Originality Sin

Be yourself!

Be different!

Stand out!

We artists are all guilty of some form of theft. However, it’s really not our fault. There are simply no original thoughts. You won’t often see me quote from a religious text. However, the following biblical musing accurately communicates my thoughts on the matter.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

Does that leave any hope for us? We, the starving artists, are looking to make our mark on the world. What are we to do if our “mark” is just another stolen and unoriginal gouge in the face of our craft? I say there is hope, but we must learn to embrace our thieving ways.

Truly great ideas build upon other ideas, which built upon the ideas before them, and so it goes. Here’s the kicker, there is nothing wrong with that! I recently read a book by Austin Kleon entitled “Steal like an Artist.” Austin does an excellent job of explaining why ideas are stolen and why it is a good thing. I strongly recommend his book as an example to artists, writers, and dreamers everywhere.  He explains that ideas have a certain genealogy to them. He compares ideas to the birth of human being. We “steal” traits from both of our parents and selfishly use them to create ourselves in their image. We embrace our parents, so we should embrace the parents of our ideas.

Austin does an excellent job of describing the difference between “Good Theft” and “Bad Theft” in his book. Bad theft is plagiarism, as repeated incessantly by every college professor I have ever had. Plagiarism is stealing and passing off an unchanged product as your own work. Austin explains that Good Theft is a matter of drawing on the influences of many and generating an idea that borrows from many sources to create a mixture of your own. Good theft honors the works that it came from and transforms it into a beautiful personal crafting of art from you.

This should come as no surprise to you. We steal. We do it every day, we borrow our ideas from the environment, our family, our values, Mother Culture, and even from the unworthy abyss of modern media.  Yet we obsess with trying to prove our originality. We should learn to accept our need to steal and do our sources justice by adding artfully to the previous iterations of an idea in the creation of an amalgamation of our thoughts and ideas.

Why is it considered a sin to embrace your ideas for what they truly are… well-crafted thefts!

Think about some of your recent ideas at work, in your writing or in your art. Do you believe it is truly original or have you come to accept the influences of your experiences on your craft?

Fear and the Pursuit of Dreams

We all have a dream, some of us two or three. When we were growing up, we dreamed of the day we’d be old enough to do whatever we wanted. We dreamed of being astronauts. We dreamed of meeting our superheroes, heroes, and celebrities. We idolized actors, musicians, and authors. We dreamed of being greater than we are, stronger, faster, better.

I dreamed of being a writer. Since I was about 8 years old I have been writing stories, poetry, and thoughts. I dreamed of writing a novel, something that the world would remember as great literature after I’ve been long dead and gone. I wanted to be Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ernest Hemingway.

I never wrote that novel. Sure, I had dozens of ideas for novels. I’ve written down outlines and timelines. I even dreamed up character names and conjured conflict and settings. I could’ve probably written twenty novels in the time that I procrastinated. What held me up?


I have been afraid of rejection for a long time and so, short of a few poems, I have never published anything anywhere but a blog on the internet. I have published a poem titled “Echoes of November” in Indiana University Kokomo’s literary review titled “From the Wellhouse.” This was the closest I have come to really putting myself out there for the world to view.

So why do we allow fear to control us? We allow fear to lull us into a stagnant existence where we never really put ourselves out there for anyone to see. We get by, we pay the bills, and we call ourselves accomplished. The truth is that most of us have forsaken our dreams in the name of practicality. We convince ourselves that they are unattainable and simply decide not to try.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about this last year and came up with a plan. I decided upon a New Year’s resolution and have held myself to it. My resolution was simply “just do it” and I have held true.

I realized while I was pushing myself to pursue my goals and dreams that we have a limited amount of control over how things turn out in life. We may never become great athletes, celebrities, rich, or any of countless other dreams. We can, however, put ourselves into a position where the outcome we desire is possible. What does that mean?

It means if you hate your job and wish you had a new one, you must first apply for a new job or multiple jobs. You must make connections and associations that will allow you to accomplish this goal. You put yourself out there and hope for the best, fearlessly.

In my case, it means in order to ever have a chance at becoming a writer. I must write. I must submit my writing for approval and publishing. I must, must, complete a novel and send it in. I’m willing to put myself out there and give my dreams a chance. Are you?

What are your dreams? What do you need to do to put yourself in position to succeed?

Graphic Design: Rotary Club of Indianapolis

This design was generated as part of a potential mailing for the Rotary Club of Indianapolis. It was not used in lieu of a Times New Roman plain-text letter. I feel it was an excellent design and is thus included as an example of my work.

Graphic Designs: “From the Well House”

Graphic Design Examples
















These designs were created for “From the Well House,” I was an intern for a semester working with them at Indiana University Kokomo.



Academic: Indiana University Kokomo – Web 2.0 Strategy

Indiana University Kokomo Web 2.0 Strategy (Written in 2009)
Case for Change

Now more than ever current and prospective students are alive and thriving on the internet. They form their college choices based not only on what their advisors and high school counselors recommend, but they form opinions collectively online in a phenomenon known as the groundswell. The groundswell is defined as a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather from traditional institutions like corporations. In IU Kokomo’s case, they aren’t getting it from an educational institution.

Indiana University Kokomo has a limited web presence. The current website is convoluted and ineffective to navigate for the average user. There is plenty of information that the general public doesn’t need and not enough of the information that the public wants. That’s just at the frontend of the IU Kokomo presence.

There are currently a handful of educators who have embraced the groundswell as a means to promote and collectively gather input from their students. Dr. Scott Jones, an Indiana University Kokomo professor, is one such educator. Dr. Jones’ strategy using Facebook is a collective area of knowledge where current alumni can gather together to share resources and job knowledge for their fields. Dr. Jones also uses it as a podium to discuss changes in the degree program and class offerings. The advertising element is subtle and the community is still growing. As a result of Dr. Jones’ efforts, he now has a greater understanding of what his students want to see in the New Media Degree as well as the overall interest and understanding of these students’ needs.

Dr. Raul Mosley is a professor at Indiana University Kokomo specializing in Communication Arts. Dr. Mosley’s approach has been an attempt to involve students in blogging communities as a requirement in one of his classes. Dr. Mosley embraces Facebook, but not in the same way that Dr. Jones has. As a result of Dr. Mosley’s class, many students have begun maintaining their own blogs and befriending each other as well as Dr. Mosley on Facebook. He has turned inactive participants into active contributors and shown them they that have the ability to share knowledge.

These educators are ahead of IU Kokomo in embracing the groundswell. The case for change is this: the prospective students of this institution are ready and willing to participate. Only by listening to them can IU Kokomo grow in both retention and enrollment. What would make a student choose IU Kokomo over Ivy Tech Community College? There’s a stark difference in per credit hour costs. Ivy Tech is less expensive, so how do you convince a prospective student to choose IU Kokomo over Ivy Tech? Involvement.

What the web is saying about IU Kokomo
At the time I wrote this I utilized Google to search for what the unapproved web presence of IU Kokomo was like. The unapproved web presence being what others are saying about IU Kokomo that is unsanctioned by the university officials.  What’s highly beneficial is that there’s virtually no negativity about the campus. This gives IU Kokomo the opportunity to shape their involvement and image.

Now even though there isn’t any easily accessible negative information, I have befriended many of the students and a few of the faculty. I hear generalized complaints about many aspects of IU Kokomo, but these voices aren’t being heard by the appropriate people for changes to be made. Anyone who follows these individuals online may develop a negative impression of the campus based on their friend’s experience. So here lies an opportunity to address the needs of students and to increase awareness of IU Kokomo. This will forge the way for an involved community from within and without the IU Kokomo campus.

What to do about it, immediately.
IU Kokomo should take the knowledge gained in previous market research and use that to create a strategy to leverage the groundswell.

There is plenty of knowledge to be gained on the subject of retention by asking the professors to perform research. There are over 3,200 students according to information provided to me by Dr Jones. If IU Kokomo was willing to listen, there is a lot learn on how to retain the current student body.

Li and Bernoff, co-authors of “Groundswell”, have much to say regarding what attracts new students. Li and Bernoff would suggest using the POST method (People Objectives Strategy and Technology) for establishing what potential and current students (People) are ready for as far as groundswell ideas and technology, what (Objectives) goals are to be gained by execution, how IU Kokomo can leverage the message being given by the implementation (Strategy), and then of course what hardware is necessary to support these objectives (Technology).

The people have been using many of the adaptive social media for quite some time now. It is more and more common for even the non-traditional students to appear on Facebook or Twitter. If more educators would encourage the usage of these technologies this would increase the participation of the inactive percentile of current students. This by word of mouth would infect their friends drawing more people into these social media sites. The students and prospective students that IU Kokomo would like to know more about how the campus will impact their long term goals.

After implementing research to determine how effective each technology will be by researching to discover where IU Kokomo’s social technographics lies in IU Kokomo’s students and how effective each approach will be. IU Kokomo will be better equipped to implement an approach to the groundswell.

What better place to tap into the groundswell than to use some of your already active creators and critics and utilize them to found a community in which to listen to the groundswell? Discover what students have a voice and opinion negative or positive and see what can be done to impact them and if they are willing participate in a community to help better IU Kokomo. These students have become the founders of your community and once it starts there’s no turning back. Have faculty who are willing and excited about the communication with students start blogging and posting within an online community and answer the questions and concerns of the community in as timely a manner as possible.

What are IU Kokomo’s objectives? To market themselves to potential students and retain the ones currently attending. This seems straight-forward but how do you utilize the groundswell to the ends of this objectives and what are the objectives of IU Kokomo in relation to their Web 2.0 presence.

IU Kokomo has yet to establish itself even on the web. The website in use even though it is slated for destruction and recreation is convoluted and unable to be updated easily. The information is unorganized and not quickly accessible. The goal of any restructure of this website should be making information finding as effortless as possible. The same should be true of the accessible community through forums, blogging, and social networking. Determine who will lead these areas and make them accessible to more than just a select few and continuously updated as opposed to the current nature of the website.

A complete information architecture overhaul is in order for the website as well as implementation of willing and effective faculty members to spearhead the Web 2.0 community sites. I would also strongly encourage members of the student body and alumni who are excited about this community become a part of it as advice and listening from people on the same level go a great distance to expand influence.

The faculty could answer questions as reasonably as possible towards the ends of policy and educational requirements. The students could answer questions of life on campus, clubs, groups, and overall effectiveness of teachers, classes, and curriculum.

It is important to understand that in this strategy you must listen to the voices of the people of the community as these voices are waiting to be heard and if you can accommodate and evaluate the issues they present everyone benefits and it shows the community that IU Kokomo is listening. It will take some time to build this up, it would be best as previously stated to offer some incentive at first to join this community build it into a semesters curriculum as an experiment or offered as extra credit for varying degrees of contribution. Criticism will occur, allow this to happen and do not under any circumstances censor it. Respond effective and carefully!

I believe IU Kokomo’s best candidates for groundswell technology is a wiki, departmental blogs, and an online community with roots in Facebook. I believe these two technologies would cover a gap in knowledge and a gap in inspired innovation on campus.

The IU Kokomo wiki should include many things and allow the community decide beyond these basics. The wiki should include pages for every club and society offered on campus. It should also maintain a section for every degree program and subsections on class offerings and usability in the workforce, what kind of jobs you can get with each specific degree, and who to contact with questions Beyond those basics, allow the community to add content or contribute by way of submission of changes or by addition of comments.

Facebook Community
While some of the current faculty of IU Kokomo have already started tapping into Facebook. It would be in the best interest of IU Kokomo to participate in a unified format while assigning individual pages to each degree program to allow current and former students to unite and help each other as per Dr Jones’ ideals. The implementation would require constant fostering to develop a following that is more than just an “added friend.” This would require charismatic community leaders both faculty and student body to generate the necessary effect.

Utilizing Facebook to create a blog like environment to update students and educate future students would allow for generous amounts of feedback and exposure to Web 2.0. The presence would speak for itself if carefully maintained by the right people. This will generate an excellent start and be willing to adjust the plan as necessary to keep up with the rolling changes to both technology and student body. Making these resources accessible to the average prospective student gives IU Kokomo the opportunity to catch the decision making process mid funnel. This gives IU Kokomo an opportunity to show the prospective student that it is innovative and is decidedly better and worth the cost of attendance. What to do about it, growing and adapting over the next 3-5 years.

By the time the community is alive and well with proper promotion and maintenance, it will have grown to have a life of its own. IU Kokomo will need to review the feedback continuously and make conscious choices to adapt and forge changes as required and by demand.

It’s very possible the social technology will change over the next 3 to 5 years and it’s important to be aware of changes. The existing community will most likely inform everyone of the changes so all that has to be done is effective listening.

Allow students to rate their experiences, professors, clubs, offerings, and develop strategies to address these concerns. These will allow the community to continue to grow, and never ever stop addressing the needs and concerns of this valuable community. It will self promote as its users see that IU Kokomo is doing good things.

Identify and encourage the rebels, these against the grain individuals will most often have radical ideas that will help to change things for the better.

Keep information and responses up to date and take care to show the community that IU Kokomo is always listening, in an effective concerned way. Maintain the standards of the goals IU Kokomo has set out with and evaluate and update goals based on the needs and effectiveness of the plans.