Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fun at FIRST LEGO League 2008

Last Saturday, about 72 teams of kids, ages 9 to 14, converged on the campus of Iowa State University to compete in the 2008 Iowa FIRST LEGO League. The competition itself was held in Howe Hall, hosted by the College of Engineering. The teams use the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit to build a robot capable of completing a number of specified tasks autonomously on a prearranged playing field.

For the last couple of years, I have worked with my friend Paul Jewell, who is the Technical Director for the event, to help broadcast it live for all the parents, grandparents and friends who can't attend so they can watch and participate.

ISU Extension supports the event by broadcasting it live (that's where I come in) on the web using their Adobe Connect conferencing system. The broadcast went very well. Even though we were pushing out a large amount of video, we continuously had over 100 participants online and ended up connecting about 600 individuals to the event.

It is a massive, crazy and fun event... in which Camille Schroeder, Director of ISEK and Brandon Newendorp (the young man in the jester hat in the video) as well as a multitude of volunteers somehow manage to bring it all together and create a very sucessful and enjoyable day for all the participating kids and their families.

Ann Bugler helped me take some video of the event to give you a sample of the fun and action. Oh and my son and daughter helped with the event as well (near the end of the video).

Iowa FIRST LEGO League 2008 from Floyd Davenport on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Does Social Media Change the Rules for Civility?

Early today, Robert Scoble twittered "“I think I'll write up a new post about why the new polite is to be impolite". His statement made me think about the civility of social media. Please understand that I'm neither an expert on social media or civility... but I have been accused of being too short and impersonal in my own communications.

Here are a few observations to keep in mind when using social media tools.
  1. Don't try too hard to read between the lines. Twitter, Friendfeed, blog comments, etc are not the same as face to face conversations, they are concise and public.
  2. Social media has significantly increased competition for attention. This may be the scariest aspect for many people new to using social media. I want to participate in the larger world, but I need to filter it down to something I can digest. This means I can't attend every party and I must recognize that my parties may not always be well attended.
  3. Sometimes I'm just talking to myself... and that's OK. Find value for yourself. Yes I can laugh at my own jokes and I often do.
  4. Sometimes you're not talking to me. If I dont' get it, you probably don't care.
  5. Don't feel the need to respond to every post. Ask yourself if you are adding value to the conversation. I admit this is difficult for me; sometimes I need to keep my 2 cents and save them up for a different conversation where I can provide more value.
  6. Communications are more public than ever before, you may not fully understand your influence and words can hurt... so use your words carefully.
Have a nice day!