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Simplifying is a powerful tool

DoNotFeedTheJargonWhat’s cool about coding? Everything. You not only get around a problem, you create a smooth, simple yet robust, system that works! and that opens up your options for even more interesting work. For me, coding is like creating your own concierge. Most recently I’ve been playing with macros to integrate different Google Drive tools. And, I’m now using IFTT formulas at home. Best of all, I’ve got my fiance using macros at home for calendaring and budgeting. This has been a great time saver.

My friends Yta and Carlos are also coding geeks and, they are also committed to sharing what they know. Right now they are doing this through their book, Lauren Ipsum.

From Carlos’ blog: “a crucial part of computer science is training yourself to think clearly. You can’t explain clearly unless you think clearly. And what is programming, if not explaining things to the computer?” And just to throw in some Spanish: “Es un mito de que se necesita una mente especial para entender la informática…” sequro que hasta los niños lo pueden hacer si no se les dice que es dificil.

Learning and teaching the art of flow, ahhhh, the future awaits.


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Top Social Media Tactics – public media style

Over the past six years I’ve worked on social media for various public media outlets.
Here are my favorite campaigns:

1. Launch and Sustained Growth – Oakland Local, community news site for Oakland, CA

KLOUT_OL post Launched in 2009, Oakland Local’s campaign to build a dedicated readership was simple — set up a stable stream of interesting local content and ask everyone involved to share the content with their lists. For every article or community voices blog entry published we set a Twitter and a facebook post. We then asked funders, bloggers, journalists, community partners and featured Oakland Locals to spread the news. We made this easy for them by inviting them via email to share the twitter posts we created. And we didn’t stop. We repeated this formula over and over.

In addition to making sharing a central part of the OL culture, we connected with local nonprofits and community groups at an early stage. We did this by asking groups to submit their content as community voices blog entries. And we did this by partnering with various groups on short-term news projects, capacity building workshops (where we provided tech expertise on their social media accounts) and community development initiatives. At every point we shared our mission and our knowledge and asked our partners to help share our content.



Started with funding from J-Lab at American University, Oakland Local reaches 76,000 unique visitors a month, all from the Oakland/East Bay. The site now has 6,700+ facebook followers and 5,500+ Twitter followers. Although Oakland Local is fairly new, it is a model for the future of news and community engagement. As a member of both The Investigative News Network and The Society of Professional Journalists, OL is committed to quality work; we’ve had stories funded by The Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. Our stories are distributed through Yahoo! News, SFGate, New America Media and others.

2. Friend and Fund Raising – Making Contact, National Radio Project, in-depth public affairs weekly radio show
MC Klout Score

To connect Making Contact’s broadcast radio streaming listenership and its non-listening donating audience with its website, facebook and Twitter, we’ve integrated additional media into every blog post. For instance, short videos, audio web extras, photography, Thinglink images and webified versions of the audio are now included on every show page. We’ve also focused on search via AdWords and via cross linking with related news outlets. And we seek friends willing to share our content via one-to-one communications. This has led to campaigns like our 2012 MayDay public media online fundraising collaboration, MayDayMedia99, and our 2012 Valentine’s day campaign, Love Your Media Day. Both campaigns focused on friend and fund raising. To do this, both campaigns featured an AdWords Ad, a SoundCloud audio set and targeted mailings in addition to addition to our weekly radio show offering.

Our MayDayMedia campaign, a Media 99 Razoo collaboration with Media Consortium members, led to roughly 20,000 people visiting the Media 99 website. Our site, also benefited from focused MayDay work. If you visited our site that day you would have seen not only our weekly show but also Free Speech TV’s player, which we used for live MayDay coverage, and buttons that led to the Media99 event map and the Storify content. This added content and marketing via social media, phone calls and emails raised site traffic that day. Our Tuesday average is roughly 600 visits/day. On MayDay nearly 1,000 visited our site. And, time spent on our site doubled. Even better, many of these were first time visitors to our site. To note, most of those who came to our site on MayDay via referrals came from facebook. And we added 39 new online donors to our donor base during our MayDay collaboration.

Our Valentine’s Day AdWords ad garnered 1,350 clicks. And our facebook posts and tweets were shared among various key supporters. Throughout this Valentine’s Day campaign we used the #supportyrmedia day hashtag.

Here’s some of what we tweeted and some of what we heard on MayDay and on Valentine’s Day:

AdWords ad:
Spiced Valentines Day
Celebrate by fighting for
access to reproductive services.

SoundCloud set list:

Email Headline:
Show some love

Email Video Link:

Making Contact struggles with many challenges faced by public radio: a) a large portion of listeners tune in via their radio while driving or at home while away from the screen b) the audience is dispersed geographically c) the audience is dispersed thematically. But Making Contact is also a beacon in the nonprofit world with a funding pool composed mostly of small individual, recurring donations. Online, Making Contact reaches 6,000 unique web visitors a month. This is in addition to the 5,000+ who download the MC podcast via RSS feeds. An even larger group listen via radio stations nationwide and internationally. The site now has 2,350 facebook followers and 700+ Twitter followers.

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OakTown Gardens

OakTown Gardens: Reducing waste to ‘green’ Lincoln Elementary

This year, Lincoln Elementary did something few schools would have dreamt of 10 years ago: It formalized a green connection with Waste Management to exchange food scraps for compost., 

OakTown Gardens: Growing It All

Max Osterhaus visits his father’s Wisconsin ranch in the winter, 

OakTown Gardens: Blending naturalness, absence of pretense in 

Marcia Kai-Kee and Ed Oshika’s street-facing 

OakTown Gardens: Adams Point oasis inspires owner, area 

Adams Point oasis inspires owner, area residents.

OakTown Gardens: Renovating through experimentation | Oakland 

Digital artist, poet and storyteller George Aguilar has spent the last 

OakTown Gardens: Using a garden as business inspiration 

 “We don’t watch TV. We spend time in the garden.”  

OakTown gardens: Cultivating through hurdles | Oakland Local

Research shows that gentle gardening reduces stress levels and blood pressure. But, that doesn’t make it any easier to stick your hands in dirt

OakTown Gardens: Professional landscaper shares own garden at

Robin Dunlavy, co-owner of Garden Girls, keeps the roughly 10×20-foot area in her own home’s front yard brimming with plants

OakTown Gardens: Growing indoors | Oakland Local

 Dalmar Smith didn’t let apartment living get in the way of having a garden. When the financial services research assistant found

OakTown Gardens: Turning a small space into a ‘calming’ oasis

Jul 24, 2012 – OakTown Gardens: Turning a small space into a ‘calming’ oasis. Over the last 16 years, Mr. Jay has turned his East Oakland

Hey Oakland: Show us your gardens! | Oakland Local

Hey Oakland: Show us your gardens!

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You learn while they watch

Eye tracking study. Image by (cc) Flickr user pixer.

Harvard & MIT to offer free online courses

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will team up on a $60 million initiative to offer free online, college-level courses: edX.

The New York Times (5/3, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports, “The edX project will include not only engineering courses, in which computer grading is relatively simple, but also humanities courses, in which essays might be graded through crowd-sourcing, or assessed with natural-language software.”

Inside Higher Ed (5/3, Kolowich) adds, “Harvard and MIT say one of their main goals with edX is to generate learning data that the universities can share freely with education researchers. The MITx platform, which will serve as the technology platform for edX, ‘already has a lot of mechanisms for understanding how students are learning,'” Agarwal said.

The Boston Herald (5/3, Kantor) reports, “EdX will release its learning platform as open-source software so it can be used by other universities and organizations who want to host the platform themselves, while allowing other universities and individuals to improve the platform and add features to the technology.”

PC Magazine (5/3, Moscaritolo) reports, “Students who demonstrate mastery of the subject will be able to obtain credentials for a ‘modest fee,’ the schools said. Certificates of completion will not be issued under the name Harvard or MIT, however. In addition, the courses will not give students any credit at either university.”

CNN Money (5/3, O’Toole) reports, “The Harvard-MIT project faces some competition in the push to make high-quality educational courses available online.” In April, “Princeton, Stanford, Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania announced that they would offer free Web-based courses through a for-profit company called Coursera that was founded by two Stanford computer science professors. One of those professors, Andrew Ng, taught a free online course in machine learning this past fall with an enrollment of more than 100,000 students. There’s also Udacity, co-founded by a former Stanford professor, and Khan Academy, which boasts 3,100 free educational videos across a variety of subjects.”

The AP (5/3) notes, MIT’s OpenCourseWare lists 2,000+ classes free online. “It has been used by more than 100 million people.” Last year, MIT “announced it also would begin offering a special credential, known as MITx, for people who complete the online version of certain courses.”

Fast Company (5/3, Kamenetz) reports, “Edx’s offerings are very different from the long-form lecture videos currently available as ‘open courseware’ from MIT and other universities.” Eventually, it “will offer a full slate of courses in all disciplines, created with faculty at MIT and Harvard, using a simple format of short videos and exercises graded largely by computer; students interact on a wiki and message board, as well as on Facebook groups, with peers substituting for TAs. The research arm of the project will continue to develop new tools using machine learning, robotics, and crowdsourcing that allow grading and evaluation of essays, circuit designs, and other types of exercises without endless hours by professors or TAs.”

The Christian Science Monitor (5/3, Trumbull) notes that “the move comes amid a wave of experimentation and angst in the world of education. The cost of earning a college degree has soared, and the recent job market for graduates has been weak. A range of start-ups is now moving to promote the online model of learning. Some financial experts talk of higher education as a ‘bubble’ that will burst, as new technologies such as online learning allow students to earn credentials at a lower cost.”

Update: UCB will join edX. They are already on Coursera.

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Top cause related videos

To get in the video making mood I watched the following top videos found on the TechSoup website. With their 2012 Digi Storytelling winners in, I have lots of great short works to inspire me. Hoorah!
From the site: The 2012 Digital Storytelling Challenge was a great success, with more than 250 total submissions from social benefit organizations in 24 countries! We were impressed with the quality of the photo slideshows and videos, and all the hard work that went into them.

@getstoried’s favorite cause related video

@storyofstuff‘s favorite cause related video

1st place: Dave Thomas Foundation snagged top honors in the video category with its black-and-white submission, taking home one Seagate hard drive, two Flickr Pro accounts, one Citrix GoToMeeting account, oneAdobe Production Premium, one Cisco Flip Video Mino HD, and oneSlideRocket Pro account.

2nd place: Developmental Disabilities Association rose to the challenge with its action-packed video and smart messaging, winning one Seagate hard drive, one Flickr Pro account, one Citrix GoToMyPC account, one Adobe Premiere Elements, and one Cisco Flip Ultra.

Most Creative Storytelling or, as I like to call it, the Reading Rainbow styled winner: Oxfam,

Most Fun in a Minute, Best Animation: Alliance for Climate Education

Best Global Campaign Video: Let’s Do It! World

One more:

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Flow: Body, health and design

Back pain. Americans spend $50 billion per year on treatment. It is the second most common reason for visiting a doc. Do you or have you experienced back pain? Hear interviews with alternative health practitioners and postural health experts that’ll help you get back to good health. This audio show was made for Full Circle on KPFA 94.1 in Berkeley, CA
Keywords: back painposturesomatic healthalternative medicineaccupuncturechiropractormassagechairsdesignurban design