Archive for March 2011

National Administrator of the Year

March 28, 2011

First things first. I’m very appreciative of the faculty and staff of the School of Communications who nominated me for the 2010 national Administrator of the Year award. The Scripps Howard Foundation notified lead nominator Don Grady, who in turn let me know the good news of my selection.

Second, the resulting Scripps Howard request for photos has taken me down memory lane. I’ve opened boxes that haven’t seen daylight in years, if not decades.

For instance, this is surely the first photograph of me as a journalist. As a ninth grader, I was editor of my junior high school newspaper. (This is before most school districts created “middle school” and moved ninth grade to high school.) That’s me at the typewriter.

This photo is during my year as editor of The War Whoop at Hall High School in Little Rock, followed by a photo during my time as editor of The Lariat, the daily student newspaper at Baylor University. The next photo shows me as a state broadcast editor with The Associated Press.

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This last photo is from my year as a Fulbright Professor in Beijing, China. I had a terrific group of students who today are scattered all over the world as correspondents for Xinhua News Agency as well as in private enterprise.

I’m not sure what the Scripps Howard Foundation will do with these and other photos, but I got a blog entry out of it!

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The Clone Wars

March 6, 2011

Photograph published in Fast Company magazine

Look at all those Apple icons. This picture, taken in a university classroom in Great Britain, shows Apple’s astonishing success in branding.

At Elon, a picture like this wouldn’t be possible. Classes in the School of Communications come in four maximum sizes: 33, 25, 18 and 15. Still, the ratio of Apple logos in our classes would be similar.

I purchased my first computer in 1983 upon becoming a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee. I bought a “clone” — a Franklin computer with a floppy-disk drive — because I was a cheapskate. The Franklin had the same operating system as the Apple II and was less expensive.

Later that year, Apple successfully sued Franklin for copyright infringement, with the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that copyright law can protect an operating system. (Franklin was caught red-handed, with embedded strings in its operating system containing the word “Applesoft” and the name “James Huston,” an Apple programmer.)

Apple was able to force Franklin to withdraw its clones by 1988, and Franklin soon stopped manufacturing computers.

This was only one skirmish in a decade of Clone Wars in the early years of the computer. IBM similarly battled clones (such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Epson, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy and Zenith) that adopted “IBM-compatible” systems. To shake off the pesky clones costing it millions in lost sales, IBM changed the design of its PCs in 1987, creating the ironic situation of IBM computers no longer being “IBM-compatible.”

Today, the computer world is basically divided into Apples and PCs. The classroom photo above shows us which is winning over young people.

Funny Fellows

March 5, 2011

These four guys met as freshmen last year in the Communications Fellows program at Elon.

They started making music videos, first as birthday presents in the Communications living-learning community and then for class projects. They won the “Wannabe” lip-syncing competition last year, then hit it big with a music video about Elon’s dean of student life, Smith Jackson, whom they dubbed as the man with two last names.

But this lovefest to Elon’s Phoenix mascot is my favorite of their original music videos. The four guys are Will Anderson, Dan Enders, Greg Gentile and David Gwynn, and the group goes by the name of project Halcyon.

The halcyon is a mythical bird, just like the phoenix that rises from the ashes. In ancient legend, the halcyon (commonly associated with the kingfisher) nested at sea around the time of the winter solstice to calm the wind and waves. In popular use, the phrase “halcyon days” harkens back to an earlier time remembered as idyllic.

This weekend, more than 80 high school seniors and their families came to Elon to participate in the selection process for the 2011-12 Communications Fellows program. A lot of nametags listed the home states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina, with other Fellows candidates hailing from states such as Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida and Kentucky.

Next fall when the new Communications Fellows class gathers, friendships will be made, and who knows what these creative students will end up doing.