Lemme Tweet That For You…

Lemme Tweet That For You…

What happens to a controversial tweet?

More often than not, it gets deleted.  Quickly.   One of my greatest/silliest fears is that I will send out a personal tweet on the Academy account.  It’s not that I make a habit of tweeting controversial things, but I doubt folks who follow the @GattonAcademy account want to hear about Doctor Who.  Well, maybe.

Even when errant or ill-conceived tweets are deleted, the problem is that screen captures help these statements live on forever… or at least as forever as the rapid pace of the Internet will allow.  That is what is so troubling about the web app  I can’t say it’s an incredibly complex or genius bit of code, but I do assert it could be fairly dangerous.

One simply enters the username of any public account on Twitter.  Lemme slurps the name of the user, the profile photo, and page background as well.  If you use links, @ mentions, or hashtags, they will also appear in the color palate of the profile.   You can event set a time stamp for the tweet.  It looks like a tweet… but it’s a tweet that never existed.

The image for this post is a fake tweet I made for my wife.  She has never read The Hunger Games.  I doubt she would get the joke above.  With the movie coming out tomorrow, it’s all good fun.  What if I made a fake tweet from our university’s departing athletics director that said “Bye suckas!”?  What if there was a fake Academy tweet that said “No dumb people.”?  While there are very minor, tell-tale signs that these aren’t real tweets, imagine the time it would take to explain it away.

With how quickly incorrect information moves across the Internet, who would even care?

Sometimes a dumb tweet can even result in a bit of social good; however, I don’t think this tool will promote that kind of action.



When Nana Asks, You Do

When Nana Asks, You Do

Click on the image above to view the full photo.

Even though Elliott only took a fifteen minute nap today at daycare, Stephanie’s mom was insistent that Elliott watch the broadcast version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on CBS tonight.  Nevermind the fact that we own the special on DVD and there is such thing as DVR at our disposal.  But Grandma gets what grandma wants, and here’ the proof.  We had to ply him with leftover pumpkin cake to keep his attention, but I think Lynn would say it was worth it.


Educators Should Teach Students To Be Responsible Digital Citizens

Educators Should Teach Students To Be Responsible Digital Citizens

Click the image above to view the full tweet.

When did we stop teaching students the differences between “free speech” and “responsible speech”?

The Atlantic Wire offers the following story of a high school student who offered the above tweet after her school’s visit with Kansas Governor Brownback.  Turns out an aide who monitors the social media channels forwarded the tweet to the school principal, who reprimanded the student and demanded she write an apology.

The interwebs have erupted in a mix of free speech, overreaction on the part of the Governor (note: it was an aide of the governor who contacted the event organizer who then contacted the principal; it appears Brownback was not directly involved), and the usual flame-wars that come out of this sort of thing.  As a result, the following update was made to the story this afternoon with this note:

As the blowback spreads across other social media platforms, Sullivan’s also become a surprisingly sharp thorn in the governor’s side. And no, she will not apologize for it. By Monday afternoon, however, it was Brownback who was apologizing. “My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize,” Brownback told Yahoo News. “Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”

Again, this is where I return to the terms of “free speech,” “respectful speech,” and “responsible speech.”  The notions are not mutually exclusive, but I increasingly find that the later two elements are surprisingly absent from the former.  Schools should teach students how to be respectful digital citizens and realize that there are consequences to their actions.

Will the governor lose sleep over name calling? Of course not.  However, what this says about Ms. Sullivan is that she is extremely flippant in her use of social media. Her comments are far from the kind of constructie dialogue that is part of good human behavior much less engaged citizenship.  What does it say that individuals would rush so quickly to her aid over being rude?  Disagree, satirize, and debate all you want, but do it in meaningful, constructive ways.

Perhaps the school should not have demanded she write the letter, but I think it is wise to use this as a teaching moment about reasonable online behavior for young adults.  I would certainly do the same–and have done similar–in the case of Academy students.  This has often led to similar kinds of headaches for myself, but I wholeheartedly believe that a student is a representative of their school and their own self.  With so many concerns about cyber-bullying, privacy, over-sharing, and a host of other digital concerns, it makes sense that we seize this opportunities to help students become better young adults. offers nine comprehensive themes of such instruction: digital access; digital commerce; digital communication; digital literacy; digital etiquette; digital law; digital rights and responsibilities; digital health and wellness; and digital security (self-protection).   Of these, digital etiquette resonates mostly strongly with me:

Technology users often see this area as one of the most pressing problems when dealing with Digital Citizenship. We recognize inappropriate behavior when we see it, but before people use technology they do not learn digital etiquette (i.e., appropriate conduct).   Many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette.  Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use. It is not enough to create rules and policy, we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society.

So many educators are quick to throw the social media baby out with the bath water.  Ultimately, I think that does more harm for students than good.  It is only when we engage in appropriate, respectful dialogues do students grow, mature, and realize the power of these resources.


Thankful for Grandparents on Thanksgiving

Thankful for Grandparents on Thanksgiving

Click the image above to view the full photo.

We had a bit of a change-up this Thanksgiving.  For the first time, Stephanie and I got to enjoy the holiday in Bowling Green.  The added bonus was that her parents made the trek to to visit for the better part of last week.  Stephanie prepared the feast, with a bit of help from the good folks at Honeybaked Ham.  We sort of braved the crowds for Black Friday sales.  Perhaps the most enjoyable experience, though, was visiting the park in our neighborhood for some playtime.  The photo of Dan and Lynn on the walk back is my favorite from the holiday.  We are so thankful that Elliott has three wonderful grandparents who love him dearly and provide his parents with encouragement, support, and advice.

The Most Adorable Infomercial You’ll Watch this Holiday Season

The Most Adorable Infomercial You’ll Watch this Holiday Season

Honestly, I’m a sucker for a good Christmas TV special.  From Rudolph’s morality play in otherness to dancing Ewoks, it’s hard to go wrong with a tale of magic, wonder, and merriment this time of year.  I was a bit surprised when An Elf’s Story rode shotgun for CBS’s slate of Christmas specials.

Based on the 2005 book Elf on the Shelf, the special profiles the adventure of scout elf who is adopted by a family, reports to Santa on their behavior, and teaches one special boy the magical gift of believing when he begins to doubt the existence of Santa–all in a tidy thirty minutes, minus commercials.

Here’s the kicker, though, the entire thing is a commercial.

My brother’s family–particularly his two kids–love Elf on the Shelf.  You can get the gist of how this works from the official website for the product.  It’s a charming game for kids to play while counting down the days to Christmas, but there’s something about this blatant hawking of a product in the guise of a cartoon that really upsets me.  Granted, Hasbro’s “The Hub” cable network and most Saturday morning cartoons for the last thirty years exist for this purpose alone.  Year after year, few will argue against the notion that Christmas has been taken over by capitalism.  We’re even at the point of Black Friday eating away at Thanksgiving.

If the Christmas message fails to inspire and you can stomach the commercialism of the cartoon, then maybe–just maybe–you’ll find the most inspiring part of the story is how it all came to be.  The story of Elf on the Shelf is really more about American entrepreneurial spirit than of Holiday Cheer. Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell wrote the story and, in absence of a major publishing house taking them on, self-published the book.  Fast forward six years, and they’re up for round two.  Inc. offers a fascinating tale on how Pitt convinced self-produced the feature and convinced CBS to air it, while underscoring that the company is one of the top 5,000 privately-held companies and earned just shy of $10 million in revenue in 2010.

Warms your heart, right? But Hank Stuever of The Washington Post’s lifestyle section offers this critique of such parental tactics of scaring kids in behaving this time of year:

Who can resist the holiday fun of scaring the children into good behavior? Ask any of history’s most efficient dictators — they’ll tell you. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the naughty-nice punishment paradigm. Where would this holiday be without its good old-fashioned behavioral paranoia? Charles Dickens may get all the credit for this, but do also consider George Orwell.

While you’re at it, spend a few minutes with Kandace Creel Falcón’s discussion of Elf on the Shelf in the context of Foucault’s panopticon, order, and race/gender politics.

There you have it.  Somewhere among Christmas and Capitalism, Fear and Faith, you have Elf on the Shelf.  If you’re inclined to outsource surveillance this Christmas to a Kewpie doll, Target is offering a complimentary $5 gift card with purchase of the box set this week.


You Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Stephanie and I bonded over our love of the old Rankin-Bass stop-motion holiday specials.  In Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Kris sings a little ditty to the Winter Warlock that helps to melt his icy heart. Gentle readers, I dare you not to have your own icy hearts melted with the joy of Otter taking his first steps.  You can imagine how excited we were–a moment made all the more special since my Mom was there as well.


JibJab Jr. Books Let Your Kid Star in Their Own iPad Adventure (And You Can, Too!)

One of the staples of mall kiosks has always been the book dealer who–for the nominal sum of $20–will place your child’s name in a storybook.  From Christmas tales to birthday celebrations to fairytale reimaginings, the kindly salesteen would give your child the gift of a customize narrative.

It seems the mall kiosk has given way to the wonders of tablet computing–namely the iPad–thanks to the folks at JibJab.  From political elections to “Elfing-Yourself,” JibJab has has found a way to blend flash animation with the hilarity of putting yourself in the story.  With JibJab Jr. Books, you can get a monthly dose of entertainment for your child.  Here’s the PR:

With JibJab Jr. Books, you can make your child the STAR of the show. In just a few simple swipes, you can create personalized storybooks that feature your child’s face and name. Your child will be enthralled by the great stories, colorful art, and awesome animations in every JibJab Jr. book. So download the app, turn out the lights and take your child on a personalized journey!

Having bought several apps with Elliott in mind, there’s a difference in JibJab’s approach that I admire most.  Rather than “easter egg” items on the screen that wobble or beep when you touch them, the focus is actually on the narrative at play.  Sure, there’s the fun element of your child’s name and face, but the iPad doesn’t read the book to you or do things to distract you from the experience of reading with your child.  The animations are great and the stories are quirky–exactly what you’d want in a kiddie book.

Slate also offers a useful overview of the product:

Because that’s your child there, under the chef’s hat! Your child’s name right there in the text, in the right font and everything! And that child is going to be thrilled. Thrilled, I tell you. So thrilled that he or she will want The Biggest Pizza Ever over and over again. But will you be thrilled, when you reach the end and it’s very clear to your child that there is another story—in fact two more stories—that do the same thing? And they are available for $7.99 or, if you join JibJab’s monthly e-book club, $3.99, with another $3.99 charged to your iTunes account if you choose to buy each month’s offering.

$3.99 is a fairly comfortable price-point for an iPad app, particularly one that should get a tremendous amount of use in a family setting and can be updated even as your child grows.  Honestly, with children’s books at Barnes and Noble and even Amazon clocking in at $10 or higher, $4 seems all-the-more attractive.

Oh, look.  Here’s Otter surrounded by meat to help you get a sense of what a “page” of the book is like.


Holy Meth Lab, Batman!

Listening to the news on the radio this morning AK said "Well, that proves it." I said "What?" She said, "Batman DOES exist...they just found a lab in a cave." Awwww...I wish that's what it was, Baby Girl! Unfortunately, not...
Amanda Coates Lich

Behold! I Bring You Good Tidings of Great Taco!

Behold! I Bring You Good Tidings of Great Taco!

There comes a moment in time where each generation is defined by a product. 1970s: Bellbottoms. 1980s: The Walkman. 1990s: Jnco skater jeans. 2000s: Any iDevice.

Perhaps the Millienials of the 20-teens will be defined by the magic that is the Taco Bell Doritos Taco.  Geekosystem probably states it best as the opine below:

Since there is no hope of stopping this gastronomic train wreck, I’m hoping that TacoBell will embrace it and other recent stories on their food with a slogan along the lines of: “The Dorito Taco: 36% meat, 100% Doirtos.”

I’m down with that.  A company that espouses the value of the 4th Meal concept must understand the inherent strangeness of such a product.  At the same time, I’m fully okay with the concept.  From the KFC Double Down to Man vs. Food, we’ve become accustomed as a society to gastro-abnormalities.  Surely if we can stomach the foodstuffs of This is Why You’re Fat, then we can handle a little nacho cheese powder.  (Maybe we can’t stomach TiWYF, since it appears the site no longer exists.)

The Doritos Locos Taco was first served up in test markets across the US earlier this April.  With a second wave of Internet excitement this week, let’s hope a full roll-out isn’t far behind.


Nike Pro Combat Uniforms and the War on Battlefield Fashion

As evidenced by the video above, you have to admire any college football program willing to adorn themselves in the flag of their state… or maybe you don’t.

With the kickoff of college football season this past weekend comes part of a new tradition.  It’s not a new stadium or a new class of freshmen taking the field.  Instead, much has been made over the Nike Pro Combat system uniforms employed by many top-tier programs.

I knew Georgia and Boise State’s duds looked a bit beyond the norm when tuning into their game.  It wasn’t until the ESPN announcer–out of advertorial obligation or deference to his audience–rammed the “Nike Pro Combat” brand into his shtick as teams took the field that I had any clue these were “special” vestments.   Some would say the uniforms resemble various superheroes.  Other’s might say they simply look dumb and overthought. Peep the designs and decide for yourself.

Nike, probably more so than most companies, is quite good at the hype machine.  For instance:

…which teams will be sporting the next-generation battle gear when they storm out of the tunnel come gameday. It’s a buzz that lasts from opening weekend through the National Championship game, and this year’s lineup is guaranteed to bring it.

What’s interesting, though, is the use of battle rhetoric in regard to the slate-labor trade amateur sport of college football.  Battle, combat, victory, defeat, field general, and more are common terms in application to college football.  Butterworth and Moskal offer their take on the fusion of visual, written, and spoken rhetoric in college football in their 2009 article “American Football, Flags, and “Fun”: The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl and the Rhetorical Production of Militarism.”  For your edification, here’s the abstract:

The Armed Forces Bowl provides a troubling integration of commercial sport and the American culture of militarism. The game features patriotic displays and symbols that have become increasingly central to sporting events during the `war on terror,’ represents the first time a military manufacturer has been the official sponsor of a college bowl game, and depends on a ubiquitous rhetoric of “support the troops.” By expanding the familiar conflation of sport and war, the Armed Forces Bowl simultaneously trivializes the seriousness of war as it emphasizes the seriousness of supporting the American military. This rhetorical division offers a delimited conception of appropriate American identity, thereby normalizing war in general and endorsing the `war on terror’ specifically.

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaching in a matter of days, Butterworth and Moska’s article has an strong resonance when compared to the hype around Nike’s product.

My Hilltoppers will avoid controversy and simply enjoy their Russell Athletic throwback-inspired gear.