Category Archives: Rutgers

1/10/13 Invasion of the Hackathons & Other News – Web Journal Early January 2013

I attended the Invasion of the Hackathons meetup Tuesday night hosted by the Brooklyn Ventures Meetup – here’s a Storify link to some of the great content that came out that meeting.  I was at the event after a long day traveling over to Rutgers University New Brunswick campus to tape footage of a Rutgers TV message about my Social Media for The Arts course that I developed and that I’m teaching next semester (Spring 2013 which begins in 12 days).


RU-tv Network

The clip will be ready to air next week hopefully, and be on YouTube, so I’ll share it here.  We taped for about 2 hours, to get enough content that will make a 1 minute spot, and part of that minute will be students who really loved my course and will talk about it on air.

I put so much energy and focus into course development and posting information to the Facebook Page that’s become the catch all for my best thoughts on a daily basis, that I find it harder to post here.

Anyway, getting back to the Hackathon event – I learnt a lot by just listening to what the panelists were saying – the event was well attended, I counted about 175 people came, a phenomenal result considering this is only the second meeting of the group since my friend Charlie Oliver took it over.  Also, this meetup was occurring at the same time as the New York Tech Meetup which is one of the largest meetups in the world and has grown so large as to take an entire auditorium at NYU.  While the NY Tech meetup used to interesting, it’s almost outgrown the kind of meeting that allows people to freely interact, so I suspect many of the startup people who showed up at the Hackathon event felt the real action wasn’t at NYU, but right here, where I was sitting – and they would be right.

Invasion of the Hackathons Panel last night


JAMES BRUNI (@JamesBruni), founder and CEO of Bruni PR

SABEEN ALI (@Sabeen_Sabeen), co-founder of AngelHack

MARIANNE BELLOTI (@BellMar), hackathon winner vet; Developer Evangelist and Hacker-in-Residence at Temboo.

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY (@KennedysGarage), digital design lead at M. Shanken Communications.

JONATHAN ASKIN (@jaskin), founder of BLIP Clinic at Brooklyn Law School

PETER ROBINSON, Business Development Lead at ChallengePost

Anyway, what I learnt from last night (haven’t slept yet, but will soon) is that Hackathons are changing – they may have been a place where people come together to develop code (usually to solve some problem, compete for a prize or meet a challenge) what they are becoming is a place for team building and team assembling – and a showcase where talent can be acquired, often in as an entire team.  In fact, it might well be that investors would rather by a “team” they have confidence in, then a platform or product because what the team creates isn’t as important as what it can create in the future, most of the time.

And, to be honest, there are now as many marketing and PR people going to Hackathons as there are coders – but that seems about right since often people have ideas they want to materialize into code, particularly if they have domain level expertise, but they need to find someone or a team they can pitch or share the idea with – since many people don’t code (I don’t – but I used to write Unix scripts – but I was a lousy script writer and I doubt I could write a decent line of code – I’m not even going there).   I wasn’t bothered by the PR people hanging out at Hackathons, after all, they provide a useful function and geeky coders aren’t the best people to be promoting their own geeky ideas to reporters that might be floating around the Hackathon.

On the other hand, I was bothered by the lawyers in the house – the tone of what I heard sounded more “vulture like” than anything else I heard last night.  I’d be more afraid of the lawyers and what they inject into the situation than other trying to steal or capitalize off of someone else’s idea.  I had a similar feeling at another meetup I attended about 6 weeks ago on 3D printing #artstech.

No doubt, creative coders at Hackathons need to be protected, participants ideas need to be protected from being ripped off and it may not be clear to everyone who participates that their creative ideas are exposed to be copied and ripped off when they attend such events.  But the lawyer on the panel, a well known author sounded to me like he wasn’t really that interested in the subject of Hackathons, and just went to them to inject his expertise in areas where to be totally honest, I quested it belonged.  That’s my take.

The panel was focused on the questions at hand and some of the material discussed came from a bunch of articles that had interest for Hackathons and in particular, the last article involving AT&T came up and brought up a spirited discussion about the real motivations of AT&T’s Hackathon – was it to promote ideas or steal them?  Oh well, I guess all of these things make interesting debates, which is why the came up in the first place.

That’s about it for me tonight.   Have to focus on finish up the course shell for Rutgers, a possible update to my UCI course on Social Media Measurement that might run starting next week (enrollment is low, only 5 students in that one as of right now – I thought there would be 10 or more, but I may still teach it if I don’t need to do much work in the shell for that course).

Finally, I will be speaking next Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at Rutgers University at the 4th Annual Online & Hybrid Learning Conference which is hosted by The Center for Online & Hybrid Learning and Instructional Technologies (COHLIT) – a photo from the last COHLIT conference last year is shown above.  A detailed listing of the Agenda is here.  My session is below (which I still need to put together – I’m that busy).

Social Media and its use in Online Education at Rutgers University using Synchronous and Asynchronous Educational Practices- Marshall Sponder, Adjunct Instructor, MGSA

  • Social Media can be used to increase collaboration and learning between students and instructors using a combination of simple (synchronous) assignments that build small but crucial specific skills (similar to the Karate Kid methodology of “Wax on, Wax off”) that are combined to more complex plays and strategies. The assignments in Social Media encourage much higher student engagement via specific communications tasks such as “check-ins” and friend requests on various social networks (particularly Facebook and Foursquare).As most social media can be monitored with external tools and platforms Instructors can listen for the activities of students on Social Media (asynchronous) and engage with same students in semi omnipresence. Use of class hashtags such as #mgartr12 and #mgartr13 are encouraged. Integrations with a Social CRM can furnish a social repository in much the same way corporations now use online reputation and social fulfillment tools to identify trends, influencers and the most prominent students using emerging media for their course work.Methodologies such as Agile Development will be explored and adapted to the online classroom environment of Pierson eCollege.

    About Marshall Sponder

    Marshall Sponder is an independent Web analytics and SEO/SEM specialist working in the field of education, market research, social media, networking, and PR. He provides digital data convergence generating ROI and develops data metrics, KPIs, and dashboards that drive businesses by setting and evaluating benchmarks. Marshall first coined the term “Ultraviolet Data” (similar to “dark social” and “dark data”) and wrote several papers, including one on how to build your own monitoring platform, that have been read 19,000 times downloaded over 1250 times.

    Marshall authored two online college level courses with will be offered again this Spring, Social Media Measurement taught at UC Irvine (using Netbase Social Intelligence) and the
    popular, possibly viral Social Media for The Arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University (4 sessions offered in Winter 2013). Marshall maintains a Facebook page for the Social Media for The Arts Rutgers course here.

I have some ideas of what I’ll discuss – the things I’ve done with my students have generated outstanding reviews – but what I found worked the best was really believing I had the best students in the world in my class – and when I asked them (remember it’s a remote call taught online) to do things like “check in” to locations at Rutgers – they enjoyed that engagement – I also bombarded them with ideas that made them look at what they were doing in the Arts in a new way, and had them build practical skills using a Karate Kid approach – something I’ll talk about next week.  I’ll also put the presentation on Slideshare once it’s done, probably early next week.

With that, I have a whole post that I didn’t write yet inspired by the new PEW RESEARCH REPORT on Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies.



Perhaps the most interesting insight I got out of the report is that most Art Organizations lack the time or ability to tie their social media work to business outcomes.  It’s a Catch-22 because more and more their funding sources want to tie the funding to business outcomes.  Nor is there much in the way of funding for Social Media initiatives and technologies, which are evolving too quickly and becoming too complex and dissociated from any meaningful workflow most organizations would need, to be of much use.

Finally, the Arts have a hard time, particularly Preforming Arts because on one hand audiences are getting much more articulate and sophisticated and are looking for an “experience” rather than a performance, pitting struggling Arts groups against Hollywood in a no win battle.  On the other hand, with digital media becoming so prevalent and Social Media being almost a default and given for many, the attention span of the average audience member is going down and their demands are going up, placing Artists in a difficult to win situation for the mind and hearts of their audience.  An interesting read.

That’s it for tonight.



Announcements & Web Journal August 15th-21st, 2012

I’ll be speaking three times in September (that I’m aware of now).

September 12th 2012 –  Sign up Here

September 19th, 2012 – Sign up Here

The Third Appearance is with and slated for Sept 25th, but I don’t have an official url for it yet, stay tuned.


Web Journal

I finally got back control of my other blog,, but I’m re-making it from scratch – too difficult to get the old content back, and I’m thinking more along the lines of aggregating much of the raw  information I’m collecting for the Social Media & The Arts course.

The course has been totally redone and built from the ground up,  for Rutgers Social Media & The Arts course that I’m teaching starting September 4th, 2012, online.



My mind and hands are numb from the sheer amount of work that was involved to create this course, I don’t think I ever worked as hard on anything in my life, perhaps I worked even harder on Social Media and The Arts, than I did on my book.  And it’s probably not over yet as the course probably needs a few adjustments before it opens next month.

In fact, I almost feel as if I gave up an eye or my wrist for knowledge … and it’s been a very tough summer, probably the most difficult in memory, and I’m not young anymore.

So what’s in my course?   I don’t want to give too much away but I’ll talk a little about what’s in it.  First, an image.

When I was asked to teach SM&A last Winter – it was largely a course that had already been created – it had a bunch of videos that were Social-PR oriented, fairly general,  that I had nothing to do with, but needed to bring into the Arts.  We heard what the Student had to say (I had 85 students) and this time, I totally retooled the course and it’s entirely – mine.

Each section of the course has an introduction, a basic section and an advanced section, along with required readings, assignments and a study guide.   The creation of the course material took about 360 hours, and gave me tennis elbow (I literally gave my arm for this – ha!).

I reasoned that there is an incredible amount of information,though I don’t think anything yet has been put together as comprehensive for the Arts and Social Media, as my course.

In fact, there’s probably not a text book that could cover the breadth of material I have collected, unless I write that book,which I might (probably after this semester, as I’d like to see how the students react and interact with the sheer amount of insights provided).

Rather than trying to make it look like I came up with all the material myself, the tact the commercial videos took, the very one’s my material replaced, I see myself as the curator of a museum, a museum with incredible knowledge.

I liberally included Infographics and videos along with my own tutorials and choose a book on Transmedia Storytelling as the main text book, because the model best fits my view of the Arts as a multi channel story.  I suppose it helped that book just happens to be from the same publisher and same editor as my own.  The students will have the option of collaborating on a Transmedia Project as well, and have the Analytics to back it up.

I held myself back from pushing Analytics too much to the Artists and Musicians – I know that it’s Story that is most important in the Arts (and believe it or not, it’s also the case with Analytics, as most good Analytics tell a story).  But  the Analytics is there for those that want it.

Some of my favorite things about the course that makes it different and stand out:

A section on Geo-Location and The Arts.   Here’s a video that tells a million words about the power of location.   I suppose taking courses at NYU-ITP Camp this summer helped to open my eyes to the possibilities for the Arts.

A section (week 14) on Analytics and The Arts – I saved some of the best for last (nah- it’s all good!) and tied in the Microsoft Kinnect Box (which I became much more aware of at ITP Camp) and also by talking with students at ITP and Dennis Crowley, Foursquare co-founder in June.   I managed to make the jump to this.



 …and tied it to portfolio work and Transmedia.  I took the information from what seemed to be entirely disparate domains and connected them together to bring students of the Arts fully into the 21st century with the very latest Art and Technology stacks.

Here’s one of my favorite videos I spoke to in the course, in section 2 on Blogging – the example of a musician who blogged and it changed his music profoundly – his name, Cesar Aviles.


Whatever I can say about the fall and winter, it will be interesting.

Cloudforce NYC, Museum Analytics and my Web Journal – late November 2011

I’ll be at Cloudforce NYC Wednesday studying all of Salesforce’s offerings including anything new that Radian6 might be presenting.   There are so many different offerings in the afternoon that it’s challenging to choose which sessions are the best to attend.

Web Journal

Read a great post on how to set up social analytics enablement for Google Analytics at HyperArts. And, perhaps, a wave of the future is the development of “personal analytics”, where all trackable personal activities are aggregated into a dashboard, as shown in the following post.   Another post warns how easy to lie and mislead people with statistics (I’m sure that approach is used a lot in politics – ha!).

Did you know there are 5 types of “Social Proof”? I think of Social Proof as evidence that something is the right thing to do based on what others are doing.  Examples of Social Proof include:

“….a restaurant increased sales of specific dishes by 13-20% just by highlighting them as “our most popular items”.  SP also works on your subconscious – it’s the reason why comedy shows often use a laugh track or audience; people actually laugh more when they can hear other people laughing.”

“…. Klout identifies people who are topical experts on the social web. Klout invited 217 influencers with high Klout scores in design, luxury, tech and autos to test-drive the new Audi A8.  These influencers sparked 3,500 tweets, reaching over 3.1 million people in less than 30 days – a multiplier effect of over 14,000x.”

But I didn’t see anything new to say about Social Proof, except it is a strong factor in decision-making.

I am in full agreement with the Path to Meaningful Social Web Analytics post by Scot Wheeler posted at iMedia Connection and the ideas expressed are similar to what I expressed in my book.

“…. Thus, while the first generation of social media measurement allowed PR to gain more granular insight (and entry) into public conversations about the brand, it did so with what was typically a non-representative sample of a company’s overall market, without verifiable means of segmentation of the sample population, and with meta-data derived from qualitative tools like sentiment engines that were highly inaccurate.

Did you know there is a new platform for Museum Analytics? Last week I was looking at and wondering if it could compare a few museums in NYC – but you know what,  while I’d still like to do that study, with, I can compare several sites (museums) at one time.  Museum Analytics is the creation of INTK, a Netherlands based company that researches and develops online strategies that reflect Art, Technology and Society.



Here’s a report on the Metropolitan Museum of Art which has mostly diagnostic information on tweets, Facebook posts and engaging content in both channels.  But Museum Analytics includes other gems such as actual museum attendance (see below) for The Metropolitan (and other museums).  I suppose one might be able to compare the growth of social media around a museum to the growth of attendance at the museum to observe the correlation.



I also like the fact that the creators of Museum Analytics are interested in Open Data, Open Data API’s and Microformats to gather the data used to compare museums.

“…We would like to instigate the use of open data and open standards. Do you know a museum with an open API or using microformats? Please let us know, we would be interesting in expanding Museum Analytics to include other type of information. ”

“…The information that is now being collected on a daily basis has been previously published in a scattered manner for several years. Some of the references that directly or indirectly have led to the development of Museum Analytics are listed here:

There certainly is a lot of data to dig into here! Wow!!

I also really like the combination of several types of information, the Twitter followers for each museum, Facebook Likes, and Web Traffic (visitors), along with the aforementioned actual attendance numbers in person.


I think many of these metrics aren’t that tightly correlated, such as MOMA’s leading number of Twitter followers and Facebook Likes yet the website visited the most wasn’t MOMA, but the Metropolitan.   But what about actual attendance?  The Met had close to double MOMA’s visits in 2010.   It’s true the Met is much bigger than MOMA, but it’s also true MOMA is much more aggressive using Social Media, and yet, depending on what goals you are looking at, or how you want decide success, The Metropolitan Museum wins over MOMA, hands down, where it counts (again, if you want to look at it that way).

MOMA visits in 2010 = 3.13 Million Visitors

MET visits in 2010 = 5.2 Million Visitors

In fact, if you want to get right down to it – the Louvre, which isn’t leading in any of the social media indicators, had far more visitors than any other museum (8.5 million visitors in 2010), period.



And while I was muttering to myself the words “…too bad they don’t have any information on shows and special exhibitions at the museums…” guess what I ran into?

Of course, and speaking of courses, all of this becomes much more important just now, besides the fact of my background in the Arts, besides being an Analyst (which isn’t as weird a blend as it sounds) as I embark on teaching a course at Rutgers School of the Arts on the Intersection of Social Media and The Arts.

You know me as an Analyst – but in this context, my approach will be unique, yet build upon material in place and adapted for the intersection of the Arts (in the widest sense of disciplines that fall under the process of creative ideation, regardless of the medium).

Social Media doesn’t (as the Museum Analytics site clearly demonstrates) always provide immediate solutions to marketing and branding problems. ……

For all MOMA’s innovative moves towards Social Media adoption (there are many, btw), tthey aren’t the leaders in attendance, by far, though they had a few top exhibitions last year.   Still, exposure to Social Media with the context of The Arts, offers a whole new set of questions that Artists and Art Institutions probably never asked themselves before (because they could not get the kind of information they have now – except the actual attendance numbers).

What I believe this course I teach will do, perhaps for the first time (judging from what I have heard) is lead to an awareness and leveraging of new solutions for my students.

Yes, I’m very excited.