Archive for March, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

I noted in a recent tweet that “Social Media will not change (let alone improve) how we mine for ore, fish or farm for food, or plant tree saplings.” It is not a panacea for industry. It also won’t revolutionize teaching and learning: Teachers, in person or in a virtual space, will still be pointing the way, encouraging attentiveness, curiosity, and tenacity (and serving as an example of these qualities); students will still be digging in, digging up, and learning for themselves. I have certainly found, however, that social media (specifically, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) can be a wonderful supplement to class lectures, activities, and assignments. Read what students in my professional communications classes have been digging up recently.

Hitchens Interview

Does writer/debater Christopher Hitchens think he has been a good person? “No, not particularly. Not as the world counts these things, because the world expects, for that definition to apply, a good deal of selflessness. And while no one scores very high on that, I score lower than most. I don’t do much living for others, I really don’t.” Mick Brown’s interview with Hitchens is marvelous. For a person who himself is rarely perfectly sober, Hitchen’s assessments of himself typically are, admirably. It’s a rare thing.

April Smith of Aha Media To Give Keynote at Vancouver Social Media Conference

This week in my professional communications class I showed a short video of one of my heroes, April Smith, of, discussing how she uses Social Media. I am pleased to let you know that this wonderful, bold person will be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Northern Voice’s Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference in Vancouver, May 13-14. Here‘s the conference information. I hope some of you can make the trip out to UBC to catch April’s talk and take in some of the other speakers as well.

He would have loved this

My good friend, the esteemed geologist John Fraser, passed away last July. His widow, Monica, commissioned in his memory a beautiful statue made from a stone filled with fossils. She has surrounded it with a collection of John’s favourite rocks, drill core from his exploration projects, and some of his ashes.

Teaching Social Media

Not easy! I’ve given modules to a group of faculty and to three classes of students in the last few months. Each time all I could give was a taste. It’s been like giving a tour of the USA and leaving out Chicago, Houston, and New Orleans, and thousands of towns and villages.

We Know You Are Not Sunshine

Pulled Two Ways

“We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds,” wrote Francois de La Rochefoucauld, “if people saw all of the motives that produced them.”

Broken Things

Julie Miller is a wonderful writer and singer

A bit of an answer to my last post. The good strong power of faith. The music of Julie and Buddy Miller inspires me.


Cristina Rad's YouTube pieces are hilarious

While people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Paul Kurtz, and my old buddies at the Center for Inquiry have been making worthy impassioned cases for science and secularism for a long time, Cristina Rad’s rhetorical approach adds a delightful new flavour (and a Romanian accent) to the debate. Here’s her YouTube channel, blog, and Twitter feed.


I’m delighted to present the completely revised website for the Acting Together (AT) project. AT is a community-based research project led by a coalition of community stakeholders and academic institutions, and based at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC, Canada. It is funded by SSHRC through the CURA award. The aim of AT-CURA project is to identify factors that prevent youth from violent and gang related criminal activities. Using mixed methodology of academic research (Quantitative) and community consultations (Qualitative) the project will provide an evidence-based foundation to create programs to foster the identified preventive factors among youth.

Maria Basil Honoured

My Tough As Nails Sister Maria Basil in the Early Years

Congratulations to my sister Maria for being honoured as a “Professional Woman on the Move” by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Upstate New York chapter. Maria is a successful architect whose specialty is health-care design.

Truly Careful for What He Wished For


Man One: “When I was a young man, I was so moody I would tell God I’d trade my brains for some peace of mind.”

Man Two: “How long did it take you to figure out God agreed to the trade?”

Man One: “It only dawned on me last week that God *had* agreed to the trade.”

Man Two: “And we got beer in the fridge.”