabled me to count the number of perforations between each sheet. There were seventy-two.
"I know InfoComm is an expensive proposition and Bender has certainly had a tough year budget-wise, but we have to stay on top of new tech and I depend on networking with colleagues to get ideas for how we can reduce our classroom costs. Heck, InfoComm’s ROI has saved Bender College big bucks over the years, but Stella’s all about how if it’s not in writing it never happened."
"What am I supposed to do, write a report on ‘What I Learned at InfoComm’?"
The pupils in Bucky’s eyes recovered from dilation as he gradually regained composure. His oxford shirt clearly had a high thread count. I could tell he’d recently received a raise to which his lifestyle had adjusted comfortably and, consequently, he was not about to jeopardize things by failing to demonstrate his value.
A fruit fly landed on the wall behind him. It was a Drosophila simulans. A male.
"Actually, I used to have our people give presentations after they returned, but that became too time consuming and offered too little shelf life for some very useful information. I don’t care to invest time in gathering valuable information if no one’s going to benefit from it and I want our people to know that what they’re doing makes a lasting contribution."
"Right, we like to say that we transfer the knowledge gained from our InfoComm outings directly into better classrooms and services — but what if that’s just not enough?"
"No, I’m afraid it’s no longer sufficient for any of us merely to do good work. And it’s not unreasonable to expect something a bit more tangible and immediate from one’s returning conferees. Let’s face it Bucky, next week at InfoComm you’ll discover innovative products, services and ideas that will simplify your life and improve your customers’ experience."
"Hey, I know what you’re saying. It’s our job to find a way to get it done better, faster, cheaper."
"Sure, but why go through all that due diligence only to keep it to yourself? Harboring knowledge like it’s a secret weapon isn’t a good strategy for job security these days."
"Look, Bucky, while you’re at InfoComm you’re going to take pictures and bookmark websites, right? So why not post them to del.icio.us and flickr and share them with your peers? These tools are easy to use and did I mention FREE. Your boss may be amazed by your powers of organization!"
"I don’t know, it sounds like just a lot of showing off to me."
"It’s anything but, Buckaroo. If you are not up to speed on social tagging, you are missing the boat on extremely powerful tools that add value to the work you already do while tapping into the collective insight of your professional peers. Heck, we still refer back to our flickr collection from last year’s InfoComm and people from many other institutions have added our flickr site as their favorite — you cannot buy that kind of job security!"
I could tell I’d gotten up on my soap box a bit. Bucky was eating a sandwich. Thanks to the incredible resolution of the Telly-Talker, I could see that it was a ham on rye. A caraway seed was stuck between his teeth. Since our conversation began, two gray hairs had sprouted over his left ear and he appeared to be in a somewhat more urgent need of a shave.
The Telly-Talker was proving to be an amazing achievement in technology as, with each bite, the digital audio conveyed the crisp freshness of Bucky’s lettuce. Why, I could even smell burning toast…
The Telly-Talker emitted a faint chirp, and then burst into flames.
Had I been able to finish my conversation with Bucky Bentley at Bender College, I would have advised him to experience InfoComm to the fullest!
Chat up colleagues!
Dig the word on the street!
We could link everyone’s Infocomm2008 findings together at AV-1.org!
(And of course Stella Pennipincher can follow your progress just by searching for the "benderuniversity" and "infocomm2008" tags.)
AV-1 Member To-Do List (before leaving for InfoComm):
[ ] Create your own flickr page, install the upload helper* and be sure to carry your camera wherever you go! (You might choose, as we did, to set up a departmental flickr page and give the username/pw to all your people who will attend InfoComm so they can upload and annotate their own images.)
[ ] Important tags to use…
- av-1.org (be sure to include the ".org" else entries will be jumbled in with all the photos of the Canon AV-1 camera)
[ ] Let us know how this works for you!
* Image uploads to flickr can be made without installing anything on your machine, but the helper application adds a number of useful features for dealing with many images at once.
Editor’s shameless plug: Joe will be leading a workshop on the UNC Classroom Budget Model at Educomm on Thursday, June 19th, 10:15-11:15 AM.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.