I’m editing this post. My husband, who does not yet keep a blog but who actively reads them, came home yesterday and said “Your post on Campus Impact might be a little vague, dahling.” (Okay, he didn’t say “dahling,” but the rest is more or less true.) His English upbringing results in a certain delicacy of expression; translated to modern-day conversational American English, what he meant was, “I’m pretty sure that people who haven’t heard you talk about this particular project day in and day out for the past I-don’t-know-how-many-weeks won’t have a clue what it’s about from the little bit you chose to say about it.” So I’m editing this post, which he assures me is a perfectly acceptable thing to do in the world of blogging, so long as I’m up front about it.
Yesterday’s vagueness had a lot to do with late-stage writer’s block. I was in the push-on-through-till-dawn phase of writing and wasn’t sure what else to say. There wasn’t really a single coherent question I could ask. The post, which ran as follows, was basically a cry for help:
The NMC is working on a paper that discusses what it means to have an impact on campus (for a new media center or similar organization). It’s sort of a how-to guide for directors of such centers, with suggestions about ways to make a difference on campus. We affectionately call it “Campus Impact.”
The material for the paper has come from several discussions with the directors of centers that belong to the NMC, so the suggestions are good, solid ones that people have actually employed, illustrated with examples. The paper covers seven strategies that can be used together to increase a center’s impact on campus:
- be focused
- be adaptable
- be productive
- make allies
- set expectations
- make your boss’s goals your goals
- be needed
Obviously the paper goes into a little more detail. It’s in a late draft stage at this point, but if you have ideas, I would love to hear them.
That said, the suggestions I did get were actually quite helpful. Thanks to Bryan’s example (The Studio at Colby College), I emphasized the role of students in making an impact. Nick’s point about leveraging campus networks is an excellent one, and found its way into the paper as well. Just the fact that someone out there expressed an interest in reading the thing gave me new energy as I tackled it (thanks Steve!). Of course, I also took a direct line of attack and walloped that writer’s block with some really good tea and top-of-the-line chocolate — desperate times call for desperate measures. All of this together got me past the hurdle.
I realize I still haven’t put in the “more information,” so here it is. The idea for the paper came out of several conversations among NMC directors (that is, people who run new media centers or similar organizations on various campuses). The directors were sharing stories about things they had done that had made a noticeable impact on their campuses, and asking each other questions about their stories. Victor Edmonds from UC Berkeley gave a presentation at the 2005 NMC Director’s Meeting based on his experiences running ETS; he’s the one that came up with the seven strategies, and the other directors really resonated with those ideas. In that session and in a similar one at the 2005 NMC Summer Conference, the directors explored those ideas some more, and swapped stories, concerns, and suggestions. Craftily, we took notes. (We told them we were going to, so it was crafty in the clever sense, not in the sneaky sense. In fact, I took notes on giant 4’x8′ sheets of paper, so it would have been really hard to be sneaky about it.)
We’ll share a draft of the paper at this year’s Director’s Meeting, which is next week (back to Texas for me — more travel stories for you), and use it as a springboard for further discussion of the topic. When the paper is finished it’ll likely be posted on NMC’s website, so I’ll include a link here for those who are interested.
As a proof-of-concept, though, yesterday’s post worked really well. You can be sure that the next time I’m stuck, I’ll be writing about it here. Thanks y’all!