Category Archives: Michael’s Musings

Students aren’t so web-savvy…

Nicole writes:

This is an interesting interview:

Eszter Hargittai, an assistant professor in Northwestern University’s sociology department, has discovered that students aren’t nearly as Web-savvy as they, or their elders, assume.

Ms. Hargittai studies the technological fluency of college freshmen. She found that they lack a basic understanding of such terms as BCC (blind copy on e-mail), podcasting, and phishing. This spring she will start a national poster-and-video contest to promote Web-related skills.

Eszter goes on to explain her study and its results. I found the comments as interesting as the interview itself. One comment in particular made me laugh:

Finally someone says it. We listen ad nauseam to administrators and journalists blather about tech in the classroom and this generation’s web-and-computer savvy. Bollocks. My students (at an R-1) have had enormous difficulty posting documents to Blackboard and WebCT; don’t know how to use a program’s tutorial; don’t know how to save documents in different file formats than the default; don’t realize they can discover basic information about our university (e.g. a phone directory, a registration calendar) through our webpage. They are as tech savvy as they are anything-else savvy: not so much, unfortunately.

Here’s my question – the first time you tried to use Blackboard or WebCT were you able to post info to it? As a very web-savvy person I have to say that Blackboard at least (since I never had to use WebCT) is one of the most user-unfriendly tools I’ve ever had to use. Do not use Blackboard as a measure of your students web savviness. Also – I’m really glad I didn’t have this person as one of my professors. How can any instructor be so negative about their students? If you think they know nothing then how can you teach them effectively?

Read the whole post. I agree with both sides as well. I also agree that we have a perfect opportunity to community leaders with technology and young people. Step one: looking into ourselves.

This rang true as well: Also – I’m really glad I didn’t have this person as one of my professors. How can any instructor be so negative about their students? If you think they know nothing then how can you teach them effectively?

One of the worst thing a professor could ever do is look down on students. I think of what I do as a team-based or group process. Sure, I do the grades but I also guide the students and step back to let them discover their own path to learning. Please, somebody stop me if I become like the instructor described above. When I hear this, I’m reminded of Weinberger stating in the Cluetrain Chapter 5 that some businesses see their customers as adversaries. Same could be said here. If you see your students as adversaries, it’s time to move to another field.

I’ll do as much as I can to help my students learn, grow, etc.

A Year in the Life (via iTunes)



A Year in the Life (via iTunes), originally uploaded by mstephens7.

When I do talks, I always try to relate changes in technology to how they can impact, enhance or chronicle people’s lives. I’ve been highlighting LastFM in The Hyperlinked Libraries and other presentations since 2006. I was pleased to discover a new site called lastgraph – which takes LastFM data and creates graphs and charts. 

Looking at the graph above, I can see major milestones in the last 12 months. It blows my mind how a “year in the life” can be represented by music tracks played, or by Flickr streams, by Facebook statuses, etc. I wonder what stories the graph will tell in ten years?

If you are so inclined to peruse my listening habits (including the huge Xanadu fixation last fall), here’s the full PDF of the graph: lastfmgraph


Finding Balance

5 Tips to Help You Live a Well-Balanced Life:

Tip # 2: Learn Healthy Coping Strategies
Living a balanced life means that it’s important to learn healthy coping strategies. We all get overwhelmed from time to time so we need to know how to deal with stress and issues as they arise. One way to do this is by recording stressful events, your reaction to it, and how you could have reacted in a journal.

The whole piece is straight forward and useful. This might be good for some personal reading or for sharing with your team or department.

DOH! Happy Blog-versary TTW

Too much on this professor’s plate folks. I missed marking the five year anniversary of this blog on April 1st 2008. What an incredible time it’s been! These past 12 months were something and I’m so glad I’ve had the community we’ve built for support and inspiration. 

Last year at this time, I did remember and actually blogged about blogging at ALA TechSource too. Remember the Points of Unity? 

I’ll thank Blake for keeping TTW healthy and online. I’ll thank Kyle and Lee for contributing their time and viewpoints. And I’ll thank YOU –  for reading, responding and for sending me little snippets to share.

So pretend I remembered this on April 1. :-)




Ahhhh Sweet Summer….

I just updated my Upcoming Presentations Page and I’m happy to say I’ve purposefully kept the summer clear of talks and travel. Since June 2004 when I started the doctoral program at UNT, I’ve been going non-stop. I am not teaching this summer as well. I have big plans: time at the lake, a mountain of books to devour, a hammock, and a chance to reconnect with family and friends. I’ll see many folks at ALA for sure..and may pick up a couple of talks, but I am ready for a needed break.

Just three more weeks of grading…grading…grading.

Four Laws of Simplicity

In honor of the new year, you may be thinking about cleaning up at work or at home. Give this post a read at ZenHabits: 

So I’ve boiled it down to a simple method of Four Laws of Simplicity (apologies to John Maeda) that you can use on any area of your life, and in fact on your life as a whole:
1. Collect everything in one place.
2. Choose the essential.
3. Eliminate the rest.
4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely.

We used to have spring cleaning day at SJCPL – I always called it a “pitch & throw.” These tips make the pitching and throwing even easier.

Welcome to the TTW Version 4!

Welcome! TTW is now brought to you via WordPress! Thanks to Mr. Blake Carver, a gentleman and a scholar, for all of the assistance porting over the content and such to the new software. I feel like I’ve died and gone to WYSIWYG heaven!

Please update your feed readers, RSS portals, aggregators, etc to these new and improved Feedburner feeds, including a comment feed:

New Feed:

Comment Feed:

I’d also like to welcome Kyle Jones and Lee Leblanc who will be contributing content from time to time. Find out more about them here: Lee authored a popular guest post during my dissertation hiatus last summer. Kyle has just come on as my new graduate assistant at Dom.

I am also opening up the opportunity for other folks to do guests posts. I think it worked very well last summer to have new voices and new views shared here at TTW. Checkout the request for guest authors here:

Also, I’m sure there are a few glitches, bugs and the like with this migration. Please let me know if anything is out of whack. I’d appreciate any and all feedback as well about the new version of TTW. I may also call upon folks out there for some advice or help – for example, is there any way to make my fixed width content area fluid?

Finally – what better time to also look back at the various incarnations of TTW. Here’s the first version in an app called iBlog that I used for my first year of blogging, April 2003-March 2004.


The the second in Movable Type:


And then the re-do of the Movable Type version that Jessamyn created:



Winter Moon

(Click here to view on black)

A special holiday Thank You to all who helped me on this year’s journeys: the PhD, the loss of Jake and Charlie, and the travel/presentations. Without the comments, emails, cards, letters and phone calls from my colleagues and friends scattered across our cyber world, the road would have been even harder.

This season please be well…hold family and friends close..and breathe.

TTW will be back in a few days with a new look! (yes, finally, WordPress!)