MiddBlog: A Big Announcement?

A recent editorial in The Middlebury Campus really made sense to me: make it easier for students to post announcements and promotions for on-campus events. I am working on MiddBlog and MiddAnnouce, ways to help keep students in the loop as to what is going on.
As of right now, there are only circular ways of “get the word out” about an event or request. Some students choose to go old school by reserving the Proctor Banner space and hanging a spray painted white sheet with an announcement on it. Other students choose to plaster the campus in posters, wasting a lot of trees for an environmentally friendly school. Still other students must beg adminstrators to send out all-student emails. Well organized groups have extensive mailing lists where students can try for years to get off but never can.

My proposal: one stop shopping for online announcements, event promotion. At my high school we had the “Electronic Messaging Unit” (aka EMU) which displayed announcements in the student center on a television screen. My sophomore year, Richard Kassissieh wrote a script to integrate EMU with the school website allowing students to create announcements that showed up not only in the student center but also online on the main internal school webpage. Clearly, Middlebury would never dare put together a student online hub like InsideUHS, so I had to take issues into my own hands.

Ideally, students would opt-in to a email listserv so students could tailor what kind of announcements come into their email boxes. But that would need to be a hard adminstrative organized effort. It’s not that hard to post announcements online, though. A simple RSS headline feed would allow students to scan a page of announcements for things that interest them and click through to what they want to learn more about.

But how do you get students to submit their announcements to a single location? How do you get students who don’t use newsfeed aggregators to visit a website with all the announcements? Answer: provide content. Loosely based on editorial sites along the lines of SFist (specifically Wesleying of Wesleyan University) with the spirit of Yelp in mind, I want to create a collection of informal articles about what is happening on campus.

Of course, this all is great in theory, but the real key is the usage. I need to first garner a good set of editors to provide content and then push the mass of students to use the site to keep up with what’s going down at Midd. Hopefully, we’ll be able to break “news” of the site too, beating the weekly school newspaper to the punch. I’ll probably run into trouble with the administration again like I did this past summer simply trying to put up a website for the academic interest house I live in. I put up the disclaimer already.