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Google Groups

Recently, UMCF transitioned our email list management tool from Listserv to Google Groups. This migration greatly increases the toolset to manage our email list. Added functionality includes options of reading and posting messages online or via email as well as a fully searchable archive of our group's messages. 

As a member of our email list, you can now unsubscribe from the group by going to Google Groups. You will also be able to manage how you want to receive messages from this group via the "Edit my membership" link on the group web page. 

If you wish to send an email to the entire Forum, please use the email address. To add yourself to the UMCF Google Group, click here.

Volunteer for the Technology Committee!

Interested in contributing to the Communicators Forum? Have a love for technology? The Technology Committee is looking for volunteers! The Technology Committee provides support for leveraging the use of technology to support the mission of the Forum and advises the board on technology-related topics. The committee maintains the Forum website, database integration, and membership mailing lists.

Liaison Arrangement 
Designated members of the Technology Committee act as liaisons to each of the other UMCF committees and to the board of directors. Liaisons are responsible for the following duties as they relate to their assigned committees:

1. Attending assigned committee meetings as needed based on the workload of the committee and time availability of the liaison, recognizing that this is voluntary commitment.
2. Coordinating updates to the web pages related to the committee and its work. This may include working with other members of the committee to obtain photos, written statements, or other materials to be posted to the website.
3. Updating in a timely manner those web pages related to the committee and, if necessary, asking for assistance from other members of the Technology Committee.

Interested? Contact Mandee Nguyen at or Lani Payette at

Thanks Google

Say that everyone has been talking about that television show. Your friends. Your coworkers. That friendly neighbor lady. You want to know more about it. Correction: You need to know more. So, you go to your desktop computer. You go to your laptop. You go to your iPad. You go to your phone. Wherever you are you get to the Internet and get to that Google.

This looks interesting. Thanks Google.

The Internet of Things

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By now, you may have heard rumblings about the "Internet of Things" and depending on the context, it can be defined in many different ways. Everyone, however, agrees that the emerging "Internet of Things" (IoT) will link everyday physical products to each other via the web. This will be (and currently) is done by embedding technology in an object in order for it to communicate with other connected devices. This will essentially create a giant digital information system. The experts at Harbor Research suggest that the Internet of Things will have a bigger impact on our daily lives than either the internet or social media combined, radically shifting the way that we think, act, and connect with each other.

"We are creating a connected world with entirely different touch points," said Glen Allmendinger, president of technology and business development consulting firm Harbor Research. "In the past, a company would sell a product, and it would disappear into a black hole. There was no way to know what anyone did with it or what other marketing opportunities existed. Today, it's possible to see how a customer uses a device and discover all sorts of opportunities."

Recent articles point to the IoT as the interaction and exchange of data between machines and objects, and now there are product definitions reflecting the same concept. Nike has been utilizing this technology for a few years now, with their Nike Fuel band that tracks and monitors your fitness levels, suggests ways to conserve energy, and connects you with a community of Fuel Band users.

There is almost no limit to the possibilities that the IoT will bring and it's no secret that marketing will be at the center of that universe. The Blake Project's Derrick Daye believes that the IoT will change branding in a monumental way. "It can deliver the brand promise at every point of customer contact and deliver a more meaningful relationship. It can help a company create a greater brand alignment across devices, screens and experiences."

Needless to say, the Internet of Things is here to stay. I'm anxious to see how the University of Minnesota will start integrating this technology into the different experiences that they offer. What will this mean in terms of recruitment, retention or giving? Marketing and branding? Only time will tell.

Do You Code?

I ran across Code.orgs latest YouTube entry featuring the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and (among others) who discuss the importance of coding. Calling it the new human "superpower" - the video states that 90% of schools in the United States do not teach this basic skill. 

It seems as though the industry would go to any length to retain top talent by making "the most awesome environment" for their employees. This includes full service dining centers, rooftop lounges and onsite dry cleaning (leading me to think I've chosen the wrong career path!). 

Were you taught code in school? Do you consider it a basic skill when entering today's work force?

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:


What is Basecamp & How I use it


I was introduced to Basecamp, which is a project management software, during one of our board meetings and wanted to find out more on how it will benefit our team. Please click: to read more about this online collaboration.

I've been using Google Docs for many of our department projects and wanted to break down the benefits of each here:

Google Docs:

  • User creates a document (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) and the document "lives" in the cloud.
  • User invites other users and gives them certain privileges (read only, edit, etc.).
  • The doc is always available since it "lives" in the cloud.
  • Multiple people can be editing and/or viewing the doc at the same time - nice feature if two or more people are collaborating on a conference call and working on the doc at the same time.
  • Users can export the doc to MSWord format, for example, if the user wants to get it onto their desktop.
  • Feature set is good but is pretty basic - enough so that some users may not have all the cool features that they enjoy on their desktop apps.
  • Biggest benefit is that many users can see and edit the document from many locations at any time since it's living in the cloud.
  • Biggest downside is that some of the more advanced app features from desktop apps may not be available.


  • User creates their document on their desktop and uploads a copy to Basecamp.
  • User can specify who can see and download the document.
  • Users who want to work on a document download it to their desktop and then upload it again when they are done. Users can specify whether or not to send an email notification when a new revision has been uploaded.
  • Basecamp allows you to see previous iterations of the document - all versions are stored permanently.
  • Basecamp has tons of nice project management features: basic project calendar, allows you to set up and assign milestones to specific dates and people, alerts assignees when a milestone is imminent or is past due, assign To-Do's with deadlines to individuals, track hours worked.
  • Stores threads of conversations (messages) in a central location so all project-related conversations are easy to find.
  • Nice email notification features when changes are made to project components.
  • Iterative storage of project-related docs.
  • Available apps for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
  • $24/month pay as you go vs. Google Docs which are free, but if you are needing some project management features then the price is WELL worth it.
  • Biggest upside: great project management features, very easy to set up and use, love the pay as you go (no long-term contracts), nice conversation thread management, nice email reminders.
  • Biggest downside in comparison to Google Docs: If users need to collaborate and edit a document simultaneously someone will need to set up a webinar (free for up to 3 people using Acrobat Connect, though there are several other free and paid screen-sharing software apps out there).

I guess it ultimately comes down to preference in choosing a platform that best works for your team.

Google Forms: A success for the Libraries!

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A great big thank you to Marlo Welshons, the Communications Director for the University Libraries. She answered my questions about Google Forms both for this blog post but also following the recent UMCF event about surveys. Our office uses a survey tool for a variety of purposes including RSVPs for events and Marlo explained how they use Google Forms for that purpose. Since Google Forms is more university-friendly than a third-party survey tool, I figured I needed to learn more about how that works! Her wisdom has been helpful for me in my department and I thought we could all benefit from her experience. Do others have helpful hints regarding RSVPs using Google Forms?

When did you start using Google Forms and why them instead of another program or service?

We started using Google Forms last summer for the simple reason that they were easily available now that we've all moved to Google Docs. We didn't research other alternatives, we just started playing around with the Google Apps suite to see how it worked and what was possible.

What are your primary purposes for using Google Forms (i.e., surveys, registrations, etc.)?

Although I have used Google Forms to create a few basic surveys to gather information from project groups I'm working with, the single most frequent use is providing a customized, online RSVP form for our many events.

I have to credit our graphic designer, Jen Peters, who figured out how to embed a Google form in a web page (when in form editing mode, select "embed" from the "More actions" drop-down). She created a form to let people RSVP to a retirement party for one of our senior administrators, and then embedded it in an HTML wrapper that looked like the HTML email invitation she had created for the event. Attendees really liked being able to RSVP online, and also that there was a field where they could write a congratulations message to the event honoree. We've since implemented this for nearly all of our Friends of the Libraries events.

You can see an RSVP example of this in an email we've developed for an upcoming poetry reading.

Who in your office manages your Google Forms?

We don't have a central manager for using these. For event RSVP forms, we create the form and give edit rights to the event organizer(s). We also give view rights to other staff who may wish to know how many people are coming, or if specific people will be in attendance.

What benefits do you see from using Google Forms?

The coordinator for our Friends of the Libraries events has seen a tremendous benefit from this new process. In the past, attendees were asked to RSVP by phone or email. The time saved by no longer processing those email and voicemail messages is huge, and she uses the spreadsheet created by the form to generate name tags and keep track of other details related to managing the event guest list.

Additionally, we ask attendees to provide us with an email address or phone number in case we need to contact them with changes to an event date or location. This has proven helpful because we can suppress the email addresses of those who have already responded from the mailing data when we send reminder emails. We have also on occasion used the email addresses of those who have RSVP'd to send a confirmation email with customized parking information and directions to the event.

Do you have some tips for other communicators who want to use Google Forms but aren't sure of how or why?

A couple of things we've learned from doing this:

1. Be sure to customize the submission confirmation message (access this from the same "More actions" drop-down for getting the embed code). We use the confirmation message to repeat the time and location information and contact information for the event organizer. For example, the confirmation message for the Pankake Poetry Reading email reads:

Thank you for your reservation.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, 222 21st Ave S, Minneapolis.

Please contact Lanaya Stangret at 612-624-9339 or with any questions or concerns.

2. We make a copy of a previous RSVP form instead of starting from scratch with each new RSVP forms. If you do that, be sure to go into the associated spreadsheet and delete the rows that contain the information collected from the form you copied. If you simply delete the contents of those rows and not the rows themselves, then Google will insert the new data below the last row used by the previous form.

We learned this the hard way: we had a scare where we thought the form was not capturing the information from people who had RSVP'd, but luckily we thought to scroll down and discovered it all appeared starting with row 73 (72 people had filled out the RSVP form for the event that we'd used as the template for the new RSVP form).

Link Roundup: Photography

Mastering photography is an elusive art. But, practice makes perfect and building photographic skills is an enjoyable hobby.

Here's an edition of link roundup on getting good at taking pictures.

-- 14 Ways to Improve Your Photography in a Few Days
-- 90+ Online Photography Tools and Resources
-- How to Stay Up Late and Make an HDR Image
-- How To: Master Smartphone Photography 
-- iPhone Photography + Social Networking = Instagram
The Washington Post Wants Your Instagram Photos to Illustrate Health of U.S. Economy

Poll: Revisiting ebooks

A year ago we asked, "Do you use a portable device like the iPad or Kindle for reading books?" Results:eread.jpg we're wondering what you're using:

Technology and Communicating With Students

This article from UW Milwaukee caught my eye because my friend's sweet son is in the lead photo.

Technologies help students pass to head of the class

But as I read, I was stunned by this statement:
"Summarizing a recent study from Ball State University, UWM First Year Center Director Ericca Pollack says 30 percent of students regularly use email, while 97 percent use some form of text messaging." [Emphasis is mine]
Am I super old-school because I still email? Can I even connect with students today without texting?

UW-Milwaukee's students are meeting with advisers via Skype and taking virtual field trips online. Some of our Forum members work in student services and classroom technology; what do you think of this piece? How have you changed the way you communicate with students over the past few years? How has the classroom changed? Please share your comments.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

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The current issue of EDUCAUSE Review highlights mobile technology within the realm of higher education. It includes articles on e-books, iPads, websites, devices, and change.

Even if talk about developing for mobile devices might be what you hear all day long, the future of technology is not about specific devices. It's more about enabling change in communication structures and empowering people. This reminds me of what Meghan Wilker and Nancy Lyons suggested to the MinneWebCon audience on Monday: taking down cubicle walls does not change workplace culture -- people do.

Meghan and Nancy will also be presenting at the Communicators Forum "Making Our Case" conference on May 12. Check out their Geek Girls Guide.

Content for today's web

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At MinneWebCon this morning, Luke Wroblewski's keynote address focused designing for today's web--which now, more than ever, means designing for mobile use. He discussed online trends in mobile vs. PC use, projections into the future, and showed examples of how to do it well and not so well...

But, in my opinion, by far the best takeaway was Luke's emphasis on content strategy--thinking about the audience and how they are using the information on each specific device, be it a pc or phone.

It's no secret that people use mobile devices in a different way than they use their home laptop or tablet. So, it makes sense that the information provided on a mobile site should be different from what's available on a standard website. For some businesses and academic departments, landing on a solid mobile content strategy may be easier than others.

One example I was able to find from the U is the new Gopher Athletics mobile site, It's not as comprehensive as their main website, but seems to give the relevant information that people would most likely be seeking from their phone.

Are any of you working on a mobile site? Does anyone have another mobile site to share or insight on mobile content strategy?

Friday (Random) Links Roundup

Remember Links Roundup? I am reviving it, if only for one post. Here are some of the places I'm getting my ideas and advice of late.

Texting is Here to Stay... Whether You Like It or Not!

As I scold my two teenagers for texting at the dinner table, I am secretly harboring anxious, worrisome thoughts about my own cell phone. It sits on the counter, initially vibrating thrice before the alert phases into a persistent, flashing red light. It is teasing me mercilessly with information that I cannot know unless I jump over my chicken Caesar salad and pounce. What is it about the message light that gets me so riled up? There must be something animalistic - primordial even - in me because I seriously detest the concept of texting. Or so I tell myself.

Try as I might to resist the urge to fore go any truncated conversation using only my thumbs, I cannot. Too many people are texting other people who are texting other people hundreds of times every day. It is almost impossible to slow let alone stop this moving train unless the special effects director says so. So, alas, I feel I must give in or rather chalk it up to progress and enjoy the ride!

So, I ask myself what is it about texting that bugs me so? I think first it is because texts are like secrets shared in front of others. I find myself asking my kids, "who are you talking to?" I am sure I know, but I feel the need to ask nonetheless. Their answers?

"Brett [daughter's boyfriend]" or "Mitch [son's best friend]."

Ah. Now that I know, what do I do with that information? Nothing! What CAN I do with it? They are communicating with each other with no sense of including me in their teenage musings (not that they would regardless of mode of communication). Are not they essentially whispering in each others ear, telling secrets? In a sense, they are. But if I desperately feel the need to know, I ask. They are invariably discussing the upcoming statistics test or the science fair. Whew! That was close!

Texting also takes away the beauty of the written word and bastardizes all things grammatically good. It is an affront to the spelling bee where you either spell stromuhr correctly or go home empty handed. It is an insult to professional writers where strict rules must be adhered to in order for works to be published. LOL. IKR. :)

Not surprisingly, texting greatly affects our social skills. Much of our communication is through sights, sounds, facial expressions, tones, etc. Texting nullifies all of that. Will this permanently affect texters' abilities to communicate effectively in other situations? My guess is that it already has.

However, texting is here to stay. I am sure that eventually, the next step in human evolution will incorporate elongated, more aerodynamic thumbs and weakened vocal cords. As long as there are texting contests from the Kansas State Fair prize of $1,000 to the LG Mobile Phone national texting grand prize of $100,000, people will text. After all, we are human and the quick fix (though it never really is just that) is our specialty... that and the fact that we crave instant gratification which texting wholly provides.

I suspect that, in the future, individuals in power will not have succumbed to the texting phenomenon, will have retained short stubby thumbs and developed booming operatic voices. They may even have professional "texters" who text for them should the need arise. Who am I to say, though, that this may already be a reality for some individuals. Not this individual, I am happy to say. I will text on my own, thank you very much.

What is it about texting that draws us nigh and holds us to its bosom? Something exciting and instant about the whole thing, I suspect. We all know not to text and drive. I could list out a whole host of etiquette pointers from any of a number of blogs about when not to text. That is not my purpose here. I am just musing, I guess, at what will happen with the texting revolution. Will anyone just send me a handwritten card in the mail other than on my birthday? Wait, I only get birthday wishes on Facebook now. Geez. Yet another reason the US Post Office is downsizing... but that's another blog.

Social media: Put a ring on it

Anyone who has managed a social media presence knows that you have to roll with the punches and accept that sometimes you will have no control over what happens. Oftentimes you can only control your response to issues that arise.

But committing to social media strategy can make inevitable challenges easier to deal with and give you the opportunity to have more strategic responses.

So, to quote Beyonce: Put a ring on it.

For example, sometimes a cranky "friend" will dis a professor on your department's Facebook page--this can present an opportunity to engage students on what the department can do better and hopefully cause others to chime in about what they like about the department now.

Or, let's say someone hacks into your account and spams everyone. While that can be embarrassing, it also provides you with an opportunity to show some humor with your audience when notifying them that you are not, in fact, a princess from a small foreign nation looking for help in managing your vast fortune.

This article gives a helpful snapshot of how to establish a successful social media strategy and plan for the unexpected:

Query: Your favorite online tools

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Have you tried It's a fun and helpful online application that lets you preview words with the fonts installed on your computer. Definitely a time saver when you're trying to choose an appropriate font.

What about your favorite online tools? Have you recently come across any great online resources like this?

Email testing: Which call to action is best?

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Email analytics are a beautiful thing. They tell us how many people opened or viewed a message, as well as how many people clicked on different links within the email. This helps inform us, as content creators, on what stories get the most the most attention, guiding future content creation.

For an upcoming email newsletter I'm considering doing some A/B testing--trying out two different versions of the email newsletter, one with a strong giving message "Donate now!" and one with a more passive giving message. I'm hoping that email analytics can advise me on which version is the most effective with my audience.

Here is an example of a similar email "call to action" test.

Has anyone else tried email testing? I'd love to hear what others have found effective.

The future of books

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More colleges seem to be encouraging or even requiring students to use electronic books. The U of M's iPad pilot project is the largest in the nation. Considering the cost of textbooks, and assuming that electronic versions are much less expensive, I imagine this would be a welcomed change for students. Will the paper book be missed?

040907_r_4387.jpg What about your own reading? Are you buying fewer paper books or borrowing less from the library?






Poll: Do you read e-books?

Email: No Pony Express

Every year on my birthday, my mom sends me a handwritten card. It usually has a bunch of heart stickers stuck all over the envelope, inside and out. There is also often a crisp $5 bill inside, but that's beside the point. I'm sure the post office guy thinks I'm a big wuss, but I don't care. I love these letters from my mom. Plus, my dad worked at the US Post Office for over 30 years, so if the guy has a beef with me, I'll find out where he lives, too. Two can play the game of "I know where you live."

Anyway, what I want to talk about is email, both about how it crushes your soul and clutters your work life. Of course, it also has the potential to do much good, but only if you use it right.

Prof Arthur Hill at the Carlson School of Management has more than 30 years of research, teaching, and consulting in operations management and (quite efficiently) can talk about managing time and work effectively. He says he once spoke with a dean who admitted to having more than 6,000 unopened emails.

For most of us, the barrage of emails is not quite that extreme, but the problem of too much to do contributes to stress, worry, and guilt, says Hill.

Hill says it's important to remember a few simple rules, and some of them, I admit, seem downright foreign. For example, "Never check email in the morning," is one of his most important rules. He says instead that we should start the day with goals and bigger projects--email should not be on a "to-do" list.

Other email advice from Hill:

  • Abide by the two-minute rule--if it takes less than two minutes, do it now.
  • Write short emails with very concise and meaningful subject lines and do not cc unless absolutely necessary--very often, the cc is not necessary and is a waste of many people's time.
  • Reduce the number of emails you write to reduce the number you receive. Do not write a "thank you" email every time you receive a correspondence.
  •  Never have more than one screen of emails open at a time.
  •   Open an email once, and process it right away.
Finally, says Hill, remember that interruptions occur about every 2.5 minutes, and it usually takes about 10 minutes to recover from each interruption. The main source of the interruption? You.

There's also a somewhat academic analysis of email online... Email's Dark Side

A few things it notes:

You check more often than you think: Participants in a study by Renaud et al. (2006) claimed to check their email, on average, once an hour. However when the researchers spied on them, it turned out they checked their email every five minutes.
Email eats a quarter (23%) of the working day
It takes 64 seconds to recover from an email
Email kills sarcasm (and emotional communication)
People feel less co-operative
Email negotiations often feel difficult, especially with people we don't know well.
There's little argument that personal, handwritten letters mean more than an email...some visceral component a computer just hasn't captured yet still tugs at our "aww, mom" heartstrings. But if you use it sparingly and supplement it with face-to-face and the occasional phone call (texting doesn't count), you'll have a more meaningful--and productive--work life. And your mom doesn't want an email anyway.

In case you hadn't heard, a new online accessibility resource has been created by the U's Computer Accommodations Program--a partnership of Disability Services and the Office of Information Technology.

The site has been designed with the goal of sustaining and improving access and services to students, faculty, staff, and visitors--including those with disabilities. It's all about making the U-wide-web available to the widest possible audience -- including users of old, adaptive, alternate, or emerging technologies.

The site content includes the following seven categories, each represented by an icon used to identify category membership:

Documents -- includes information on accessibility barriers, best practices, and how to create accessible Microsoft Word, PDF, and Microsoft Excel documents.

Presentation -- includes information on accessibility barriers, best practices, and how to create accessible PowerPoint, Adobe Presenter, Apple Keynote and S5 online presentations.

Multimedia -- includes information on captioning, accessibility barriers, best practices, and how to create accessible Flash, QuickTime, Camtasia and Podcast media.

Learning Technologies at the U -- includes information on accessibility barriers and best practices for Moodle, Google Apps, MyU Portal, UMConnect Meeting, Clickers, UThink, and Wimba Voice Tools.

Web Content -- includes information on making Web pages and applications accessible. Includes a self-assessment tool.

Laws, Policies and Guidelines -- includes information on university policies, federal and state laws, and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines regarding accessibility.

Adaptive Technologies -- includes information on a variety of technologies available for making information accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Technophobia: Is ____ making us _____?

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022310b.pngWe tweeted an interesting Slate article yesterday titled Don't Touch That Dial! A history of media technology scares, from the printing press to Facebook.The article reminds us that condemnation of new technologies is not new:

In parallel with modern concerns about children's overuse of technology, Socrates famously warned against writing because it would "create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories." He also advised that children can't distinguish fantasy from reality, so parents should only allow them to hear wholesome allegories and not "improper" tales, lest their development go astray. The Socratic warning has been repeated many times since: The older generation warns against a new technology and bemoans that society is abandoning the "wholesome" media it grew up with, seemingly unaware that this same technology was considered to be harmful when first introduced.
In this and other instances of societal hand-wringing, the discourse often gets stripped of nuance and turned into a blunt question, like: Is technology good or bad? Not only is that dichotomy unhelpful in thinking through the deeper issues, but it pressures people to choose a side: Are you a technophile who dives blindly into each new digital development or a luddite who takes pride in not owning a cell phone?

I've seen this false duality play out over and over in higher ed communications. The technophobia discussion is unavoidably laden with generational and age factors already. When placed in a university setting where distinct groups of young(er) and old(er) people meet, people may cling more strongly to their chosen "side" in the discussion. And, no matter your age, it's often easier to fall back on a stance of "I'm just not a technology person" than to take on new duties at work, or conversely, to invest time in sending your message through every new media without stopping to assess its importance to your audience.

I think the reason so many of the articles' headlines written on this subject are framed as questions is that there is no simple answer. And, as the Slate article says, the research fueling the news story is almost always less shocking, and may even suggest that, say, video games are good for us.

Part of me thinks that Socrates had it easy: his choice was between saying something aloud or writing it on parchment.* Now, when I want to communicate something my department is working on, I have to consider magazines, research journals, Facebook (MySpace? LinkedIn?), speeches, videos (YouTube? Vimeo?), Twitter, Google Buzz, posters, brochures, Web sites, Web apps, photo galleries, direct mail, text messaging, phone calls, fact sheets, print ads, Web ads, billboards, sidewalk chalk, blogs, news releases, guerilla campaigns, e-mails, e-newsletters, letters, banners, give-aways, booklets, slideshows, radio interviews, TV commercials, and on and on. It's easy to see why some overwhelmed journalist might ask:

Is technology making us crazy?

Though I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg, here are some related articles that have made the rounds in the past few years:

EDIT: I overlooked these two important articles that add to the discussion:

*Would it have been parchment? History majors, correct me...

Monday link roundup, new year edition


Ok fine, early January: you win. Here is the obligatory Best of 2009 post (with some decade wrapup thrown in).

What do you think of these lists? What would you change? Do you have other year-end lists to recommend? And was 2006 really the year of ironic mustaches?

Image / / enimal

Tomorrow is World Usability Day

111109.gifThe Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Digital Technology Center are sponsoring a free program of events on Thursday, November 12, for World Usability Day. The purpose of the program is to promote awareness of the benefits of usability engineering and user-centered design.

World Usability Day was started in 2005 by the Usability Professionals Association and involves 36 hours of usability-related activities around the world in 30 countries.

See the schedule of events on campus. Of particular interest to communicators may be:

  • 10:00-10:45 a.m. - "Designing for the Mobile Web"
  • 11:00-11:45 a.m. - "Usability and Enterprise Applications: The Case of UM Survey"

Monday Link Roundup, 10-26-09

I feel lucky that my work in the College of Liberal Arts allows me to dig into current issues in the arts, humanities and social sciences. In particular, I get to interact with faculty working in ethnic studies, human rights and global cultural literacy, among many others. Therefore, I try to keep up on higher ed issues that intersect with the lives and work of our faculty. Some picks:

The Academy Speaks: Current Affairs and Issues in Higher Education and its partner Web site, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

I also like to follow blogs that connect me to media and public relations practitioners, with an eye to both best and worst practices. Being a typical snarky Gen Xer, I especially enjoy Bad Pitch.

And writing! It's true when they say in order to get better you just have to keep doing it. I think these are great:

You better be reading Writing Matters! We've had Leslie O'Flahavan of E-Write here for our conference, and we loved her!

Copyblogger: Copywriting tips for online marketing success

10,000 Words: Where Journalism and Technology Meet

Monday link roundup, 9.28.09

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Every Monday we'll post a roundup of interesting communications news and articles from the past week. What have you been reading? Add a comment or suggest a link for next week.


Communication Skills


University of Minnesota

Web Lists

Monday link roundup, 9.21.09

Every Monday we'll post a roundup of interesting communications news and articles from the past week. What have you been reading? Add a comment or suggest a link for next week.

Now that students and faculty are back in action, do you feel overwhelmed and overburdened? Don't let the demands of your work day get the better of you. Use your time at work more efficiently.

Does branding pay off for Colleges? Harvard thinks so.

Do you think Kayne's outburst at the VMAs was a publicity stunt? This expert does.

Social media

Brands are strengthened (or damaged) based on the experiences they provide. And in an increasingly social world, those experiences are no longer created for people but with them. On this blog you will find articles and insights about the opportunities and challenges created by rapidly growing and evolving Social Media.

Twin Cities Twitter (Shout out to Jessica Franken, our rockin' Blog editor) for sending this my way.)

Graphic Design
Looking for Photoshop and Illustrator Tips/Tricks? Check out Pixel Perfect on Revision 3. You can download episodes via ITunes or watch right on the Revision 3 Web site. Side note: Revision 3 is an amazing resource for all things technology. Check out Tekzilla if you are a geek like me!

Fun stuff
Myna is sort of like Garage Band in your web browser.

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



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