Category Archives: Technology

Chris Brogan says give it away, give it away, give it away now

What better to inspire a return to one’s cobweb-ridden blog than spending the morning listening to one of social media’s thought leaders, Chris Brogan?

I attended Brogan’s talk today at Stagepost, organized by JTMarCom. He was promoting and signing his new NYT best-selling book, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust. As defined by Brogan and co-author Julien Smith, trust agents are the face and voice of an organization on social media platforms who are accessible, authentic and passionate about their work (Think @ManleyatVICC).

Brogan is co-founder of PodCamp, a free, unconference that has served up knowledge sharing surrounding all things Web, communications, technology, etc. to over 10,000 people around the world since the first one three years ago in Boston. (Nashvillians, the next local BarCamp,  kind of the precursor to PodCamp, is scheduled for Oct. 17. If you have any interest in really anything online you want to be there). Brogan is also a Twitlebrity, with over 100,000 people following @chrisbrogan.

Brogan reiterated what we all hopefully know – beneath all the tweets, feeds, status updates, followers and friends, the secret to social media is still 99 percent common sense. Be honest. Be open. Be helpful. Provide useful information. Listen. Listen. Listen. Share. Give credit where credit is earned. Listen some more.

The biggest personal takeaway for me, and perhaps what pushed me back to the page today, was if you find yourself in a rut and not inspired, then stop complaining and seek out inspiration. Find people doing interesting things and engage with them. Learn. Explore.

Some other takeaways – their pith perhaps due to Brogan’s general habit of communicating in 140 characters or less:

The only difference between audience and community is which way you face the chairs.

‘Oh, you’re a blogger? What do you complain about?’

If bacon had a  God, it would be the Rogers Smith Hotel. (Including that more as a note to self for next trip to New York).

Move a needle that involves a dollar sign, and your client never says no again.

Make your customers and your employees your stars. It works every (darn) time.

You have to learn to be brief. Brevity works in all of your business lines.

On balancing personal vs. professional online: People want to see humanity. The business world and the personal world are merging.

Be willing to work with the community, rather than throwing something over the wall to the peasants.

Twitter becomes business development and becomes customer service.

Be there before the sale and get to know the person before you want to sell them something.

Winning is just table stakes for the next game. Don’t sit still.

Be helpful first. Be helpful way more often than you ask for something.

Share instead of hoard.

If you learn how to connect with people the way they want to be connected with, you have the magic trick. Be where your customers are. Grow bigger ears.

Listen at the point of need.

The secret sauce isn’t keeping secrets. Equipping people to win is the secret sauce.

Press releases aren’t dead. How you’re delivering them is dead.

Great morning, great ideas and great inspiration. See you at BarCamp.



Filed under Technology

Google Search Appliance comes to Vanderbilt

What’s that shiny yellow box brightening up our data center?

Google Search Appliance

It’s Vanderbilt’s new Google Search Appliance, huzzah! It arrived June 8 and is currently being poked, prodded, tweaked, configured and all other manner of things to prepare it to serve as the new search engine for the university and Medical Center Web presence.

What can these shiny new boxes do?

  • Index up to 10 million documents
  • Personalization of searches tailored for VU and VMC
  • Advanced reporting
  • Subscription feature for alerts for topics and documents of interest
  • Spellchecker in a bunch of languages
  • Google quality and ranking
  • Integration with existing security and access-control systems
  • Customization for campus clients: search of Intranets, servers, portals, file shares, databases, content management systems and real-time data in business applications
  • Did I already say 10 million docs in one box?

These features are just the tip of the iceberg, and though really exciting to a handful of us, the end result for the millions of people who use our Web site should be faster searching with better results.

A big thank you to ITS and Public Affairs for making this happen. More details to come post-launch hopefully in the next month or so.

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Filed under Administration, Technology

Friday Night Lights, Twitter and Vanderbilt

April 2 Update: Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of this story.

Okay, where to begin.

I used to watch the show Friday Night Lights fairly regularly, via Netflix, after reading the umpteenth review that, besides The Wire, it was some of the best TV out there. I lost touch with it and happended to be flipping channels two weeks ago on a Friday night when lo and behold, not only is it on, but one of the main characters, Lyla Garrity, is talking about coming to Vanderbilt in the fall. “Cool,” I thought. (I know, I’m deep).

A few days later I was logged into the Vanderbilt Twitter feed, and noticed a Lyla Garrity was following Vanderbilt. Checked out her feed, and it is written as if Lyla herself, the character not the actress, is writing the updates. Further, many of the people she is responding to and tweeting with are also show characters. Checked them out too, and it seems the Friday Night Lights folks have gone whole hog for Twitter. Many if not all of the main characters are posting updates and interacting with and giving fans some extra goods on the show’s twists, turns and touchdowns via Twitter.

Some of the latest news is that Lyla doesn’t think she’ll be able to attend her dream school, Vandy, because her dad went and squandered her college fund. She tweets about it. Unable to resist at this point and recognizing that I’m living in a strange time where I’m talking to television characters, I messaged her back to be sure she was aware of Vanderbilt’s Expanded Financial Aid program, that commits to meeting 100 percent of a family’s financial need without need-based loans. Why did I do this? To get the word out about the program to people that might not have heard of it, and to dip my toe a little further in the water of Tweetversation.

Despite its extensive, nearly smothering coverage in the media, many people still have this response to Twitter. This latest interaction – both on the part of the show, and our response, I think illustrates its permutations and implications are endless, until the next new thing comes along at least.

Lyla responded with thanks, saying the financial aid program is just what she needs right now. Do I smell a spin-off: Friday Night Lights: Nashville?

P.S. I recognize that I’m posting this unusual tale on April Fool’s Day, but I assure you, it is all true.


Filed under Administration, Arts & Entertainment, Technology

Tweet Tweet Commodores!

untitled-2So much to blog about, so little time, but could not resist taking a quick moment to give you, my 3 loyal readers, first glace at our Twitter icon for Commencement, designed by the fabulous Lacy Tite in  Development and Alumni Relations Communications. Attending, watching online, or just thinking about Commencement 2009 at Vanderbilt, which will be kicked off with the music of Earth, Wind & Fire at The Party? Then tweet your little heart out about it by adding #VU2009 to all of your Commencement-related Twitter posts. This should be fun.

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Filed under Technology

PodCamp Nashville rocks the Owen School

Attended the fantastic and fun PodCamp Nashville with the city’s poderati this past Saturday at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. See summary below by OwenBloggers guru Jared Degnan:

We hosted just over 350 people, had 32 educational sessions and are
getting some great feedback from the event in terms of both the content and

Of particular note, Fox 5 dropped by and did a great segment on the event
which you can see a clip of at

Additionally, we made contact with several individuals interested in
offering internship opportunities to Owen students.

Photos ::
Twitter Chatter ::

More videos including recorded sessions to be coming soon.

Thanks so much for all of the support and for allowing OwenBloggers to host
the event at Owen!

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Filed under Technology

E-commerce site to sell VU-developed technologies

Vanderbilt is pushing the boundaries of academic technology transfer with a new online marketplace. The online store,, is selling innovative software, courseware and other digital products developed at the university and medical center.

From the press release:

Setting up such online stores is the latest trend in university technology transfer efforts. At least two other universities, University of Washington and University of Minnesota, have set up similar Web sites.

“After investigating similar Web sites, we have determined that we are one of the first universities to set up an e-commerce site of this type,” said Peter Rousos, senior business development executive in Vanderbilt’s Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development, which set up the new site. “Hundreds of patents have been issued to Vanderbilt and the university has entered into numerous license agreements. We realized that a number of them were suitable for online sales.”

Early product offerings include “Play Nicely,” a video series to help parents, teachers and caregivers modify anti-social and violent behavior in kids; three different tools to help social scientists better use technology to collect and analyze data; and a program that calculates the radioactive doses various organs receive during different radiation treatments.

Visit the store.

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Filed under Administration, Business, Technology

OwenBloggers featured on Palestra

Student journalists from visited the Owen Graduate School of Management recently and produced two great videos, one about OwenBloggers and another about the b-school’s take on the nation’s financial crisis. Highly recommend checking them both out.

Palestra is an online news site launched in 2006 staffed by paid student reporters. It is a content partner of Fox News and its student reporters sometimes appear on Fox programs.

Ed. note: Being from Philly, when I first heard of Palestra I thought of The Palestra, the ‘Cathedral of College Basketball’ and where I saw my first big college game at the age of 10. Loud, crazy, crowded and fun. But this is something else.

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Filed under Business, In The News, Students, Technology