Fusion RiseUp: NASA Builds Community and You Can Too

Back in November, Jeanne Brooks (fellow member of Tech LadyMafia) reached out to me to ask for me to speak at an upcoming hackathon for Fusion RiseUp. Though I’ve spoken at events before, for the most part it had been through JCC Association and JCC events. I had never been asked to speak as me, as a professional.

To be honest, I was surprised. I couldn’t help but wonder, in the pool of amazing women that we belong to, why would she ask me? Of course, that may have had something to do with a bit of my own confidence issues in the moment, but what came back was a list of reasons as to why I was indeed more than qualified.

As nervous as I was, I said yes. This was not an opportunity that I could miss. And boy, am I glad I did.

Instead of speaking about development or hacking in a traditional sense, I spoke about building community. Back in November 2012, I attended NASA Social Final Journey of Atlantis. As you may (or may not) know, even getting to Orlando was an adventure (thanks Hurricane Sandy). Community building carried on long after the event ended, and there is now a group of individuals that are a part of my extended network with a shared love for all things space. Read more

Is Twitter Twilighting? A response to The Atlantic

A friend of mine recently posted an article from The Atlantic, “A Eulogy for Twitter”, questioning the validity. I spent time reading and rereading, thinking about what this article meant. Was it true? Is Twitter the next MySpace? I thought I’d share my response here, in a more pubic forum.

While good points are made, saying that Twitter is entering its twilight seems awfully extreme. Platforms grow and change, and then immediately people balk and say, “We are leaving. We don’t like it anymore. It’s different. We hate change.” That being said, it has grown exponentially in the past few years. It’s become common place for professionals to be expected to have one and for businesses to have a presence.

Is Twitter overrun with spammers and bots? Yes. Is there a lot of noise and hateful negativity? Also yes. Can you choose to tune that out and still have meaningful conversations? I guess it depends on how big your audience is. Maybe not for the Justin Biebers of the world who have millions of followers (and let’s be honest, probably isn’t having meaningful dialogue ANYWAY), but for the average joe, yes. Read more

Hire Someone Skilled Regardless of Age


I recently read an article on Inc titled “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media.” Let me start off by saying that yes, I did read the generalization pardon. Yes, people shouldn’t be hired just because they are “really good at Facebook” (that’s how my parents describe what I do, because they’re not social media saavy). No one should ever be hired “just because.”

That being said, “just because” someone is a new graduate doesn’t mean they are ill-equipt to work in the professional world. I would bet that it’s these types of generalizations that are helping keep the unemployment rate up for new graduates. Read more

Social Writing and a Space Shuttle – MSUPW at NASA

This is a re-print. The original post was co-written with Mike McLeod and is featured on the Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures webpage.

Mike and Alexandra with Atlantis

Yes, that’s two #msupw folks – Mike McLeod, faculty, and Alexandra White, alum – with a space shuttle. This happened because we were both selected to attend the NASA Social Atlantis – Celebrate the Journey event to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis be permanently retired from service and share that experience on social media. We attended this event first as unabashed space nerds, but we managed our nerdery well enough to strategize our writing to document the experience for ourselves and for our audiences. Here we’ll reflect on the rhetoric of the event, our social writing strategies, and shamelessly geek out over space. Read more

NASA Social: Day 2

It was another bright and early day for NASA Social, with our arrival at the rocket gardens at 9AM. The theme of the day was saying goodbye, having the last few moments to explore Kennedy Space Center and then spend some serious time with the shuttle. This time, however, we were joined by several thousand more people.

I could droll on and on about the logistics, but really it was a day spent with the shuttle. One great moment before we got to Exploration Park (where we could see the shuttle being moved) was a special appearance by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. He came aboard the NASA Social bus to say “Hello!” and answer a few questions. Read more

NASA Social: Day 1

It’s hard to come back at the end of the day and remember all of the awesomeness that was NASA Social. Even harder will be breaking it down to a blog post that not only makes sense, but has some value to you, the reader.


Warning: This WILL be full of geeking out and general nerdery.

At the start of the day, we introduced ourselves via Twitter handles, names, and an interesting fact. As last in the circle, my two stories had been told (the journey to Atlantis and the last shuttle launch). I declared that I am probably one of the luckiest people, and that I was so happy to be a part of a group of people as geeked about space, shuttles, and social media as I am. We quickly moved in towards the rocket garden for a group photo before we saw Kennedy Space Center, learned about NASA’s old and new programs, and had general nerd out sessions.

Read more

NASA Social Miracles

To say this weekend has been a doozy would definitely be an understatement. With Hurricane Sandy, I held little hope of being able to get out of NYC and to Orlando for my first NASA Social. My flight out of Laguardia was officially cancelled yesterday by 4:30PM, when they decided not to reopen it due to massive flooding. JetBlue eased the pain by writing a blog about the situation and sharing a few photos.

That looks like a place that no airplane wants to be. That being said, what’s a girl to do? No flights out of LGA, limited (and completely booked) flights out of JFK, and no busses out of the city to get to other airports in Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston, or Baltimore. Read more

An Interview with CNN Money

Early in August, I saw a retweet from Erie (head of Tech LadyMafia) of CNN Money Producer Erica Fink. Erica was looking for people who had used Airbnb to interview in the NYC area. I happened to have used Airbnb in June 2012 with my friend, Melissa, to stay in a lovely coast-side apartment in Connecticut. I decided to tweet her back.

This led to emailing back and forth and setting up a time to be filmed in my apartment. Her assistant producer, Spencer, ended up coming in to film after Erica was called away to film a Facebook story (how cool is that?).

After about 30 minutes of filming, including an interview and a lot of b-roll, I only ended up in the final cut for about 5 minutes. However, the overwhelming awesomeness of being on CNN’s website more than makes up for time usage.

It is a shame that they use a flash video player. Come on CNN, HTML5 video. It’s the way of the future.

Check it out on CNN Money’s website.

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Social Media Week

It’s Social Media Week in New York City, and I am quite excited to celebrate it with a ton of great events. Due to work, I haven’t been able to attend most of the daytime events. However, I have been able to go to a few of the evening events. A recap so far:

I entered to win VIP tickets to COMMON Pitch NYC in Brooklyn, with the notion of “who actually wins these things!?” Well this time, I won. Myself and 15 others were transported on a party bus from the Big Fuel Headquarters (at 23rd and 6th) to the Brooklyn Bowl on Wednesday evening. That’s not to say the ride was our entire prize. Oh no. It was so much more.

The trip began with a stop in Big Fuel, where several blogging and media stations were set up, an abundance of Heineken, popcorn, and Popchips were available, and some of the greatest people were working. I met Amelia of The Next Web and waited for the other winners to arrive. I was introduced two several of the sponsors, CEOs of various companies, and other fantastic individuals. Ming and Pino, the two Nokia sponsors, were introduced and on the bus ride as well. I met Ben Scheim, Director of Social Media Week and VP at Crowdcentric, who was our personal escort. Read more

Verb Manufacturers

According to Michael Lazerow, founder & CEO of Buddy Media, those of us involved in social media are all manufacturers of verbs.

Remember back in the early days of Facebook, before brands were involved or even those outside of school, all status updates involved the verb “to be.” A status update was formatted as “Alexandra is…” and it was up to us to fill in the blank. Now, status updates (soon to be known as Timeline updates) are in first person using whatever action you feel like. It’s not always a statement of feeling or action; it can be announcements, pontifications, or other utterances. Our updates have evolved. Read more

The State of the Internet

Created by: OnlineSchools.org

This is a fascinating infographic. It’s so interactive, it’s overwhelming. One person couldn’t possibly take in all of the information. However, doesn’t that speak to who we are in the 21st century? We are constantly hit with millions of pies of information a minute on the internet. In the United States, there is some censorship, but it’s nothing like the status of North Korea (where you may not even know how to use the internet).

EDIT: As of July 2014, this infographic is no longer available.

Facebook & Skype Merge

I’m currently watching Mark Zuckerberg’s live announcement about Facebook’s unveiling of a merger with Skype, allowing Facebook users to video chat with their friends. They revealed group chat as well, although if you were a group user on Facebook you’ve had this functionality for at least 6 months. Now, you don’t have to have created a group prior to attempting to chat.

Recently, I noticed that chat has been integrated with Facebook messages. That way, you can access people who are not online in your “buddy list” of friends and still send them a chat message. This can be good and bad. Many people will notice the green circle indicating that a user is “online,” but what about those users who are unaware of this update? How long will it take before your friends get used to this?

I’m really excited about this merger. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop using Skype. I have my network on Skype, and I can be signed in without revealing myself on Facebook. To be perfectly honest, Facebook chat has often failed me. My friends and I will start a chat on Facebook and move  to Skype in frustration. I’m wondering if Facebook chat will be as difficult when it comes to working with video. Also, will I be able to video chat with say, my father, who does not have a video camera? Skype offers this functionality, where the user that is camera-less can type responses while viewing the video of another user. How will that work on the Facebook interface.

Video calls have launched. I’m ready to try it out.

Online Identity | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

Now that you’re in college, it’s time to start thinking about your online identity. I think about this topic a lot, and I have done a lot of research on the subject.

As kids, we really don’t think about the consequences of our online adventures. How many of you signed up for accounts on gaming sites or other sites that you subsequently forgot about? I did an experiment, where I looked up usernames I had created when I was younger, and found over 60 various online accounts. At least 30 had not been used in several years.

I was a candidate for research at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and was asked to create a presentation about youth and the world wide web. View the Prezi presentation here. I discussed a possibility for an online solution, as well as what the common problems were as seen by Berkman and Internet researchers. Although the solution is geared towards children, pre-teens, and teenagers, we are still susceptible to the same problems. We have the opportunity to make better decisions about our presence online.

When you apply for jobs, human resources will look at your online history. Those pictures from your 21st birthday party on Facebook could be found. That post with un-friendly social commentary on Twitter can be tracked. Even if you have privacy settings, it’s possible for other people to share your information publicly. Basically, nothing is ever truly private on the internet. Once it’s out there, who knows what can happen.

We’re adults now. It’s time to start taking responsibility for our presence online. Mashable (my favorite source for news about social media) wrote a great article in 2009 about centralizing your identity. Read it here.

Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation!

Spartan Connect

I have been selected as a First Tier Spartan Connect Engager. What does this mean? I’ll work a couple hours a week as a blogger for Spartan Connect, Michigan State’s answer to social media, as well as being available for chat with students. For my first blog, I was asked to answer the following questions:

1. What general advice would you give an incoming student

2. What you wished you had known prior to arriving on campus

3. What you would do differently if you could do it all again

4. What one or two things contributed to your success at MSU

5. What has been your fondest memory thus far

Now you may be thinking… Another job, Ali? Really?

Oh yes. That puts the grand total at 5 jobs currently being held. In my defense, only three are active right now. Four will be active in the fall, but we’ll worry about it when it’s time to worry. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t constantly busy.

When my first blog post goes up on Monday, June 6th, I’ll be sure to post a link to it.

EDIT: My first blog post has launched. Check it out!

TechSmith: Day 1

**Disclaimer: I am a proud employee of TechSmith Corporation, and this blog post is reflective of my personal views. It does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs held by TechSmith Corporation. This is an extension of my personal identity, not the company brand.**

Today was my first day at TechSmith Corporation. I have been hired as the Social Media Intern, working directly with Daniel Foster. I am not 100% sure as to what work I will be doing, but I know that I will be communicating via our social media presence, blogging, and creating analytics.

Immediately upon arrival, I felt welcomed and engaged. I met with Daniel, who gave me a lowdown on the company. Afterwards, he left for a meeting and PR/Evangelist Intern Josh Emington took me on a building/TechSmith tour. We met several people within the Marketing department, as well as in other departments within TechSmith. He explained many of the day to day tasks that he completes, as well as some of the work I would be expected to perform. His friendly demeanor and enthusiasm for TechSmith was a wonderful way to start my life at the company. We had met several times before, in relation to his girlfriend, but had never actually spoken. It was great to know that he is such a powerful leader in the TechSmith community, even just as an intern.

A lot of my time was spent reading a ton of documentation. There was the employee handbook, tons of paperwork, and a giant wiki that was composed of all of the need to know (and not so “need” to know) company information. I took the time to really read instead of skim, trying to absorb everything they threw my way. Following my read through, I had a chance to watch some of the videos on TechSmith’s YouTube channel. It was great to see consumers using the many different products that TechSmith creates to form projects and videos for different audiences.

I feel like I learned a lot in Day 1. The next few days will probably consist of more reading and absorbing information, really becoming familiar with the TechSmith products. Hopefully soon, I’ll become a part of more of the engagement. I can’t wait to get my hands “dirty” (so to speak) with social media.

To think… my job position didn’t really exist three, perhaps even two, years ago. Social media is ever growing and evolving. Who knows how my job requirements with change and develop over the course of my time with TechSmith. I can only assume it will continue in a positive way, as my experience so far has led me to believe.

“Alone Together”

I was reading a New York Times article, “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall,” and it really made me think about the effect social media has on our (social) lives. FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is something I often suffer with upon going online. I may be perfectly content sitting and watching a movie, relaxing. Then I check my twitter feed and see that four of my friends are out at the bar, having a blast. I always want to join.

This is something I have been struggling with for many years. I used to hate it when my friends would make plans and not invite me. It was one thing if just two friends were hanging out together, but it’s entirely different when it’s a big group. I always want to be a part of it, if only to remember that they like me. It seems childish but we all seek that approval. Social media has really impacted they way and think I feel about this issue. Going online reminds you that you’re online and not out, living life.

There are some opposing views. For example, with smart phones (and it’s 2011, so more and more people are being forced by providers to acquire such phones) we can be connected at any point in time. This means, we’re not necessarily sitting at home alone and reading about our friends’ fun time. We could be out having our own fun. However, there is still a natural emotional pull to be doing what your other friends are doing. You want to be where they are.

So, does this mean that we leave social media? Is it affecting our lives so much that it causes depression, leaving us unable to function? I say, “Nay!” It is our job to find a balance and accept that people can not revolve around our own lives. On the other hand, it would be an agreeable statement to say that social media does lead to depression. It does lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness. Growing up is hard, and it’s made harder by our ever growing number of connections. Our minds are overwhelmed. We can only process so much.

In the end, now that we’re so connected, it may be next to impossible to disconnect yourself. Yes, you can delete your Facebook and Twitter. In theory, you would never have to worry about it. However, more and more invitations go out on Facebook. You may crave the knowledge that comes with living your life online.

Good luck with your decision making.