Twitter makes me lazy. #TEDXCUNY

IMG_6183It’s so easy to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I mean, they don’t make me lazy, really, I do that to myself, but they do enable the soundbite that defeats any attempt at nuance or a complex message.

So I’m inspired by today’s FIRST TEDX@CUNY conference to post my opening remarks.  I also do that knowing that in the spirit of the moment, I may not say anything at all like this.  Perhaps I’ll sing the Star Spangled Banner??

What I meant to say was this:

Welcome to the first TEDX CUNY and to Macaulay, the honors college of the City University of NY.  

This is where TEDx CUNY was incubated, and I’d like to congratulate our students on today’s remarkable launch, especially our fearless leader, Macaulay at Brooklyn College student Jake Levin.  

And that’s our mission at Macaulay — to reflect the great talent and breadth of interests of our student body.  

We reflect it, we help shape it, and today, we show it off!  

The program and our theme – ACCESS — was put together by students, from beginning to end.

It’s a great theme and it shows why Macaulay and CUNY and TEDX belong together.  

I say that as someone who went to some of the wayback TED conferences — way back in the 20th century when there was no X and no live streaming and Saul Wurman was the Man.

We belong together because we share the TED mission of being a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.  

You’ll see those ideals reflected in today’s program, which keys off the specialness of our knowledge community here at CUNY.   

I am here today as Dean of Macaulay but also as an eager learner myself, ready to soak up the energy and excitement of being surrounded by all of you, here in this room and those of you who are watching the livestream in every borough of New York.  

You are part of the greatest student body in the world, half a million strong.     

So welcome — thanks again to the TedX CUNY student leadership team and their tireless Macaulay advocate, MR. DREW ADAIR, and a special shoutout to Robert Small and the Macaulay New Media Lab, and to Bob Isaacson and the CUNY TV team.

It is now my pleasure to turn you over to a great leader who is already spreading ideas around CUNY:  our new Chancellor, James B. Milliken.  




Top 10 things to listen while beach walking and you don’t have a great audiobook* This is the summer of Swell.

Saltaire 7.3I usually listen to audiobooks while walking in solitary happiness on the beaches of Fire Island.  Look — i took this picture this morning, isn’t it beautiful?  

So far this summer, I’ve finished Emma, Decode, and The Fault in Our Stars.  (Go ahead, analyze me.)  But I needed a break after that remarkable trio.

If you don’t know Swell, download it right now:  Swell is a terrific app that curates podcasts remarkably well.  After asking some basic questions about your interests, the app takes note of how long you listened to a given piece, much smarter than relying on your thumbs-up-thumbs-down judgment, which I rarely bother to do.

Swell already knows that I’m interested in tech, news and politics, science and medicine, society and culture.  (Apparently, Swell has determined that I’m not at all interested in kids and family, but please don’t tell that to my new grandson.  Then again, you already know I’m walking in solitary splendor on the beach!)

I’ve been a Swell listener for a while, but only in those rare times when I’m driving. This was a new test:  could it work well with my favorite walk of all?

Yup, it was great.  I started out with NPR news, just to be responsible, but then moved on to an interesting piece from Scientific American on how pain is felt differently in different parts of the body, clicked past Fareed Zakaria on the debacle in Iraq (not an isolationist but I already had my daily fill of Middle East anguish), and something else dubious on the “Walkable Neighborhood Health” before I settled in with a long and delightful Alec Baldwin interview of Jerry Seinfeld that took me most of the way to Ocean Beach.

Got to know them both much better.  Who knew that Alec Baldwin was so needy?  Seinfeld played him mercilessly.  And who knew that Seinfeld starts the morning by slapping water on his face, a la Jackie Gleason in the Hustler.  Three times?  Five times?  Baldwin really wanted to know the right number of slaps.

The last long wonderful segment was by Sasha Weiss of  (I used to know a Sasha Weiss in Saltaire, hmm.)  As a result, I’ll definitely be seeing the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney (Peter Schjeldahl) and watching Orange is the New Black (Emily Nussbaum) and sampling Brian Eno’s new album (Sasha Frere-Jones).  Also discovered that I was one of those reactionaries who liked the “old” Talking Heads, and in fact, I’d argue that when you look at David Byrne’s new work, especially Here Lives Love at the Public Theatre, it’s clear where the real genius was….but I digress. 

I could have gathered up all of these podcasts myself, of course.  But I hadn’t, and I won’t.  So Swell is my new best audio friend…at least until someone recommends my next irresistible audiobook.  

*I won’t pretend these are my real top beachwalking 10 — that would take too much serious dedication to cull the finest, but here goes some of the summer reads that left a deep mark in the sand:  The Odyssey, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, St. Vita’s Society, Dragon Tattoo (any of them!), Harry Potter by Jim Dale (any of them!), Ready Player One, Endymion, Pallisers (any of them!), American Pastoral.


On Quality, Quantity, and Cost in #Higher Education

diploma sky

  You expect to pay less today for a computer than you did ten years ago.  But universities are more like media companies than computer manufacturers, so imagine if universities were subject to the same disruptive market forces as, let's say, … [Continue reading]

Speaking of giants: Congrats, Macaulay Class of 2014 graduation!

AK commencement 2014

To the Macaulay Honors College, Class of 2014 -- Do you remember the first time we met, back in 2010? Under a certain giant whale? Right from the start, I knew you were something special. But I’d almost forgotten about that welcome reception at … [Continue reading]

Attention college students: if you want to know what to do RIGHT NOW to unlock the secrets of a successful future, click here. #highered

Today's release of the Gallup/Purdue Index is mind-blowing in its findings -- and yet they are all intuitively obvious.  All college applicants should be thinking about this, as they go about the process of selecting a college.  All college students … [Continue reading]

The Confidence Gap: check this out.

A review of personnel records at Hewlett-Packard found that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of … [Continue reading]

Two ends of my holiday table. #Passover

Dylan meets Bubbe

Two ends of my holiday table:  one spans nine decades, the other is approaching just nine weeks. These are the new guests at my Passover celebration tonight:  my new grandbaby and my parents, now 90 and 92.     We took note of the unexpected … [Continue reading]

Ding, dong, the #SAT is…not quite dead. My 2 cents on where College Board and Coleman got it right, plus a roll-up of some press.

He'll be blamed for doing too much, for doing too little, and for thinking that he can swap the Darth Vader cloak of the College Board for the Technicolor Dreamcoat of Sal Khan. But really, let's give a major t/h to David Coleman for acknowledging … [Continue reading]

One thousand to-lists later, and @Beesy is a close miss. Can’t somebody build a better to-do manager?


I know i'm not alone in struggling to find a good way to manage my project lists, everything from the big ongoing stuff to the daily to-do. I know I'm not alone because I've read endless articles about getting organized. And tried dozens of … [Continue reading]

I am sincerely sorry to miss the first snowstorm of 2014. Really.

Fearing that my flight to Florida to visit my folks would be cancelled, I left yesterday. And so, thanks Jet Blue, here I sit, 62 degrees at 8am, devouring every word and image of the storm. NYC is never more beautiful than in the snow. And I miss … [Continue reading]