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October 13, 2006

A Web 2.0 Experiment: The Popcorn Scholar

I've been noticing an flurry of posts on blogs such as Logic + Emotion and Servant of Chaos about the potential power of Web 2.0. And I know I don't even have to mention Seth Godin. He's been an advocate for this for a long time, and he's staked quite a bit of his own fame and wealth behind it. But it has me wondering two things:

  1. Are we right, and
  2. How can we verify it?

Meet the Popcorn Scholar. My 9 year-old son, Avery: the newest entrant in the blogosphere.


Having grown up a military brat before I joined the Marine Corps myself, I have a large extended network of family and friends; it just so happens that we are spread out across the world.

My son just entered the Webelos, which is this transitional period between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, but all of them fall under the Boy Scouts of America (BSOA). Like Girl Scouts famously sell cookies to raise money, the BSOA sells popcorn, and as every parent of a school-age child knows, when you have kids, you have fundraisers no matter what.

One of my son's first events as a Scout was to go to DFW to greet troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan -- obviously something very near and dear to my heart, coming from a family of four Marines. We were told that most of them were just going to be home for a few weeks on R & R, and then they'd be shipping out back to their respective theaters of operation.

Photo_sep30_2006_29 Several members of my son's Webelos "den" went to the airport and filled little goodie bags with popcorn that was graciously donated either by parents or their friends and other family members. It is a small gesture, but I know from growing up in a Marine Corps family how big of a deal such small gestures are to the morale of the troops for them to feel appreciated for their sacrifice. Even small gestures can seem like big ones when they have the weight of the community behind them.

My son was excited about it like I've rarely seen him excited before. I could tell by looking at him that he took great joy in seeing these heroes walk through that crowd to thunderous applause, shaking hands as they went, and I knew I had to help nurture that admiration, generosity, and respect.

Of course, Avery wants to do well in scouting, too, and it's my job to give him the tools to do it. The answer was staring me in the face. The Internet. It is the glue that holds my widely dispersed network of family and friends together.

Introducing Avery to blogging has some fringe benefits, as well. He'll have his own website where he can collect donations, but he will also learn how to measure the world according to his perspective and develop the discipline to follow through and INNOVATE--skills that he can use for the rest of his life.

I know... Some of you who have developed an addiction to blogging will consider this cruel and unusual, but aren't you at least curious to see if this Web 2.0 thing is everything people -- including me -- are saying it is? The livelihoods of many of us in our chosen professions depend on that answer being "yes."

I mean... I have been posting on discussion boards and chat rooms since at least 1996. I contribute regularly to two blogs, I am a member of LinkedIn, I have a MySpace page, my very own FAQ, a couple of Squidoo lenses, YouTube and LiveDigital profiles -- a virtual community that's as close as an email, or a blog post, away.

By myself, I am insignificant, but together, shouldn't we be able to move mountains?

So what is it worth to you to find out? Will you make a post on your blog about it? Will you donate a few seconds of your time to leave a comment on my son's blog? Will you donate $5 to the fund, which goes to the popcorn sold by the Boy Scouts, who will use it to put a smile on the faces of a few of our heroes?

Oh, and we only have until October 27.

I'll encourage my son to keep blogging... hopefully long after that... but there is an immediate urgency to getting the word out now. If you would help, I would appreciate it, but more than that, you will be helping to support both the Boy Scouts and the heroes who keep us safe. Plus, we'll be able confirm that our suspicions about the power of Web 2.0 are correct. I will keep you all apprised of the results.


Be prepared, do your best, and Semper Fi.

- Cam Beck


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