Professional Collaboration Networks #PCN

I have spent a lot of time writing on this blog, publishing in the literature, and teaching about New Media Literacies. I’m not going to go into why these skills are so incredibly important right now, even though they are, but instead I wanted to share just a bit about how I have been working with a fantastic group of scholar/educators on the concept of a Professional Collaboration Network (PCN). We just published our fourth blog post in a series where we define what PCN is, how to develop one, and why PCN’s are important. The fourth blog post focuses on Academic & Professional Blogging and discusses the idea of how blogging can help develop and nourish your PCN. I hope you go visit Laurel Iverson Hitchcock’s blog and read the entire series because it is really amazing information.

I did want to tie in the idea of PCN’s to digital and media literacies because so many of the skills we use today relate to the development and of rich PCN. Creating and curating content to share with your network. Offering support and leaning on others. Engaging in informal mentorships to learn and share knowledge. The participatory culture of a Professional Collaboration Network is important and necessary to achieve personal and professional goals. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to have these tools that we can leverage for positive social change.


Professional Collaboration Networks. What is a PCN?

Last summer I was fortunate enough to participate in a Think Tank at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work. The school just launched a new Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) program this fall and a part of that program is helping students develop a Professional Collaboration Network or PCN. As part of the think tank I helped to conceptualize and define what a PCN is and how it develops.

So what is a PCN? Well it’s when a social worker creates a process for learning and exchanging information online with a purposeful set of people and organizations in order to meet some specific professional goals, This is part of the definite came up with and you can read more about PCNs over on Laurel Hitchcock’s blog. This first post is actually part of a series of posts that detail how a social worker can use digital technology to develop and sustain a professional network. So be sure to follow for the rest of the series and if you have any questions feel free to reach out via Twitter.

Happy New Year

I can not believe it is already 2018 and that I have not had a blog post in what seems like forever. Clearly, it has been a busy and productive end of 2017 or perhaps I would have written more. Perhaps not! At any rate, I will once again resolve to be more active on my blog this year and include more of what I am doing with research and teaching. I did want to share that I have finished as the Guest Editor for a special issue on digital technologies in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. It was exciting and I think we ended up with some great articles that really provide some great additions to the literature. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to share the articles because the journal requires a subscription, which you can find more about here.  Perhaps your library may also be able to get access to the issue, which is the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (2018) Volume 8, issue 1. Best of luck in this New Year.



The Millionaire-Billionaire Rule


I honestly have no idea whether that meme above is accurate, but truthfully I don’t really care. The reality is that economic inequality in this country is at an all-time high, and that is not a good thing!

I realize many are still coming to terms with the idea or reality of a Trump Presidency but I would actually be pleased if he follows through on his promise NOT to take the $400,000 Presidential salary.  Trump will join only two other Presidents who have NOT taken a salary while in office, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, if he keeps his promise. This got me thinking about income inequality and the salaries of our elected officials. According to a brief report from the Congressional Research Service, the average salary for elected representatives is around $170,000 a year, and we know they all get some pretty amazing benefits…like a members-only gym and amazing health insurance. But what I think is more important is, what is the net worth of these individuals when they take office. Trump, for example, is reported to be a Billionaire, and by some estimates more than half of Congress are millionaires!!!

Do millionaires and billionaires working for the public good really need to take a government salary or could that money be spent elsewhere?

I personally think it could be used more effectively somewhere else!

To that end I created a petition on We The People, the government website for petitions, to see if we might make a change in regards to the ultra wealthy elected officials. Specifically, I think that anyone who is an elected official or appointed to a Cabinet position AND is worth more than a million dollars should not take the government salary. Instead, that money should be diverted to Education, Health and Human Services, or the Veteran’s Administration. These are critical areas that always seem to be the first on the budget chopping block and perhaps we could help save by spending money where it matters the most. If you think this is a valuable idea then I encourage you to sign and share the petition. Share it with your networks on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you hang out online. Let’s see what kind of change we can make.

Here’s the link to the petition:

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Civility (or the lack thereof) and New Media Literacies in the 21st Century

I often write on this blog about New Media Literacies, Social Media, Education, and a pretty wide array of other topics related to my interests. Today, post-2016 Election, I am struggling with the results.

Honestscreen-shot-2016-11-09-at-11-19-32-amly, I never believed that this great country I live in could elect a person so clearly unfit to be President! To be fair, I was not super interested in the prospect of another Clinton Presidency either after learning what happened to Bernie Sanders by the DNC. I think the whole thing is indicative of a larger problem that impacts both parties. A problem that is now getting glossed over by the “Let’s get behind our President” talk. This talk is fine to have and it is important for civil society but we have to at least acknowledge how corrupt the system is and that it needs changing. Before one goes on to assume or think that, Yes the system needs change and that is precisely why Trump needed to be elected, let’s examine some of how we got here, or at least follow along and see what I think has contributed to this outcome. It doesn’t matter what side of the political continuum you are on because this really isn’t meant to be a political post. I have decided to move on.

Regular readers and those that know my work understand my deep interests and belief in social media, but they also know that it is more than that. It is about new media literacies and participatory culture. You can search my blog for more on these concepts but suffice it to say that Participatory Culture has dramatically expanded because of the Internet. Some may say Social Media is to blame for the election results…They are not wrong. Some will say the mainstream media is to blame…They are not wrong. But what I am interested in understanding at this point in time is that we had very high hopes for the Internet and how it might contribute to new ways of learning, connection, and opportunity. In large part, we have seen those positive outcomes and we have also seen examples of the dark side. I posted a Quote from Media & Communications scholar Marshall McLuhan up above where he stated, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

There is some disagreement about what this phrase actually means but I feel it is particularly important in the current context of today’s results. To say social media has not played a major role in the election is simply wrong. Even looking back to 2008 we can see how it has transformed the electoral process. But my point is that social media is not necessarily to blame because it is simply a tool. A tool that we have collectively shaped, which now shapes us. We as a nation may have succumbed to the effects of too much reliance on social media, alternative news, or other information sources rather than sitting back and thinking critically about what we are consuming. Henry Jenkins explains that Participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, where strong support exists for sharing one’s creations, there is some type of informal mentorship taking place where knowledge is being passed along from experienced to novices. A Participatory Culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Participatory Culture is a culture that shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to one of community involvement.

I think we have missed a few things in our current election cycle based on this definition of Participatory Culture that could contribute to increasing our own Media Literacies or our ability to think critically about the media content we consume and share. We missed opportunities for making a deeper connection, for dialoguing in a civil manner, for keeping our minds open to learning new things, for the possibility of more. We need to do better at learning critical thinking skills, analyzing information online and judging its credibility or usefulness, and we need to be kind when we disagree.

It is interesting because about 7 years ago an anthropologist named Mike Wesch from Kansas State University gave a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum on some of these ideas. What struck me the most back then and also rings true today is his idea of Connection without Constraint and the cultural tension that I see happening online, primarily on Facebook. Dr. Wesch describes this cultural tension as being the fact that we as a culture express individualism but want community, express independence but seek out relationships, and express commercialization but value authenticity. So in the middle of all this is that idea of connection and we all want connection, clearly, if this was not the case then social media would cease to exist. However, we see connection as inherently constraining. It takes time to have meaningful conversations, so why not just tweet? It is discomforting when I disagree with someone in person, but online the anonymity of the internet prevents one from facing that emotion.  Wesch goes on to explain, much like McLuhan, that media mediate relationships and when media changes, relationships also change.  You can see Dr. Wesch discuss this more with some great and humorous examples in the video below.

Do not misunderstand that I am simply blaming social media for the outcome of the election and a woefully misinformed electorate. I mean I guess I am, but hopefully I am putting some of it into context with the aforementioned discussion of Participatory Culture and Cultural Inversion because this leads me into thinking about the question,

where do we go from here?

I wish the answer were simple but that would be disingenuous. I do think the answer still involves social media, because what kind of social media researcher would I be if it didn’t, right? We can still rely on social media for our news but we really owe it to ourselves to do better in developing media literacy and knowing that just because we have discussions through screens that we should not be so narcissistic to believe that we MUST be right or that the other person is simply an idiot. We don’t have enough information to fully understand their logic nor do they have enough to understand ours. It’s kind of like fighting with your partner via text message. You have to know that it doesn’t matter what kind of emoji you use, the other person is likely not going to understand your implied sarcasm or other messages you are trying to convey. Instead, give them a call or better yet try to have a meaningful discussion in person.

We need to understand the difference between opinion and journalism.

We need to be comfortable in agreeing to disagree.

We need to better understand the issues and possible outcomes as they apply to our lives but more importantly to our communities. You have to live in the community after all.

We need to become comfortable in rooting out social and economic injustices online and off.

All of this, at least to me, relates to the idea of increasing our media literacies. We can contribute to the Participatory Culture of social media and we can do it in a fun, meaningful, and civil way. We can encourage young people to learn from others that have the kind of knowledge that will help us become more than what we are now. We can learn from our mistakes and know when it is time to turn off and re-center ourselves in a way that allows us to contribute to a culture of hope rather than fear. We already have the tools, but we as the public need to take them back and use them in positive ways. Civility in the 21st century still requires authenticity, accountability, and in some sense transparency. We should not let algorithms and monied interests dictate the narrative or co-opt it in a way that only benefits them. I am re-committing myself to work harder with educating my students about media literacies and how they impact all facets of life and I hope many others will do the same.


Social Media & Nonprofit Human Service Organizations

imgresIf any of you have followed this blog for a number of years you may recall that I completed my dissertation on this topic. You can read those posts here and here. That study was really focused on human service organizations in the Richmond, Virginia metro area and I had a good response rate. Now I am looking to get more of a national sample to along with looking at some of those similar organizations in RVA in a follow up study that has been approved by the IRB at CSUSM. If you are/work in a nonprofit human service organization and are involved in the use of social media, I invite you to take this survey. I will report out some of the results here, which of course will be anonymous. I am hoping for some good participation once again so feel free to pass along my link and thank you in advance.


Special Issue Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership


UPDATE: Due to several requests, I have extended the deadline for submissions to April 28th, 2017. Additionally, I am interested in receiving essay papers from students regarding their perspectives of using social media in the classroom. Please share this call with anyone who might be interested and contact me if you have any questions.


Jimmy Young, PhD, MSW, MPA



Hello everyone,

Just a really quick post to talk about the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. This peer reviewed journal focuses on the latest knowledge related to nonprofit education and leadership to help develop theory and practice. Last year at the ARNOVA Conference I gave a presentation on my work around digital literacies and was asked by the journal editor if I would be interested in guest editing a special issue on the topic of technology (broadly speaking) in nonprofit education. I was absolutely interested and I am now excited to share the call for papers is going out. See below:
A special issue of the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership planned for the fall of 2017 that will explore the changing role of digital media and technology in nonprofit education. The main question this issue seeks to answer is how are scholars and educators using digital media to train and prepare the next generation of nonprofit professionals? We are interested in a broad array of articles; for example, articles that examine the use of online, hybrid, or distance education methods. We are also interested in articles that have evaluated those formats and seek to provide new strategies for the changing landscape of higher education. We are interested in ways that educators are incorporating innovative techniques in their courses to ethically and effectively impact nonprofit education.

Please review the Author Guidelines below. Manuscript submissions can be performed online at

Submissions should take place on or before March 28th, 2017 to help facilitate a timely peer review and publication process.

The link below should also open a PDF copy of the Special Call along with some Author Guidelines. Feel free to contact me with any questions as well.


Please distribute this Call among your networks and share with any colleagues who are working in this area. I am hoping for a good response 🙂

To be certain that we or I am open to many different types of manuscripts, I hope people understand that there are many different disciplines involved in educating nonprofit professionals. Human services like social work, public administration, nonprofit studies, business, and others often have some sort of involvement in the nonprofit sector or provide some education to students who will likely end up working in a nonprofit. If you are teaching a course or conducting research in relation to technology and preparing students for nonprofit work, please consider submitting a manuscript.


Jimmy A. Young, PhD, MSW, MPA

Remember the Good in Social Media!

Anyone who knows me, my work, or frequents this blog will recognize that I enjoy social media. Well, most of the time anyways. There are days, weeks, and sometimes even months where I want to close all my many accounts and throw away my iPad or turn of my iPhone. Then something great happens. Something amazing goes viral or comes to me through those very social media channels that I sometimes loathe. November 13th, 2013 was actually one of those days. A day like most others where I opened up Twitter to get some of my daily news and discovered my feed was being overrun with the hashtag #SFBatkid. If you are a regular Twitter user than you know exactly what I’m talking about, how could you not, as that day Batkid was everything.



The Make A Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay worked with some amazing volunteers to make the wish of one 5-year old boy come true as San Francisco was turned into Gotham City for a day. This event TOOK OVER social media for the day and reminded me then, as it does now, to remember the good in social media. Often times I think social media gets a bad rap and yes there is some complete garbage online, but I like to look to the positive aspects of this participatory culture and be hopeful that these tools can change the world for good. Batkid is one example of just how that happens. Now, there is a documentary available on Netflix (at least that’s where I watched it) that chronicles this story. Check out the trailer below and then go watch the movie. You will not be dissapointed.


I took so much away from the movie and it did remind me of that day back in 2013. I was fortunate enough to be teaching a class on the use of social media and I pretty much scrapped the lesson for that day so we could join in on social media. Students were amazed at the magnitude of the event and how many people got involved not only on social media but in person on the day of the event. It was something truly special. I actually liked that people joined in and created signs that read we love batkid or save us batkid. The end of the documentary shared a very important point. That although people may have thought it was fun to join in on this viral moment, the reality is that Batkid really did save us. He saved us by remembering what it’s like want to be a superhero, to let go and have fun, and to just be a kid. he saved us by helping the world to gather together in San Francisco and through social media. For one day everyone was a little nicer, more polite, friendly, and giving. This to me, is the power of social media. The power to bring people together, to rally around a cause, and to ultimately change the world.199zvq8v6wpdkjpg


-motivationI have to admit, sometimes I don’t love what I do and recently I have been thinking about how to change my perspective. I have looked at many different motivational quotes, ideas, etc. and I decided to post this image of the late Steve Jobs because I both disagree and agree with it at the same time. I think it’s easy to disagree with when you don’t love what you do and to agree when you do love what you do. The challenge is managing the in between and getting yourself back to loving what you do. It’s in that spirit that I am going to be pushing myself to do something different and to share that process here. It’s a process that I hope to be successful with but time will tell. The first of several goals I have is to update this blog regularly. I am going to start with once a month posts related to the topics I generally have written on in the past but also hope to integrate a few other things as I try to increase my level of writing activity. I have tried this once before, writing that I will update more regularly, only to fail! What is changing this time? I don’t really know, other than I want to love writing again. So I hope you, whomever you are, don’t mind as I start on this journey. If you feel so inclined. Please comment or share your own insights as well.




2015 in review

The stats helper prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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