A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for July, 2009

Cool Stuff for Social Media Workshop Attendees

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Thanks to all who attended the social media workshop at the WSU Puyallup R&E Center on July 31. This post’s for you! However, a disclaimer: the opinions on this site are my own, so proceed beyond this post at your own risk.

Basically, this is a (fairly random) collection of links to stuff I’ve found intriguing in the past couple of months.

Facebook is for photos of the kids, Twitter for blurting out pearls of marketing wisdom to his 613 followers, Linkedin for electronic schmoozing with potential business partners, Myspace for teenagers and rock bands.
– Winston Ross on examiner.com – via his blog

Designing a social media strategy – this is something I’ve tried to empashize as critically important in our workshop. For more information about designing media strategies, check out this article in the Harvard Business blog by David Armano. Armano is something of a visual thinking and business design guru. He write about social media, among other things, on his blog.

Your PC is a Web server? A Flickr server? Your own private YouTube? Outrageous! But possible with the new version of Opera. It’s called Unite and could change the way we think about running servers. I mean, do we really need expensive IT people telling us what we need? Then again, Unite might not anything at all for the simple reason that most people don’t even know there’s an alternative to Microsoft’s browser (there is! and it’s great!), much less an even cooler alternative called Opera.

Social bookmarking – I wonder if you’ve ever been in the jam I used to get myself into. I’m on the road with my personal laptop, and a site I really want to check out is bookmarked on my work machine. If only I could remember the URL…. Or, better, if only there were a way to save my bookmarks in a way that I could get at them from anywhere. This is old news, but there’s lots of cool, Web-based tools (free ones, at that) at your disposal for just such organizational tasks. I use delicious to keep my bookmarks organized, accessible from anywhere – and in a place where I can also share them with others. (In case you’re wondering, yes you can tag bookmarks as private with delicious, as you can with any other social bookmarking tool.)

Presentation design tools – my friend and colleague Jayme Jacobson, a smart and creative user of all sorts of social media, recently sent me this event invitation. I really like this piece, as it uses both marketing savvy and the technological medium of its intended audience to create an interactive piece that is as much fun as it is engaging and though provoking. The tool Jayme uses here is called Prezi – and you can use it, too, as it is a free, Web-based, social media presentation builder. I also like animoto, a free tool for making music videos from still images. Here’s a short piece I made in about five minutes, just so I could show you what animoto can do. I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t at least mention Flickr, pretty much the benchmark of photo sharing sites. Here’s mine and Karen’s photostream.

Multimedia storytelling – this is something I hear from folks in Extension all the time: I want to tell my story (“promote my program”) with video, with podcasts, with all these cool things. Help me, Brian! OK! Read this piece first, though, OK? The client-to-creative pro relationship demands a lot of both parties. That, I think, is contrary to a widespread belief which holds that the client can simply sit there and say, Not that…. until she’s satusfied. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way! Active engagement is needed from both parties, so check out the above link for a quick run down of what it takes to create a cool online experience using social media tools.  And then let’s talk!

We don’t need no stinking professionals! Just in case I’ve empowered you so much that you feel you can take on anything, have a look at a these sites. They’re good reminders that creative professionals do indeed earn their money – and these sites are a hill o’ fun, too. Your Logo Makes Me Barf – I laugh every time I visit this site because, of course, we see stuff like this all the time. We also see Web site that suck pretty much everyday, too. And just to keep myself humble, here’s a site about Thomas Edison, clearly designed by pros, that really sux – it looks great, but is totally unusable.

I’ve been pretty hard on Twitter today, so last but not least, here is a blog post that collects some really creative things people have done with Twitter. Note that none of these things is really very Twitter like! And because I’m going to marry a gardner, here’s an application that let’s your plants send you a tweet when they need water. Go figure….

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Written by Brian

July 30th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Food Safety?

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In the verdant farmland surrounding Monterey Bay, a national marine sanctuary and one of the world’s biological jewels, scorched-earth strategies are being imposed on hundreds of thousands of acres in the quest for an antiseptic field of greens. And the scheme is about to go national.

via Crops, ponds destroyed in quest for food safety.

This is in re “Food Bills Coming Due” – the lamebrained legislation being passed in both houses of congress.

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Written by Brian

July 27th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Posted in agriculture, politics

Eclectons, chapter 2 – The Arranged Marriage

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The Eclecton saga continues. We learn how Wand Baneesh’s father got rich by teaching his circus performers to fly. Wand feels trapped by the marriage arranged for her to the witless Deem. If Wand thinks marriage is hard, though, wait until she’s actually married to the guy!

More marvelous recycling sculpture by Jayme Jacobson and witty writing by Ken O’Donnel.

And in case you missed chapter one, it’s here around here someplace.

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Written by Brian

July 27th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Yellow Journalism and the Problem with Agribiz PR


Corn is inspiring a spitting contest and the goober fest is probably going to end up in a mutant hybrid of agriculture that, twenty years from now, none of us will recognize.

An example of the yellow journalism inspired by corn is emerging over at Corn Commentary, a blog put up by the National Corn Growers Association. I’ve been studying it for a couple days, and it’s pretty typical of what agribusiness is shelling out in the way of positive spin for the industry. Truly, it doesn’t bode well, at least not if the economy of the food system comes down to a war of words. Alas, tain’t so simple. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

July 6th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Posted in agriculture, politics

Tagged with ,

A new form of writing?

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An article on Xark! claims that writing for the Web is a “new form of writing”:

We all learned to write in more or less the same way: Beginning, middle, end; Subject, predicate, object; Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Beyond consisting of three items, each of these approaches shares another common theme: Inclusion…. But when you write for the Web as you’d write for print, you write too long. You waste the reader’s time explaining what she already knows.

In fact, writing for the Web is much like writing an edge column for a newspaper (a dying art form in a dying medium, to be sure) or news shorts for a magazine or gossip columns in any medium. Indeed, good writing never explains what the reader already knows: good writing has hyperlinked itself for a couple generations (at least) by tucking the “see further” into parentheses, footnotes, and other unobtrusive places. So the way we write for the Web isn’t new, it’s just that the technology makes it easier for us to get on with our arguments by putting the burden of research onto the shoulders of our readers. And that’s not (necessarily) good writing–and it certainly isn’t new.

Good writing explains old news and ideas in new ways and sheds new light on prior assumptions. Writing for the Web doesn’t change the way our brains work, and the way we cognitively process language determines what makes writing good. And what Dan o’ Xark has come up with is standard fare in an English 101 class: the five-paragraph essay, complete with beginningm, middle and end. No need to follow any of his links; his piece is complete without them.

We love to think we’re committing revolution at every generation, with every doubling of processor speed. And maybe we are. But, in the long view, the way we communicate via the Web is precisely the same way Plato and Shakespeare communicated.

via Xark!: A new form of writing.

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Written by Brian

July 1st, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Posted in writing