Archive - Jul 2010

July 31st

#FF #entrecard

@davelucas, @sparklecat, @ecopunkorguk, @photosbykml, @ontheverge6, @ScottzPrincess

Typically, on Fridays Twitter users post lists of interesting people they follow on Twitter. Well, it is now Saturday, but I didn’t get around to my Follow Friday post yesterday.

Also, typically at the beginning of each month, EntreCard users post lists of those people that have visited their card and dropped an EntreCard most over the past month. Well, today is the last day of the month, so I figure it is close enough to create this mashup. These are the six people on EntreCard that have dropped the most cards on me over the past month AND list their Twitter id on EntreCard.

They are all people (except of course the cat), that I enjoy following on Twitter and reading their blogs when I connect to them on EntreCard.

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July 30th

Public Meeting Minutes

Section 1-225 of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act requires that votes from public meetings be available within 48 hours and minutes be available within seven days. Minutes of public meetings are important for residents to be able to find out what is going on in their town. They are also important to journalists who do not have enough time to cover local events. In some cases, they become part of important legal discussions.

The Connecticut Siting Council is currently considering an application by AT&T to put a cell tower in Woodbridge. On July 28th, attorney Keith Ainsworth on behalf of the Woodbridge Conservation Commission submitted an application to intervene in the proceedings.

AT&T objected, relying heavily on the minutes of the Woodbridge Conservation Commission, including noting that the June 17th minutes of the Conservation Commission meeting is not yet available. The July 15th minutes are also not yet available.

On Wednesday evening, the Board of Selectmen met to consider a request from the Woodbridge Conservation Commission for the Town to participate in funding for intervener status re Siting Council Docket #388. If a vote were taken, the results of the vote would not be required to be available until this evening at the earliest and the minutes are not required until next Wednesday. Nonetheless, there have been subsequent filings in the docket concerning the meeting.

Part of AT&T’s objection asserts that the Conservation Commission’s Intervention Request is procedurally defective and lacks authority. They refer to the agenda item at the Board of Selectman meeting to consider the Conservation Commissions request saying

We are advised by a member of the public attending the meeting that the Board of Selectmen took no action on the Conservation Commission’s request.

Keith Ainsworth, on behalf of the Conservation Commission replied,

The Conservation Commission was authorized to take action to file the intervention before the Siting Council and expend town funds in doing so by the Board of Selectmen last evening. AT&T represented falsely that selectmen failed to act on the request

AT&T responded

Attorney Ainsworth’s allegations of a misstatement of fact which was conveyed to us by a member of the public is not accompanied by any independently verifiable facts of his own (i.e. based on discussions with the Town’s Board of Selectmen). As such, the Council may want to call the First Selectman directly to ascertain what if any formal action the Board of Selectmen did or did not take last night.

The response continues noting

The request previously submitted by Attorney Ainsworth lacks a resolution from the Conservation Commission adopted by a duly noticed public meeting of its own authorizing such action to seek intervenor status in Docket 388.

Agendas and meeting minutes matter. They are a way to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and this can become very important when the lawyers get involved.

(Cross-posted at The Woodbridge Citizen.)

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July 29th

Social Media and Schools

A few years ago, Avery Doninger posted a message on her personal Livejournal account from home one evening criticizing the administration of the high school she was attending. As a result, she was barred from serving as class secretary in her senior year of high school. This raised many important issues about freedom of speech in the age of the internet which are being explored in a case proceeding through the Federal Courts.

Last night, the Windsor Locks Board of Education met to discuss a personnel matter. The agenda included an executive session to discuss the Superintendent’s position/contract. All of this comes in the wake of comments that Superintendent David Telesca posted on Facebook. According to the Hartford Courant, Superintendent Telesca commented online that “my first day on site involved counseling an administrator to retire or face termination”.

The Courant article goes on to say,

A spokesman for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education said Tuesday that he could not recall any instances in the state when social media usage was a problem for a school district.

Apparently, the spokesman is not aware of the Doninger case.

There are many interesting aspects to this. Policy and law often lag technology, and few, if any school boards seem to have policies on the use of social media. On the other hand, an underlying question is whether or not online communications are substantially different than other forms of communications. Online communications are often more persistent, easier to search, and may reach a broader audience, but is this a difference of magnitude or something more substantial? One board of education member observed that boards do not have policies on ballpoint pen usage.

It may even be that the difference of magnitude is fading. As ‘trackers’ become more common in the political sphere, what people say when they are talking to a politician in a coffee shop may become as persistent, searchable and broad reaching as anything else. The line between the personal and the public continues to blur.

In would be wrong for the Windsor Locks Board of Education to terminate their superintendent because he made his remarks on Facebook. If, however, the content of the remarks are deemed to have violated Board policy, for example, saying too much about personnel cases, that would be a different issue. I do not know what different school board polices are about a superintendent talking about the hiring or firing process without mentioning individuals involved. It would seem as if there is benefit to these sorts of discussions, such as letting it be widely known that a school is searching for certain types of employees or discouraging certain types of behaviors.

This is not to say that schools should not be paying close attention to social media. If anything, they are currently failing by not focusing enough on it. Social media is the new place for kids to hang out. Teachers and administrators need to understand what is going on in the lives of their students. They should be providing skills to help students make the best possible use of tools in the twenty first century, which includes social media.

Indeed, some of the best teachers and administrators I know are the ones that make ample and wise use of social media. Students are encouraged to share their work with the public online, in ways that protect the students’ privacy. Administrators are using social media to communicate with teachers, parents, tax payers and other stakeholders about what is going on in the school districts.

Social media, like any other tool, can be used wisely or stupidly. It can be used for good or for ill. Some people will have backlashes against any new tool since the tool could be misused or used for ill. It is better to understand new tools and help people learn to use them in the best possible ways.

(Cross posted at deliberateCT.)

July 28th

Wordless Wednesday - #frff

20100724_010, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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July 27th

Camping at #frff

Camping at #frff, originally uploaded by Aldon.

I'm having difficulty getting to the edit mode of my blog from my cellphone over the celluar network so I'm tring to blog a way I used to by sending pictures to flickr. Typing is slow on the cellphone so I'll probably be more terse for the next few days
Sent from my Nokia N900 using Nokia Messaging

Update: I believe I took this picture last Thursday and tried sending it via Flickr to my blog. However, I was having problems with the Internet connectivity and the message only made it through today.

It is probably just as well. I've had a busy day. There is a blog post I really want to get written, but I'm so tired, I can't focus well enough right now, so I'm saving that for tomorrow.

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