I stand in front of students and try not to put them to sleep.

I teach a variety of entrepreneurship-related courses at Duke University and for the Fuqua School of Business. My most popular courses include:

I&E/English 253: Social Marketing

Typical Duke students spend hours each day using social media. You’ve surely heard the platforms described as “revolutionary,” and you’ve also heard them described as “time wasters.” What you probably haven’t thought about is how similar they are to previous “revolutionary” communications technologies like novels, newspapers, and even language itself. This course explores ways in which studying the masters of previous “social” media technologies—the Shakespeares, Whitmans, and Eliots of the world—can help us understand how influencers on digital social media leverage the same platforms you use every day to market themselves, build their brands, and grow their audiences.

I&E 252: Learning to Fail

Most people spend their lives afraid of failing. Yet, many of the world’s most successful people failed numerous times on their paths toward success. The underlying question of this class is if failing is as antithetical to learning as we’re taught to believe. To explore this question, we will test ways of using failure as a strategy for learning. We will experiment with failure to learn how it can make us better as we develop our skills as innovators, specifically focusing on the earliest stage of creativity: ideation. We will use failure through experimentation as a technique for problem definition and needs discovery which, in turn, will help us validate the quality of our ideas.

Strategy 748: New Ventures: Discover

A common misconception about entrepreneurship is that it begins with an idea – an idea for a product, service, business, or nonprofit that can serve as the foundation for a venture. Unfortunately, while many people get excited about their ideas, having a “brilliant” idea is a bad way to start a new venture. Instead, before pursuing ventures – and committing resources to them – entrepreneurs must learn to understand whether market opportunities exist and whether those opportunities align with a person’s personal and/or professional goals. To help students learn this process, New Ventures: Discover focuses students on research, exploration, and… well… discovery. It asks students to set aside pre-conceived notions, avoiding some of their own blind spots, in order to do the necessary work of collecting data about a market and learning to assess it as objectively as possible.

Digital Media Scholarship

Back in the good ‘ole days of the early Web, I used to be interested in what was then called “digital humanities.” Now that we live in a digital world, I think (hope?) it’s just called “humanities” again.

Either way, I’m mostly interested in the history of media technologies and how the digital technologies we use every day aren’t as new and revolutionary as we like to think. Instead, they’re part of a much larger phenomenon best described as “language technologies” that can be traced as far back as Homeric epic (and earlier!).

If that kind of stuff interests you, I wrote an entire dissertation about it — Hacking Literature: Reading Analog Texts in a Digital Age. If you actually read it, you might be the first person not directly related to me. (Thanks for the support, Mom!)

Digital Media Scholarship

These days, the topic I’m most interested in is social media. I’ve even begun organizing a social media curriculum you can learn more about here: Social Media Studies @ Duke.

I’m convinced that, 50 years from now (or less), every university will have a Social Media Studies department. I hope to play a role in developing one at Duke. If you’re working on something similar at your university (or want help building one), let’s chat!