Social media buttons are an appealing concept when sharing your work is crucial to success. But do they actually work? According to Sam Solomon, web developer and entrepreneur: no, not really.
Anecdotal evidence shows that share buttons don’t actually garner very many shares. Scrolling to the end of an article only to find a string of logos with zeros (zero shares on twitter, zero shares on facebook, zero shares on Google+) is just going to reinforce that the article isn’t worth sharing. Even worse, the share buttons often bring up annoying pop-ups, which is a quick way to drive any user away… even if they DID like the content.
The solution is simple, but as usual, easier said than done. If you write something especially interesting to your audience, they will put in the effort to write a tweet, status, or blog post about it. Rely on the strength of your content.
The meaning and value of physical spaces becomes easier to overlook with each passing day bringing us further into the digital fold. To bring the focus back around, there is Where They Create, a project by photographer Paul Barbera. Where They Create brings the workspace back to the forefront, showing us the spaces where creative professionals and artists bring their work to life. Cluttered, clean, minimalist, eclectic – every space has a distinct personality that speaks to the process and thought-space of each individual artist.
For a quick peek into the lives of other creators, and perhaps a shot of inspiration, check out wheretheycreate.com.
It’s gotta POP. It’s gotta HOOK people. It’s gotta JUMP off the page.
There are about a zillion weird cliché phrases to express one simple idea: you’ve gotta start strong. An opening line sets the reader’s expectations in any genre or format, and these 1950s novels all offer opening lines worth aspiring towards: 13 Greatest Opening Lines from 1950s Novels
My personal favorites?
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” – The Voyage of The Dawn Treader
I read the Chronicles of Narnia back when I was in elementary school, and back in the days where a name was to be judged by how badly you could get bullied for it… deserving a name like Eustace Clarence Scrubb meant a lot.
And, of course, from one of my favorite novels:
“It was a pleasure to burn.” – Fahrenheit 451
It’s hard to even explain what is so perfect about this line, but if I must – it’s short, visceral, and full of promise. A perfect formula to fuel reader curiosity.
So whether you’re writing “The Next Great American Novel” or a short blog post for work, remember at least one variation of this cliché, because you only get one chance at a first impression.
Michigan State University offers many opportunities for cultural exploration and growth, but students sometimes overlook or miss these opportunities. Luckily, WRAC professor Cheryl Caesar and her teaching partner, professor Janice Stryz worked to change that. Together they led a collaborative course that paired students from WRA 1004 and WRA 150, and as Caesar explains, their goal was “to bring students of different national backgrounds together as ‘culture partners’, [giving them the opportunity] to interview each other about their cultures of origin.”
This is easier said than done at times, and there were distinct challenges along the way. One of the biggest challenges was putting together the groups. “A student who tends to participate minimally, or to arrive late, must be counterbalanced with a more outgoing and punctual student, or you end up with two partners from the other class cooling their heels and wasting their time,” said Caesar.
Despite the challenges, Caesar still recommends the experience overall. “Anyone who’s thinking of a collaborative venture should give it a try. It does involve some additional planning and setup, but the new energy and ideas it brings to your classroom are worth it.”
For more information on this project, check out the PCW workshop by Caesar and Stryz in 107 Linton on February 28, 2014 at 3 PM.
Stop that eye twitch, it’s not misspelled. I’m talking Expresso – the writer’s style tool, not espresso (the writer’s coping tool).
Forging an honest, unique voice is one of the biggest struggles for many writers. Unfortunately, outside of a trusted editor, available tools can be noticeably lacking. Expresso is great because it admits upfront that style is more of an art than a science – all while providing specific, detailed data. With the ability to detect a whole list full of typical writing weak points (like passive voice or filler words) and specific grammar stats (like sentence length and reading level) it could provide a whole new perspective on tone and style. Hard data, editing style.
The poor period, once the innocuous mark at the end of every sentence, has taken on new meaning. Anyone who texts or chats online regularly will recognize it instantly; it’s just one more nuance in the long line of linguistic adjustments we make to infuse emotion into our textual communications. The period, especially when paired with succinct sentences, can turn a regular note into a brusque, conversation ending dead end. Of course, outside of the realm of text conversations, the period retains its’ unmistakably crucial normal role. Line breaks just can’t do it all. To see examples and read another perspective on the idea, check out the original article over at newrepublic.com.
By now, the NYTimes article “Google, Tell Me. Is My Son a Genius?” is all over the internet (at least in certain circles). It’s one more piece of evidence against the idea that the fight for gender equality is ended – something that is unfortunately unclear to some in this day and age. There are some great perspectives out there on what this means for equality, feminism, and gender in general but as a professional writer, I’m also interested in what this means rhetorically.
Google suddenly gives us insight into something writers and cultural analysts of every stripe are thrilled to get their hands on – the things people think but won’t say. There are questions that people just can’t ask anyone… except the cool, white, nonjudgmental computer screen.
Just like stock photography and the noun project can be great touch points for visual rhetoric, Google search data can tell us some amazing things about what our audience might believe. Search data suddenly provides a metric for interest over time (check out the spikes for bitcoin), geographical interest, and as seen recently, it even tells us the questions people are afraid to ask about their children. So next time you need to know what your audience thinks about a certain topic, you can do what just about everyone else is doing – ask Google.
Tedx Kyoto hosted a fascinating talk by Garr Reynolds about professional speaking. Professional speaking is crucial in many fields, and it turns out that most people just aren’t very good at it. Reynolds emphasizes improving your speaking skills by focusing on having compelling, useful visual communication, and presenting as much of your information as possible in the form of a narrative. Slides as we know them now are horribly weak, and presenters who rattle off lists of facts without any human context are sure to bore. Towards the end, he also links to a few great examples of other Ted talks that fulfill these goals magnificently.
He doesn’t always follow his own advice particularly well, but the talk is definitely still worth a watch or a skim.