In 2014, Dave Cameron, Lead Web Producer and Content Strategist for Enrollment Management at Ithaca College, taught us how to reclaim our humanity at work. Lately he’s been thinking a lot about what it means to be human. And Friday at HighEd Web New England during his keynote address, he told us he’s stumbled on “the answer to life, the universe, and everything” – and his opinion why we exist as humans.
The answer? “The one thing humans are meant to do. And that thing, is share.”
Dave told us about his friend Eric, “the guy that every girl wanted to date, and every guy wanted to be.” Dave elaborated that Eric made everyone feel important, and it was clear that their friendship was strong; ever since the second grade. Suddenly, Dave explained, Eric passed away in a car crash, and Dave discovered this through Facebook. Dave still isn’t sure if this is the reason why he began to share more, but he shares now on his Facebook and WordPress blog, as “we only have so many tomorrows.”
“We all have something to share as individuals, as organizations.”
“We can share whatever we want as long as it’s authentic,” Dave explained, but as soon as we try to share something authentic on behalf of an organization, it becomes a challenge. Dave questioned, what becomes authentic, and how do we become authentic? And no, it’s not only pictures on Instagram tagged, #nofilter.
Authenticity spreads so far past the higher ed sphere. Dave first showed us authenticity in magic. Harry Houdini first found interest in the upcoming trend of spiritualism and seances, but realized that these could all be exposed, easily. He dedicated time, and money (a $10,000 reward for anyone who could stump him), to exposing the common tricks of these seances. The lesson: people will believe what they want to believe, even if they’re wrong. Dave also discussed The Monkees, teaching us that faking authenticity can sometimes lead to something authentic. Dave’s third example, (cruel, as his talk was just before lunch), was of Julia Child. Her cooking show, the concept, seeped into our homes and became authentic. The lesson: authenticity can be taught and learned.
Dave concluded for us that authenticity is in the eye of the beholder, and authenticity isn’t decided by us as high ed web pros or as organizations, it’s decided by our audience. Much like a TARDIS, our organizations are bigger on the inside, but, what do we do if we’re building our organizations and teams out of all the TARDIS groups? How can we be authentic to everyone if they all have something bigger and different on the inside, and how can groups really be authentic to the people that they want to reach? Dave’s answer to these big questions is to share like a human.
If you missed out on Dave’s 100% Human Talk in 2014, it boils down to a few great messages. One major takeaway is to be HUMAN: Honest, Unafraid, Mindful, Active, and Nice. Dave discussed how we can be HUMAN when we share individually or as an organization:
Honesty: When it comes to sharing, we have to be honest as an organization or institution – it doesn’t mean share everything, just to share honestly.
Unafraid: By making ourselves vulnerable, it eventually becomes our strength.
Mindful: If we aren’t willing to reach out and meet the audience, then we’re not really sharing the way that we should.
Active: There’s the expression of sharing, and then there’s the receiving of that expression. Dave argued, if you don’t have both, are you really sharing? Dave explained, we can actively discover through listening, creating a cycle that allows us to observe and inquire as we discover. In higher education, we don’t spend the time sharing our work, or the process behind our work as it happens. Some institutions provide blogs regarding the web-overhaul process, but Dave argued that our institutions can share more, across campus. Dave recommended that we first practice sharing as individuals on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Medium.
Nice: “To me, nice means making it count,” Dave explained. We can share content to reach a wide audience, or we can share to do good, be better, or be helpful. Dave showcased Human Library, a means of truly learning about someone else; and the Elevate Your Friends Newsletter, that simply shares “I know cool people who do cool things.”
Dave reminded us of his friend Eric, who was an organ donor. Eric shared, and saved three lives. “What we share will live on after us,” Dave said when speaking about our Instagram posts, blogs and beyond, but it’s clear that sharing can go much further than that. We share love, friendship, experiences, and even ice cream; it’s important to share what we see in the world and how we see it. That is what is authentic.
“Share yourself, share your work, share your stories.” Dave closed. He encouraged the audience to start something; a blog, a club or even a dance craze (at Dave’s request). We have a lot to share in our lives, and about our lives; it may be forgotten in 10,000 years, but it can be found again – like the cave paintings we so often see. Dave left us with a final note to share human.
If you would like to become an organ donor to share and save a life, visit organdonor.gov.