160 characters – 1 chance to define yourself

Social media has been asking us to define ourselves from moment one with profiles, photos, and “about me” sections. Twitter is unique in that it limits the user to 160 characters – a generous 20 more than the usual 140 for a tweet.

This limit has informed the way twitter bios are written and one particular style has risen to the top. The 160 characters are usually utilized to give a rapid-fire listing of personal traits and titles. Student. Journalist. Coffee addict. And the succinct style is not just for teenagers and famous rappers. Hillary Clinton uses it to great effect.

So what does your twitter bio say? Are you more of a Tom Hanks (self effacing) or a Taylor Swift (subtly self promotional)? Read more on the subject at the New York Times.

Don’t do it for free

They say that if you’re good at something, you shouldn’t do it for free. Why then, do so many artists, designers, writers, and other creative professionals constantly get sold on the idea of doing work for nebulous, undefined rewards?

“It’ll build your portfolio!”

“It’ll be great experience.”

“It’s an opportunity to get exposure!”

Unfortunately, exposure won’t pay the rent. Every time a professional gives away their work for free without impressing the value of that gift upon the recipient, some of that value is lost. It requires time, effort, and practice, like any work. So stand up for your value as a professional.

If you’re not yet swayed, read another perspective on the subject.

Quit it with the obscenely tall infographics

Tall Infographics xkcdThey say there’s a relevant xkcd for everything. They, of course, being the people of the internet, and xkcd being a popular webcomic.

This time, xkcd has set their sights on unnecessarily tall, clumsy infographics. Infographics are a relatively new genre, but they are immediately recognizable through they way they use imagery to drive a (usually data heavy) narrative or message. Examples of the genre can be seen here, here, and here.

But not every message can be squashed into a tall, skinny, graph heavy framework and while infographics are the trend du jour, they can be horribly ineffective when misused.

In Iceland, 1 in 10 people will publish a book

At first glance, this statistic stuns. 1 in 10 almost seems like a typo, or a miscalculation. But Iceland has such a strong culture of writing and storytelling that they even have a saying for this phenomenon – “ad ganga med bok I maganum”. Everyone gives birth to a book.

They are not just a country of writers, but as a natural extension, they are voracious readers. Book catalogs get passed out to every house, and public benches even have barcodes that will read audiobooks to you as you sit. They have more books read per capita than any other country in the world.

The country’s natural landscape has been cited as an inspiration even to non-native authors such as JRR Tolkien (who studied Icelandic in college) and has served as a dramatic backdrop for storytelling in other media as well. The HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones has shot in Iceland for season 4, and the upcoming Thor movie shot Icelandic landscapes as well.

If you’re curious to find out more about this unique cultural situation, check out the article from BBC that inspired this post.