Bryan Lindenberger

Résumé, portfolio, published articles and more at BryanBerg.net

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A lasting (I hope) legacy of the Obama Admin in education

I lean somewhat politically conservative. Working for over a decade in higher education, in three institutions and with nearly a dozen colleges and programs, this sometimes makes me the odd person out. It's not so bad. As with graduate school, learning to keep my thoughts to myself is an opportunity to shut up and listen.
But I'm also more practical than ideological.
I saw some very positive things come out of the Obama Administration, and particularly in education. The greatest among these in may be his public emphasis on STEM learning.
While science and engineering colleges grow in economic importance, and arts and humanities (as popularly seen) have become more divisive if not radicalized, Obama's push for STEM (Science Tech Engineering and Math) in education was practical. As was his emphasis on Community College Education, where I have direct experience as well as indirect through university collaboration.
In fact, contrary to popular belief among some conservatives, this practicality even reached into grant funding such as with the National Science Foundation. Suddenly, in the Obama years, pork-funded research for its own sake wasn't enough. They wanted outcomes that could, in fact, be monetized.
The public emphasis on STEM and life-improving, patent-worthy outcomes has seen some great collaborations across departments this past decade..
The STEM push has led to the need for more STEM educators both secondary and post-secondary, and thus awesome collaborations between Colleges of Education and Colleges of Sciences across university campuses.
Which in turn, at least in research institutions, pulls in the Business Departments and Research Parks as well where regents have a vested interest in internal patents and corporations have need for risk-taking R&D. Colleges of Business, Business Institutes, and Research Parks tend to be the most meaningfully connected university divisions in terms of meaningful connections to the surrounding community and its economy.
Education, though their own colleges, traditionally have more cultural/political alignment with social sciences and even the arts, but here they are, working hand in hand with STEM Colleges and business. At a time when campuses appear more divided than ever in popular media, what often is not reported is at least as meaningful. There are roads and bridges being built across large divides, largely attributable to the Obama STEM push.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Updated Hiking Trail Information in Putnam County, Florida

Florida Trail at Buckman Lock, Putnam County, Florida

#Hiking trail maps and information for #FloridaTrail segment 23 at Buckman Lock, #Putnam County, #Florida updated with historic information and ongoing restoration efforts at BryanBerg.net.

http://bryanberg.net/florida-trail-buckman-lock.html

Monday, July 31, 2017

Beyond Party and Prejudice: Marketing and PR in the Quantum AI Age

A few weeks ago, Western media reported that humans had “teleported” an “object” into space. Friends, family, and associates quickly shared this little nugget of mis-information – a few with Star Trek references – and quickly moved on.
I’m still not sure what disturbs me more: the mis-information itself, the ease at which it was so easily accepted, or the potential of what actually happened.
What actually happened insofar as I understand it seems far more interesting.
First note, I am not a physicist. I’m a writer who’s worked in grants and marketing for the past few years, but with enough logic in me to realize that we weren’t suddenly “teleporting” “objects” and if we had, it would require greater pause than a share between cat pictures.
So I wondered what actually happened and looked into that at my skill level.
Turns out that it has a whole lot to do with a quantum computing network, and the potential to take it global. Further turns out, the difficult part of quantum communications at a global level is getting an entangled photon (works with electrons I assume? I don’t know, ask Niels Bohr) through the Earth’s atmosphere intact. After that, it seems that the questions are largely financial and logistic in terms of infrastructure – who can lay optic fiber the fastest?
Quantum computing and communications has a lot less to do with “teleportation” than with busting down the door on Moore’s Law. Humans are terrible at imagining numbers – why should we – but let’s say computing breakthroughs that promise speed at the level of hundreds of millions of times faster are a big deal. As an example:
In the early 2000s, for example, people thought it would take about 24 billion years to calculate on a quantum computer the energy levels of ferredoxin, which plants use in photosynthesis. Now, through a combination of theory, practice, engineering and simulation, the most optimistic estimates suggest that it may take around an hour. – Alex Bocharov, Nature Magazine Interview, October 2016.
That is the “boring” and stodgy part: harnessing “quantum weirdness” to turn Moore’s Law on its ear, and potential to take it to a global level from what has been (mis)reported as “teleportation.” I frankly find quantum computing easier to grasp, and therefore far stranger, than teleportation.
Concurrently, we have amazing developments in Artificial Intelligence coming out of Google, IBM, others, and here is a fascinating one from recent days out of Facebook.
Artificial intelligence system makes its own language, researchers pull the plug.
I don’t believe for a second anyone “pulled the plug” (I hope not!) but more likely related research shifted to another department.
Anyone with a sense of history of language steps back in awe.
The earliest records of human, written language were not epic poems, love letters, or anything of that sort, but shipping manifests. That is to say, inventory. Here, AI quickly created its own language to expedite the process of not only keeping their own inventory, but in fact linguistic shortcuts in negotiation.
In a public and popular exchange, Mark Zuckerburg quipped at Elon Musk and Bill Gates calling them “naysayers” with “doomsday scenarios” regarding artificial intelligence. Musk quipped back, but outcomes may be far more banal (and in fact human) than popularly reported.
“I think that the biggest risk is not that the AI will develop a will of its own, but that it will follow the will of people….short consumer stocks, go long defense stocks, and start a war.” – Elon Musk (video, Werner Herzog)
Two courses in technological breakthroughs – quantum computing and artificial intelligence – are now happening concurrently, and they will be married.
I am not a physicist or programmer, my idea of computing is building gaming machines from scraps, but I am a communications person who is struck by how ill-prepared we are for this eventuality as it unfolds before us.
Yet all of the above (including the links to layman’s materials) have me asking the following questions.
These are questions that I immediately ask:
·        Is any civilization, and maybe particularly those emphasizing individuality, prepared for the hit to the ego to find ourselves among greater, more efficient, intelligences?
·        Was H.P. Lovecraft correct when he said, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents” because we are about to correlate them.
·        At what point does “pulling the plug” on an AI experiment become an ethical and in fact moral dilemma – we are close.
·        What is the role of Public Relations and Brand Identity in the face of cognitively-aware data? That is, a favorite sneaker shoe or political directive factually proven the lesser or greater of choices, or an intelligence making b2b decisions without brand loyalty, will greatly change business.
·        What would it feel like to have everything you have ever thought or dreamed of imagined in seconds?
·        As in the thought experiment asking about alien visitors a few years ago, are persons certain cultures or religions more at risk of difficulty living among a superior intelligence?
·        Technological breakthroughs tend to lower employment but are followed by increases in emerging areas; yet these transitions take time, and society and tech move faster than ever before. If something as simple as self-serve kiosks can impact entry-level jobs, are we ready for an even larger shake-up?
·        We’ve wondered through all of human history, and certainly recently in popular literature, religion, and film, what it will be like to meet and even live with intelligence far beyond our own understanding – what PR, outreach, and communications efforts are being developed to prepare us for this imminent eventuality?

Far from a naysayer - thought, imagination, and efficiency are all things I believe humankind will benefit from. The lack of discussion - let alone preparation - in the face of what promises to be the most culture shifting series of breakthroughs in human history, and likely the shortest time, seems cause for concern. Are we prepared?
Originally appearing at LinkedIn where I invite follows and connections.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Free Resources Any Digital Media Manager Should Use

Digital media managers constantly switch gears between strategy and tactics. You produce narratives for a campaign and meta-narratives for a brand. You do it across social media channels, digital ads, blogs, and websites, tying them to press releases, video, print ads, and events. But the next moment, you’re deep in the technical logistics of not only what appears, but how it appears.
While far from a complete list, here are some resources I find myself referencing time and again, many permanently bookmarked in my browser.
Set a feature image for your page
Rather than rely on chance as to what image or images appear when sharing a page on social, set the image you choose as a meta property. You can even host it especially for your social media sharing without it appearing on the page. Using an example from my hobby website, it looks like this: <meta property="og:image" content="http://www. http://bryanberg.net/images/fl-trail002.jpg" />
Scrub that meta data away
Note: must be logged into Facebook. I’ve often forgotten to set an image, or I used the wrong one. Or I changed some text. Unfortunately, updating it on your web page doesn’t change what renders (or fails to render) on Facebook as it draws from a cache. The developer tool linked above, when logged in, allows you to scrub or reset the Facebook cache to pull in your replacement image and text.
Social Media Image Size Guides
You can find these with a quick Google of course, but it amazes me how many people don’t tailor their images to the respective social platforms at all. This is the guide I keep bookmarked. It’s comprehensive, up-to-date, and easy to navigate with anchors to take you to the social media you want to investigate.
Your Webhost’s Control Panel
Yes, we all use Google Analytics and it’s great, especially now that Search Console is integrated. What if I told you it’s not all that accurate? Some of those quirks you noticed aren’t your imagination. Without going into detail, your best resource is your hosting service. I use SPRHost out of New Mexico. Yes, that’s an unpaid plug. Their hosting, speed, security, and service are amazing if you’re seeking an alternative to GoDaddy. More to the point, the analytics are far more accurate direct from your server, and you’ll find other useful tools while you’re there!
Site Speed Test
Sure, you could just search engine this. But many people don’t know to. I worked for a large company that – while fussing over SEO strategy – allowed an 8-second load time to sit on our index page for months. Talk about a ranking killer! No one on staff noticed because, of course, we’re all loading our own pages from a cache. You need to check your load times. Pingdom offers the best with great performance insights.
SiteMap Generator
This is particularly necessary if you’re starting a new website or have a major restructure of your old. Don’t let the paid plan scare you off (unless you want to use it of course) as I’ve made great use of this for years, free.
Broken Link Checker
A major ranking killer is broken links, and more so because broken links are a major pain for people using assistive technology. (Imagine being blind and coming to a door that leads nowhere…disconcerting, right?) This checker not only gives you the link and the page, but also the source so you can find it in the html or code if you choose. For a major college, I found over 300 broken links! I just checked my own site…and I found FOUR broken links – external sites get you every time. Guess I’ll stop here and fix those!
I hope you find these useful, and please comment if you have other free services you would like to add!
Visit BryanBerg.net or follow at LinkedIn

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When marketable strengths lead you away from personal goals

It seems crazy to leave a great job after only a year. Solid corporate growth with an outstanding product points to long term, personal advancement. I savor the company culture of constant innovation, and I appreciate better each day that industrial manufacturing is high tech.

The leadership truly cares about its workers and community, a fact that came home when the president honored our veteran workers with a Veterans Day luncheon. I love the company.

The moment I decided to leave came when I recently put a portfolio together. As with most people these days, I keep my ear out, and the application asked for writing samples from the past three years.
I once had quite a lot to choose from. Feature articles for newspapers and consumer magazines, some scholarly research and related published contributions, marketing and feasibility studies for business, reports to major institutions that reflected my expansion of education programs, and major contributions to awarded grants.

This time around, I had press releases (nearly 150 to choose from) and related blogs, web content, and social media materials. I was not so much suddenly, but now exclusively, in marketing.

Years ago as project director, I had written press releases, created web and social media content, and worked with the press. But I had not seen these things as an end in themselves. Marketing served the purpose of growing the projects I loved. I had goals. I followed data. I knew audience and created narrative. Every piece (or byte) of content served a purpose.

Now, I was writing press releases that served no particular strategy or even logistics I knew (I asked!) except that I was told to. "Make it interesting, Bryan. And post about it. On Facebook. Because it's Tuesday, and we post to Facebook on Tuesdays."

This acknowledgement is not a complaint:

Nearly all employed people find themselves in a similar position.
Whether it is a feature writer who finds her gift for 140 character Tweets more marketable, an artist in demand for corporate logo design, or an outreach specialist for Autism Spectrum kids who is hired at a community college writing center, we all give in to what the market demands to move along in our respective careers.

It’s a remarkable win any time someone is willing to invest in hiring you. My personal decision to leave an easy life isn’t advice, and it would be foolish advice for nearly anyone. Probably even me.

But in some cases, for some people, a course correction is worth the gamble. Having an ear out while employed is one thing. Missing one day of work for a first interview followed by three more for travel to a second I simply have not found tenable. It's more a problem of logistics than ethics. Time to go!


Bryan Lindenberger has worked in digital communications since 1996. He caught the bug for entrepreneurialism and assisting small business while at the Arrowhead Entrepreneurial Institute at NMSU, and for community service while with the National Science Foundation for New Mexico State University. His clients have ranged from Disney Television to small farms in New Mexico. He maintains a hobby website and portfolio at bryanberg.net and invites connections and correspondence.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Think of your page header as less of a chapter title, more as a newspaper headline

You go to the bookstore, and you pick up a book. It’s titled, Migratory Patterns of Birds in Eastern North America.
So you’re a bit of a nerd if that’s what you bought, but so far so good. You get home and leaf through it. There are various chapters with titles such as “The North American Thrush” or “Great Blue Heron.”

You’re interested in the chapter on “Great Blue Herons.” You already have the book in your hands, you know it’s about migratory habits, and what you want to know about is the migratory habits of Great Blue Herons.
What you get instead is information on how to identify these birds. But you can already do that! Reading further, you get more pictures and then information on their mating habits. Somewhat related to migration, but it doesn’t go into any detail about migratory flight patterns.
Welcome to the Internet at its worst, and the world of bad header <H1> tags: the basic html tag that visually defines the title of a page or post. It usually appears at or near the top of a webpage as the largest text. If you don't work in HTML but use a content management system such as WordPress or Drupal, no worries. It is the page's headline, and you've probably seen it referred to as <h1>.
Now open a newspaper. Any newspaper, it doesn’t matter what title or what town because it’s filled with AP and API stories. Instead of chapters, you now see headlines.
And the headlines tell you exactly what the article is about. Whether it’s the Dallas Sunor the Backwater Daily, the headline now reads: “SpaceX makes aerospace history with successful launch and landing of used rocket.” Grabbed that one today and exactlywhat I was looking for.
Welcome to the Internet at its best, and the world of great header <H1> tags.
It comes naturally to us when writing a news headline or blog. But we often still think in terms of books rather than newspapers when building a website.
That is, our Main/Home/Front/Index page gives the title and subject matter. Supporting pages go into detail. Our home page makes clear we sell shoes. Supporting pages might be titled and have the header, “Platforms.”
But guess what? In 2017, when content marketing is no longer a catch-phrase but a reality, few new users are entering your website through the front page.
Whether through search engines or social, new users are skipping past the obligatory nonsense and going straight to what they want to know.
Your page "titles" (referring here to the header or <H1> tag, not the meta tag) should be limited to one per page and as explicit and attention-grabbing as a great headline.
Where I work, we have a product called the HP XX, the Xs standing for numbers. I Googled it. I came up with printer cartridges made by Hewlett-Packard. Note: I don’t work for Hewlett-Packard.
But that’s what I found even though we don’t make printer cartridges. We make Widgets. So Widgets should be in our headlines, no matter how many pages deep.
Stop thinking of your website as a book with chapter titles. Every page is a landing page with unique and useful content. Every page's <H1> is your headline.
Bryan Lindenberger is not a guru and this article does not link to a “Read the Full Article” page with a self-published book to sell.
But he has worked in digital communications since 1996. He caught the bug for entrepreneurialism and assisting small business while at the Arrowhead Entrepreneurial Institute at NMSU, and for community service while with the National Science Foundation. His clients have ranged from Disney Television to small farms in New Mexico. He maintains a hobby website and portfolio at bryanberg.net and invites open correspondence and connections.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Are you more risk averse as an associate than as a leader?

There are people who drive their own car as though it’s made from million dollar eggshells. Built "Ford Tough" but gotta protect their rims: they cross the tracks like it's a minefield. But put them in a rental…the road terror comes out to see if they can clear the tracks at 120 mph.
I’m not one of those people. And if you are, there’s no reason to read further – you’re set.
The rest of us will take personal risks with the things we own. But we shy away from taking risks with the things others own.
That can be car, a website, or an advertising campaign. On our own, we’ll try anything because we own it and are willing to test it. But when a chance needs taken on another’s behalf, we become overly-cautious, afraid of breaking someone else’s stuff.
In my case, it seems like yesterday where I led a sizeable staff, had dozens of students, volunteers, and others depending on me. I took chances, sometimes big ones. When something didn’t work, I knew it fell on me to fix…and fast! Lots of midnight oil burned there, and our outcomes were often amazing.
With career change, I’ve been in a non-leadership role for a while now. It’s a pattern for three years counting, and there is no one to blame but myself. Familiar? It goes like this:
Here is something that needs done, can you do it?
I don’t know…here are the obstacles, so I might not—
An associate pipes up: Let me try!
The associate gets the gig.
Nine times out of ten, they screw it up for a while. You might even be the one who fixes it, but guess what? Everything works out and the sun still rises the next day. The person who took the risk on someone else’s behalf got it done. You’re the person who didn’t try.
Remember, it’s the role of the director to be risk-averse, not yours. So get over yourself. If you are considered to take a challenge, it’s because that leader trusts you enough to take the heat for themselves when things don’t go smoothly at first.
Better yet, you are working for someone who is not in the least risk averse and admires a can do spirit. Either way, you will be remembered for the chances you took, the challenges you met head on and not what you broke along the way.
We’ve all seen the ADVANCED tab in software.
We’ve all felt that moment of hesitation before the click, before diving in. But dive in you must. If you couldn’t be trusted with it, it wouldn’t be there. With the right attitude, you might find yourself in a position to take your own chances again, and not someone else’s. You’ll be much more comfortable there.

From Bryan Lindenberger at LinkedIn