Helpful Advice for Recent College Graduates

One of the really difficult things about being a college teacher is that, after being back for a few years now and getting to know many students on a personal level, I’ve begun to have several students come to me and say “Dr. Rice, I’m graduating in a few weeks. What do I do now?” Many of them had their hearts set on law school, but their LSATs didn’t quite pan out the way they would’ve liked. Many just don’t have the financial wherewithal to go to grad school. Others just went to college because that was “what you’re supposed to do” and now that they’ve reached the finish line, they have no idea why they were ever in college, and have no clue what the hell to do next. It’s like a fairy tale, where you reach the Happily Ever After but don’t get to see how Cinderella and the Prince deal with finances, children and infidelity. Sure, you’ve accomplished this great thing – getting a degree – but how do you answer the “so what?” or “what do I do now?” question?

I’ll be writing a longer post on this soon (once the semester ends), but I wanted to share with you a few sources that I think might help those of you in this position make sense of things.

First, click through Garr Reynolds‘ slideshow outlining Dan Pink‘s recent Johnny Bunko book:

[slideshare id=372443&doc=careeradvice-1209142144854362-8&w=425]

Then go out and pick up Johnny Bunko and absorb it. You will thank yourself later. You may also want to add the Johnny Bunko website into your feedreader (I did). This book is full of fantastic principles in designing a career for yourself, with a strong argument for rejecting the conventional wisdom on careers and career planning.

Second, I recommend you take a look at Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University. Reynolds and Pink reference this, but you really need to see it in its entirety – and ABSORB IT – to understand the wisdom in Jobs’ words. This address moves me the way few other speeches have.


Graduation is a difficult, traumatic time. Meditate on these two sources, and think about their implications for your future. I’ll have my own thoughts about graduation up soon in a separate post.

The Important Difference Between Media and Social Media (Debate Edition)

Over at It’s Not a Lecture, David Wescott totally gets why the Democratic presidential debates last night show that the debate over whether or not we should just call social media “media” now is bogus:

I hope this debate serves as the wake-up call for the traditional media. This is why we can’t yet say “social media” is “all media.” When all media is truly social, the most prominent and important questions will be raised. That’s why the YouTube debates were so effective and so important. It’s only a matter of time – and not much time, at that – before they become the norm and not the exception.

Social media is about the democratization of communication, turning political communication into hot media once again, as opposed to the coolness of the traditional media. The chattering classes and talking heads were made very, very uncomfortable during the YouTube debates this cycle, especially the Republican YouTube debate. It makes people like the Gibsons, Matthews and Russerts of the world uncomfortable when the people begin to ask questions that really matter to them, as opposed to whatever the Village consensus is.

A true Open Source Politics looks a lot like the YouTube debates: people ask questions meaningful to them. However, one major modification would be the incorporation of a Digg-like system to filter the questions. I place much more faith in the American Public to filter the questions than people like Charles Gibson or Tim Russert. Open Source Debates are a lot more fun than the Perez Hilton/TMZ-style debates we’ve been getting. Run the filters on the screen in real-time, along with a dedicated Twitter feed with a cloud-style visualization. Link it to maps, so we can geolocate opinion trends (there’s one way to get past the whole Red State-Blue state bullshit).

The debates might be more chaotic and frightening, but they’d be a hell of a lot better than what we got last night. Social media isn’t the same as traditional media. There is a substantial qualitative difference, and an Open Source Politics needs to make certain the politicians and the public are aware of this.

PS, David runs a really great blog on Social Media, which is a regular read for me now. You can also follow him on Twitter.

EDITED TO ADD (4/17/08, 1pm): A lot of people have noticed last night’s hackery. And when those people have access to cheap and easily available social media tools, well, lots more people begin to notice (h/t AmericaBlog):


The Realities of Being a Writer in the Age of New Media

As always, Tony Pierce is the man. Here’s what he had to say to a group of young aspiring Journalists the other day (straight from the legendary BusBlog):

i said you might come into the office and they look at you and say, can you make it to LAX to interview the CEO of Virgin and review the Donnas playing right there in the terminal and do it with a flute of bubbly in your hand, and can you speed back to the office and write about something else, and help fix this person’s HTML and help fix Typepad, and help resize photos in a web based photo application thats not Photoshop and can you handle it all before it gets dark?


i said write when you come home from the club drunk. i said write when youre sad cuz your dude just broke yr heart. i said write when youre mad write when your glad write when you believe you dont have shit to say. all of thats practice. all of that is so that you can knock out one piece after another when youre getting paid to do it. but you hafta do it when youre young. cuz if you cant do it when youre young you will make up some lameass bullshit when youre not young and then you’ll realize you probably werent a writer in the first place.

I fucking love Tony. He lays out in better language than I could why I try so hard to get my students to blog, to use Ning and Wikis, to do journals about their Second Life experiences. You need to learn to use the tools, because as Tony points out, being a writer is more than just sitting down at the typewriter, like some romantic vision of Hemingway. Today, to bring it, you’ve got to have all sorts of mad web skills. Tony knows. He’s doing one hell of a job revitalizing the LA Times (and he has my eternal thanks for bringing me the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Blog). And this is why I try to get my students to write more, even when its on “frivolous” projects like Ning or short blogging assignments. Work on writing, honestly, the small stuff now. Learn the tools. Then with hard work, persistence and some luck, you can make a go of it. Just like my man Tony.

Now get out there and blog you bums!

Recommendation for PS 235 Summer 2008

Attention Conservation Notice: This post is intended for UK Students looking for a good class to take in the summer. If you’re not a UK student, please ignore. Thanks.

Summer classes are a great opportunity to pick up a USP requirement or a pre-major course in a small classroom environment. It’s one reason why I enjoy teaching classes like PS 101 American Government in the 4-Week session this year or when I taught PS 212 last summer. It’s great to work with a small group of students in a course which would normally be quite large. So, if you need to take a USP or pre-major (100- or 200-level) course, summer is a great time to do it.

I wanted to let you know that one of our best Teaching Assistants, Barrett Osborn, will be teaching PS 235 World Politics in the 4-week session this summer. If you need to take PS 235 to meet a university studies requirement or Political Science major requirement, let me encourage you to sign up for Barrett’s class. also, please spread the word about this opportunity. I have replicated Barrett’s course flyer below.

PS 235-010: World Politics

Iraq…Terrorism…Darfur…Global Warming…These are just a few of the current policy challenges that will continue to play a significant role in World Politics in the coming years.  In a globalizing world community, international discourse and foreign policy behavior are increasingly important to understand and interesting to discuss.

If you have an interest in discussing global problems, their solutions, and learning how global discourse transpires in a smaller classroom setting, you should consider registering for PS 235 World Politics offered in the Summer I Session.

PS 235: World Politics
Summer Session 1: May 2008
Meeting Time: Monday-Friday 2-3:20PM
Instructor: Barrett Osborn

Registration Deadline: April 14-15

Second Life at UK & PS 545 American Political Thought

Since a few of you have been asking, the url for the PS 545 American Political Thought wiki is It’s where the class members are keeping their journals and group projects for the digital ethnography project.

You can also find out more about what’s going on at UK’s Second Life Island by visiting there’s a great bit up now covering Oz’s building of the new Art Gallery. Check out the UK flickr group for more pics on that.

Slideshow of my UK Second Life Island Presentation

For those of you who were unable to make it to the Totally Awesome University of Kentucky Second Life Island Grand Opening (whew!) last Thursday, here is the slideshow from my presentation.

[slideshare id=320793&doc=presentation-on-ps-545-for-uk-sled-1206452124398947-2&w=425]

Note: I’m not referring to such things as PowerPoint anymore. I’m using Keynote exclusively these days. And with other tools getting more popular all the time, we should start using generic terms like slideshows and slideware.

Awesome Lo-Fi YouTube Explanation of Twitter

This rocks. I especially love the use of lo-fi media (cut-outs, Flash Gordon-style animations) to explain a Web 2.0 tool like Twitter using another Web 2.0 tool like YouTube. The effect is jarring – in a good way – and really got (and kept!) my attention.


UK Second Life Island Grand Opening Thursday

Just wanted to post this invitation to UK’s Grand Opening for its Second Life Island on Thursday afternoon. I’ll be giving a brief talk as part of a panel at 2pm at the WT Young Library Auditorium. You can participate in events in Real Life or Second Life all afternoon. I hope to see you there!

PS, in Second Life I’m known as Ricetopher Freenote. Kthxbye.



You are invited to the grand opening of University of KY Island, a virtual campus in Second Life, on Thursday, March 20 starting at 1:00 pm in W.T. Young Library.

Second Life (SL) is an internet-based 3D virtual world launched in 2003 that has attracted the attention of educators around the world for its potential as a learning environment.  “Residents” of SL can interact in real time, through their avatars, with other individuals or with objects.  Exciting possibilities exist for collaboration, simulation, content delivery, role-playing, experiential learning, and other forms of educational interactions created through the imaginations of faculty and students.  UK is joining a growing list of campuses that offer academic experiences through Second Life.

A description of this event and a detailed schedule (which includes talks by an SL educator in England, two UK faculty who use SL in their courses, a tour of the island, a discussion of educational uses, and more) can be found at  A two-minute video invitation is at

This event and the University of KY Island are sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education with support from the Teaching & Academic Support Center and University of Kentucky Libraries.

For more information about the event, contact Patsy Carruthers, Senior Program Manager for AV/DL Networks at the Teaching & Academic Support Center (257-8272 ext. 223,

I need more fiction in my life

How did it come to This? I have become Old Before My Time. I read almost nothing but nonfiction these days – blogs, white papers, books, you name it. The only nonfiction in my most recent Amazon order was the newest collection of Grant Morisson’s Doom Patrol. It’s been that way with my reading for awhile, but now I’ve noticed that this has crept over into my iPod behavior as well. When I’m listening to the iPod in the car or at the gym, I’ve been listening to podcasts like the Manoa Future Studies podcast series or, recently, the podcasts from TED and SXSW.


It didn’t used to be this way. I used to read a LOT of fiction as a young man, especially science fiction. And, as a musician, I listened to a LOT of music: classical, jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, bluegrass, whatever. It was all good. But now… Now I’m one of those sad old white guys reading and listening for “productivity” and “skills/knowledge enhancement.”

I really need to develop a plan and a budget (money AND time) for indulging in music and literature again. Any suggestions for how to go about this in a disciplined way? How about suggestions for the last good fiction you read (novel or short story) or last good album you listened to?


PS, Also? I need to play more video games. I’m waiting for Robert Allen to come out with a book that can show me not only how to Get Things Done, but how to also Add Three Fucking Hours To My Day.