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May 29, 2008

Reflecting on the Impact of Blogging on the Work of a CIO

I have been blogging in this space since November 2004. At various professional meetings like the CIO Executive Council and Educause gatherings I have had the opportunity to share thoughts on the impact of blogging in the workspace. Sometimes the panel conversation is framed in terms of 'whether' we (as CIOs) should support workplace blogging. Alternatively, we've discussed the impact of blogging in the world of higher education. A good example of the later is captured in Inside Higher Education writer Andy Guess' blog on Case Western Reserve University's Collaboration Technology and Campus Engagement Summit.

Yesterday, Heidi Cool in her blog posed the question "how has blogging impacted your work?".

Over the past four years or so, I have tried to use Bytes From Lev as a platform for three arcs of activities that I see as germane to my work as University CIO. First, I have attempted to use the blog as a vehicle for raising issues and offering commentary to the professional technology community at Case Western Reserve University. Most every CIO in Higher Education will share that not withstanding the explosion of electronic communication one can never communicate too much, especially to one's colleagues in the IT organization(s) across the campus. IT organizations remain largely hierarchical in their nature and is as often the case, communication does not flow as naturally as I might want across and down the organization. Using the blog is not a substitution for various face-to-face exchanges but I hope that the community of IT professional at our university who care to read my blog from time to time will have a sense of the 'big' issues that help frame my daily work and possible derivative impact on the lives of other IT professionals. I think leading by example and using the blog as a communication device is an attempt to 'lead from the front'. I have encouraged others to consider the same approach.

Second, our University has an important role in the life and aspirations of the broader community in Northeast Ohio. Through various activities, including the use of Bytes from Lev, I have attempted to reach out to the community around NEOhio to share in the development of a vision of a "connected community." My underlying conviction has been and remains that the long term health and well being of Case Western Reserve University is inextricably linked to the health and well being of Northeast Ohio. The future of NEOhio is intimately connected to the process of re-imaging, re-inventing, and re-invigorating what we want to be in the 21st century. An intelligent, innovative, creative, connected, and educated community capable of charting its own future in the digital age is an important part of our future. I have used my blog as a platform for advancing insights and attempting to provoke dialog where I can on this portfolio of topics.

Finally, I have long believed that an additional piece of advocacy and leadership that CIOs are compelled to engage in as part of our professional obligation is to educate the public and our civic leaders. In particular, I have used this blog to advance my work as CIO to comment (sometimes at length ;-) on the importance of next generation broadband connectivity and advanced technologies as part of a critical strategy for American competitiveness and for support for the vital role of higher education in a wide range of public goods from basic science to educating critically reflective citizens. CIOs have a tendency to bemoan the lack of knowledge and sophistication of the public and our civic leaders around technology and public investment in technological infrastructure. I've tried, in a very modest way, to use Bytes From Lev as a platform to invite readers to glean insights on issues that might inform their work in various settings. A week doesn't go by in which a church committee, a civic organization, a staffer for an elected official or a journalist or analyst doesn't contact me for follow up on topics raised in the blog.

Blogging is one important tool in the professional repertoire of the CIO. The blog is a symbolic representation of my personal conviction to try and be transparent in my communication and management style. It is an invitation to collaboration whether here on campus, in the geographic regional of Northeast Ohio or beyond national borders. I also lend my voice through the blog to the public education and leadership advocacy work that I think we CIOs have an obligation to attend to in an effort to frame discourse and decision making on campus, in the region, and around the country and regarding the future direction and responsibility of higher education.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 29, 2008

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May 22, 2008

When Wikinomics Hits the College Campus

Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics provides a provocative and engaging analysis of where the University Campus is going in a lecture titled: Mass Collaboration and the Future of Education. Williams provided the keynote address at our recent summit on Collaborative Technology and Campus Engagement. President Barbara Snyder's comments follow the keynote and provide insight on the 'state of Case Western Reserve University.'

Williams presentation outlines the plausible impact of web 2.0 technologies on the administration of universities, the governance of universities, the nature of future collaborative research, teaching, and of course the manner in which collaboration technologies render obsolete the notion that learning is a spectator sport.


Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 22, 2008

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May 21, 2008

New OECD Broadband Findings and Broadband as a Community Leadership Intervention Strategy

In advance of the Ministerial meetings in Seoul, South Korea (June 17-18), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has issued its latest findings (or the executive summary). The main finding that "broadband not only plays a critical role in the workings of the economy, it connects consumers, businesses, governments and facilitates social interaction," comes as relatively little surprise to readers of this blog. What does emerge is that public investments in broadband infrastructure among countries in the OECD is at or near the top of the public policy agenda for all of the top 10 economies (measured by GDP in US$). Unfortunately, as observers of the United States scene will know and most acknowledge, the American public policy agenda has been distracted by the three trillion dollar war in Iraq and Afghanistan (exceeding the twelve year war in Vietnam), the 'strong dollar policy' which has led to unprecedented pressure on the greenback and the tsunami outflow of investment by Asian, Middle Eastern, and Russian central banks and sovereign funds, and the sub-prime housing debacle. No wonder, we've heard almost nothing from the Presidential Candidates about strategies for competing and cooperating in the global economy and globalizing the world of skills and education.

Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden led the OECD in broadband penetration, each with at least 28 subscribers per 100 inhabitants (pg 25). The United States was 15th. Over the past 3-4 years, the largest growth in broadband penetration in per capita terms was in the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Finland – countries that now lead the OECD in penetration overall (again the United States was ranked 15th in terms of 'growth') pg 29).

While the leadership in Washington continues its aimless exploration for a national broadband policy framework, states, regions, cities, and local communities need to be thoughtful and proactive in their investments in digital infrastructure. These local, regional, state investments represent an imperative to fully understand broadband policies as an intervention strategy inextricably linked to creating a and enabling a sustainable future. Until such time as communities articulate their willingness to take responsibility for their own future through local investment and creative engagement with broadband strategies, the United States and in particular parts of the country like the Great Lakes region are likely to suffer. As we debate the merits of private sector leadership versus public investments, we are driven to further distraction. These are not binary choices.

The $25m Knight Foundation investment with OneCommunity in Digital Universal Access through the Digital Center of Excellence (http://www.onecommunity.org/solutions/solutions.aspx?id=518) is premised on the assumption that there is indeed a ‘third way’. A third way of approaching the development of consensus around leveraging technology to attend to community priorities and the roll out of a broad macro technical network architecture across broad geographies. Thus far, neither city hall (government directed) nor privileging the private market have produced the digital town square of our common hopes. In a number of the cities where OneCommunity is engaged (and others who are working with similar assumptions about the DNA of the sustainable connected community), the third way is premised on a multi-tenant model of schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, universities, museums, public broadcasters, public safety, and various layers of government co-investing in a portfolio of wire and wireless infrastructure to deliver program and community priorities. This is an additive strategy where there is demonstrable opportunity for private public partnerships. The convergence of philanthropy, the public sector, the private sector, and well educated and articulate community stakeholders represents an emerging opportunity for important engagement and potential regional transformation.

In the case of OneCommunity, the focus on a tiered strategy at the infrastructure layer (multiple wireline and multiple wireless technologies) combined with a governance model that supports and is informed by networked leadership and economic development, and a funding model based on aggregation of internet services AND program and shared services has produced a viable model here in Northeast Ohio over 5 years. Aggregate bandwidth of the 150 organizations leveraging the bandwidth touching more than 1500 facilities and well over a million users has grown more than 100 fold in the past 5 years. Mobility and wireless connectivity has also exploded. Where 5 years ago there was basically no mobile wireless connectivity among the subscriber institutions, today, at any given time in the middle of the day more than 3000 wireless users are connected to wi-fi infrastructure in the area I know best which is the mesh and wi-fi deployments in Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, and Cleveland around University Circle. The model is sustainable and is delivering access in one of America’s poorest cities and a research sandbox for one of the most sophisticated engineering faculty in the land at Case Western Reserve University (and everything in between).

Our experience suggests that there are dozens of cities and various stakeholders in those communities prepared to revisit the messy choreography of the ‘third way’ to enable the roll out of broadband connectivity as an ‘intervention’ strategy in support of broad public policy goals. Just this past week the Intelligent Communities Forum Immersion Group brought an international delegation of leaders from South Korea, Japan, Europe, Africa, and Canada. While we learned much from them, we also think there was genuine interest in our 'third way' model.

A patchwork quilt of such local and regional community networks provides a viable basis for stitching together a sustainable economic future in which the community both uses technology to address its highest priorities and has a meaningful sense of its owning or at least contributing to its own future.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 21, 2008

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May 19, 2008

Faculty Mentoring and Immersive Learning Environments at Case Western Reserve University

The positive impact Case Western Reserve University professors have on the lives of their students is recognized annually with the J. Bruce Jackson, M.D. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring. Yesterday at Commencement, Anne Helmreich, art history associate professor, and Stacy Williams, communications studies assistant professor, were named Jackson Award recipients.

Both Anne and Stacy participated in last week's Collaboration Technology and Campus Engagement Summit.

Stacy kicked off a terrific panel on the Future of Virtual Worlds and Education with this 3 minute video on her research activity.

The panel discussion which featured Mark Turner from Case Western Reserve University's Cognitive Science Department, Cory Ondrejka co-founder of SecondLife and now from USC, and Edward Lee Lamoureux, Bradley University is available below (50 minutes).

Anne Helmreich is the Director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. She hosted a fabulous series on "Cities" this past year. We are also working with Anne and Baker-Nord on a joint venture for next year with the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland's installation on digital art. Anne participated in our expert capstone panel on Web 2.0 and the Future of Learning which is available here.

Congratulations to Stacy and Anne.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 18, 2008

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May 18, 2008

Case Western Reserve University Finds Commencement Speaker on Craig's List

Craig Newmark received two degrees from Case Western Reserve University more than 30 years ago. Today, he turned in his kangol beret in favor of mortarboard and tassel and received his third, a honorary degree from his alma mater. The founder of one of the most well known and disruptive technology platforms of the past decade (Craig's List)declared himself a proud 'nerd'. 'I grew up in high school with a plastic pocket protector, and big thick black glasses taped together.' Craig's commencement talk wove nostalgia of his time as a student at Case Western Reserve in the 70s with nuggets of insights. At a seminar on communications at Thwing Hall, Craig suggests that he finally learned that the challenges he and other nerds faced in communication were not universal. 'Some people knew how to communicate and others ... just need to keep on working on it.' He also shared some of the values that inform his life work at Craig's list. Doing the basic and boring stuff well like customer service, and really listening to people and giving them a break is at the heart of his passion and mission. Caring and nurturing the community around you and civic engagement were among the other messages that Craig conveyed in his own inimitable and self-deprecating manner. 2008 he asserted is a big year and he implored the graduating class to take the opportunity to make a difference and help re-invigorate the democratic process in the United States.

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Craig also rubbed shoulders with some of Cleveland's digerati at the second annual Cleveland Techsync Cleveland event last night sponsored by National City Bank and organized by Beta Strategies founder, Cathy Horton. Today at commencement Craig echoed a line he shared last night at TechSync when asked why he had chosen not to sell his company and take the money and run. 'Having enough money to take care of my modest needs and a bit more for the future is all I need. I know lots of people who have tonnes of money and they are no happier than most anyone else and are often times burdened by their wealth.' A simple and yet profound message for graduates.

Let's hope it won't take Craig Newmark another 30 years to make his way back to Cleveland and a follow up visit to Case Western Reserve University.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
May 17, 2008

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May 14, 2008

TED Prize Winner Cameron Sinclair in Dialog at MOCA Cleveland Talaly Lecture

Last week's gathering here at Case Western Reserve University on Collaboration Technology and Community Engagement engendered plenty of conversation on extending the 'networked collaboration tools' to engage students, faculty, staff, and the broader community around us.

Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics and keynoter at the Summit shared the impact of collaboration tools across an amazing breadth of social, economic, and learning environments (to the many who have asked, yes, Anthony's keynote will be available as a video stream --soon). One of my favorite TED Prize winners is architect and community activist and maverick open source humanitarian Cameron Sinclair. Cameron has leveraged collaborative tools for engaging both hundreds of architects (Architecture for Humanity) around the world but also engaging those architects in dozens and dozens of community projects both near and far. For folks in Cleveland, you have an opportunity to join us in dialog with Cameron Sinclair at MOCA Cleveland's Talalay Lecture being held on Wednesday, May 21, at 6 pm at the Idea Center in Playhouse Square here in Cleveland.

The devastation in Mynamar and China over the past 10 days provides a graphic backdrop for some of the conversation on socially-engaged architecture. Please join us, if you're in the neighborhood. For a backgrounder on Cameron see his TED talk below

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 13, 2008

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May 13, 2008

LinkedIn, Social Networking and Creating Value for Alumni at Case Western Reserve University

Quietly, and without a lot of fanfare, we began a project 30 days ago to create a "Group" for Case Western Reserve University using the social networking tool known as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform technology that enables subscribers to create professional profiles. The value of the platform technology is its ability to allow you to sort your online Rolodex of contacts and, more importantly, the 3 or 4 degrees of association/separation, that is professional contacts of those people that you know and trust.

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Today, the 400th LinkedIn subscriber joined the Case Western Reserve University Group. If you haven't created a profile, here is a link to the one I created 3 years ago. Back in October during an online exchange with Dan Nye, CEO of LinkedIn facilitated by the New York Times, I asked him whether LinkedIn was re-opening up the service to alumni and other-related University activities. Dan's response
suggested that the service was ready to open up to groups, in a big way.

I hope readers of the Bytes from Lev blog will make suggestions on the ways in which we can use the affinity group to advance the value of the social network. If you haven't already read Guy Kawasaki's top 10 ways to use Linked in, it's a terrific a starting point.

Here are some other ideas that I've been thinking about and I hope you'll offer feedback.

As some of our alumni know, I'm interested in an alumni 'visiting group' to help with specific suggestions and enagement on the ways in which we can use technology to create value for our students and our alumni. My first thought was to use the Case LinkedIn Group to ask for input and feedback. We'll probably use a structured wiki to convene the visiting group and structure dialog and suggestions on initiatives to explore.

Second, I've been amazed at the geographic diversity of the Case LinkedIn Group. While the university has alumni chapters in various large metropolitan areas, I thought the LinkedIn Group might be an interesting data source for inviting alumni to virtual meetings related to continuing professional development, updates, and opportunities for professional networking. We've held a number of these kinds of sessions in SecondLife and using Adobe Connect. Let me know if that is of interest to you, especially if you're not in a major city where we have a critical mass of other alum.

Third, there are a number of other organizational units within the University who are interested in structured feedback from diverse constituencies. Perhaps there is a way to use LinkedIn to facilitate regular feedback on everything from planning, to mentoring, to helping contact a prospective students in your area who has expressed interest in Case Western Reserve University.

Finally, let us know how you think using the network of 400 and soon 1000 alumni, faculty, and staff can advance your professional networking interests.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 11, 2008

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May 12, 2008

Collaboration Technology and Community Engagement - Recap

Case Western Reserve University has a grand tradition of information technology innovation. Back in 1973, the University was one of the original nodes on the then ARPA Network (which pre-dates the commercial internet by 20 years). In 1986, the University created the Cleveland Freenet Community Computer System, a free public computer network which allowed dial-in users Internet access. In 1989, Case Western Reserve was the first campus in the world to use fiber optics to create a computer network. In 2002, Case Western Reserve was among the first campuses to deploy next generation switched gigabit network technologies and add pervasive wireless technology around the university. In 2003, we helped to form OneCleveland now known as OneCommunity.

This past week (May 08, 2008), with the help of a lot of friends and colleagues Case Western Reserve University launched Collaboration Technology and Engaging the Campus. We think we may once again be ahead 'ahead of the curve'. As reflected in our campus-wide conversations and strategic planning effort, the professional technology services community at Case Western Reserve University stands poised to offer the campus a portfolio of collaboration tools and platforms to advance the mission of the institution.

Online coverage of the gathering has been very positive with plenty of engagement from bloggers and others. The Cleveland Plain Dealer covered the launch of our collaboration with OneCommunity to extend the wireless cloud beyond University Circle into Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, and further into the City itself. Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics and our lunch keynoter posted reflections on his his own blog on his short visit to Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University. Several different blogs linked to Andy Guess' piece from Inside Higher Education. Jeffrey Young, from the Chronicle Higher Education blogged about his experience in SecondLife during the conference. Karen Schaefer from NPR affiliate WKSU filed a 5 minute story on the gathering.

More than 300 persons came to the event at the Thwing Center with nearly 100 additional registrants watching some or all the event through the available stream or in SecondLife. The gathering had 40 speakers, two plenary panels, 16 breakout sessions, and our lunch hour keynote.

Here are some examples. Exploration of curricular use of wikis found blogs on "Ben Schechter from the Case School of Dental medicine's Clinical Manual. Jonathan Adler, from the Case School of Law was the lead-in to not only Andy Guess' story but also caught the attention of others in the blogsphere. A number of folks commented on their experiences at the conference in second life here and here. Other bloggers commented on the various lessons learned and opportunities to leverage their experiences at the gathering in their own environments. If you've blogged or twittered related to the gathering please let us know in the comment sections.

With the forthcoming release of the University's strategic plan, the technology community at Case Western Reserve University is committed to positioning these and other powerful collaboration tools to support the pursuit of scholarly and academic distinction consistent with the vision of the University. We hope that today might mark the first of an annual celebration of innovation and critical reflection on the transformation potential of collaboration technology for the University and the community around us.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 11, 2008

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May 07, 2008

The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Cleveland Plain Dealer TechCollab 08 in SecondLife

A new and temporary media 'spin room' has been constructed on the lawn between Adelbert Hall and the Kelvin Smith Library on the Case Western Reserve University campus in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio. While the forecast is for rain tomorrow, the sun will be shining in SecondLife as more than 300 registered attendees will make their way through the construction sites on Euclid Avenue to the Thwing Center to participate in Technology Collaboration and Campus Engagement '08.

Not only will the sunshine be shining in SL with no construction sites and no hassle parking, we hope you will consider joining us for the day and take time to visit the press spin rooms that have been set up. Jeffrey R. Young from Chronicle will be in the Chronicle spin room and a number of different avatar/journalists from the Plain Dealer may 'drop in'.

In addition, we're pleased that NPR, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Inside Higher Education will be taking time to navigate the construction sites and parking hassles and make their way into the grand ballroom to cover the summit.


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See you inworld and/or in person tomorrow.

Lev Gonick
May 7, 2008
Case Western Reserve University

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Pre-Event TechCollab 08 Blog -- Research in Virtual Immersive Worlds

Tomorrow (May 8, 2008) Case Western Reserve University will be hosting a day long summit on collaborative technologies and community engagement. Although the event is sold out, readers who are interested can participate in TechCollab 08 in SecondLife or watch proceedings following this streaming link.

One of the breakout sessions tomorrow is on Immersive Worlds and Learning and Research. The program features Cory Ondrejka (University of Southern California, Co-Founder of SecondLife), Mark Turner (Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University), Edward Lee Lamoureux, (Bradley University New Media Studies), and Stacy Williams (Communication Studies, Case Western Reserve University).

Here is a clip of Stacy's 3 minute trigger video to help contextualize our conversation tomorrow.

I hope you'll continue to give us feedback on the day's events and the arc of activity that we now understand that it has already inspired.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 7, 2008

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May 04, 2008

NEOhio's OneCommunity and the Future of the Broadband Economy: Interview with Robert Bell from the Intelligent Communities Forum

The Great Lakes Geek himself, Dan Hanson, has just posted a great background podcast with Robert Bell from the NY-based Intelligent Communities Forum.

The interview (part one of two) starts with an exchange over the politics of broadband. Reminds me of one of my favorite Colbert shticks.

Dan then take Robert through the various models around the world associated with the broadband economy. The final piece of this first interview explores the difference between muni-wireless as a strategy for economic development and contrasts it with the 'portfolio approach' to infrastructure investments necessary for a sustainable 21st century broadband economy.

Later this month, Scot Rourke, CEO of OneCommunity receives this year's "Visionary of the Year" award from ICF at the annual meeting in New York. Once again, NEOhio has been selected by ICF to be among the world's Top Seven most intelligent communities.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 4, 2008

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May 01, 2008

Headliner Acts in the World of Technology Invade Cleveland

There are times when the distance between the West Coast and Cleveland feels like twice the distance from Cleveland to the West Coast. While many of us technologists find our ways to make a pilgrimage to San Jose, Austin and/or Rt 128 outside of Boston, somehow in order to sit at the feet of the 'oracles' you need to find your way to them because it often is too far to come here to the shores of Lake Erie.

No more.

Over the next three weeks Cleveland becomes the center of the universe for propeller heads, technocrati, and interested citizens. The great vortex begins next Thursday, May 8th when Case Western Reserve University hosts a day long symposium on Collaboration Technologies and Community Engagement held at the Thwing Center. Headlining that event is a lunchtime keynote by Anthony D. Williams, author and avid researcher examining the impact of new technologies on society, economy and the future of education. He is co-author of the widely acclaimed book, Wikinomics (http://wikinomics.com/). His work has been featured in Business 2.0 and Optimize magazine and widely circulated in syndicated research programs. Find out more about Anthony D. Williams at: http://anthonydwilliams.com

A week later (May 17), Tech Sync: Connecting Greater Cleveland's Network of Technology Excellence is back. This two day networking and celebration event caps off with a headliner presentation by Craig's List Founder, Craig Newmark on Saturday late afternoon at 5pm. Craig is a proud geek and double Case Western Reserve University alum and is looking forward to meeting all of the other geeks from the Great Lake cities of NEOhio.
Place: The Forum, One Cleveland Center, Downtown
Price: $40

Not even a week after that, NEOSA Best of Tech Awards Dinner is being held out Corporate College East on May 22 from 5:30-8 pm. (Price: $25 members, $40 non-members). Headlining the evening is Robert X. Cringely.

Formerly referred to as employee No. 12 at Apple, Cringely is the best-selling author of Accidental Empires, a columnist with InfoWorld magazine, and producer of more than a dozen tech industry films for PBS. He was even once the answer to a question on the game show Jeopardy.

Lots of good stuff going on in the technology world in Cleveland. Hope to see you at these three events.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 1, 2008

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