On CNN.com today, there's a front page article announcing that the "Naked Cowboy" has been given the green light to pursue a lawsuit against Mars candy, the makers of M & Ms, for trademark infringement.
Funny enough, a CNN analyst thinks he has a case and could win a tidy sum.
At Swift Kick, we go way back with Mr. Cowboy, aka Robert Burk. We found him in some small town after a NACA conference and couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a little video of him with a "Free Hugs" sign. (Free Hugs is a metaphor / case study for social networking in our leadership and tech training.)
Here's the clip. Pay special attention to the end. We, unlike Mars candy, covered our legal bases : )
Joking aside, the Naked Cowboy clearly understands the value of open content. He's obviously done that little end bit once or twice before.
Whether or not he read The Long Tail, he's built his brand and fame on millions of FREE tourist style impressions just like ours. He's done it by being out there (well, right) and open (ahem . . . naked). You can connect the dots to our typical blog themes on your own.
I'm sure if Mars had asked nicely, Robert would have been happy to participate for substantially less than the 6 Million he stands to win in the lawsuit.
Either way, god bless America.
As a child my parents nicknamed me The Count because I used to count the number of pennies in our HUGE family coin jar. Though I no longer count the number of pennies laying around, I do admittedly have an obsession with watching our blog numbers and calculating it's monthly growth. Call me a geek, it's ok I accept it.
The two major places where we receive our blog traffic information is from our Typepad dashboard and from Google Analytics:
I rarely indulge in the rich heady stuff these days. Too much work to do.
If I can summarize briefly, in my language, Positivists were believers in scientific method, aggregated over the long haul into theory. Thomas Kuhn, in the 60's and 70's pushed back with a return to theory dominance - that theory framed observation.
If Kuhn is right - then different subcultures (scientific in this case, but I'd like to stretch it for personal relevance), have a major problem:
. . . if it’s true that subcultures parse the world differently, does the Kuhnian disjunction (the revolution in theoretical perspective) make it impossible for scientific subcultures to interact with one another? Kuhn seems to suggest that it should be - if science moves in terms of revolutions, scientists on different sides of that revolution might literally be speaking different languages, Newtonian and Einsteinian, as different as French and German.
What if society moves in revolutions? What of generations - are they more distinct subcultures? What if the screw is "revolving" faster than before?
If you want to dive in, the solution has to do with intermediary languages, as well as, perhaps, intermediary players and entire fields.
It's my orchestration post with impressive intellectual and historical roots. Cultivating roots like that is a beautiful thing. It's very noble.
I completely understand the attraction of academia. It's a very inviting rabbit hole - lovely, dark and deep . . . but I have promises to keep.
And a plane out of laguardia waaay too early.
Tom and I have been motivational now for years. And we've been dressing well too. (Not as well as Jonathan Sprinkles, but we try.) So it's nice to see one of ours get some respectful national media coverage. Front Page!!
In talking with teachers, I often hear about how one of their greatest joys is when a former student comes back to tell how something you did impacted their lives in a positive way.
We don't work with the same students nearly as long as a teacher does, but we do get to feel a small piece of what that joy is like.
We met Catie Duhon at the 2007 NACA Nationals conference. She saw our leadership training session "Dance Floor Theory" and got it right away. She understood the why behind the how. She understood why the activities we were doing such as "Free Hugs" and "Pin Tag" made a real impact on the total level of engagement at the conference. She got it all so well, she went back to her campus and made it happen at their orientation. Here is a reprint of her Facebook blog:
[Bearkat Bash/ Orientation and the new plan for getting the freshman to interact... some new games we played this week and the fun we had... and the importance of interaction]
This note post-nutshell:
So How much do I love this stuff?...SO much... i love it so much!...
IT being lots of fun- the kind of fun that creates itself and is contagious- the kind of fun that makes other people want to have a little- the kind of fun that even makes the '"I'd rather just sit here and watch" kids decide its worth a shot!...
"Hey guys... Program Councils want to welcome you to "Bearkat Bash"... There is a bungee run, Velcro wall, jousting, basketball, dodge ball on the other side, custom wristbands and dog-tags in the corner, and don't forget to bring your ticket to the table for your chance to win the prize!!! You guys have fun!"
It's orientation season and that means FRESHMAN!!! Affectionately referred to as "the kids." This year Program Council and the Orientation Office teamed up to try and make this year better than ever. At the end of the first night, there has always been a party called "Bearkat Bash," which, until now, was held in the KatClub and included free pool, games, some music and that ever-so-classic awkward interaction... or lack thereof...
Now when 'the kids' get to the new Bash, they are greeted with the above "Hey Guys..." and then a mix CD playing loudly throughout the gym adds the final touch to the new concept...
What we were going for by bringing in interactive activities and games that traditionally guarantee a good time, was providing the students with a *LOW TENSION way to INTERACT* and GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER...Oh, and of course to have some FUN!
It isn't perfect yet, but hey... things are really looking up and the morale of the incoming freshman seems to perk when they walk in and start enjoying the *fun stuff college has to offer!...
"And What," you say "about the students who aren't interested in any of what the Bash has to offer?"...
A Legitimate concern no doubt! One that I had myself from planning: Stage1...
This week we added 2 more activities that seem to have gone over quite well indeed.... "Tag! You're it!" (A game I got from the wonderful guys over at SwiftKick) and "5-in-5" (a brand-new classic!) were given a test drive and the response was way better than even I had expected! (and I'm an optimist! :D)
We started out at the "Passport to Sam" (booths where the organizations get to inform and recruit) by giving 'the kids' clothes-pins that say "TAG!" on them. They had to walk around and pin them on people without getting caught, and if they did they were supposed to meet that person, and maybe strike up a convo. Right after that Bearkat Bash started and what was left of the 300 clothes-pins was gone in 5 minutes (so about an hour and 15 min total).
The thing that gets me really excited though is 5-in-5... not just because the game itself is near and dear to my heart, but because of what happened when we started to play!... (quick note: 5in5= "5 pictures in 5 seconds"...a disposable camera and a random group of people... you have as much time as it takes to wind the camera to completely re-arrange/ re-configure/ re-pose and- ready or not- the next picture is taken... this happens 5 times fast and (usually) the result is some of the best 'random' pictures you've ever taken)
The main goal of playing this was to get the kids who were sitting on the walls or standing around in the middle to get up, get energized, and have fun... even if only for 5 seconds-ish. So how did we kick start the magic? Just running around and randomly getting people to play... naturally...
Like I said, even I was amazed at the results...The skeptics were convinced, students were watching across the gym and then coming to ask what was going on and could they play... even the Orientation Leaders couldn't resist. The game snow-balled and there were freshman trying to get in as many rounds as possible, recruiting others to play, and one group even made us wait so they could go get more of the 'sitters' to play!...
The main objective of Bearkat Bash is to provide a place for the incoming students to interact and have fun-- the lower the level of awkward tension and the higher the level of no-stress activities/ interaction, the more fun and interaction you see going around!...
I think being a part of or getting involved in SOMEthing is one of the most important parts of our college experiences! And even if it just begins with some random fun and a laugh, the knowledge that-being a part of an event or activity might actually be really fun is- a start! And hey... we gotta start somewhere!!!...
So thanks to EVERYONE who is a part of Bearkat Bash, Program Council, and the Orientation Team... Thanks to 'the kids' for taking a chance and having fun!... and thanks to anyone else who gets fired up about getting people involved and having some fun!"
And thank you Catie for passing the joy on to new students at your schools and back to us at Swift Kick :)
We're tagging OSU's group list as a way to pre-populate standard groups. (So if similar groups are already in the system they can pick or select all tags from the matching group pool.)
Tagging at this volume is pretty tedious (but that's the idea, this way, no one else will have to do it). We picked OSU because they are huge and have more than 1200 groups on campus. This size serves as a great template list and a great showcase for how recommendations can increase participation. (See The Paradox of Choice for why a 1200 item list isn't the best interface for action.)
Anyway, with 1200 groups, the entire long tail is represented. So we're tagging away and I'm thinking how exciting it is to surface, through tag based recommendations, some of these obscure clubs.
And then I came to OSU Capture The Flag started by Greggory Webb (who is obviously a ton of fun and a go getter student leader). In the past, Greggory's fun would have been limited by his own network. How much influence can he exercise over his network? Is it adequate to get a game together? Maybe 1 in 10 are as fun as Greggory, so he has to get to 200 before he has even a modest game. 200 is a big network, that's a rare amount of pull.
As I'm tagging these groups, I'm constantly thinking of myself as the freshman being presented with this tag cloud to pick from, thinking of what tags I would add to my own profile. And I'm thinking I would definitely click on "capture the flag". Maybe I'm the 1/10.
OSU has almost 67,000 students on Facebook. All kinds of diversity, but I bet there's a pile that would just focus on their common love of an "old classic".
Through the new system, Greggory's idea of fun will extend out well beyond his personal network. It will explode out across OSU, regardless of his own fame or money or coolness, just on the merits of the idea, and land directly in front of the 1/10.
This new interface just may create industrial mega organizational challenges for Greggory, but you know? I bet he's the kind of guy that will give it a go.
And I bet he will learn a lot. And I bet a capture the flag game with 6,000 students would be one of the coolest things to hit OSU in years.
Wouldn't it be fun to start worrying about too many students involved?
Right now we are knee deep in html coding, logo designing, and httpgetting that it's only natural for us to release some steam and have a little fun.
The idea is to poke as many people as possible on April 16th. To pull it back to Dance Floor Theory, think of each poke as a mini introduction on the massive dance floor of Facebook. And the more relationships we can build on Facebook, the more fun it will be.
It would be great if Facebook actually tracked the number of pokes per day... Let me take that back, I am sure they track the number of pokes as they can track just about everything else. The more people we can get in on the group, the more pokes we can generate.
In preparation, we here at SK Central are running daily finger poking drills. Happy poking!!!
For the past 6 months Kevin and I talked about the idea pulling off a Flashmob at NACA or APCA. Up to this point it was just talk, but we changed that at a recent NACA West conference.
It started with finding the technology. The company we found allows a person to text "swiftkick" to a number and by doing so they enroll in the flashmob group. It costs us very little and costs the user nothing (unless they have to pay for text messages).
We can then login into our account and see how many people are "in" and with the click of one button send a mass text message to the entire group all at once.
That's the technology side. Now on to the human side.
Kevin did a DFT ed session and at the end he talked about flashmobs as another way to connect people together on a dance floor and college campus. The students LOVED the idea and everyone pulled out their cell phones and texted "swiftkick."
We started with 25 people "in". We needed more, so we sent out our first mass text saying we needed 90 and told each person to tell 2 other people. Within 15 minutes we were up to 60! K and I were really excited, but we still didn't know what the flashmob was going to be.
After a long discussion, we decided and texted the group: (on a side note, we are only allowed 160 characters for the text)
"NACA Flashmob! @ dnner sum 1 will stand and yell 1,2,3. On 3 Stand on your chair and sing "ur my sunshine" when finished, yell "Free Hugs!" and give 15 ppl hugs and sit dwn."
Going into dinner Kevin and I were nervous and excited. What if the trigger guy is too quiet? What if no one does it? What if we get kicked out of NACA?
Finally the time came and the trigger guy stood proud on his chair and yelled "1,2,3!" .... There was a pause...
Then 70 other students and advisors stood on their chairs and sang "You Are My Sunshine."
Afterwards the room's atmosphere changed. I could feel the energy rise as schools did cheers and people smiled. It was a success. We were successful at creating new habits for this group. New habits that having fun was ok and "dancing" was ok.
P.S. We filmed the whole thing, so stay tuned for a YouTube video soon.