My @PSUweb10 Wrap-Up: Mobile2go

My presentation materials: Talking To Your Boss About Twitter

Penn State 2010: A Web Odyssey is in the books, and the first thing to say is thank you to all the organizers at Penn State for inviting me and for putting on one heck of a show! My biggest takeaway from the conference overall: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you might miss it. Now is a good time to stop and look around, and the tools we will use to do that are held in our hands, not sitting on our desks. Mobile design is simple design. Design for mobile first. Now, how do I go about making such a fundamental change in thinking? Hmmm …

DAY ONE
Penn State is so big, they’re able to bring the mountain to Mohammad, and in this case the mountain was Jeffrey Zeldman. Zeldman of A List Apart and Designing With Web Standards fame kicked things off right with a rollicking history of telecommunications from movable type to the iPad. At the 2003 HighEdWeb conference, Zeldman convinced me to push our University of Rochester homepage redesign toward Web standards and table-less, CSS layouts. This year, he’s convinced me that it’s now time to dip our toes in HTML 5. And he did it all wearing cargo shorts.

Google Wave Workshop
Robin Smail and Audrey Romano bravely battled wireless connectivity issues as a room of 50 workshop attendees struggled to push a giant Wave through too-tiny pipe. For someone who still thinks, “Google Wave … wait, what?” (and don’t even get me started on Google Buzz) it was a little frustrating not knowing whether something wasn’t working because of network issues, or because I’m a total noob. Biggest takeaway: if the team is small and the project is focused, Wave looks like a useful coordination tool. But I can’t see it replacing email within the next couple years. Even projects that successfully use Wave will still generate email too, and that means it’s just one more thing I gotta check.

Don’t Be a Twit: When the Backchannel Goes Rogue
For the afternoon session, I sat on a panel with the aforementioned @Robin2go, Mark Greenfield of SUNY Buffalo, and Patti Fantaske about lessons learned and questions we should ask given the new environment that Twitter, uStream, and live blogging creates for presenters and educators. Biggest takeaway: technology now allows people to share their thoughts with their friends and the world simultaneously, in real-time, and pseudo-permanently. That has HUGE implications and potential; among these are changing responsibilities for (a) public speakers (b) event organizers and (c) audience members. And we’re still figuring out what those are.

DAY TWO
In a knee-baring homage to Mr. Zeldman, Brad J. Ward of BlueFuego continued the theme of kick-ass, pants-less keynotes: “Everything I Learned About Higher Ed I Learned From the Office.” Fans on both Michael Scott and Web development were left happy. Biggest takeaway: 4 rules of copywriting – is it useful, is it unique, is it ultra-specific, is it urgent.

How to Avoid a Hot Mess: Managing Your Social Media
Robin2go (wait, MORE Robin2go?! Hell yeah!) described the challenges involved in keeping all this social stuff straight, especially for a large institution. Biggest takeaway: There’s no reason to be on every possible platform, and definitely no reason to repeat yourself across multiple platforms (no Twitter feeds on Facebook pages, please!). Focus on what you’re trying to achieve and use each tool to its best benefit.

The Cluetrain Stops at Higher Ed, Will Anyone Take Delivery?
Biggest Takeaway: Next, Mark Greenfield breaks down why real public relations is more important than ever, and why most institutions are not doing real public relations. Mission statements can be inspiring, but never are. Some faves: “Discover the World Within,” “Find Your Passion, Find Your Place.” Why do we pay outsiders to come up with how we describe ourselves? Biggest takeaway: PR needs some PR, ‘cuz PR is now synonymous with BS.

Making Your Campus Map Mobile Friendly
Chad Killingsworth of MIssouri State University knows his maps! He presented at the recent Google I/O conference on the customizations to his campus map. Biggest takeaway: templates, stylesheets, reference guide: everything you need to get your map ready for multiple mobile devices. Thanks, Chad!

Thanks again, Happy Valley! I hope I can come back next year, if you’ll have me. :)

–lori

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