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Voluntary and enthusiastic

Twitter Blocking explained

Social Marketing... at last!

The Psychology of Collective Action, Social Media,...

Fwd: [#MRO-489-36585]: com-give.com scam site

Today's "what's this company?" mystery: Safer Alco...

Losing classroom content

Cross pollinating outreach ideas

Equity versus equality

Tempered glass whiteboard ideas




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2.25.2011

Abortion Philosophy

It’s a super-volatile topic, I know… and I’m really not trying to antagonize anyone or stir up trouble.  I just want to throw out, in easily referenced fashion, how I frame the “abortion debate” in philosophical terms and why I find the political side of it (in the United States, at least) really oddly positioned.

Here are two contrasting principles:

When we encounter a conflict between a known rights-holder and a possible rights-holder, we should

  1. uphold the rights of the known rights-holder despite restricting a possible rights-holder
  2. guard/defend/protect the basic rights of the possible rights-holder despite restricting a known rights-holder

In most things, the “libertarian” position is A) above and the “liberal” position is B) above.  (Feel free to commend with improved terminology for me here; the Democrat party in the U.S. would usually be identified with “liberal” but the Republican party has a mix that runs from “libertarian” to almost “paternalistic,” for lack of a better word.)

How’s this cash out?

Animal welfare:  Dolphins or chimpanzees might deserve basic rights of life and liberty (nobody knows for sure) so we shouldn’t wantonly kill them even if someone says, “I captured those chimps on land I own” or “I have the right to fish these waters per international treaty and the dolphins are in my way,” etc.

Slavery:  People are people (and if you go back to the 1700s and 1800s that was in dispute, but you could make the argument, “Well, they sure look like people to me!”) and therefore shouldn’t be bought and sold.

Women’s rights at home and abroad:  Even if a culture says, “Around here, women are property,” we stand up and say that’s wrong and that they should be treated with human dignity.

With me so far?

Here’s where I ruffle feathers:

By any measure, a fetus sure seems to be a person.

An inconveniently located one, perhaps, but a person.

Looks like a person.

Comes from a person.

Has unique human DNA.

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that this particular fetus-person-thing is a horrendous physical and/or emotional burden on another person (the mother)…

Shouldnt the liberal position be that its right to life itself should be preserved?

“But my wife dishonored me and deserves to be stoned to death” isn’t an excuse.
“But freeing my slaves would have a terrible economic impact on my plantation” isn’t an excuse.
“But working around dolphins and chimpanzees is inconvenient and I don’t think they matter!” isn’t an excuse.

“My property, my choice” isn’t an acceptable reason for a government to ignore its obligation to protect the rights of those who can’t protect themselves.

But… “My body, my choice” is?

I honestly, truly don’t get it.

Yes, “my body” is a deeper, more core “right” than external property… but “life itself” of an aborted fetus is the deepest right of all, isn’t it?

For every argument I see about the physical, emotional and economic reasons for legalizing abortion, I can apply those same exact arguments to slavery or spousal abuse or environmental destruction.

Those things are very, very bad.  So abortion is too, right?

Why is it okay in some cases for the government to protect vulnerable populations from choices that might be harmful to others… but not okay in other cases?

Granted, we don’t “know” that a fetus is a person.  When dealing with risks and rights, there are lots of things we don’t “know”.

So, it comes back to our philosophical framework for making ethical decisions.

When we encounter a conflict between a known rights-holder and a possible rights-holder, we should

  1. uphold the rights of the known rights-holder despite restricting a possible rights-holder
  2. guard/defend/protect the basic rights of the possible rights-holder despite restricting a known rights-holder

Which side do you fall on?  Are you consistent in that belief?  If not, why not?

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2.23.2011

Analytics webinar

Quote on analytics: "We can ask good questions, immediately get answers, and turn around and implement change at the institution."

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2.18.2011

Dynamic geo-targeted video? Or is Saint Paul really that popular?

UPDATE: Thanks to Matt and Tod on the west coast, it seems that the video does still say that Joanna Everett is in St. Paul... so that must be hard-coded into the video and I happen to live in the lucky city that was chosen.  If the rest of you want to keep watching and double-check their work, feel free... but I think it was "coincidence" rather than "extremely advanced dynamic video programming"...

I need a favor from any non-Minnesota geek friend: When I view it, the get-rich-quick video at http://hypertracker.com/go/russbrun/exhacker/ (which I swear I'm not trying to SPAM to you guys -- please do NOT waste your $47 buying "Commission Crusher"!!!) at exactly 18 minutes in makes a reference to "Joanna Everett" of "St. Paul, MN" ...in both the video AND audio track.

I'm wondering if that's a dynamic geo-targeted reference based on my IP address and that the location of "Joanna" changes when viewed from elsewhere, or if it says the same thing for everyone in the world (which would be odd to mention St. Paul, of all places, especially since a 123people.com search indicates she doesn't exist here.)

So the question is, if you're not in Minnesota, is the "testimonial" reference at the 18-minute mark different for you?

If you're geek enough to care about this, you're geek enough to have something like DownloadHelper that will let you grab the video and fast-forward to that mark, because I don't want to make you sit through 18 minutes of a Flash video that has no way fast-forward or rewind.

(If it _is_ dynamically generated, I've _got_ to find out what tool he's using to do that!  That kind of thing has been around on text-based websites -- all those "singles looking for fun in [your city name here]" ads that you see aren't really people in your city -- but I've never seen it done in video before...)

Thanks in advance!  :)

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2.17.2011

Infographics for Social Media

These are really, really good.  You need to be something of a “social media geek” to really get the most out of all of them… but even if you take a poor, dim glance at them they’ll help explain what all this “social media stuff” really is…

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Email as the center of one's universe...

Here's a weird synergy of "customer service intake" for me in the past few days:

1) My exasperated Tweet last week about service-request emails going to less-than-optimal contacts:

http://mobile.twitter.com/emlarson/status/36145493650313216

2) My Quora question last night about an Ignite talk I'd seen that might hold a solution:

http://qr.ae/wP40

3) The resulting find:

http://www.hilarymason.com/blog/ignitenyc-the-video/

4) Coincidentally (I had no idea this was in the works!), Patrick Rhone's podcast from today:

http://mobile.twitter.com/patrickrhone/status/38260081346887680

5) And, as a point of trivia, Patrick's reference to emails as "pebbles" is a variation of the "heap of wheat" that the Greeks pondered:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sorites-paradox/

Wow. All that might not mean much to you as you're reading this... But, trust me, it's quite a collection in my brain.

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2.14.2011

At the car wash!

[wpvideo rytdtr0J]

Chloe is now singing: "Fluffy towels, fluffy towels"...

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Back on the topic of 3D printing...

It's been a few months but a link from @sborsch to this post got me thinking about 3D printing again:

3D printing: The printed world | The Economist

http://www.economist.com/node/18114221?story_id=18114221&CFID=162367227&CFTOK...

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2.09.2011

Old photos are cool...

I hope this works from an off-campus connection. Otherwise, you'll have to figure out how to browse and drill down to the excellent "University Archives Photograph Collection":

http://content.clic.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Farch-photo

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Recommended by the CIO

When your VP suggests reading something... It's probably good:

Solitude and Leadership: an article by William Deresiewicz | The American Scholar

http://www.theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

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2.08.2011

Life's not always what it seems...

...And people are clever:

Clive Thompson on Secret Messages in the Digital Age | Magazine

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/01/st_thompson_secretmessages/

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