The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

Fall 2011 Study Tour: Day 1

Day 1 of the study tour included a few words about swissnex San Francisco from Executive Director and Founder, Christian Simm, and some specifics on our work with universities as described by Vanessa Drigo. Chuck Darrah gave us an insightful overview of Silicon Valley, and Florencia Prada, Julia Kuhn Mirza, and Megan Williams went over basic logistics of the study tour. Then it was off to UC Berkeley for gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, and presentations from a variety of staff working with social media and online content at the university.

In this guest blog post, we hear from Guillaume Fort, an Assistant for Cyberlearn at HES-SO Valais (Institut d’informatique de Gestion). He shares his thoughts Chuck Darrah’s presentation:

Characteristics of an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley
by Guillaume Fort
I really like the way Chuck Darrah described the profile of entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley. It seems that Entrepreneurship, Business and Technologies are part of the DNA of people working in the Bay Area. Most of them work as employees for large companies only because they want to get enough money to launch their own Business and to create a strong network of fully qualified people. They are not afraid of the failure of a startup and want to take their chances and see what will happen next. If things go wrong, the can still go back to work for a large company in the region and try again. In the Valley, the failure of a startup is not seen as shameful but as an opportunity to learn from one’s errors. This way of thinking encourages people to shape their ideas. Unfortunately, it seems that in Switzerland, we are most inspired by the well known “Failure is not an option” quote of the NASA engineers.

University of Basel’s Matthias Geering was kind enough to film and edit a video of highlights from Chuck Darrah’s talk:


As for UC Berkeley, our marathon of informative meetings allowed study tour participants to hear from university representatives who are fairly new to social media and who are trying to use the tools to engage with their vast audience. Here are University of Fribourg’s Reto Siffert take-aways from the day:

Call for Engagement: the UC Berkeley Style
by Reto Siffert

We’ve heard it before: Social Media – and Facebook particularly – are all about engagement. And Dan Mogulof, Executive Director of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley, makes a clear statement to underline this: “Any post on Facebook that doesn’t bring up a question or doesn’t imply a call to Action is a wasted post!”

The other side of the Interactivity-Medal is the loss of control, and along with this, some potential public criticism. But this is no reason to panic for “Cal’s” community manager. Their motto: Don’t act as a censor, ignore the unwanted behaviour and let the community stand in for their university. And even more important is to create the space for the open exchange of opinions. Need an example? UC Berkeley will soon extend the real Sproul Plaza, with its long history of discussion and protest, to the virtual level by offering a special Facebook App.

Thanks for your thoughts, study tour guest bloggers! Looking forward to more impressions, videos, and ideas!

Author: Megan Williams

Megan Williams is swissnex San Francisco’s Head of Communications. She likes to write about science and culture. A marine biology nerd and a dedicated science communicator, she also loves to hunt for design treasure at thrift stores.