Author Archive


Danbo with his laptop.

Photo credit: Laptop by JaredVanderzell

As a part of Philly Tech Week, I decided to attend the Green Tech Showcase. Here, four different groups spoke about different innovations they were doing for the environment. The speakers included Micah Gold-Markel of Solar States, Christine Knapp of GPIC, Deb Boyer of Azavea, and LJ Petroni of Mark Group.

Solar States installs rooftop solar panels on buildings in Philadelphia. They lease the space on the rooftops from the owners, then sell the energy back to the organization. Their most recent project was an 81kW solar array on the roof of the Crane Arts building and is the largest in center city Philadelphia.

GPIC is the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings. Ms. Knapp spoke about their focus on energy efficient buildings and integration of production retrofitting for current buildings. They are located in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia and use that area as a hub for energy innovation in an effort to create energy independence and create jobs for the region. They received $122 million from the Department of Energy for their work, plus addition grants. Their goal is to improve energy efficiency by 50% over the next 10 years.

Azavea partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to create the PhillyTreeMap, a website to create a collaborative inventory of trees in the Philadelphia urban environment. The site allows users to add new trees, upload pictures of existing trees, view information about trees in the database and promote tree planting throughout Philadelphia.

The Mark Group provides energy efficient upgrades to homes and businesses to provide them savings in the form of reduced energy bills. They are also located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. They are originally based in the UK, but now have a US presence. The services they provide are an assessment of the current location, recommendations and priority of upgrades and implementation of conservation measures. They use non-invasive, state-of-the-art technology to capture thermal images of the location to determine how to better insulate it to reduce energy waste. Their typical customer sees 15-20% savings in utilities and reduces their overall carbon footprint.

All the groups were very informative and provided great information on how technology can be used to help the environment.


Danbo getting off the elevator.

Photo credit: Elevator by JaredVanderzell

This post is in response to the question posed by professor Stephen L. Johnson from here, “In just a few sentences, what would you summarize as a key “take-away” that you’ve learned from this course this semester?”

My response would be the importance of knowing your audience. That’s what it really boils down to. In order to do anything successfully on the internet, you need to understand who you are targeting, how you can target them, and methods to track whether you are doing a good job. Everything we covered reflected around this point in one way or another, from Google Analytics to SEO to centralized vs. decentralized networks, and everything else in between.

If you just had to remember one thing for class, this would be it: know your audience.

Social Media

Danbo ponders what social media is.

Photo credit: Social Media by JaredVanderzell

In response to Gary Stein’s article, “Nobody Gets Social Media… Yet“, he takes a look at mistakes people assume with social media when regarding buisness. He lists these as using motivational statements instead of mission statements as to how to utilize social media, ego-centric measurement fixation where businesses only focus on the number of “likes” or fans instead of looking at the whole story, and the mis-perception that social media isn’t media.

Social media is new and different in the way that the interconnectedness of people’s lives through the use of the internet is a fairly recent innovation. Especially in how businesses are trying to leverage it to enhance their reputation, sell products and better their business. Stein poses the challenge of looking at a new definition of media for businesses: “any moment when the brand and the consumer come into contact with each other.” In this regard, social media as an interaction between people and businesses has been around since the creation of commerce. Social media requires new skills and capabilities for organizations to properly understand how they can effectively utilize social media in the connection with their customers. It requires narrowing their reason for using social media to a clear and directional plan, as well as realizing that the number of fans doesn’t necessarily mean that business is a success. A strategy needs to be in place to use social media to get consumers to “act positively toward that brand”.

As it stands now, businesses need to allow social media to evolve and learn how to properly use it to interact with their customers and increase their business.


A short stop-motion video I put together about an unsuccessful villain. The images were shot with a Canon 7D and a 35mm 1.4f L lens. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premier Pro were used for post processing and compiling.


Danbo surfing the web.

Photo credit: Laptop by JaredVanderzell

Promoting you blog is an important part in increase traffic and your online presence. It is important to develop strategies to do this that are both realistic and measurable, to ensure that you are effectively doing what you intend. Below, I developed 2 such strategies.

Idea #1: Use social networks for post promotion

Description: Use a URL shortener and post the link of the blog post in Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets, along with a short attention-grabbing description.

Rationale: Due to the fact that I have friends in these social networks who do not know about, or read, my blog, this would be an effective way for them to hear about it and possibly drive them to visit my blog.

Objective: I want to increase the number of visitors to my blog overall, and each individual blog post. This will allow me to post those links to increase traffic.

Measurement: I will know if this is successful by checking Google Analytics to see if page visits increases, as well as if the referrals are coming from Facebook and Twitter.

Idea #2: Photography blog ring integration

Description: Join a photography blog ring of authors who refer and cross-promote other similar bloggers in the ring to increase traffic to each individual blog.

Rationale: By joining a group that is interested in, and posts, similar content as me, I’ll be able to attract more relevant visitors to my blog, where they will stay longer and look around.

Objective: I will continue to focus on and use my own photography to generate content. Then join a blog ring of similar-minded bloggers to help cross-promote the different blogs to increase traffic of relevant visitors.

Measurement: I will know if this is successful by checking Google Analytics to see if the traffic is being referred from any of the other sites in the blog ring and if the duration on site increases over the implementation period.

Social Media

Danbo and Social Media.

Photo credit: Social Media by JaredVanderzell

The below questions were prompted from this blog post by Professor Steven L. Johnson regarding the use of social media promotion for companies. The companies that I picked were Coca-Cola and Turkey Hill, both beverage producers.

Do the companies do a good job of promoting themselves through social media?

On Coca-Cola’s site, there was a box that showed the Twitter tweets as soon as they were posted, as well as links to it’s other social networking pages. It did a pretty good job of promoting itself by linking to its social media pages, as well as using those pages to link back to its site.

Turkey Hill had a Facebook Like button right on the home page and an ad to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They could have done a better job of incorporating social media on its actual website, but its social media pages did a good job of linking back to the website.

What do you think they hope to achieve via a Facebook or Twitter presence?

I think that both companies are looking to increase brand awareness as well as provide a community place for their fans and customers.

If you were in charge of a company’s Facebook or Twitter initiative, how would you measure if it was a success?

I would measure their success by the number of people who “like” it and join the page. Additionally, I would measure success by the about of web chatter about the company/product. For example, by setting up a hash tag campaign, you can see the tweets by people who tag them #tag and measure how often it is being used.

 Cork Spider

Cork Spider

Photo credit: Cork Spider by Jared Vanderzell

I am the Editor-in-Chief of Temple University‘s undergrduate yearbook, the Templar. In our reading of The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, I have come to realize that this organization is very much like a spider. My reasoning can be found below.


The organizational structure of the staff is very rigid and top-down. I, as Editor-in-Chief, am at the top. Below me is the Production Manager and the Section Editors. Under them are the writers and photographers. Without the level above, everything below would just fall apart and “die”. This is very similar to a spider in that without the head, the rest of the spider is dead and not functional.


With this organization, there is a central command and everything stems from there. Nothing is done without the approval of the Editor-in-Chief. This type of control and linearity in operations again makes this similar to a spider. A starfish is the complete opposite where each part can function on its own if separated from the rest. Not so in our program.


Additionally, we operate out of a centralized location. We have one office where all of our work is done. Without the office, we couldn’t be the program.

These are just some of the insights that I have realized based on reading this book. Makes me wonder if there should be some restructuring to make this organization more sustainable.


Danbo surfing the web.

Photo credit: Community by JaredVanderzell

The below questions were prompted from this blog post by Professor Steven L. Johnson regarding the meaning of online community. The answers to the questions are based off the online post How To Build Community by Christine Cavalier.

In our reading last week in The Starfish and The Spider, it talked about the role of ideology in the decentralized organizations. When Christine talks about “fellow believers” do you think she means the same thing as ideology?

I think she means essentially the same thing. The believers of the online community have already bought into the cause/purpose of the community and stand by to support it. It’s the same shared set of beliefs that bring them together and perpetuate the same like-mindedness.

As stated in the online post, you don’t pitch your community to new/potential customers, the same with ideology. It is a belief or set of beliefs that people hold in common that draw them together. To restate Ms. Cavalier, “Community is made up of believers.”

Reading through the specific suggestions on how to search, share, and support which ones make the most sense to you? Are there any you are ready to go ahead and try?

The one that makes the most sense to me is Support. By supporting like-minded people, you are helping to grow your online community and strengthen the relationships supporting that network. By supporting them, they may support you in return. Additionally, their readers may see your comment and decide to check out your blog increasing your traffic.

What is your overall reaction to the contents of “How To Build Community Online“?

I thought it was an excellent article that coincided perfectly with our class reading and study of social networks and their behaviors. The article concisely broke down how to build an online community in practical terms, allowing for easy integration and implementation with our current blog.

Image of Facebook

Facebook: A Viable Publishing Platform?

Photo credit: Facebook by JaredVanderzell

In response to this posted discussion questions from Steven L. Johnson, this post will look at the use of Facebook as a standalone news platform.

I believe that it is not a viable option to launch a Facebook-only news portal. Due to current limitations within the architecture framework, such as not being able to make revenue from using own advertising and making sure content fits within the parameters of Facebook’s Terms of Service. With that being said, I think using Facebook as a supplement to existing news content would be highly beneficial because now readers can be pulled from both the social networking sphere as well as the traditional website sphere. It makes more sense to use it as a supplement because it allows for more potential readers and content cannot be sensored that Facebook may deem as inappropriate if it is on their traditional website.

What are your thoughts?


Undercover Danbo spreading his propaganda.

Photo credit: Propaganda by JaredVanderzell

In response to the commentary by Erik Sherman at bNet called So, Why Does the Air Force Want Hundreds of Fake Online Identities on Social Media? and this posted discussion question by Steven L. Johnson, this post will look at the ethics of government use of social media.

When governments become involved with social media and its use to spread propaganda and attempt to influence others, there are two sides of the coin. The one side, it can be looked at as completely unethical and opposite to the purpose of existence for government. This is especially true when the attempts are used against its own populace. Our government is in place to serve its constituents, not to push its propaganda back on to them. However, on the other side of the coin, it can be a valuable asset for espionage/infiltration and monitoring potentially dangerous groups before any type of incident arises. Creating fake online personas is just another tool for them to utilize. The government already spends billions of dollars on physical persons to influence opinion, maybe this way, they can move away from spending so much on the physical people and digital personas to accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the cost.

As with everything, the more you want security, the more you lose your freedom. I leave you with a paraphrase of the words of Benjamin Franklin, those who give up their liberty for more security, deserve neither.

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