Internet searches and social media influence: What is you Klout score?

I was a guest lecturer today and provided an hour and fifteen minute long lecture/workshop for the first time on the exciting combo topic of internet searches, social and collaborative learning spaces and online influence. It was a fun topic to prepare because it combines some of my personal research interests along the lines of information literacy, algorithms and heuristics, personal learning environments and networks (PLE/PLN), and online “influence” analytics  i.e., Klout. Only one person had heard of Klout before so I gather it’s a new topic for most folks (including me). Students were genuinely intrigued by views of my Klout dashboard and especially my score. It’s currently 49. What does this mean?

I ended with some open discussion about internet searches and credibility and showed part of Howard Rheingold’s video about online crap detection. We used clickers at the beginning of class to get the conversation going and to also probe social media use. Be sure to click the CONTINUE READING link so that you can read on!!!

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Exploring the new Knowledge Commons at Penn State

While visiting my parents this weekend in State College, I took a trip up to the Penn State campus to visit the new Knowledge Commons in Pattee Library. It’s always a treat to see new spaces coming online on campus. In short: what a fabulous space for students! To name but few quick obserations… There are post production labs and quiet meeting rooms with sound proofing. There’s even a self-service recording studio where a student can practice public speaking. At the end of practice, a copy of the recording gets automatically written to your thumb drive. How cool is that? But one of nicest features is the very nice live wall with real plants. Below are some pictures I took using my Droid 2 Mobile camera. I’m sharing the images via flickr with the Awesome Flickr Gallery plugin. My flickr account is found here.

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A DIY story: revise a fireplace in 5 years

A new kind of post for my blog: home improvement. In my Twitter profile, I self-identify as a home improvement enthusiast. I am actually a huge DIY fan. When I moved into my home in January 2007 after having lived for two years + in a one bedroom flat in Washington Heights (NYC), I knew that the green fireplace just had to go first thing. That’s right. Someone had painted the fireplace green. I just love REAL BRICK, not the fake stuff. I wasn’t about to paint it RED BRICK.

Within the first week of moving in, I attempted to remove the paint using a paint removal product called PAINT BE GONE or something like that. I was in a hurry to get this job done because contractors were coming the following week to re-finish the hardwood floors. Movers were coming with all of our furniture and everything else, etc. I was starting work at my new job in just a few weeks. It was a good and exciting kind of pressure that makes you want to get started today 🙂

So, I applied the caustic with a brush to the green fireplace. Then I waited.  An hour or two later, still, nothing happened. The paint did not magically peel or fade away. At all. Oh boy, now the green fireplace has a crusty, thick haze of white frosting. It seemed a lot like glue and it had solidly bonded… Call in the experts? Nope.  Ultimately, with some quick web searching and a hunch, I purchased a high-end respirator and other gear that has come in handy again since then. My tool of choice though? A $45 hand grinder purchased from one of my favorite stores. This made the paint disappear …. very gently…. basically lightly grinding/sanding it off. And, it created a huge dust mess and took hours of careful, precise work. But it worked. Check out the nearly finished project here. 5 years later, it’s time to wrap it up as we Harwoods like to say. It just needs a mantel. That’s it. And it’s done. I tried installing two pre-fabricatated mantel pieces from everyone’s favorite DIY centers, but they were about  3 inches too short on either side to completely span the 6 foot 6 inch brick top. And way too much $ for the custom build. Therefore, this weekend, I’m going to build my own. Nothing fancy. I don’t have time to. In another post, I’ll tell how I repaired other parts of the fireplace including re-pointing the chimney outside.

Note: Anytime you remove old paint, you *really* need to plan well. Check local building codes for recommendations and procedure. If sanding near or over pre-1980s paint, remember to seal everything off in the room with vertically hung plastic tarps. Turn off all HVAC so dust is not moved elsewhere in the house via air ducts if present. Imperative to have a respirator, protective eye gear and work clothes that get thrown away when you’ve finished. Afterwards, clean, clean, clean the room when you’re all done so there is no dust anywhere. Or, just paint over it and call it good.