Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pay Up, Cash In: Do You Want Paid Content?

In my remaining weeks as a college student, I've turned to Pandora, a free custom music station, to fill my many house of paper-writing.

I'd heard a rumor or two about time limits on Pandora. Today, I faced the reality. Pandora wants me to upgrade, but I don't want to pay. Our generation has grown up online, and we've also grown up on "free" -- listening to the top hits, catching up on an episode of "30 Rock," or even designing a basic Web site.

Soon, "free" will be over. But I don't know many of my generation that will want to shell out the dough. One of my roommates decided her addiction to Pandora was too important, so she subscribed for 30 bucks a month.

Already, sites like Pandora and Facebook have broken through the advertising mold to create personalized ads (Pandora seems to think I really need X brand of birth control and the audio ads think I'm in the market for "Indiana's most affordable diamond dealer"). Plus, ads are interactive and self-selected. Facebook's got their "like" option, which allows them to give you better ads, and Hulu lets viewers choose which brand of car they want to see commercials for.

Paid content is the way of the future. Apple is already proving that with the advent of the iPad.

Credit cards - monthly subscriptions - pay-as-you-go? What will be the model for paid content in the near future?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

FIghting Crime With (My) Words

In three weeks, I will be a Butler University graduate.

In four weeks, I will be sitting at a desk.

That desk will be in an office located just blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C.

It’s pretty amazing how it all unfolded. Here it is, in a nutshell.

I visited D.C. over spring break in hopes that I could score a few job interviews (success!). During that week, I had a really great experience with an organization called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. I interviewed with them twice that week, and quickly learned that the people there are passionate and energetic. Bingo.

There are countless non-profits that have headquarters in Washington.That said, there isn’t a single non-profit job in D.C. can be explained in less than a paragraph. Here’s my paragraph:

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a national organization that uses the voice of law enforcement (sheriffs, police officers, etc.) to encourage policymaking and funding for early learning programs, like HeadStart. The parent organization, Council for a Strong America, also works with branches that involve pastors, retired military officials and business leaders. The people at CSA and Fight Crime truly care about the mission. They care about kids.

So what do I get to do? Communicate! (Big surprise there, huh?) I will assist in writing press releases, organizing press conferences, writing op-eds and creating video content, and – perhaps – enhancing their social media strategy. Yes, they have a Twitter account.

Pastor Mark Batterson at National Community Church (in D.C.), recently wrote on his blog about Ephesians 2:10, which states: “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works prepared for us in advance.” Whoa. I didn't see this one coming, clearly. I have to keep that in mind as I move forward. I don’t think I’ve comprehended everything that’s happened to me in the last month, but through it all I know, that God has a plan (why wouldn’t he? He’s a pretty organized guy, even if I don’t understand his methods sometimes).

I’m blessed to have a church there, an amazing group of friends (not to replace the ones I have a Butler, just new ones!), a great network of Butler alumni and an excellent understanding of the metro system. When combined, I think it’s going to mean a great start to my grown up life in the nation’s capital.

Guess that means my D.C. blog won’t be dying anytime soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good Dawgs Always Come Home

And they did. Since my last post, the Butler Men's Basketball team competed in the Final Four and advanced to the final NCAA championship game against powerhouse Duke University. To boot, the last round was held just six miles from campus - in Conseco Fieldhouse.

What it's like when your humble midwest university is launched into national spotlight? Well, when it's a for positive news -- such extremely positive news -- the experience is pretty surreal.

First, the student perspective: Visually, the campus perked up. Students tied blue bunting around the trees on campus, and suddenly there were snazzy banners on light posts. Someone even dyed the Star Fountain blue. The bookstore was teeming with alumni, families, prospective students and students vying for the latest Final Four t-shirt design. (Don't worry, I picked up swag for the whole family).

Then I started reading the news online. It was astounding. Each day, my Google Alerts emails got longer and longer. Most of the articles were related to the NCAA tournament, but then were articles featuring our president, Bobby Fong - and even our pampered pup mascot Blue II. In a period of two weeks, we gained home page news coverage on Web sites like NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times and more. Our local CBS affiliate, WISH TV, made daily appearances on campus. Our own sports writers from The Butler Collegian received countless media requests and interviews.

As I started to realize the magnitude of attention Butler was drawing, it dawned on me that campus felt different. There was an invisible, but very elevated sense of excitement - of community - of unity. I can't pin it to one person or one moment

I watched the final round right home at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. It was fitting, too - the place where "Hoosiers" was filmed so long ago, now served as a movie house to watch one of the most historic basketball games our school has seen.

So we lost to Duke. To their credit, they played a mean game. To our credit, we played harder. It was beautiful, even in the midst of the final score.

President Dr. Bobby Fong cancelled class the day after the game (and that was before we knew who won!). Tuesday was quiet on campus - students were recovering from the excitement, the national attention and the celebrations. That afternoon, thousands of students, faculty, staff and neighbors clamored into Hinkle Fieldhouse - not to watch another game, but to celebrate our team.

I'm going to be sappy and say I was near tears the entire pep rally. The team truly brought the campus together. Even Butler alumni from D.C. and around the country rallied to Indianapolis for the celebrations. It was like one big Butler reunion.

Looking back on March Madness, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
In the wake of the game, Coach Brad Stevens appeared on the the David Letterman Show (Full disclosure: Letterman is an Indianapolis native!). Gordon Hayward accepted a NBA draft pic. "Butler" was a trending topic (WORLDWIDE) on Twitter (for several minutes anyways) - that made my day. The basketball seniors got to play with the Harlem Globetrotters and the team has been made Grand Marshals for the Indy 500. We're too big, yo!

Sad news: Our campus fountains are no longer dyed blue.

Happy news: Coach Stevens just signed a 12-year contract to stay with Butler!

Want a recap of the campus energy during March Madness? Just watch this.