Farewell to the Phoenix

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has ended operations after repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft were unsuccessful. A new image transmitted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows signs of severe ice damage to the lander's solar panels.

The spacecraft succeeded in its investigations and exceeded its planned lifetime.

one of the Mars Phoenix Lander's solar panels 
A view of one of the Mars Phoenix Lander's solar panels
from a composite of multiple exposures taken by the spacecraft's camera.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University Arizona/Texas A&M University Larger image

Phoenix reported on summer conditions at the far-northern Mars site where it landed May 25, 2008. The solar-powered lander completed its three-month mission and kept working until sunlight waned two months later.

Unfortunately, Phoenix was not designed to survive the dark, cold, icy winter.

Selling Those Used Textbooks

Textbook prices for college students are just out of control. Anyone who has tried to sell their textbooks back to a bookstore knows what a hassle (and sometimes, a ripoff) that can be.

I recently discovered that Amazon.com has a Textbook Buyback Store. I haven't used it, but if you have a relationship with Amazon and like their service, you might give it a try.

It seems simple:

Search for eligible buyback titles. (They don't want that economics book you bought in 1994. All items must be in good condition.)

You can ship your textbooks for free - Print a shipping label and packing slip, package your items, and ship them.

You don't get cash, but receive an Amazon.com Gift Card that will be deposited into your account upon receipt of items.

Has anyone used it?  Post a comment review below.

Social Media Books

There's a stack of my books on my basement desk that I'm using for the social media course I'm teaching this summer.

Some of these were books I had read, some were recommended - some I own, some I borrowed from the college library.

My students are reading at least one of these based on their own area of interest in social media. The original list of titles was crowdsourced online.

  1. Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected, Connect Your Business to Everyone.
  2. What Would Google Do? - Jeff Jarvis
  3. Power Friending - Amber MacArthur
  4. Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices - Christopher Locke
  5. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations - Clay Shirky
  6. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies - Charlene Li
  7. Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations - Amy Shuen
  8. Designing for the Social Web - Joshua Porter
  9. The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future - S. Craig Watkins
  10. Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience by Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone - patterns, principles, and best practices for starting a social website - has more of a software and design focus
  11. Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. - Mitch Joel - a business focus on using Net marketing, esp. free tools and services
  12. Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee ~ Web 2.0 for the enterprise
  13. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation - Tim Brown
  14. The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business (From Publishers Weekly) Hunt, cofounder of community-marketing consulting firm Citizen Agency, presents the hows and whys of accruing "whuffie," her word for social capital in the Web 2.0 landscape. Introducing a wide range of post-blogosphere social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr, Hunt clues in marketers to the possibilities with online success stories, influential voices and winning strategies. Detailed, practical profiles of networks and related tools make this a valuable, illuminating title for anyone looking to the ever-expanding realm of online social life for business success.
  15. The Cluetrain Manifesto - though ten years old, the authors' 95 theses about the networked marketplace probably make more sense today. Observations about business in America and how the Internet will continue to change it.
  16. Visual Thinking  by Rudolf Arnheim - more for art students perhaps - takes the premise that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading.
  17. Building Social Web Applications: Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site -  by Gavin Bell
  18. The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success - Safko
  19. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins.  This book puts web 2.0 technologies and trends into a much larger historical context of participatory culture.
  20. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green

Titles recommended that I didn't get to preview:

    Celeb Speakers Address the Class of 2010

    It must be rather strange to give a commencement speech these days. Students and parents want to be entertained more than educated. The education is over that day. We want to laugh.

    Usually, schools try to get a mix. Someone famous and entertaining, and someone with all the real degrees (not honorary ones) to say wise things.

    Here's a selection from this year from the celebrity speakers

    JULIANNA MARGULIES speaking at Sarah Lawrence College's commencement ceremony
    'I was so nervous [to speak], in fact, that I've done a bit of reconnaissance. I've read every graduation speech ever written. I sought advice from the smartest people I know, but mostly, I have been listening. Listening to your reflections on the school, listening to your plans postcollege, and listening to your thoughts on our future. Part of this listening was to help me write this speech, but selfishly, part of it was for my 2-year-old son [pause] because he has such a big stake in your actions. [She stops to wipe her eyes.]

    Shortly after graduation, I got very, very, very, very lucky. I landed a role on a show called ER. It was a huge hit all over the world. I soon had money, accolades, status, and George Clooney. [Crowd cheers.]


    NINA GARCIA speaking at Fashion Institute of Technology's commencement ceremony

    "The fashion industry has a particular flair for making any slight feel as though it's the worst thing that's ever happened and any small victory as if it's the most extravagant accomplishment since the wheel. This emotional metronome can lead to a very surreal work environment — I promise that."

    LISA KUDROW at Vassar College's commencement ceremony

    ''It's not like there's some kind of social network wherein I could communicate with such a large number of people at once...

    ...over the next eight years, my resolve and commitment was steadily challenged. Challenged by casting directors telling me to my face that I was horrible. Agents letting me know, 'It's hard; we don't know what to do with you. They want gorgeous on TV, you know? There's really not a place for you."

    Listen to Kudrow here.


    ANDERSON COOPER speaking at Tulane University's commencement ceremony

    Trustees, honored guests, faculty, friends, and Who Dats — I was curious to see how the sign language interpreter would do 'Who Dats' — [Crowd laughs] thank you very much for inviting me here to speak on this incredibly special day.

    ...I don't need to give you advice today. I don't need to teach you, in this room, a lesson. The truth is, your class has taught me a lesson — and taught all of us a lesson. As you've heard several times already today and as you know too well, you are the class that came after Katrina. And even though you've heard it a lot doesn't make it any less true. You saw this city on its knees in those weeks and months after the storm, and yet you still applied to Tulane. You could have gone elsewhere, as the president said. A lot of folks probably said you were nuts to commit to New Orleans — some of your parents probably said the same thing. But you came anyway. You took a chance. You made a tough choice, but look at you now, look at what you've accomplished, not just for yourselves, but for New Orleans. Your choice helped this city rebuild, renew, and restart.

    Cooper speech here.


    MERYL STREEP speaking at Barnard College's commencement ceremony

    "Being a celebrity has taught me to hide, but being an actor has opened my soul."



    Alec Baldwin, the award-winning actor and alumnus of NYUs Tisch School of the Arts, addressed the graduates at that school's ceremony. He received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa. He gets lots of cheers, some laughs and tries to give some serious talk too on commitment.