Mourning Our Specialness

We’re not alone…

BBC Nature – Birds hold ‘funerals’ for dead: “Giraffes and elephants, for example, have been recorded loitering around the body of a recently deceased close relative, raising the idea that animals have a mental concept of death, and may even mourn those that have passed.”

One day we’ll realize that humans aren’t the center of our planet, just as Copernicus et al helped us realize we’re not the center of the universe.

What Am I Listening To?

I’m always shocked that people want to know what I’m listening to, but I’m pretty open about what comes across my iTunes and Spotify accounts via the @SamsHouseMusic.

Thanks to Last.FM’s Scrobbler, iTunes, Spotify and Twitterfeed, I’m able to stream whatever is playing in my house at any given time.

Even when I’m out of the house, I keep the music going. It’s always fun for me to check in the middle of the day to see what Schaefer is listening to at any given time.

He’s a big Phish fan these days, evidently.

Best Computer I’ve Ever Owned

Beyond my iPhone(s), this new Macbook Pro 15.4 inch Retina display (with 2.6 GHz and 16 gigs of RAM) is, hands down, the best computer I’ve ever owned for too many reasons to describe…

Macbook Pro 15 Inch Retina Display – Apple Store (U.S.)

Yes, it’s insanely expensive.

No one said winning was cheap.

Here We Go

I’m excited that Andy, Kevin and I will all be starting the year with the same challenge in our 7th and 8th Grade Science classes…

Beginnings | andylammers: “This year I am rolling out the Marshmallow Challenge (MMC), a design activity that Autodesk‘s Tom Wujec uses in his innovation workshops. The MMC seems to have what I am looking for: active participation, collaboration, problem solving, risk-taking, trial and error (prototypes), safe failure, and fun.”

I’m wondering if our 7th graders will show up some of the 8th graders?? 🙂

New Biz Cards

Awesome thick (like hard card stock with red in between) business cards from the always awesome Moo shop for The Harrelson Agency…

You have to love that Apple-like design aesthetic of their entire presentation.​

These cards are amazing. You should ask for one soon.​

We Made the Move

Decided to go with the amazing SquareSpace platform for the new blog. ​

​SquareSpace 6 is a really mature platform that has come of age and is definitely impressive for our needs and the needs of many of our clients.

​Highly recommend!

Split Open and Melt

crescit cum commercio civitas?

Arctic ice cap set for record-breaking summer melt session | Ars Technica: “While predictions of a total melt during the summer months and its potentially devastating effects on the planet have many worried (Serreze says the rapid melting may have contributed to severe storms in the US in recent years), commercial enterprises are busily jumping at the opportunity to open shop in the Northern Passage. China sent its first vessel along the Arctic route in August, trimming its usual route length by 40 percent, while Germany and Russia are already established players.”

What I Did This Summer

What did you do this summer?

It’s the question we ask of all our returning students we haven’t seen since June.

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer for me.

Well, more than a bit, really.

Our Middle School technically let out June 14. That following Monday, I boarded a plane with our new (and awesome) Communications Director, Kelly Andrews bound for Connecticut and FinalSiteU.

Finalsite is the company that has been hosting our website for the last few years and we were attending to learn more about the platform and what we could do in the way of customizations, mobile implementations, social media connections etc.

We spent the next three days outside of Hartford learning more about FinalSite’s platform, specifically what it could do for us and what it couldn’t do for us. Being a programmer (amateur, of course, but I still have a few chops) and someone who doesn’t do well being told that the trade off of flexibility is worth a lock-in, I was chaffed.

It didn’t take us long at the conference to hatch a pipe-dream plan to (completely re-)build the Carolina Day website ourselves before school started back (which it did this week for faculty) over the course of 2 months. We literally started this project with a cocktail napkin drawing and more idealism than time.

Tom Trigg, our Head Master, gave us a skeptical but supportive greenlight to see what we could do (if only more teachers in our country believed in their students the way he believes in his faculty, we could change the world overnight).

However, here we are… we’ve done it.

We’ve completely rebuilt the Carolina Day website on top of an open source and extensively flexible (and more authentic) hosted site, thrown in some of my SEO know-how and we now have a site that reflects the true daring, inventiveness and awesomeness of our school.

On top of that, we’ve created “Centrals” for each division and our Athletics programs on top of Google Sites (we’re a Google Apps school that treasures the collaborative features of the platform and the “Share” metaphor extends into our sinews and across the traditional divisional boundaries).

We’re really proud of these Centrals. They’re magical.

You can see them at the awesome urls of:

These Centrals will transfrom how we communicate with parents and our community, how we do work in (and outside of) our classes with students and how we as a school continue to grow, adapt and ultimately become better because of the evolving nature of the web.

Not only that, but the Centrals bring together our school in ways not possible before. Even though we’ve seperated them out from a main site, we’ve created unique and dynamic communications and expectations of engagements across the board. So even though each division has it’s own Central, each division is participating in something awe-inspiring and ultimately jaw-dropping when you consider the scope of our learning community.

It’s been an amazing summer of growth, frustration, patience, elation, disappointment and tears (good and bad) for me. I expect nothing less from my 7th grade students, so I feel as if I’ve come out of this experience a better teacher and a better learner and a better communicator.

These are exciting times for Carolina Day.

These are exciting times for me.

Breaking Down Monoliths 1990’s Style

As a dorky/geeky middle schooler in the early 90’s, I remember the frustration of not being able to have my messages flow from Prodigy to users on other services such as CompuServe. We were locked in to virtual message board monoliths…

Prodigy (online service) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Two of Prodigy’s most popular services turned out to be its message boards and email. Because Prodigy’s business model depended on rapidly growing advertising and online shopping revenue, email was developed primarily to aid shopping, not for general communication between users, which in practice is what it became. The message boards resulted in users being connected to the service far longer than projected. This resulted in higher than expected expenses, adversely affecting the service’s cash flow and profitability.”

Eventually, the AOL monolith was hatched in the mid-90’s and that caused a great exodus to their platform. Prodigy, CompuServe, etc limped along for a few years but ultimately faded away into the nether.

Ultimately, AOL would be replaced by Friendster then MySpace and now a tripartite conglomeration of mostly Facebook, a little Twitter and Tumblr for the niche folks. Sure, there are Google+, the new, Foursquare, Yelp, as well. However, we’re back to where we were in 1993 with user lock in of messaging and communication.

I was elated when Twitter came into prominence and more mainstream adoption in 2007. I remember having coffee with Tris Hussey at an Affiliate Summit that year and discussing how Twitter would rapidly become a protocol similar to POP or IMAP or even TCP/IP that would serve as the social messaging backbone of the internet. It would allow for the delivery of content and messages between services and become something of an open messaging standard that was so lacking then and definitely is now.

We were wrong then and certainly wrong now about Twitter.

Maybe the new darling will solve this issue or fill this need. I hope so. Dalton certainly has high aspirations.

Head over to TWiT and listen to the last This Week in Google featuring Dalton Caldwell in which Leo and Kevin Marks really ask some great questions about’s future and long-term strategy. It’s the best podcast I’ve heard Leo do in a long while.

So back to 1992 and 2012, Dave’s post here is a pipe dream in the age of advertising being the backbone of our social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Google at least) but one I’ll happily add my support to:

We could make history — I.M.H.O. — Medium: “We need to break out of the model where all these systems are monolithic and standalone. There’s art in each individual system, but there’s a much greater art in the union of all the systems we create.”

Imagine a web where advertising supports, rather than impedes, network and social spaces working together.

Maybe that’s or maybe it’s a slow realization that RSS and hyperlinks are really the best way to have a decentralized social network backbone. It’s the reason I encourage my students all to have their own blog, their own space on the web… not just a Facebook or Twitter profile (and adults too).

I’m certainly betting on that as I have re-thought of this place less as my “blog” and more of my own self-hosted social presence on the web.

Sure, things will pipe out of here to Facebook and Twitter, sending signals to folks locked into those walled-gardens that I’ve updated something or shared something. However, I’ll be posting less and less direct stuff there and instead focusing on this being my coral reef.

It will happen to us all. Eventually.

Retention, Not Acquisition

The mantra (I know, I hate using that term out of context as well) I use with my clients is “Retention, Not Acquisition.”

That means businesses should put 75% of their efforts into retaining customers or users or community or whatever the relationship-model is with their constituents and 25% of their efforts into acquiring new ones.

Twitter should hire me…

Twitter: The Tail That Wags the Dog – David Smith: “However, Twitter seems to have forgotten its roots. The long tail of Innovators and Early Adopters at the head of the adoption curve does not become irrelevant to your audience once you begin to welcome the Majorities. The same people who pioneered the adoption of your platform would also be the people leading an exodus. That exodus may have just begun.”