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Humanity ‘on the rise’ at #140cuse April 19, 2012

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
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The drive back to Rochester provided our first opportunity to debrief on the insights we’d gathered for the day. My RIT University News coworker Scott Bureau, Student Government President Greg Pollock and I felt energized having just attended #140cuse—a full-day social media conference at Syracuse University.

Presenters both young and, well, my age shared personal accounts on their evolving relationships with social media—particularly as it relates to Twitter (hence the “140 characters” designation). The three of us have enjoyed an informal alliance to promote the use of Twitter throughout RIT as a way to enhance overall engagement among members of the campus community.

“I liked that they understand that social media is a tool,” Greg said as he reflected on the variety of presenters. And at that moment I realized he crystallized my own feelings.

More than just a venue for sharing photos and random commentary, social media is at its best when used as a ‘tool’ to build community and advance a spirit of goodness in our society. #140cuse offered up a treasure trove of examples. The event’s unique format gave dozens of presenters a mere 10 minutes each to make their cases—an ideal scenario for the generally unforgiving Stellavision attention span.

Greg Pollock, at left, RIT Student Government president, my University News colleague Scott Bureau and I enjoyed our day at Syracuse University for #140cuse.

George Couros, a school administrator from Edmonton, Canada, brought tears to the eyes of many with his presentation “140 Characters of Kindness.” With one tweet stating, “Taking Kobe to the vet,” George opened the door to a worldwide chain of support messages—including from numerous strangers—as he ultimately mourned the passing of his beloved dog. Alicia Staley, a 3-time breast cancer survivor, highlighted efforts to build virtual cancer support communities. And Bernia Wheaton, and economic development professional, described how social media engagement is producing widespread prosperity throughout the communities she represents in southern Ontario, Canada.

And there’s Sam Morrison. I first met the SU student several weeks prior at a similar conference hosted by RIT. His viral video, “One Backflip a Day,” has made him a YouTube sensation, and he’s using this platform to encourage all of us to set a goal—and then go out and make it happen. His energy and sincerity are very appealing. During his talk, Sam described plans to travel the world this summer and—using an array of social media tools—document how others in different cultures are striving to achieve their goals. Can’t wait to see that come together!

All to often we witness examples of social media activity intended to dumb down—or even tear down—the level of discourse in the virtual world. But the stories I heard and the people I encountered at #140cuse have revived my sense of purpose when it comes to my online identity.

As Jeff Pulver, creator of the original 140 Character Conference, reminds us, “Humanity is on the rise” because of the Internet. I need to commit my modest efforts to ensure that it stays that way.

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1. #140cuse: Syracuse’s 140 Characters Conference – Mission Overview | Starship NEXIS - February 21, 2013

[…] Humanity ‘on the rise’ at #140cuse « Stellavision […]


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