Archive for the ‘Frosh Archives’Category

Eulogy for YOUNet

A promotional button for you.okstate.edu, OSU's first social networking site.

You may have heard about the new social networking site for OSU students, okstateu.com.  If you haven’t heard the buzz about it, take a minute and acquaint yourself here. It’s a pretty exciting project, and I hope it takes off. But did you know OSU actually had a social networking site before Facebook was invented? And that virtually every student on campus used it?

You.okstate.edu, YOUNet for short, was born in the spring/summer of 2001.  It was originally started as an organization in the Student Government Association. Using SGA and student technology fees, the organization was able to purchase a server on which to run YOUNet. Derek Martin was the site’s programmer, and two SGA leaders, Joe St. John and Huy Lee, served as administrators.  Initially, there wasn’t much to it.  YOUNet ran on a content management platform called Synapse, written by OU student Grant Williams. I think those earliest days were spent figuring out how to build the site around Synapse.

In the Fall of 2001, Derek, Huy and Joe hired freshman Jeff Clark as the site’s first intern. Jeff worked with Joe to market the site, and also began learning graphic design.  Over the next year, Jeff provided more design elements and content to the site, while Derek continued to work on features.

By Fall 2002, Huy and Joe had stopped their involvement with YOUNet, presumably to focus on serving as SGA President & Vice-President. Derek and Jeff remained through the summer of 2002, and once again tried to recruit interns to support the site.  I met Derek at Camp Cowboy, where he was a part-time counselor and I was a soon-to-be college Freshman. Derek pitched YOUNet to me, and I came on board the first or second week of school. Another girl, Candin Richmond, was also hired to help with marketing and administration, because Derek was going to participate in the Semester at Sea program.

I was hired to create and edit content, and to recruit others to write for the site. We decided that I should write a daily blog about my adventures as a new college student, and we called the blog Frosh Meets World. In addition to my blog, we also wrote reviews of music and movies, interviews of interesting people (or strangers I met on the elevator), sports articles, top-ten lists, write-ups of campus events, and a parody of the school’s daily newspaper, which we called the Weekly U’Lassie.

Feature-wise, the site had okstate.edu email access, forums, a classifieds section, church directory, local business information such as hours and reviews, restaurant menus, a calendar of events, a weekly update of the cafeteria menu, and, of course, blogs.

We held marketing events such as ‘Sleep with YOU’ – a movie night out on library lawn. We chalked and passed out promotional items like buttons and noisemakers for Football games. At one point, we set up a dating service called ‘Date with YOU’ – we took applications and dating profiles to send two people on an awkward Valentine’s Day blind date, which I covered and wrote about for the site.

Unsurprisingly, the couple we sent on that date didn’t make it, but YOUNet did bring two other people together.  In January of 2003, Derek brought freshman Tanner Burson on board to be YOUNet’s main programmer.  That’s how I met the man who would later become my husband.

The YOUNet gang poses for a picture at a 'banquet.' Pictured clockwise from top left are Jason, Derek, Jory, Kara, Lindsey, Tanner, Jeff, Christy and Brandon. Candin is photoshopped into the picture above the bed. Derek was also photoshopped in as he was the one taking the picture!

By the spring of 2003, YOUNet had over 20,000 users in its database.*  We were even able to get more student tech fee money in order to buy a second server.  Things were going remarkably well.

So why did it fail? I believe the primary fault lies with President Schmidly’s administration. The administration changed hands in the spring, and with that came a new group of people, mostly from Texas Tech.  The new IT administrators from Tech were not supportive of our student-run domain. I presume this is because our site was the students’ preferred way to access email, and because the guys from Tech weren’t exactly nice to deal with (you may recall the incident with the stolen code).  Also, OSU’s administration has never been that supportive of student-publishing, historically speaking. At the end of Spring 2003, they refused to award the $500 stipend we had set aside for our best intern, which pretty much ruined our ability to get interns for the next semester.

In August of 2003, OSU IT took YOUNet’s servers back to Whitehurst, and took Tanner with them as a student employee.  Jeff and our intern, Laura Nielsen, went to the short-lived IT marketing department. Derek had already graduated. I moved to Nashville.  Nevertheless, Jeff, Laura and Tanner tried to keep YOUNet.  But unfortunately, IT had thrown enough obstacles in their way to make keeping the organization alive impossible.  While the three of them worked and went to class, there was no one left with the energy to fight OSU IT and keep YOUNet going.

Tanner finally flipped the kill-switch on YOUNet’s servers in the spring of 2004.  IT took control of YOUNet’s assets and redirected all traffic to my.okstate.edu.

As far as I know, Tanner and I have all that’s left of the physical reminders of YOUNet – a few promotional buttons, the banner, a mousepad, and a couple of faded blue t-shirts with our logo and URL.  I did keep a back up of virtually everything I wrote for YOUNet, which includes those blogs, reviews, photos, and other random bits of content.

It still makes me sad when I think of YOUNet and its lost potential. But even if YOUNet didn’t make it – we did. I met my best friends through this social networking site.  I met my husband.  I gained a lot of experience blogging at a time when few people even knew what that meant. Truthfully, YOUNet gave all of us a head start on our careers, too.  Jeff became a knock-out graphic designer in Chicago & Boston.  Derek is an IT consultant in Dallas. Laura is an awesome marketing and brand consultant for SALT Branding in San Francisco.  Tanner is one of the best web developers in the state.  He has 7 years of serious programming experience, which he’s put to work for OSU, Eskimo Joe’s, several side projects like Lookit!, and numerous clients.

I hope the new okstateu.com site doesn’t suffer from the problems we had, or at least can learn from the group before it.  I know Bill Handy will do his best to make the new site a great experience for students.  Just don’t forget about YOU.

* At the time, OSU used a login system called Dexter for student email.  It was atrocious.  Tanner and Derek wrote a different login for YOUNet, which we advertised extensively.  Students became users in order to access their email through YOUNet instead of Dexter. Most of those 20,000 users weren’t active on the forums & blogs everyday, though.  When Tanner went to OSU IT, his first job was to help re-write OSU’s email authentication/login system.

25

08 2010

chronicles of the frosh

Many, many moons ago, I belonged to a unique group of people – together we were The YOU Network, a.k.a. YOUNet. YOUNet was many things. An online portal. A sounding board for OSU students. Links to every sort of information the students could need. It was news. Unique content. Entertainment. It was magic. And yes, blogs.

Before there was Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, and all those other social networking sites for all people everywhere, there was one just for Oklahoma State University. Unfortunately, we were officially disbanded in 2004 after the university’s IT department acquisitioned our servers and refused to pay our employees. Bastards.

But I’m not here to moan on about what could’ve been. I am posting some of the original blog I wrote for YOUNet here for old time’s sake.  The blog was called Frosh Meets World, and it was started in August of 2002, the first semester I went to college. I have re-posted it for nostalgic reasons, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

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27

03 2008

about the frosh

Frosh Meets World
About The Frosh

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally here! Watch out for Jordana Carson, freshman at Oklahoma State University – out to conquer the world, at least for the first few weeks of class anyway. Okay, I should be honest with you all. I’m scared to death because I don’t know what is going on or what I am supposed to be doing and when I’m supposed to have it all done by. At least in high school they spelled it all out for you so you knew what was going on. My teachers used to say that they wouldn’t be here to hold our hands and walk us through college too, but I sure wish they were right now. I guess you could say I’m the typical freshman…I don’t know where everything is, but I sure like to think I know what’s going on. Right now I think the ‘Weed is the coolest place there is, but I’ve already been told that by the time I’m an upperclassman I’ll only go there as a last resort for a good time. I’m not too worried about being in the right or wrong places just yet…I’m still trying to figure out my schedule and whether it’s okay to wear orange on Fridays (Thank you, O’Colly columnists for the confusion).

I think most freshmen will tell you they are glad to be away from high school hell, but I was one of those kids that actually liked school. I always got along well with most of my teachers and enjoyed school stuff like homework and Student Council. While there wasn’t always much to do in Noble, we did enjoy hanging out at Sonic after football games (okay go ahead and laugh, but in Ada, OK they actually chill out in the parking lot at Apple-Mart) and taking trips to Norman for Jamba Juice. When I wasn’t wasting time with friends, I was either practicing dressage and jumping with my horse or working on some project for a club. I went to all the football and basketball games, traveled with the wrestling team, played varsity volleyball and wore Noble Bears t-shirts on game days. I worked concession stands for Prom, hung posters for meetings, chaired committees for Honor Society, and held class office. School was my life, and in high school I had life all figured out. All I had to do was participate, and I instantly had all the friends and popularity one could ask for.

Suddenly, I’m graduated and the awful truth is that most of the kids at Noble High probably won’t remember me (save my sister), while here at O-State I do not have guaranteed friends just because I happen to be involved in a club. I am figuring out that I am going to have to work to survive in this place, but it is a challenge that I am looking forward to. I already have more of a heads-up than most froshies; I live in Zink Hall along with 70 other freshmen that are part of the Freshmen In Transition program (a.k.a. FIT, I’ll probably talk about this a lot), which helps us get on our feet, and I’ve made friends through PLC. Things are thankfully beginning to look up and seem more stable. I still miss my little hometown, friends, family, horses and especially my cat Janis, but that feeling is starting to wear away as this semester is starting to take off. I only hope the rest of my fellow freshmen are fairing as well.

All the Best,
Jordana

originally posted on September 8, 2002

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27

03 2008