My son Justin, a senior in information technology at RIT and the Undercover Geek, has been a blogging evangelist for some time. He understands blogs as a channel of communication and he understands the importance of conversation in all aspects of life.
That's why it was heartening to see the University News Service at RIT try blogging this year. I understand institutional PR types having worked with them most of my adult life. Many are old school having gone to journalism schools and having worked in various media outlets.
Being a graduate of the Michigan State University School of Journalism (1969), I learned the same stuff in the same way. I learned how to write hard news in Journalism 201. I almost had who, what, where, how, why and so what tatooed on my hand, along with "never assume anything."
This training and subsequent experience in the field is something that I carried with me to several jobs where I wrote press releases and newsletter copy. I knew there was a right way and a wrong way to get the job done.
Then along comes blogging. And wikkis. And moblogging. And social bookmarking. And the semantic web. And say goodbye to news releases and all that other stuff. And everything you learned about good writing is stomped on with big boots.
When I first started reading blogs, my reaction varied between thinking that we have a lot of people with literacy problems to gradually thinking that I was really getting to know the person on the other end.
I feel like I've gotten to know a lot of different people around the world through their blogs and I've listened to their ideas, concerns and made my way through their rants. Sometimes I would even throw in some reaction and they would react back. Then there would be a conversation started with somebody else reacting.
That's what I see happening at RIT. Mike and his crew at University News Service are making their institution a little easier to wrap your hands around with their blog. It's more than just a bunch of bricks that you trudge threw when you visit your child there. You get a feel for the people and the place and they get a feel for you.
I was really pleased so see that they got together with Justin for lunch and got to know each other better. That way, when he comes back as a distinguished alumni, they can say they knew him when. But, they also demonstrated an attitude that they can learn from their students. Amen.
Learning is lifelong. It doesn't stop.
Tags: blogs, Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT, Michigan State University School of Journalism, public relations, blogging, Justin Thorp, Confessions of An Undercover Geek
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