Cyber Madison

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu Image via Wikipedia

Opportunity, Access and the Internet

A couple of weeks ago, Secretary of Energy  Stephen Chu and JMU student Dave Stevens (’12) had a little chat.  Well, sorta.

“I follow him (Secretary Chu) on Facebook,” Dave says.  “He posts new stuff about energy and it’s a great way to stay informed.” Dave, a junior ISAT major whose emphasis is on energy and energy efficiency, keeps up with all things energy.

When Secretary Chu asked for questions on energy through Facebook, Dave had one.  He wanted to know ways to conserve energy in his current room that has seven windows, two doors and no central heat.  The secretary’s solution was decidedly low tech (get insulated curtains), but that’s not the point.

When Democracy began, accessing a government official like a cabinet secretary was a very lengthy, laborious and not-always-successful process. In 1809, when James Madison was president, a letter mailed in Richmond or Philadelphia could have taken weeks or months to reach Washington.

Today, access is virtually instant.  It’s a real up side to the communications revolution. I can talk to, text with, email, or video/audio conference with almost anyone in the world with the click of a few keys. Education has certainly benefited. Take libraries, for instance. Not too many years ago, requesting a book from another library could take weeks. Now it can be available in seconds.  For research, for collaboration, for simple information seeking, the Internet is a boon. JMU students make full use of it.

Beyond education, the new communication world also offers job seekers, information seekers, friends, advocates — and alumni —  almost endless opportunities for networking and for keeping in touch.  I often use Facebook to locate people I would like to interview or feature here. I keep up with causes, institutions and subjects that interest me as well. Anyone’s knowledge base is limited only by time and interest and computer access. Used wisely, the Internet is a phenomenal tool.

The benefits are huge. It gives students like Dave real access to people like Secretary Chu, offering better than ever before in history the ability to stay up to the minute on issues, people, policies — and yes, universities. Let me give you another example. Last week, we learned that Dr. Matthew Wasniewski (’91, ’94M) had been named a historian for the United States House of Representatives. (Read more about Matthew here: http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/132746.html ) Within hours, the news was posted on JMU’s Facebook page, and the news was spreading around the country. And that’s just one of hundreds of great stories about Madison people using their skills, their pluck, their creativity and their compassion to address problems to make our collective future brighter. It’s worth staying in touch with Madison!

There’s never been a better way to stay up to date about what’s happening at JMU, to learn about what alumni, faculty and students are doing all over the world and to stay connected to JMU.  In some ways — now that I think about it — it’s almost as good as being here. Welcome to cyber Madison.

If you want to hear Secretary Chu’s answer to Dave’s question, click here, and then roll to 11:35 on the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmk2Plvynwg

And if you’d like to check out Secretary Chu’s Facebook page for yourself — and keep up with what’s hot in energy like Dave — here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=167922996556380&id=758612346&il=0#!/energygov

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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