myU OneStop

Communicators Forum home page.

Recently in fun Category

Year of the Communicator Conference | The Benefits

You already know the advantages of attending the Year of the Communicator conference on June 25, 2013, but you may need some help convincing your supervisor.

Here are some tangible benefits of attending this year's UMCF conference:

1. It is affordable!
With airfare consistently on the rise, attending the conference means you won't only save on airfare, but hotel and food costs as well. Plus if you register before May 30, you receive the early bird discount.

2. Expand your professional network.
Because the conference is for communicators at the University, you expand your professional network across campuses. We rarely get a break to talk with our fellow colleagues and this is an excellent opportunity.

3. Keep up with the trends in the communications field and be inspired by inspiring people.
This year's conference has two keynote speakers that are industry leaders. Krista Neher is an expert on social media and will be addressing how higher education institutions can make social media work for us. Debra Frasier, author and illustrator, will help guide you on your path of creativity, something every communicator needs.

4. Attend together as a teambuilding activity.
Attending the conference as a team means you can talk about which sessions will provide you with the most skills and choose your tracks together. Creating a report for your supervisor about the sessions you attend also helps outline what you learned. Then you can discuss your day at the reception, surrounded by inspiring art at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery.

5. Gain topic-specific experience.
The strategies, tools, and skills that you learn can be taken back to your department and applied immediately. The conference offers you two keynote speakers and three breakout sessions geared to give you the tools that you need to be the best at what you do.

Don't delay and register today!


NetflixRentals.JPGI have been sitting in on the conference committee this year, which has been great fun. We did a huge brain dump of all of our session and keynote presenter ideas, and one of the committee members turned me on to Kevin Quealy, a Minnesota native who does infographics for the NY Times. I'm obsessed with his work.

His animations and static graphics bring information to life. This graphic on Olympic long jumpers uses everyday comparisons that most of us can relate to, such as the length of the free-throw line on a basketball court.

At a glance, we can see how people spend their time--and click on 18 different variations of the data.

And this is cool: Who goes to State Dinners, from what industries, and how many times?

One thing you don't see here? Lengthy copy with various font sizes, masquerading as "infographic." (Google "view our infographic" for more like these.)

How do you share information without text?

Stay creative

| 1 Comment
Just a nice video to help you think of ways to stay creative...


The Economist and the Oxford Comma

I greatly enjoyed all of the clever grammar oriented memes and messages over social media yesterday, but this really tickled my fancy.  Enjoy!  The Oxford Comma: Is a Comma Grammar

A banana nut muffin

| 1 Comment

It happens to the best of us. You sit down to start a project or feature article...or a blog entry for the Communicators Forum and you get stuck. The blank page or screen is the biggest dam for creative juices. How can you get them flowing? 

Just start writing. You could just get out what you want to say and agree to come back later and fix it or you could just start with a stream of consciousness. 

Get up and go somewhere else. Maybe if Charlie had moved his typewriter to a less dismal location, inspiration would have hit!

Exercise! A quick walk around the block or a trip to the gym might give you a bolt of creative energy from just getting your blood circulating to your brain. 

Look at something completely unrelated. Watch a short TED Talk, open book of images, or read an article about a new science discovery. The point is to break out of the subject matter you are dealing with and come back to it with a new perspective. 

What other tips do you have for getting un-stuck? Share them here and help your colleages! 


Designing in three dimensions

If you've ever thought about designing in 3D but didn't want to invest in the software Google (rather, now Trimble) will let you do it for free! Sketchup is a terrific program that will let you model and design in three dimensions. It is fairly intuitive and there are numerous tutorials available to help you learn. It's easier than you might think.

SketchUp Intro:

Once you've created something neat you might try using these tutorials to make your designs look more realistic.

Rendering Tutorials:


Break Time

This morning I heard this story about treadmill desks. Pretty nice set-up. Well, with that and the upcoming University holiday on my mind, I'm reminded of how important it is to move around and take a breakreminder.png

Oh, there are helpful apps too, like BreakTime--it never forgets your breaks.


The Creative Process

Recently, I've been doing some research on the creative process to help describe to my non-design educated co-workers what it is I actually do all day. I came across this beautiful, informative, and short video of the very talented minds behind MINDCASTLE. 

I would also be remiss to not mention the (presumably) fabulous National Design Week last month in New York at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Launched in 2006, National Design Week is held each year in conjunction with the National Design Awards program. During National Design Week, Cooper-Hewitt's award-winning Education Department hosts a series of free public programs based on the vision and work of the National Design Awards honorees. National Design Week culminates with the National Design Awards gala ceremony. Definitely something to keep in mind for next year. 

Inspiration for today...


Superbowl Ads

T-minus 2 days and 5 hours until Superbowl XLVI. Are you excited for the Giants v. Patriots rematch, or are you like me, and more excited to see the new ads? I love seeing what creative advertisements companies pay millions for - sometimes the ads are great and sometimes they, well, aren't great.

Get a sneak peek at some of the Superbowl ads by going to the following link:

Happy Superbowl Weekend Forum Members!

Fun with Jargon

This is my most favorite Onion rail item EVER. Oh, how I wish it were true.

I love doing media training with faculty. I always learn a lot about a new topic. But about half the professors I talk to don't know how to describe their work in terms that the general public typically understands. So I have a practice that I call "Jargon Translator." As they talk about their work I jot down their $5 words, and then together we translate them to something a little more common. At the end of our training I give them a list of "forbidden words."

We all use jargon. (high-res, vector, phoner, embargo, CSS, EPS, etc.) We just have to pay attention to how our audiences are hearing what we're saying.

What are your favorite academic "forbidden words"? Please share in the comments. I'll list a few of mine to get us started:

Wordle word cloud of Comm Forum blog posts

| 1 Comment

So this is a word cloud (courtesy of Wordle) of all the blog posts on the Comm Forum blog since Jan. 2011. If you're unfamiliar with word clouds, this weights words according to appearence frequency, presenting them within an image.

It seems "communicators" has been a big topic this year so far. Makes sense, since that is the topic of the May 12 conference. "Forum" is (quite literally) big, too. We like to toot our own horn, it seems. Social media mentions include "social," "media," and a fat "Facebook," but I don't see Twitter...Hmmm... So maybe the question here is, "What don't you see?" Because Twitter is BIG. I do see a slightly smaller "Neil." That would be as in Neil Diamond. If you missed that post, you better go find it.

What else are you missing?

The Lost Art of the Hand-Written Note

| 1 Comment
What to do? What to do? What to do?

"It" happens every year about this time. Well, "it" happens almost every year and I do believe that "it" has been several years now so "it" is particularly time-intensive, thought provoking and messy this time around. I ask myself the same questions every time...

"Why do I keep all of this STUFF and what am I going to do with it?"

I go through the boxes from storage, decide to throw away a few items, rearrange the contents of said boxes, re-label each box with the current date and, invariably, end up with approximately the same number of boxes. The boxes are then returned to their proper places in a somewhat more organized fashion. But why? I think it is as if I need to re-establish a relationship with all of my possessions and reaffirm that they exist.
Yes, toddler outfit from 1969 that my mother saved so that one day you can adorn another child in a different era, I affirm your existence. Now, get back in the box until I reaffirm you next year!
You got it. I not only save my own stuff, I save stuff my mother saved so that one day I can pass along another box to my daughter who can then save the same stuff and go through the same tormenting procedure every year. It is a vicious cycle that no one seems willing to break. Now, don't get me wrong. It is not harmful in any way to me, or the general public for that matter, so why change now? Well, the truth is that now is the time because our 750 square foot condo and two storage lockers cannot retain the amount of stuff we currently own. My sanity is at stake!

Some stuff is easier to part with than others. The Animal Muppet I kept because I thought someday I would be a millionaire by selling it on EBay is now gone. The third set of dishes we acquired when selling our cabin - donated. And, yes, the 1969 toddler outfit is, well, actually back in the box because my sister is pregnant and I think if she has a girl it would look adorable on my niece! I admit here that I am not fully cured of my pack rat syndrome, but ask me again next year if she has a boy.

The dilemma herein emerged when I rediscovered all of the letters, cards and correspondences that I have kept. Until now, these letters and such have been spread out among multiple boxes in various locations. I would only come across them in fleeting moments when I scanned through a handful of boxes every so often. Following the sale of our cabin, all of our possessions have become contained within the previously mentioned limited space. It has been, therefore, much easier to find all of the correspondences and subsequently organize them.

But, now back to my original question, "what to do?" These letters and cards are dated before I was born and continue until today, though decreasing in number exponentially since the advent of Facebook. The communications, conversations and memories that they represent are irreplaceable. The information, though dated, is an important reflection of the times that were.

Who, besides me of course, keeps cards or letters anymore? Who actually receives cards or letters anymore? Even around the holidays the postal carrier is twiddling his thumbs wondering where the cards are. The written - truly hand-written - word is becoming a lost art. Whose penmanship and correspondence skills are up to snuff these days? I suspect the answer to this question is those over the age of "I-remember-when-there-were-dot-matrix-printers-and-when-computer-screens-were-green."

Regardless of when they were written and from whom they were sent, what is their purpose in my life right now? Yes, they take up space in my storage - at least one Rubbermaid box full of space. Is there something more to them? I suppose I could go through and read every one. I could just recycle them. But there seems to be more to these correspondences than just the paper on which they are written.

The letters are these individuals' life experiences at that moment. Birth announcements, thank you cards, wedding invitations, "just because" letters from friends and family members... I did read some of them. I cried a few tears reading thoughtful expressions of sympathy when my dad passed away. I laughed out loud when I found a five-dollar bill in a birthday card from my grandparents. I struggled to figure out who "Barb" was and still don't know! What are these letters but communications from the past?

Based on some serious reflection, I now know what to do. My resolution is this:

 - Correspondence, I acknowledge your existence.
 - I acknowledge your purpose in my life and in the life of the individual
   who sent you.
 - I acknowledge those individuals who are still in my life and even some
   who are not.
 - For those individuals who are still on this earth, you will receive a small
   package from me. It will contain memories that you may or may not
   remember along with a handwritten note from me thanking you for being
   in my life, then and now.

My point in all of this? Send someone a note today... hand-written... thanking him or her for being in your life today. Who knows? This little communication may be saved for several decades only to resurface at the most opportune moment in that person's life.

Mysterious 111

Maybe you've heard? This is WEIRD:
  1. Take the the last two digits of your birth year.
  2. Add that number to the age you will turn on your birthday this year.
  3. The answer will be 111.

Well, not really that weird. Here's the "how." Simple math, right.

(For all the kids born after 2000, your answer will be 11.)

Recent Comments

  • Megan Dushin: Nice blog Ann! Something to be proud of. We have read more
  • Jacqueline Brudlos: The name "Boo Boo" for an injured hawk? Priceless - read more
  • Darilyn Belsheim: Hi Serena, I hope this email finds you well. I read more
  • Kelly O'Brien: Now I want to know the name of your band! read more
  • Didi: I think you might find this paragraph added by Rebecaa read more
  • Rebecca Noran: Looks like Sarah isn't the only one with something to read more
  • Rebecca Noran: When winter storm Yogi comes to the fork in the read more
  • Rebecca Noran: Thanks for this, Katie -- it's all about the STUFF! read more
  • Rebecca Noran: If someone were to take that prototype another level it read more
  • Rebecca Noran: I liked the infographic and the quote about never get read more



Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.