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K-State Today

October 31, 2012

State of NOW: K-State Salina student to speak at social media conference in Hutchinson

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University Salina digital media student Brian Allen Butters, who prefers to go by Brian Allen, is scheduled to present at the Small Town State of NOW Conference, Thursday, Nov. 8, in Hutchinson. The sophomore from Washington will speak about how social media helped him rise above the social stigma he battles as a traumatic brain injury survivor.

"Brian is truly an inspiration to everyone who knows him," said Bill Genereux, associate professor of digital media. "His smile and positive attitude are contagious. It is no wonder he is a rising star of social media."

Allen has had his share of challenges in life since an accident left him partially paralyzed, but he has found his passion in many different forms of digital media, including music. He finds the potential for creative expression and a global audience in online media exciting, and he uses blogs and social media to communicate with his expanding audience.

"I want people to know that social media has allowed me to achieve empowerment. It's not about the quantity of connections, but rather the quality of your people," Allen said. "I want to speak at this conference because I believe I have a story to tell and, as a result, my words will empower the State of NOW audience."

State of NOW is the brainchild of Jeff Pulver, a technology entrepreneur best known as co-founder of the voice-over IP service Vonage. It is a series of conferences around the world dealing with the positive impact of living and working digitally that turns online interaction into an in-person conference. The conference explores how immediate communication tools such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook and others are disrupting business, education, agriculture, media, celebrity, music, politics, public safety and our culture.

Originally called the 140 Conference, after Twitter's 140-character tweet limit, the conference is conducted in cities big and small, including New York, Washington, D.C., Barcelona, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Hutchinson, Kan.

When Becky McCray, small business owner and author of the Small Biz Survival blog, learned of Pulver's conference series, she knew it would resonate with small towns. McCray convinced Pulver to bring the conference to Hutchinson in 2010, with an emphasis on issues of small town and rural living. It was a big hit, with 214 attendees from a dozen states and 2,376 online viewers from around the world that year.

This year will be the third annual conference in Hutchinson. Information on attending in person, or watching Brian Allen and all of the speakers online, is at http://smalltown2012.stateofnow.com.