A blog regarding HPVs at SJSU

September 30, 2008

Bicyclist riding through crowd at SJSU

First a little background

I am concerned that human powered vehicles pose a safety risk to their operators and pedestrians at SJSU.

  • As an employee I am concerned about the risk to students and employees.
  • As a parent of young adults I am concerned that many of the operators of these devices are prone to take risks.
  • As a parent of an SJSU student I am concerned that this is a dangerous situation that the university, in my opinion, is ignoring.
  • As a taxpayer I am concerned that the university is taking on a financial risk by assuming liability in the event of a lawsuit arising from this flawed practice.
  • As a bicyclist myself I am all too aware of the hazards of improper use of human powered vehicles.

Because university employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement I filed a grievance under our union contract. I documented my concerns and the grievance here, on this blog. But, I have received a lot of support from folks who are not covered by our union contract. So, I have decided to shift the attention here, to this blog, that will be focused on this issue exclusively.

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Car vs Bike, Bike Lost

September 19, 2008

Bike vs. Car accident near SJSU

Cycling safety at SJSU

I have been a long standing advocate for the safe use of non-motorized vehicles on and around SJSU. I have taken a position against what I see as unsafe use; not because I am an old man standing on my porch yelling at kids running across my lawn. I have taken this position because I have seen far too many people hurt and am aware of the risks involved to both cyclists and pedestrians in an accident. We need to remember, most of the folks we see riding bicycles on our campus also ride them on the streets around our campus. Most of the bicyclists and skateboarders around SJSU do not wear helmets or practice safe operation of their non-motorized vehicles. When these same folks get off campus they often ignore basic traffic laws.

This accident was a block north of SJSU. I took this photo with my camera phone.


Palin is not ready

September 13, 2008

This is not American Idol

Bob Herbert of the New York Times has this great editorial about the candidacy of Sarah Palin in the office that is a heart beat away from the presidency. The key problem is not her politics. As Herbert said:

Ms. Palin’s problem is not that she was mayor of a small town or has only been in the Alaska governor’s office a short while. Her problem (and now ours) is that she is not well versed on the critical matters confronting the country at one of the most crucial turning points in its history.

As Herbert said, “Ms. Palin may be a perfectly competent and reasonably intelligent woman (however troubling her views on evolution and global warming may be), but she is not ready to be vice president.”

Update, New York Times Editorial, “If the choice (by McCain) was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly irresponsible.”


Sam Lawrence on 9/11 and the social software movement

September 11, 2008

Sam Lawrence has this great blog post on 9/11 and the social software movement. Lawrence said, “Getting to who and what we needed faster was critical in this time of need. The companies didn’t matter, the people did.” He sees 9/11 as a moment of change for social media. Lawrence said, “We commented, we connected, we asked why. News broke faster over blogs and email than traditional media. At the same time our government quickly learned that their systems weren’t built to connect the dots the way we really needed them to.”

I learned of Lawrence’s post from Shel Israel’s Twitter feed. I highly recommend both.


Organizing and virtual tribalism

September 10, 2008

In a recent post Shel Israel said, “The relevance of social media is that it allows us to interact in the world increasingly more like we behave in our own physical neighborhoods.” In my opinion this is a critical concept for folks looking for new ways to organize younger employees. From what I see working at a major university, younger people who have grown up with portable devices like cell phones enabled for texting use these devices to stay constantly virtually connected to their social group, their tribe.

The virtually defined social group should be approached in the same way labor organizers from the last century used community centers, social clubs and churches to organize last century’s workers. The key is to think of social media as a place to be, rather than as a thing to use.


Use of media by unions

September 8, 2008

One of the comments I hear a lot is that unions need to find a way to reach younger workers. But, when you look at how unions are using media, we typically approach workers using last century communication practices.

Primarily the main approaches to media by unions today are Web pages, print and e-mail. This is nice but it is not where younger people are spending their time. I suggest unions need to expand and explore new approaches to communications and organizing. Here a few of the ways we can reach out to younger employees using “new media”:

  • Social Networks like Facebook. In short, every union seeking to organize younger workers needs to be in Facebook. Facebook is the town hall social gathering place of the 21st Century. According to Wikipedia, “Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves. The website’s name refers to the paper facebooks depicting members of a campus community that some American colleges and preparatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff as a way to get to know other people on campus.”
  • SMS/Texting. SMS is a great way to get information out to a lot of people, direct to their cell phone, much quicker than e-mail. E-mail is fine but it does not reach a big portion of our employees who are not sitting at a desk on a computer. Other people who are on computers all the time are so buried alive in e-mail they ignore it. There is so much junk e-mail these days the medium itself is threatened. Watch young people. They do not depend on e-mail. Instead they text message each other. When you send a text message, the reciever gets it now. Texting allows groups to define themselves virtually and in real-time. People can respond synchronously despite being geographically dispersed. We need to “get” texting to organize young people. Unions can use group text messaging tools to send text messages to large statewide groups or individually selected contacts defined by work site, bargaining unit or classification.
  • User generated content sites. Places like YouTube are great sites to create and disperse video to spread the union message. Videos of interest to University workers can “go viral” and be shared between workers quite rapidly. For communications, training and organizing, I feel the inability to use free tools like YouTube represents a lost opportunity.

In my opinion if we are going to organize younger employees we need to go where they are. If we expect them to be reached by using media they do not use, we will fail and will just appear as some sort of anachronism from the last century.

More and more young people are defining and relating to their social groups virtually using communication tools like facebook and text messaging. They use these tools to communicate physical social opportunities in real time. Younger folks text each other and say, “let’s meet at Starbucks now.” They often work synchronously, in the moment, with no prior planning. Older folks, who did not grow up with tools like text messaging and cell phones, tend to plan asynchronously. We might send out an e-mail or phone our friends and say, “let’s meet at Starbucks tomorrow at 10 a.m.”

Understanding the ability for social groups to define and communicate virtually using tools like Facebook, move synchronously using portable devices like cell phones and technologies like texting, and communicate dynamically using technologies like YouTube and understanding how pervasively this capability has been adopted by younger people, is a key concept to being able to organize them.