A GREAT Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was one of my more memorable ones.

The highlight was watching two of my daughters, Rebekah and Ruth, graduate with High Distinction from Riverland Community College, receiving their AA degrees. They are the third and fourth of our children to take advantage of Minnesota’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, which enables industrious high school juniors and seniors to take college classes for simultaneous high school credit. Like Rachel and Jake before them, these two graduated from the community college before they graduated from high school (Rebekah’s Austin High graduation is in a couple of weeks.) Here’s a picture of our recent graduates with their proud parents:


Lisa, Rebekah, Me and Ruth
Lisa, Rebekah, Me and Ruth

I also was extremely pleased to receive birthday greetings from my granddaughter in Grand Rapids, MI, via her parents’ blog:


Evelyn Grace Borg wishing Grandpa Happy Birthday
Evelyn Grace Borg wishing Grandpa Happy Birthday

I got a nice call from my son Jake, too. He lives in La Crosse, WI.

From a work perspective, it was a milestone day, as well. The video embedded below, which will be the subject of a future case study, cracked the 1 million mark in total views on YouTube. When I embedded it on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog on April 7, it had been viewed 1,005 times over the preceding six months. As of this writing it’s at 1,108,201 views (and also was featured on the front page of msn.com yesterday, where it has been seen more than 133,000 times.)


It’s an interesting story that will, as I said, become a future case study…but I have a feeling it’s not done yet. But meanwhile you can get a bit of the back story through this great post on Sharing Mayo Clinic by Jodi Hume, who uploaded the video of the Cowans after her mother, Sharon Turner, a Mayo Clinic patient, shot it. I’ve never been associate with a “viral” video before, so it’s been fun watching the traffic for this one continue to grow.

We also have been delighted to have company for the last three days, as Rick and April Kelley and their children Christian, Gabe, Jake, Elijah, Grace, Ryle and Micah visited us from Louisville. Ruthie and Christian are “exclusive friends,” which is the motivation for the 700+ mile trip, but our families have become close, too.

The many Happy Birthday wishes I received on Facebook and Twitter were touching, too. It’s amazing how these social platforms can bring people together.

Lisa and I are so thankful to God for our many blessings. And if I’ve had a better birthday, I don’t remember it. This is one I won’t be forgetting.

SMUG Week in Review 2-24-08

It was a full week for Social Media University, Global (SMUG) students, of whom there are now 49 (up from 34 just a week ago!)

The Facebook Hacker Challenge was updated and expanded. Then a commenter raised the issue of whether encouraging someone to try to hack the group would constitute a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service. Your Chancellor decided it may be worth up to $200 to find out how secure Facebook’s secret groups are, but it’s not worth getting his Facebook account suspended, so I brought the challenge to an end.

Which is, I guess, a way of saying Facebook (even though it’s free), is worth more than $200 to me. That got me thinking that maybe a $15 billion valuation for Facebook isn’t all that outlandish; if you multiply 65 million active users by $200 each, that’s $13 billion. I may not be typical; there may be lots of users who would walk away from Facebook forever if you offered them five bucks. But I suspect many others wouldn’t trade their access to Facebook for $500 or even $1,000.

In one way, this back-of-the-envelope calculation doesn’t mean much. The fact that I perceive Facebook as being worth more than $200 to me doesn’t directly put money in Mark Zuckerberg’s pockets. But it does suggest that there will be a reasonable tolerance for Facebook trying to monetize its service, even if it means some minor annoyances, because users find Facebook so personally valuable anyway. Of course, the best scenario is one in which the targeting of relevant advertising actually enhances Facebook’s perceived value to users.

In other developments this week, SMUG got a great new URL: social-media-university-global.org. This is part of growing up from a blog that started on a whim about 19 months ago to an on-line higher education institution (even if it’s not accredited). The process was pretty painless on my end, and the total cost was $19 (although I did spend another $10 for the .com version of the domain, too.) I hope it’s not too painful for those who had subscribed to the original feed from leeaase.wordpress.com, or the one that had been burned through Feedburner. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone for whom this has caused a problem (but then, if it has cut off their feed they wouldn’t know about this request, would they?)

We also added two new courses, for which there are homework assignments:

Remember, SMUG is built on the principle of self-paced, hands-on learning. Don’t worry if you get behind. The Curriculum section will always have an up-to-date listing of available courses in sequential order. Complete the coursework as you have the time and inclination.

Unlike traditional colleges and universities that offer degree completion through cohort programs, you don’t have to work at the same pace as everyone else. The SMUG cohort is always growing and accepting new students (15 in the last week alone). So you can’t get behind, because there’s no pace you’re expected to match.

Of course the other major difference between SMUG and other universities is they actually give you a real, accredited degree. And even the cheapest public universities charge tens of thousands of dollars for it.

At SMUG, the B.S. degree you earn has a double meaning. But since it’s free, and since you’ll be gaining a lot of practical knowledge and experience through the process, I’m confident you will find it an exceptional value.

Happy studies!


social media university global

So how do you choose what to name a new institution of higher learning?

  • Stanford University was named after a former California governor’s son, who had died of typhoid fever at age 15.
  • Yale University, which was founded to train ministers and was called Collegiate School, was eventually named after benefactor Elihu Yale.
  • Harvard University likewise was named after an early benefactor.

When choosing a name for a new on-line University providing social media education, I didn’t have any benefactors to consider. (Not that I’d be above selling the naming rights!) Social Media University, Global was the first name that popped into my head. But I did a little brainstorming and identified some other options, including:

  1. Social Media University – Technical (SMUT)
  2. Social Network Institute of Practical Education (SNIPE)
  3. Public Relations Institute for Social Media (PRISM)

The first one’s an obvious non-starter, and though the second reflects the hands-on nature of the proposed curriculum, somehow the acronym doesn’t quite fit. And while social media definitely have public relations applications, the third name’s focus on PR is too narrow.


SMUG seems to fit because the curriculum will be covering social media in all its varieties, from blogs to social networking sites to microblogging to YouTube and everything in between. And seeing as I’ve made friends in Facebook from across the U.S. and as far away as Singapore, Egypt, Australia, Norway, Panama and Thailand (and that it is a world-wide web), the “Global” part isn’t an overstatement, either.

I’m open to other suggestions: it’s not like I’ve printed a bunch of letterhead or put a lot of work into the school logo. And considering that SMUG was established about 15 hours ago, we don’t have an entrenched history to overcome. Renaming wouldn’t be a problem.

But meanwhile, if anyone has an artistic bent and would like to design an official SMUG seal, I’d love to see what you can do. I’m thinking something like an old English crest or a round seal would be neat, with the following text elements and suitable graphics:

Social Media University — Global   *   SMUG   *   Established 2008

Whoever designs the winning logo gets a 50 percent tuition discount.  Then again, 50 percent of free is…