Too Many Secrets

If you’ve seen the movie “Sneakers” you’ll recognize the title as one of the tipping points in that very good film. I was reminded of it over the weekend as I started to try and wrap my head around a relatively new app and social service called, Secret. A very peculiar app because the social service does what the others don’t do — it keeps your identity away from everything you share. All your posts, comments, and likes are completely anonymous. While other social networks (twitter, Facebook, google+ instagram, etc) work to build your online identity, Secret does not. From Boy Genius Report,

When first installed, the app digs into the contacts you already have in your iPhone’s phonebook and links you to each and every one that also has Secret installed. There are no accounts, profiles or contact lists and you cannot “friend” other Secret users from within the app. Messages and photos you share are visible to everyone you know who also has Secret installed. If they “like” a post, it spreads and becomes visible to all of their contacts. And so on.

SecretThere are so many things that fascinate me here. The primary reason is the idea that a percentage of us are beginning to be socially obsessed with being unrecognizable online. It might be the NSA, but the rise of disappearing snips of content being delivered by our devices is on the rise — just listen to anyone under 30 talk about Snapchat or Facebook’s Poke and you’ll see there is new value in secrecy … or in just perceived secrecy as the case may be. I suspect we will see a lot more of these apps that allow you send and receive, post and like, and just participate with people without the fear of discovery and reuse. That will be an interesting space to watch.

The app is quite simple. All you see is a scrolling list of secrets posted from people you are either directly or indirectly connected to. If you want to participate in a secret you give it a like or leave a comment. Once you do that you are connected to that secret and are following it. Will it succeed? I have no idea, but as a concept it is interesting.

New Publishing Models

I am always watching for new ways people publish online. I typically get an account with whatever the latest, potentially paradigm shifting, service hits the market to see if it is really all that different. I’ve seen a few recently that are proving interesting to me. I thought I’d share some quick thoughts and look for reactions.


This isn’t exactly new, but I am still working to wrap my head around the reasons I like it so much. The things I can understand are the elegance in the presentation, the focus on the story, and the inline commenting capabilities. Oh, and then there is the whole community curation thing that really peaks my interest. We are talking to our SB You platform provider, EduBlogs, about adding capabilities that allow people to dissect a post and add comments in-line … imagine how interesting that will be for collecting feedback or tearing apart drafts. I’ve written in Medium and I just like the overall simplicity.


This one isn’t new either, but I have really just started to wrap my head around how it works. To make it really simple, Storify allows you to create a “mashup” story from things happening across the web around a topic, person, hashtag, location, etc and put it into one shareable page. Once you start exploring various Storifies it becomes clear what it is all about … I think there are incredibly powerful opportunities in that simple idea for sharing personal content with that of the larger Internet. A great example is how this blog post holds both original content from the author and snipits gather from the social web to tell the story of a conference session.


This one seems more new than the other two and is slightly different in that it is created by the staff at Rookie and not as a user created publications. Where it gets interesting is how it mashes together original content with curated reactions from across the web … what sets it apart is that the integrated social content feels like it is a part of the story. They even pitch each story with highlighted text exposing, “reactions from …” It is certainly better observed live than in words.


Innovative Spaces

I had an excellent meeting today with some colleagues in the College of Business to discuss the Innovation Center here at Stony Brook. The real point of the meeting was to look at space and discuss how to best use and support it. What I saw reminded me of a blank canvas that I know could be transformed into something that would inspire the faculty, students, and clients who would participate in it. One of the other things we discussed was the inclusion of a One Button Studio space to support pitches, practice presentations, and the like.

I promised the Dean I would assemble some photos from spaces that I have either had a direct hand in or have visited. So instead of sending them in an email, I just decided to post them here. Most of these are from Penn State … the Krause Innovation Studio in the College of Education. I was lucky enough to have a hand in that one and even to teach in the connected classroom … the space is unique in that it is designed to be a BYOD space — with large collaborative tables and displays. Really a great space. There are also a few pictures from the Pattee Library Knowledge Commons, one of our larger computing labs with collaborative spaces, and some spaces from a visit to the University of Michigan. I am happy to talk learning space with anyone interested.

SB You and Jetpack

The WordPress Jetpack suite of services is now available on SB You. What that means is that with a single plugin your SB You site can do a whole bunch of new things. The one thing to keep in mind is that once you activate the plugin you have to connect it to a free account. Connecting it to allows you to take advantage of a whole host of new services like better image galleries, better site statistics, and connections to various social media services.


With Hackathons Taking Center Stage, The Coming Transformation Of The Computer Scientist | TechCrunch

Some really interesting questions here for education to consider. One thing is certain — computer science as a major is as a dynamic and diverse field today as it ever was. My overwhelming thought now is just how cool it has become to be part of this emerging culture. How we react to it is very important and something we should pay attention to here at Stony Brook and at other institutions. Looks to me like University of Michigan is embracing it.

Hackathons, though, are just one part of the coming transformation of computer science education. Once a theoretical subject to the chagrin of many undergraduates, computer science students are increasingly finding outlets like hackathons, open source projects, and startups to learn the applied skill sets desired by industry – and are getting the job offers to prove it.Yet, this rebuilding of the pipeline for new engineers poses deep questions about the future of educating software developers. What is the proper role of universities and degree programs? How should the maker culture, which exists at the heart of these projects, connect with the traditional education mores of research universities? And at a time when access, particularly for females and underrepresented minorities, remains a deeply salient issue, how can organizers ensure that programs lower rather than raise any barriers to new entrants?

via With Hackathons Taking Center Stage, The Coming Transformation Of The Computer Scientist | TechCrunch.