Snapshots Announcements Spotlight UTSA Athletics

May 2011, Issue 9

Message from the Vice President

Dr. Gage E. Paine

In March I wrote about things I had learned in my travels that month. One of them was the technology of Twitter, as I created two accounts and wandered into “Twittersphere.” Now, two months later, here are some more things I’ve learned.

• I knew there was a lot of information floating out there in cyberspace, but I truly had no idea how much there really is – actually, I still have no idea. It’s amazing.
• Some of it is very useful. I’ve found ways to connect professionally with people I’ve never met (more on that later). I’ve found good leadership information, fun quotes and a random selection of people who Tweet about interesting ideas and issues.
• Some of it is depressing. I’ve found if you search on some hash tags (the pound sign linked to a word or string of words), you find a lot of ugly ideas and language, even if it’s disguised with left-out letters.
• Some of it is just plain fun. A couple of celebrities I follow do a really great job of sharing quirky and funny stuff without being mean-spirited.
• Some of it’s a little creepy. I got on the Twitter site for my young cousin who’s a regular on General Hospital. (I’m not proud – want to see my autographed picture?) I have to admit it felt like stalking or watching stalkers, to be more accurate and it was all positive. I can’t begin to imagine what is out there for some people!
Obviously, I’ve learned it’s possible to spend way too much time out there in Twitter-land. On the other hand, I found myself wandering my way through this wonderland and read a blog title that caught my eye. The author had done a small study of Student Affairs VP’s who used Twitter and found that their (our) use was different from other professionals in our field. I have no doubt that is true, but I disagreed with his conclusion and even more with the title of the post. All of the sudden, I found myself involved in a “discussion” with a group of colleagues, most of whom I’ve never met. And I learned something from it; I’ve already made one behavior change and I’m committed to making a couple of other changes in the future. So, why am I taking your time with this? Because whether it’s Twitter or a new process for completing a task or a new food, I think all of us have areas where our pre-conceived ideas get in the way of our opportunities to grow and develop and learn. Even as I was proud of myself for trying Twitter, I was still just dipping my toe in the pool. My pre-conceived ideas were keeping me from really exploring and truly understanding the opportunities for learning and professional and personal connection. It’s true there is a lot of junk out there, but there are benefits as well. But if we aren’t willing to really engage, we’ll never figure out if the benefits are worth it.

Therefore, two questions this week:
1) Where have you been surprised out of a negative, pre-conceived notion?
2) For those of you out in Twitter-world, have you found someone really interesting to follow? If so, please share the information with me. I welcome responses to:

Best wishes,

P.S. My tweets aren’t all that interesting yet, but I am hoping I’ll learn how to improve. If you’re willing to watch my learning curve, here are my two Twitter accounts: UTSA_VPSA and Leadersdance.

"I try to learn one new thing a week to balance the one thing I forget a week, but lately I forget three things a week" - Joseph Gies