Monthly Archives: March 2011

Much more than 140 characters

My intentions are  to be honest and explicit regarding the history and message that I believe makes up this experiment.


I graduated in 1997 from Bethel with a degree in Communication Arts.  I served on the Bethel college Alumni Council . And, probably too infrequently, I have donated money to Bethel. I have done these things because I consider the education and experience I received at Bethel to be an essential part of who I am and how I live.  I have also been publicly and privately critical of Bethel's institutional approaches to public communication, endowment investment, fund-raising, and administration.  I have offered these critiques as chorus for advancement.

A periodic review of my personal list of who I followed on Twitter led to the realization that I was following many Mennonite institutions, organizations, and media outlets; individuals directly associated (alumni and employees), and non "official" Mennonite Twitter accounts.  In the limited research I performed, I was unable to find any Twitter accounts (official or non) associated with Bethel College . I was not surprised by this.  Bethel has an endemic history of absent, poor, and obfuscatory official institutional communication practices.  There are direct and adverse consequences from this history.

I created the Twitter account @bethelks on September 22, 2010. My intentions in choosing the @bethelks account name were to brand it as closely as possible to the institutional FQDN of bethelks.edu

I posted the first tweet on October 1, 2010.  In total, I have posted 31 tweets.  All tweets up to this point have come directly from me.  I have not deleted any historical tweets.

On November 29, 2010 I created this post on my personal blog.  During this approximate timeframe, I privately asked other Bethel alumni what their thoughts were regarding my original post and what their ideas were for tweet content and message.  I will not reveal who I discussed this with.  If the people I corresponded with are comfortable in revealing themselves, I invite them to post in the comments below.  The whole of the response was positive, enthusiastic, and brimming with possibilities.

My approach to content and message was to provide Twitter users who followed @bethelks with institutional information regarding events, concerts, etc.  I followed any accounts that followed me (and didn't appear to be automated), in addition to any accounts that appeared to be associated with other Mennonite Educational Institutions. I admit that I posted some messages that may not have been strictly in line with Bethel's institutional and public communications framework.  I have no justification for these messages besides my own prerogative to create them and observe any possible outcomes.  My investments of time and thought were brief, my methods unscientific.

The obvious results of these limited investments have resulted in 3 external listings and 42 followers.  Paltry but not unusual for the effort.

Communication via channels including Twitter has inspired revolution and led to freedom.  It has given voice to the silenced, hope to the oppressed, and an example of the true power of peace to our sisters and brothers who continue to suffer around the world.

My humble hope is that those entrusted as the public interface of Bethel College will utilize the @bethelks account, improve their internal and external communication practices to better serve their publics, and show the world how a firm foundation can be the basis for enduring peace.

I will post one more tweet linking directly to this post and then turn the account password over to members of Bethel's Web Development team.