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This image, from The New York Times, is way to good not to share:

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Quote #23 – Decision Making

While taking a break from writing a paper on a law case (U.S. vs. Hansen), I looked at my Facebook news feed. I saw this quote as someone’s status and thought it appropriate for where I am right now as I consider my options over the next few weeks:

“Are my decisions determining my future or is my future determining my decisions?”

Interesting.  Thought provoking.

I couldn’t tell you about the person whose status it was though.  I’m not sure how I know that person and as deep as the quote is, I have unfriended that person (Gasp!).  I like to know who my “friends” are.  At least that is one decision I have made.

New Email Address

[This has been edited due to an increase in spam.]

I have a new email address: joelaportman [at] gmail.com.

I’ve been contemplating changing my email for some time, but never wanted to take the time to update all of my accounts, etc.  Nevertheless, I decided it was time to move from “mazeltovjp@gmail.com” to something more professional as I begin my last year of college/graduate school and take on the job hunt.

This has also given me the opportunity to update something else: my address book.  I decided it would be good to back up all of the phone numbers from my cell phone onto my computer.  As I considered this, it made sense to also update email addresses.  It seemed to me that if I had someone’s phone number in my phone, then I should probably also have their email address readily available.

I’ve had the “joelaportman [at] gmail.com” account for some time, sitting and waiting for use.  I wanted to use Gmail, as it is currently my favorite email provider and hopefully will continue to hold that place well into the future.  My ideal address would have been “jportman” or “joelportman” but since those were already taken, I included my middle initial.  I have posted that I have a new email address on Facebook and have gotten such quality comments as “im gonna call you ‘joela’ now cause thats what it looked like when i saw it” and “i’m going to call you Joelapo R. Tman”.

Undergraduate Graduation

It has been several days since I’ve posted anything on here.  Life has been absolutely insane getting ready for graduating, preparing to come back home (and I am back in St. Louis now).  Hopefully, this summer will provide opportunities for sharing and reflection.

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, I walked across the stage in the Ritchie Center at the University of Denver, received a diploma case (they mail diplomas 8-10 weeks later, but more on this to follow), was greeted by the Chancellor and the Provost, and had my 2010 white Arts & Humanities tassel moved from the right side of my hat to the left side.  I “graduated” the University of Denver!

I use quotes, because I technically did not get my diploma yet.  While I have completed all of the requirements for my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degree, I will not receive a diploma until next year.  While my diploma for my BA will come at the same time as my MBA and will be dated 2011, I do and will continue to consider myself part of the Class of 2010.

Just for fun – and to share with those who are interested – I was recognized in the commencement program in the following ways:

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree (“Future Graduate”)
  • Departmental Distinction in International Studies
  • University Honors (only 46 students received the recognition/completed the requirements)
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
  • Pioneer Award
  • Outstanding Senior Award

The ceremony was 2.5-3 hours long and while it did get hot towards the end, it was a great experience and I am happy that I participated.  Our speaker was the CEO of the Denver Health and Housing Authority.  Javi, Tucker, and I all sat together – even though it was not technically alphabetical order (at least we were within one letter and the same degree).  We had 1232 (I believe) students participating in the undergraduate commencement ceremony.

After the ceremony, Leslie, David, Brittany, Dani and I had a joint graduation celebration lunch at Hillel with our families.  It was a good time with families and food and a slideshow that Leslie made.

The week leading up to graduation was spent cleaning my apartment and getting ready to come home mixed in with time spent with my family (who were in Denver) and time celebrating and reminiscing with my DU friends.  My college experience has been phenomenal, unbelievable, amazing – use any fantastic sounding word and it will probably describe how happy I am with the last four years.  I have learned so much, become such a better person, met amazing people, done things that I never thought I would want to do or have the opportunity to do.  My undergraduate experience has exceeded all of my expectations – in large part because of the amazing people I have met and friendships I have built.

I am very happy that I will be returning to Denver next year for my MBA.  I am worried that it will be different and strange.  The dynamic of most of my good friends no longer being students at DU will certainly take some getting used to.  I am happy that some of them will still be in Denver, but obviously our relationships will shift and change.  I hope that we all stay in touch and that the people I cherish will remain among my best friends for a lifetime.

I do not think that the social dynamic changes have fully hit me yet.  As I went to graduation parties and hung out with friends on Saturday after the ceremony, I reflected that I have really “grown up” with many of these people.  I am a much different person today than I was four years ago – and definitely a better person.  It was strange to realize just how much of an affect each person has had on me over the last four years.  Even people with whom I was never close or did not always get along with influence my experience and I (now) appreciate that.

I do not like goodbyes.  They seem too final and I hope that many who were a part of my (undergraduate) college experience continue to be involved in my life.  Therefore, I will say “see you later!”

Me, Steven, Ronnie, and Javi before the ceremony

Me and my dad before the ceremony

Me, Stuart (my brother), Trisa, Javi, and Dario (Javi's brother) after the graduation ceremony

For more pictures of graduation, check out my Facebook photo album.  DU  posted this story on their news site about graduation.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life these last four years!  Stay in touch!  I will cherish you forever!

How Private is Facebook?

Facebook is not private – at least not for the most part.  That’s exactly the point.  The company should make it easier for users to control their privacy settings, that goes without saying.  Nevertheless, Facebook has been up front and honest about its intent to make information widely available and connect people online.  If you use the service, you should be aware of that before signing up, or at least before providing a lot of personal information.

Today, Mark Zuckerberg offering the following op-ed in The Washington Post:

Six years ago, we built Facebook around a few simple ideas. People want to share and stay connected with their friends and the people around them. If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that’s more open and connected is a better world. These are still our core principles today.

Facebook has been growing quickly. It has become a community of more than 400 million people in just a few years. It’s a challenge to keep that many people satisfied over time, so we move quickly to serve that community with new ways to connect with the social Web and each other. Sometimes we move too fast — and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding.

The challenge is how a network like ours facilitates sharing and innovation, offers control and choice, and makes this experience easy for everyone. These are issues we think about all the time. Whenever we make a change, we try to apply the lessons we’ve learned along the way. The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.

We have heard the feedback. There needs to be a simpler way to control your information. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. We are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible. We hope you’ll be pleased with the result of our work and, as always, we’ll be eager to get your feedback.

We have also heard that some people don’t understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don’t want. I’d like to clear that up now. Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.

Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:

— You have control over how your information is shared.

— We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want.

— We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.

— We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.

— We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.

Facebook has evolved from a simple dorm-room project to a global social network connecting millions of people. We will keep building, we will keep listening and we will continue to have a dialogue with everyone who cares enough about Facebook to share their ideas. And we will keep focused on achieving our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected.

The writer is founder and chief executive of Facebook. Washington Post Chairman Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook (Source: The Washington Post)

Later in the day, a Washington Post columnist blasted Zuckerberg for not apologizing, and it seems, also blasted Washington Post Chairman Donald E. Graham for being a part of Facebook’s board even after the privacy issues.  Oh my!  Graham should not have to resign because of concerns that Facebook is already addressing. If anything, Graham’s connection to Facebook gave Zuckerberg the impetus to write his op-ed in The Washington Post, a clear bonus for the newspaper (aka the columnist’s employer).

I almost hate to say it, but Facebook is the way of the future.  It’s exponential growth clearly shows that.  At almost 500 million users, Facebook is the equivalent of the third largest country in the world (after China and India)!  This presents fantastic business, marketing, and data opportunities.  Hopefully, these will be taken advantage of in a manner that favors Facebook’s users/consumers.

Betty White may be correct in saying that Facebook is a waste of time.  Nevertheless, it is a time waster that seems to take up a lot of my life, and possible yours as well.  Rather than becoming angry about it, let Facebook know – and also be aware of what you post online.  Far too often we post without thinking.  Zuckerberg has been clear so far about his intentions and he likely will stay that way.  Remember that when you consider your privacy settings and your posting decisions.