Saturday, October 31, 2009

Uncharted Heads to Columbia

It’s a place with an impressive pedigree. It’s a home to Nobel laureates Theodore Roosevelt, Milton Freedman and Enrico Fermi; admitted spies Whittaker Chambers and Harry Dexter White; the moguls Warren Buffet and David O. Selznick. It brought us Isaac Asimov, author of I, Robot, and Paul Gallico, author of The Poseidon Adventure. It brought us the likes of Upton Sinclair and Art Garfunkel, William “The Princess Bride” Goldman and Benjamin “Not that Spock” Spock. And, in 1984, it brought the world a shushing, ghostly librarian and Drs. Egon Spangler, Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman, who has PhDs in psychology and parapsychology.

It’s New York City’s storied Columbia University. And this Monday, Uncharted’s own Alan Murray, our benevolent founder and despot, will walk the same granite stairways and gaze upon the same verdant greenswards as these famous folk.

He is, despite his eastern upbringing – he’s a Pennsylvania native – a little flummoxed. “I’m hoping they all think I'm the CEO of Uncharted the video game,” he says. “That way, maybe more than 30 people will show up, only to be disappointed to find out I am a bum.”

The “they” of whom he speaks are high school students and their advisors; the “what” is the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s annual fall conference where, this year, presenters representing the fields of digital media, media law, newspaper and magazine journalism, photography, social media and Internet production and others will offer 98 presentations to students hoping to improve their skills in communication and make their high school and private school publications the envy of the universe.

Alan is one of those to whom the students will flock to partake of wisdom. On Monday, Nov. 2, he’ll present on “Geo-Social Media for an Uncharted Era.” He’ll focus on how students (and business) can communicate more effectively and work as teams to save money and time producing web publications. A full description of Alan’s presentation is available here.

“I’m really excited to be teaching this fall,” Alan says. “I spent most of my high school years attending conferences like this one. These events aren't possible without the many qualified professionals who donate their talent and time to make the event a success. It's nice to be able to do what others did for me when I was a student.”

The conference is among the most venerable student journalism conferences held in the United States. It’s sponsored by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, which was founded in 1925 and formed to “unite student editors and faculty advisers working with them to produce student newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and online media,” according to the association’s Web site. (The online stuff, obviously, came a bit later than 1925.) Students from all over the United States and from overseas attend the conference as part of the education in communications, journalism, web production, photography, and writing.

Other presenters this year will teach students how to write effective editorials, take prize-winning photos, produce video for Internet delivery, explore the ins and outs of how social media can help them strengthen their publications and, from Alan, learn how to use inexpensive or free digital tools to enhance their publicaton’s presence on the web.

We at Uncharted, obviously, wish Alan the best of luck. And Alan, if you see any ghosts, be sure to follow Dr. Stantz’ advice:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Quite Camp Wiconda, but Close. Mr. Sta-Puft is There

What better way to celebrate the entry of fall into Idaho than with a spring story from Uncharted. And, argh, yes, that is a play on words, because not only were these photos of Cress Creek taken in spring, but Cress Creek itself is a spring. I am prepared to be pumelled for the play on words. Go ahead. Do your worst.

But read the story. Cress Creek is such a fun place to take your kids on a hike especially, if they're like mine, they're hyperactive, a bit overstimulated at school and determined that this hike will be completed on schedule. Race up the trail, hesitate only a nanosecond at the crossroads, then race up the hill, over the bridges, down the hills, over the flatlands and to the precipice where they gawk at the Snake River below. Odd thing is if I want them to walk through a Home Depot for fifteen minutes, they're all tired.

I never get tired of going to Cress Creek. It's kind of fun to wander into this little Eden on the Snake River Canyon, parched in summer except for this little green gully where geothermically-heated spring water keeps things green. And then there are the remnants of the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, resplendent on one of the rocks overshadowing the trail. The goo is actually ash and pumice spewed out by the Menan Buttes 18 miles to the northwest, but  . .  . why am I telling you this? Go read the story. Now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yapping About Uncharted Online

Good Monday morning fellow explorers! Its an exciting day for all of us in the Uncharted community since Aaron is installing some great new functionality on our Explorer accounts! It will allow us to keep in touch with each other and stay appraised of new adventures with ease.

Several of you (explorers and staff) were quick to observe that if someone sent you a message on Uncharted, commented on your story, or someone requested to be your friend, you probably wouldn't know it unless you happened to log in to Uncharted. Those days are almost gone!

Thanks to all the hard work from our programmers, designer and technical staff, we just finished beta-testing this new functionality and it is working great! That means Aaron will be installing the new functionality on the Uncharted website today, which may cause a few hiccups throughout the day today (server reboots). By the end of the week your Explorer account will have notifications enabled. That means anytime someone sends you a message, posts a comment on your content, invites you to be a friend, Uncharted posts a new feature story, or if one of your friends posts new content, you will receive a notification message in your e-mail. You can also edit your profile to enable or disable any of those notification functions based on your own preferences.

We're working on getting the same notification process that works for stories to also work for photosets and will spread the word once that is installed.

You also may have noticed the additional "share" button with an orange "+" sign on the upper-right corner of stories. This allows you to easily post a story (including your own) on Facebook, Twitter, Digg or a number of other outlets.

Our staff really appreciated all the input we received from beta-testing last year and subsequent feedback over the many months of continued development. We hope these new capabilities help all of us stay in better touch with our adventurous friends across the world. So feel free to check it out, test it out, and yap away!

The image on this posting shows the new options enabled on your Explorer profile for receiving notifications.

If you notice any problems, as always, please feel free so send us feedback at our feedback e-mail address: