Great Social Media Idea: Voices from the Past

Hello, Hello! It's good to be back, it's good to be back! 

(I'm fully aware that Gary Glitter is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person... but damn it if I don't love his 70s rock anthems. Can't help myself. I mean, how can you deny the brilliance of I'm the Leader of the Gang? Come on, come on!)

It's my first "real" post of 2014, so I figure what the heck... let's highlight something that is a smashingly successful project that would require way more time and energy than most "army of one" social media managers (like me!) could even come close to matching, but should be admired as the sort of aspirational projects that we should all... um... aspire too. (I ran out of words. Sorry.)

So lo and behold - check out the incredible, awesome, ridiculously cool Harvard Voices project from Harvard University.

Harvard went through its archives and hand-picked some of the best moments from speeches given by a litany of global luminaries: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, T.S. Eliot, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling... the list goes on. (Yes, I included J.K. Rowling in that list - Harry Potter 4 Life!)

It's stunning in its scope, and brilliant in its execution. 

This is the type of content that I really love... it provides people with a true resource that they can't get anywhere else, and it isn't gimmicky or anything like that. It's just really, really cool... cool enough for a non-Harvard alum like me to spend close to an hour listening to old audio clips.

SoundCloud makes it very easy to pick-and-choose which speeches you would like to hear, while also allowing you to download the whole collection in one file. It's also available as a podcast on iTunes.

Even better, Harvard has provided a list of some of the most quotable kernels of wisdom in text form, for those that might want to share on social media.

Now, obviously most colleges can't even come close to matching Harvard's list of prominent world figures, but even a collection of soundbites from past commencement addresses could turn into a really amazing project. This past May, I went through as many old commencement addresses I could easily find (about 10 years' worth) and pulled out some choice quotes, which I shared on social media during graduation. It was pretty cool, I thought, and was received well, but it would have been way more powerful with accompanying audio.

I am realistic enough to accept that I will probably never be able to pull something like this off, but this is the right way to start a new year - being inspired to do great things.

Props to everyone at Harvard who worked on this project, and Happy New Year to everyone out there!


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