Attention: Crankypants Alert! You have been warned. That is all.
I don’t know if it’s something in the water or the air lately, but I’ve been in several internet conversations recently about “gurus” and how to differentiate them from the posers out there, as you seek advice for whatever ails you, life-wise, career-wise…whatever-wise. I’m not sure who stuck something in the internet’s collective craw, but now I can certainly tell you that my craw has been stuck. So allow me to spill some wisdom on you. I seem to have lost my Band-Aids ® and well…these thoughts have to go somewhere. (Beg pardon. Excuse me. So sorry about your new shoes.)
The first conversation happened on Twitter, from a tweet by my friend from State College, @Robin2Go, who also seems to cross paths with a lot of interesting people related to the Student Affairs chat (#sachat) community. It continued with a reply from Brian Panulla, one of my best friends, who used to live in State College and whose better half, Michelle, sang “Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls at my wedding with another great friend Beth Hayden. (If you’re wondering where I am going with all this…I will return to my point…eventually.)
Here’s the exchange (Click on each image for full-size version.)
Now, I know that some of the youngsters out there, or those who weren’t college radio station DJs, music critics and wannabe hipsters (like I was in college) may not get the reference to the great Australian band the Hoodoo Gurus. It’s okay, some people are just cooler than you. (Or possibly older, deluded, and hopelessly self-referential)
But I digress…. Let’s move on, as I continue my effort to raise some dramatic tension, and build up t0 part 2 (yes, part 2) of what may eventually become a “field guide” of sorts to assist the less experienced in distinguishing the charlatans from the true gurus. (By the way, I really liked Charlatans UK when I was in college, too. Check them out!)
The Call of “Who-Dos”
There are true gurus and false prophets. Upon first glance, you may notice some similarities. You might listen to one or the other, and not be able to distinguish the twitter of one from the tweet of the other. Each has it’s own sweet particularities… pleasing to the ear, inspiring. And either may give you welcome respite from the problems before you on any particular day. But the ability to discern between a “who-do” and a “guru” is essential for those who want to become experts in their own right.
Now, you may not have crossed paths with Robin, Brian, Michelle or Beth, or even heard their twitters and chirps. It’s probably because they don’t toot their own horn as much as they could. They don’t claim to be “gurus.” They just do what they do, because it makes them happy and keeps them busy with things that interest them. But let’s take a look at what these people do, and if it piques your interest, you can cyber-stalk them on the intertubes and arrive at your own conclusions.
(By the way, none of these people have any idea I am writing this about them, so won’t they be surprised? Consider this a #FollowFriday-in-overdrive attempt at “crossing the beams” of my various twitter circles, to see if the internet explodes or anything. You can just call me the Large Hadron Superconductor Super-Collider of the web. And just wait until later posts in this series: I’m hoping it’s going to be the social media equivalent of those proton beams circulating around and smashing together….And I seriously hope to break the internet, and possibly unravel the fabric of space/time itself. (Somebody call Steven Hawking and tell him to follow me. I might be on to something here.)
But I will also settle for at least causing some discussion…hopefully it won’t start with “Who is this nutcase?”
Robin Smail describes herself as a “disruptive technologist” and she does something or other that is awesome at Penn State. I really don’t know her exact expertise (something to do with Joomla and Moodle, I think) but she is someone who is out there connecting people through social media…at Penn State, across the Higher Ed Web community, and well…with anybody who’s interesting.
Robin doesn’t just talk about social media. She does it. A lot. All the time. With anyone. With everyone. If social media has a “raving fan,” it’s Robin. Visit her blog, Renegade Element, and if you dare tweet her (@Robin2Go) you won’t be able to say you weren’t warned. She has a quote from Serenity on her blog, and it pretty much describes her level of engagement… “You can’t stop the signal, Mal.”
If you haven’t heard of Brian Panulla, you have probably been exposed to his work. For a time, he worked at HigherEdJobs.com and developed a lot of the back-end stuff that makes their site and their search manager run. So you might want to follow him. Besides being smart and really capable, he’s funny.
Michelle Panulla and Beth Hayden were college roommates, and my wife and I knew them because they all sang for the PennHarmonics. Michelle is a gifted web designer as well as a singer. She is great with Flash and Flex, and has designed many different websites and blogs, including contributions to the original GoPSUSports.Com site for Penn State. She’s also a great cook, a dog lover, and an expert at dealing with people with ADD (okay, I’m talking about Brian). Beth is a social media coach and consultant, a certified wedding celebrant, and she has designed some great blogs and helped many people learn the basics of blogging. Both are also great singers.
These people are a few of my friends. But they are also a great examples of “Who-Dos”: people who spend their time doing what they love, what interests them, and what they are passionate about. You can recognize the subtle differences in the energy they put into their songs. Much like a collegiate A Capella group, they are well-practiced, and high energy. There are occasional breaks, stutters, even pauses. They have looser choreography than, for example, Lady Gaga on American Idol the other night. They don’t fluff their feathers and strut anything like that…they just sing their songs…occasionally together with the group, occasionally solo, but always engaging, because it’s not just about the beauty of the song…it’s the beauty of singing together… harmony and dissonance, individual nuance and collective choral harmony…primal, organic, chaotic, and mysterious.
“Who-dos” are like protons ready for that 7 trillion electronvolt jolt. Some people may look at them and just say “there’s a hydrogen ion.”But what happens when they all start smashing together?
You might just unlock some of the universe’s great mysteries.
- Are you a “Who-Do” or a “Guru?”
- How do you sing your song?
- Take 5: Social Media Resources for Higher Ed Pros Today’s Higher Ed professionals often feel like dinosaurs, in comparison…
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