Aug 04

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

night sky

Photo by kronerda

It’s You that Made Me Talk Again!

Getting back into writing for myself and blogging on this blog has been an ordeal for the past few weeks. I could never think of anything to talk about. The words did not flow freely! I’d want to write, and surely I’ve stumbled upon something during the day that merits 600 words, but the motivation and creativity just weren’t there.

However, I begun to notice a pattern. Every time I would go to bed, that’s when everything would come so easily. Full paragraphs and concepts would create themselves in my mind, keeping me awake as I tried to fall asleep. I couldn’t figure out why it was happening, but it was a double-edged sword. I liked that I was finally getting some great ideas flowing through my brain, but they were also preventing me from getting enough sleep.

This happened several times before I figured it out: it was the silence. The absence of distractions and stimuli, even visual stimuli, helped my mind to focus for the first time the entire day. Being creative or “finding my creativity” was no longer an issue. When I take away music, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and HipChat pings, my brain doesn’t have any problems thinking and getting things done.

Once I figured it out, the thought of silence became incredibly exciting! If I make an effort to remove as many distractions and stimuli as possible, then what could I possibly create? How much would I be able to get done? What aspects of myself would improve if I were focusing and engaging in my work in the fullest capacity?

I Tried It Today and It Worked Fantastically

As I worked today, I kept the distractions to a minimum. Unfortunately, I have to keep HipChat on because I need it on for work and I need the pings to know when someone is trying to talk to me about something. I can’t never ever log in and tell my coworkers to trust that I’m getting my work done, although they can. Part of it also is to build relationships with each other since we all work virtually, and HipChat and our daily meetings are the only ways to do that.

Besides HipChat, I didn’t listen to any music or any podcasts throughout the day. I didn’t have any YouTube videos play in the background. I just put on my headphones and had nothing come through them. The silence worked tremendously! It was so much easier to get things done, and I felt less hurried and frazzled throughout the day. It seemed like I was working at a pace that accomplished things on my to-do list, but it wasn’t a pace that was rushed or that felt like I was conquering an insurmountable number of tasks.

Working in silence is certainly a habit that’s going to take some time to develop. I’ve already found out today that once the distractions are turned on and allowed in, they are very difficult to turn off. It’s become so instinctual to browse YouTube or to check Twitter for what’s new, even when I don’t have any notifications set on the tabs to remind me about anything new. Starting the day with all the different fun, distracting things turned off is the easy part. The hard part is turning them back off when I decide to take a break.

Overall, I’m relieved and freed. I was trying all sorts of things to “find something to write about” or to “find inspiration” or to “find creativity,” not realizing that all that pursuit was really making things worse. All I needed was a minute or two to let my mind speak, and the epiphany hit me in the darkness. Clearly, I can’t write in the dark, but it’s with eyes closed that I found the light I so desperately needed..

Jul 06

I Was Distracted with Poker This Week

poker pocket acesI realized about a week ago that is livestreaming the final tables of many of the events taking place this summer, which took away my attention from writing on the blog. Of course, this is something I learn about at the END of the WSOP, when many of the events are already over. Fortunately, between now and the November Nine, I can catch up and watch all the final tables in the archive if I really want to. I might watch some of them since poker always makes great background noise and I don’t know any of the results so it would all be a surprise. But, for now, I’ve gotten my poker fill so I can get back to work and writing blog posts (especially since the July 4th weekend is over).

I Have a New Idea

I mentioned in a previous post about starting a podcast, and I’m tabling that idea for now. I still would like the start a podcast, but I have a better idea that I’d like to pursue, and getting that idea going doesn’t involve a podcast at this time. I don’t think it’s the best venue for the better idea, although it would be great to incorporate a podcast if I can complete the vision I see for my new, better idea.

I’m not going to talk too much about my new, better idea because I don’t want to jinx it. I don’t remember where I read or heard this, but from what I remember, there is such a thing as “talking about your ideas too much.” The problem is that talking about the idea too much can result in a sense of progress, making it more difficult to achieve actual progress. I completely forget where I heard about this, so I could be making it all up,. However, if keeping it under a bit of secrecy helps me to achieve actual progress, then that’s “help” that I should take.

I Will Be Testing the Idea on Twitter

I will say that I will be testing the idea on Twitter by tweeting on some of the topics involved in my idea. I’m testing the idea on Twitter to see if there’s any traction to this idea and what kind of traction I get for it. I particularly want to look at which tweets and topics get the most engagement and who’s engaging with those tweets. Engagement is good, but I’m hoping to target a specific audience demographic with my idea, so know looking at who’s engaging with my tweets is very important.

I’m also utilizing Twitter to continue building an audience on the platform. If I decide to take this idea to the next step, then having a substantial audience that’s already familiar with who I am and the topics I cover is an incredible asset. I’m not sure how long I’m going to test the idea before taking the next step at this point, but I think I’ll have to test for about a month or two in order to get a good sample size and to give each of the topics enough time on Twitter. I want to test this long enough so that it’s clear over time that certain topics are more popular than others and engaging the right people, versus looking at results where other factors could explain the engagement or the popularity on that particular day or week.

Right now, I want to do one thing at a time and avoid overwhelming myself by taking to take this in too many directions or in trying to move too quickly with it. If I overwhelm myself, then I’m not going to want to pursue the idea anymore.

Jun 26

The Article Perusing Solution is Going Well

meetedgar social media toolI devised a solution at work to attempt to read as many of the articles that we cover as possible. It’s not a perfect solution, as it heavily depends on the writers taking the time to put their sources on the documents, but so far it has been working very well. I can get through two verticals in about 90 minutes. When I started testing the solution earlier this week, 90 minutes for two vertical might’ve been too much time. However, I discovered an AWESOME social media management tool called MeetEdgar that helps tremendously.

What is MeetEdgar?

MeetEdgar is different from other social media management tools in that it allows you to build up a queue for your accounts. So, instead of just scheduling five posts over the next five days, MeetEdgar will cycle through those five posts until you tell it to stop. The tool comes with a default schedule as well, so you don’t even have to spend time arranging when you want each post to go live. Just upload the content and MeetEdgar will take care of the rest.

Oddly enough, I discovered MeetEdgar on Twitter after someone I followed tweeted that they just signed up. The tweet said something about “making sure your social media posts don’t go to waste,” or something to that effect. I was intrigued so I clicked the MeetEdgar handle to ultimately go their website. I watched their two-minute demo video and I was hooked. This was EXACTLY what I needed! And not just for this solution, but also for my job in general. Posting to our various social media accounts is a huge time suck for me. Although I only do two or three accounts per day, I have to spend the time finding something good to post, then crafting the post and then scheduling the post. All of that doesn’t include checking for comments, following people, inviting people to the page etc.

MeetEdgar is instrumental to my solution because after I spend time initially uploading a ton of content to the Twitter and Facebook accounts for each of the verticals, I only need to spend about an hour or 90 minutes every day or every other day removing old content and uploading a couple of new posts. Besides that, each account will have 10 or 15 posts to cycle through over the course of the week. I don’t have to worry so much about getting new content onto the Facebook page or the Twitter feed. Instead, I can spend that time perusing the content for the weekly newsletter, or looking for ideas for blog posts, infographics and other original content.

The Next Step is to Devote the Time

Besides the writers not doing their share and forgetting to put their stories on the doc, the other big hurdle that I have is to make the time to peruse articles every day. Every day doesn’t easily lend itself to having 90 minutes to set aside. Meetings come up. Emergencies need to get taken care of. My boss prioritizes another project that requires my attention. I think if I make an effort to set aside time to read these articles, then my next steps would involve documenting ideas, creating the content, and possibly looking to automate other aspects of this system. But, for right now, the goals are to make perusing articles daily a habit and to stock MeetEdgar with lots of content for all of the accounts. Once MeetEdgar is taking care of and I have a really good grasp of the stories we’re covering each day, I can then move onto other initiatives and figuring out how to make time for those initiatives.

Jun 23

How Many Articles Can I Peruse in a Workday?

how many articles can i read in a dayAnd Can I Finish This Blog Post Before My Fiance Goes to Bed?

It seriously freaks me out when my fiance goes to bed before me. I have no idea why. He’s just going to the next room and won’t even completely close the day because the cat needs to be able to go in and out. But, I can’t stand the notion of him asleep before me, with all of the lights out in the rest of the apartment. It’s too much. I don’t like it. When he shuts the light off by desk and I hear that ‘click,’ I start winding down as quickly as possible (not the right way to wind down, I know) so I can go to bed as soon as I can. It just feels late when he goes to bed before me and it feels like a sign I just shouldn’t be up too much longer or else bad things will happen.

Anyway… Articles!

So, my first step to hustling is to get a record outside of our app and CMS of every article that we cover. We easily cover 400 stories a day: 20 to 30 stories per vertical plus another 100 or so for top news. No, I’m not going to read all 400 of those articles each day. That’s not possible. But, a Google Sheet for each vertical with an easy glance at that day’s 20 or 30 stories is much more digestible. With an easy glance of the source link and the description, I can pick out a couple of stories that look extra interesting or that look like they may have excellent facts, quotes or statistics that would make great social media content.

To build social media communities and, ultimately, fuel growth and get installs, our channels needs to present more online than what we’re doing now. Our Twitter handles need to offer more than the lede sentence and the link to the update. The main handle needs to do more than tweet a lede and the original source link with the author tagged. All of that content is great, but because it’s not much different from what’s offered in the apps, there’s little value in both downloading the app(s) and in following us on social media. Sure, someone may miss the story on the app and then catch on Twitter, or vice versa, but even that’s kind of a poor value proposition. A major factor in making social media work for you is to have content tailored to the platform, where even though we’re sharing the same story across Facebook, Twitter on our app, it should not look identical across the three platforms.

Separate Content for Our Newsletter

With the stories in a Google Sheet, I can avoid looking at the updates directly to have a fresh interpretation of the articles. A fresh interpretation is needed for our upcoming newsletter, although I do not know exactly the contents of this newsletter. I sent a survey to our mailing list since we haven’t emailed them in over a year (hey, it wasn’t my list to begin with, so I didn’t have any idea who was on this list or why they were there). This survey asked how often they’d like the newsletter, what they would like it in and why they signed up in the first place. From the responses I’ve received, it’s looking like this will be a weekly email that features summaries of our top stories. To be able to put such a newsletter together, I need to know everything we’ve covered for the week and then decide our top drones story, our top video games and a couple of our top breaking stories etc.

Getting this done shouldn’t be a problem. The next step now is learning first-hand how many articles I can peruse in a given amount of time. Today, I’m going to give myself one hour and see how many articles I can get through. The day afterward, I may do 90 minutes or two hours, depending on my schedule and how well today goes. The goal is to see if this is a viable solution to a) finding great social media content in the stories we already cover and b) useful in finding ideas to cover for the upcoming newsletter.

If it doesn’t work, then I’m not sure what I would do. At the moment, I need to be able to do this on my own.

Jun 22

Hustle, Hustle, Hustle

using original content to build a communityI need to work harder. I have 11+ communities that I need to build around 11+ different topics. I don’t have much idea how to do that, let alone doing it quickly, but that is what I need to do at work right now. The only idea I really have is to write. Write blog posts, write newsletters, write tweets, write Facebook status updates, you name it. Writing is what I do best and content marketing is what I know. I don’t have any other solid ideas, and at least great content and content marketing has already been proven to work to build a community. It’s just not something that gets done quickly. However, if you start and do it well, then it will work wonders in terms of building (and keeping) an active community.

I’ve Blogged About Recruiting and Have Never Worked in HR

I spent about nearly two years writing blog posts for the RPOA, a recruitment association that was a client of one my previous clients, Webbright Services. I never worked a day in the recruiting industry when I wrote my first blog post for them, and if I remember correctly, I seriously said that the fact my mother has over 10 years experience in human resources as part of my credentials. However, when you write weekly blog posts for a recruiting association that are based off of hours of webinars for recruiting professionals, you can learn quite a bit about recruiting in a short amount of time. It’s not the only example from my career, but it’s a gig that I enjoyed.

Perhaps that’s just what I should do: watch a ton of videos and webinars about the topics I need to focus on and write blog posts based off of what I’ve watched and learned. I should do this every day and see how far I can go. I wish there were 11 days in a week, then it could be one topic for each day of the week. Alas, that is not  the case, so I’m probably going to have to shoot for writing multiple times per day to make magic happen.

Excellent, Original Content is a Rallying Cry

Sure, there are tons of people doing original content and who have something to say. Not all of it is great and not all of it eventually congregates people into a community around it. But, if you’re one of the few who can write well and who has important, interesting things to say, then that’s a competitive advantage that’s for competitors to replicate. By the time the effort put original content yields results that turns heads, competitors are playing catch-up. The idea and hustle of original content is part of that “golden moment‘ I previously mentioned. If this is truly the moment I’ve been training for, then I need to work harder and better utilize the training that I have. That training is in content marketing, writing original content and in being a chameleon who can write well on nearly everything.

Original content and content marketing is also a golden opportunity because so few folks in my space are doing this well. They fill their blogs with a company announcement featuring the product’s newest features and latest updates.


Nobody cares. Nobody wants to read about what’s new in version 4.1. How is that valuable to anyone except the company? Current customers don’t care because what’s new may not be anything they want or is relevant to them. After all, they were perfectly happy on the previous version and probably had no idea about an upcoming version or what was going to be in it. Too many folks have the misconception that the company blog (one of the best places for original content) is for current customers or should be about the company, when the company blog should be about potential customers and what they want to read about. The company blog is a fantastic way to pull people in, pull folks in who don’t yet know about you.

Enough About Me and Enough about Writing Here

It’s time to start writing elsewhere. My personal blog isn’t the platform to be building those other communities that I need to build, although it makes great practice.

Jun 18

I’m Gonna Start a Podcast

new news podcastI’ve been considering the idea of a podcast for some time now. I was originally inspired to start a human rights podcast after Amnesty International’s national conference in Brooklyn in March. There was a lot of discussion about building human rights awareness and education and in efforts to encourage young people (like myself) to join and/or to stay with the organization after high school or college. I see all these older folks talking about these issues and I thought, “Why don’t I start a podcast? That’s a great way to educate people and to encourage them to join Amnesty International.” Plus, podcasts span across generations and are only growing in popularity. I can do a podcast. So, why not?

At First It Was So Overwhelming!

Once I started planning for the human rights podcast, I was overwhelmed quickly. Which topics should I talk about? How much research do I need to do for each episode? How am I going to balance this with my full-time job? It became too much in about a week and I abandoned the idea. However, with the changes going on at work and the overall direction of the company, I see new possibility and opportunity with the podcast. I want to include human rights, yes, but I doesn’t have to be such a big deal. I don’t have to overthink it so much. I just need to start small, start easy and just get things going. So, I’m going to resurrect the idea and see where I can take it. Plus, I found this handy guide to starting a podcast that helped a great deal while also showing me to start one without having to spend a lot of money.

This Podcast is Going to Be News Show + Human Rights + Fun

Right now, I’m reaching out to some friends of mine to see if they would be interested in appearing on the podcast. I figure if I start with friends, then it’ll be much easier (and much more fun) to get things going. If something goes wrong, or if I don’t really like podcasting after all, or if the episode is just a total disaster, then it’s not a huge problem because the guest was just a friend and we were just having a fun conversation. I also need to get a few episodes together anyway before I can think about promoting the app or submitting the feed to iTunes. No one’s going to be interested if I only have one episode done. By reaching out to several people, I can get a few dates organized and then put together four or five podcasts. Afterward, I can officially announce the podcast, promote it on social media, encourage people to download and see where else I can take it from there.

My podcast is going to be a mix of news, human rights (which is news oftentimes) and fun. I really like the conversational style that Joe Rogan employs for his podcast, but I like the level of discussion and the topic focus that Cara Santa Maria has for her podcasts. I don’t know if I can do a podcast as long as Rogan’s but I think an hour or a 90-minute podcast would work just fine. Eventually, it would be super cool to have folks contributing to the podcast via Patreon and maybe even appearing on other people’s podcasts because of the work that I do and the content that I put out.

But, One Step at a Time

Yep, as I still need to get a few more people lined up and then upgrade my Skype account so that I can record the interviews. I have an awesome headphone/microphone set up already, and I got a new computer about two months ago so I know my hardware can handle it. I’m not sure what I’m going to call the podcast yet, but I’ll get to that once I start recording and getting folks lined up. After I record a few episodes, or perhaps right before I record the first episode, I’ll figure out what the podcast is called and will start on a logo and other design aspects so that all the promotional material is lined up.

Overall, I’m excited and I definitely need to start making a few things happen for my personal brand. I don’t know if I can juggle writing for other publications or freelancing on the side. With podcasting, I can spend one weekend on one episode and then find time throughout the week to write blog posts, tweet links, post things on Facebook, do research etc. I think podcasting will be easier with my schedule (and I get to own all the content) than freelancing and writing for publications and other online websites.

Jun 15

Is The Doc Filled with News or Noise?

news or noise, determining news over noise,

What counts as news? Can news be both what’s important and what’s just fun and interesting to people?

At work, the editorial team and I used to have a document called, well, “The Doc.” The Doc was a Google Sheet where we placed all the stories we intended to cover and we simply went through the stories in order. We broke the order if an important story broke that needed to get into the app and into Top News right away, but besides that we went in chronological order. Stories first on the doc were first in the app, and we did our best to ensure that we placed stories on a wide variety of topics and from a wide variety of sources on the doc. It doesn’t look good in the feed when there are too many stories in a row from one source or on one topic and we don’t want to come across as an app that favors certain topics or sources.

Filling the Doc Was My Favorite Thing to Do

I thoroughly enjoyed “filling the doc,” as the task was called when The Doc needed to be refilled and I was good at it. I could easily find 30 stories in 30 minutes for the doc, maybe more. One way I was able to do this was that, at all times, I was fully aware of 90 percent of the stories we covered in the past 24 hours. The knowledge meant I didn’t have to spend as much time checking for duplicates, since I just knew whether or not we had the story. The only time I would check for a duplicate was if the story I found was an update to a previous story or is part of a developing story. With developing and ongoing stories, it’s much harder to keep everything straight versus a one-time story. Another tactic that made me so efficient was that I utilized Google News to find stories from credible sources on specific topics. I would search terms like, “North Korea,” “marijuana,” “sex” and “space” to find stories on those particular topics. Using Google News in this fashion was much better way than searching Twitter or following specific hashtags to find stories on these specific topics.

I loved “filling the doc.” I loved encountering all sorts of different stories on all sorts of different topics. It certainly helped that I was pretty good at it too. It was especially thrilling to find a “gem,” an interesting, well-written and/or very important story that hadn’t yet become a big deal or that wasn’t being covered by other/more mainstream outlets. Two “gems” that I personally found were the Ice Bucket Challenge and the first photos of Officer Darren Wilson in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. I ended up on the Ice Bucket Challenge early because Michelle Wie was one of the first celebrities to participate in the challenge, and since I’m originally from Hawaii, I care about everything Michelle Wie. I wish I could claim being on Michael Brown story before it turned into Ferguson and the subsequent movement, but I really don’t recall coming across the story. The Darren Wilson photos I remember, since it took several days for the Ferguson Police Department to release his name, and photos were only uncovered on Facebook after the public had his name confirmed.

I Want to Bring This Back Somehow

I’m not quite sure how to bring back The Doc and in what capacity, but I think there is value in finding so many stories in such a short amount of time (more so than the fact that I enjoy the task). Part of that value is finding the “gems” before those stories become part of the mainstream conversation. Another part of the value is finding stories that wouldn’t have become part of any conversation or wouldn’t have come to the surface for exposure without The Doc and spending the time to find all sorts of stories. Typically, news sites showcase stories according to the same categories: World, U.S., Politics, Local, Weather, Business, Entertainment, Sports, Tech, Arts, Health, Science etc. Maybe Food, maybe Travel, maybe Cars, maybe Lifestyle to encompass several of the topics previously mentioned.

All news stories worth covering must fall into those categories. Very rarely is the Sports category segmented into football, baseball, basketball etc. unless you’re a sports publication like ESPN, for example. Otherwise, it just gets filed under Sports. Only so many Sports stories can be covered or featured in a day. Because there are limits to everyone’s time and attention regarding the number of stories to read and feature, only the most popular sports are going to be featured unless something really big, incredible or viral happens in a sport like lacrosse, climbing, rugby, ultimate frisbee etc, like rugby war goddess Georgia Page. Her bloody nose is awesome for a day, but the next time anyone is covering women’s rugby and encouraging women to play the sport (which is what Page wants out of all of the media hype and exposure) is probably the next time another woman breaks her nose during an impressive tackle.

Let’s Talk about What’s Not Being Talked About Because Much of It is Probably Important or Interesting

Rugby is important and interesting to someone, and those someones aren’t just people in the United Kingdom where rugby is a much more popular sport. Topics like design, books, social media, education, the environment, architecture and more don’t have to be reserved for niche publications, in my opinion. There are plenty of stories that are worth discussing, worth knowing about and worth sharing in these topics. It seems like many topics only become important or only get covered when it easily comes with a salacious headline or an eye-catching photo or video.

Overall, news should be what you make of it and what you find important or interesting, not what the local television news says or what the mainstream media decides to cover or to air on primetime. It’s only when the time is spent to scour the interwebs for those sorts of stories that the conversation can start on topics we don’t normally talk about, for whatever reason.

Jun 10

Should I Put My Blog Posts on Medium?

should i put my post son Medium?Medium, if you don’t know, is an open, easy-to-use platform where anyone can create an account to start writing and to share that writing with the world. Awesome, well known people like Barack Obama and Gary Vaynerchuk have used the platform to publish content, as well as plenty of not-so-awesome, not-so-well known folks. One strategy that many writers and marketers employ is publishing content first on their blog or website and then publishing it again on Medium a bit later with a link back to the original piece (or no link sometimes).

Medium has incredible reach, and allows bloggers and writers to upload their own, previous published content with no consequences. So, I wonder, should I put my blog posts on Medium?

I Have More Than 500 Published Posts On This Blog

With more than 500 posts over the course of four or five years, it would seem like I shouldn’t need the reach or any additional help. Anyone who has been writing that much for that long ought to have plenty of followers and ought to have quite a niche built out for them.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

All the blogging was in a whole lot of fits and starts, and is also an archive of several different blogs, since many of the posts were from my freelancing blog and my two business blogs as well as anything that I decided to write for personal purposes. There’s not a whole lot of cohesion to the content or to the process of writing all of the 500 posts. I somehow just happened to write all of it over the span of a few years.

However, many of these posts are just getting dusty. They were great, on point blog posts when I wrote them and they got a lot of traffic when they were originally on the business blog. But, the posts aren’t doing much for me now. Yes, I do need to go back and update the information, make sure the links still work, pick a new photo and clean up the SEO portion of it. It’s very possible the fact that I haven’t done all that yet is hurting. With all this in mind, post my content on Medium may be a good thing to do with old content.

I’m Hesitant Because of the Decentralization

I’m concerned about doing this because I don’t own Medium, and therefore I give up control of my content when I put in on Medium. If Medium shuts down, then all that content is gone. If Medium decides it’s great, then they’ll feature the post and promote it. If not, then they aren’t going to do anything to help my content reach the people I want it to reach. If a post does really well on Medium, then I can’t guarantee that those people will associate the work with me and the brand that I’m trying to build. It may increase my audience for a day, but I won’t know for sure how many of those people will stick around and will read my next post or be interested in anything else that I might have to offer. At least when you promote and share your content on social media, you have a little bit more control then on platforms like Medium and LinkedIn.

Overall, it might be worth trying Medium with a couple of posts, just to see how it works and to see if I like it. Everyone talks about how great the platform is and the potential and exposure it gives people. As I said in a previous blog post, I just need to start talking and stop worrying about all sorts of little things that don’t matter in the long run.

Jun 09

Need to Know vs. Cool to Know

My team and I used to have to do an exercise in “fascinating” and in finding fascinating stories. The exercise involved choosing, in our opinion, the five most fascinating stories that we covered within the past 24 hours. Now, we all understood the definition of the word “fascinating” and the general concept of how it feels and what it looks like. The trick was really avoiding stories like the AMA’s repudiation of the military’s ban on transgender people because, well, it’s hard news, it’s sad and it’s not quite something you’d share on social media quite like #TheDress. Although I didn’t share the dress. Quite frankly, it’s an ugly dress.

Nonetheless, most news falls into three categories: “need to know,” “cool to know,” and “not news stop reporting on it”. I’m not going to talk about the last category because I think everyone with intelligence and critical thinking skills knows what sorts of stories belong in that category. Okay… I’ll talk about it a little bit just to get it out my system.

The first ever TED Talk I watched is this one below featuring Alisa Miller. It was the TED Talk that introduced me to the wonderful world and brand that is TED Talks, and I’ve watched plenty of them since. I don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon it, but I do remember that I showed the video as part of my Political Issues class during my senior year of college. That week, we were discussing the media, and this video illustrates the “not news” category quite well. I also totally just got another idea, but first, the video.

With the third category out of the way, that leaves “need to know” versus “cool to know.” “Need to know” is similar to “not news” in that it’s quite obvious what sorts of stories would go into that category. They’re the type of stories, no matter the topics, that will influence a decision regarding our lives or careers or that may change our world view. They’re stories about events happening in our area or that affect people we know or people similar to us.

Cool to Know/Fascinating is a Grey Area

“Cool to Know” is the grey area because there are many stories and topics that clearly fit into this news category, but depending on who you ask, would also fit into the “need to know” or the “not news” categories. For example, I know plenty of people who would argue celeb news is really “not news,” but there are specific stories like Robin Williams’ death that would fall into one of the other two categories. Perhaps much of the aftermath and the reaction to his death wasn’t necessarily news, but the point is that “cool to know” news is much like the fascinating news that I had to choose and put together.

It’s subjective, so “cool to know” news is harder to spot and to put together into an email or a feed. The five stories that I would put on my list is likely to be very different from what my fiance or what my mother would put on their list. I also think that the “cool to know” aspect of news is one that is very under-reported in the media, at least “cool to know” news that is still informative and intelligent. Like, #TheDress is cool to know in a lot of ways, but the story was spun in ways all over the web that were just fluffy and clickbait. Doing cool to know news without it being a puff piece, or clickbait, or a middleman to the good, original journalism.

Maybe finding fascinating isn’t the hard part. The hard part is showcasing why something is fascinating and why others ought to be fascinated by the story. All of that part is the reporting and the news that’s not the clickbait and that’s not the fluff. That’s the hard part.

Jun 08

Talking. About Everything.

i love stuffI like just about everything. I think everything is neat and that everything is fascinating to somebody. One of my favorite aspects to writing articles for the college newspaper was talking to the people who were putting on various events, or who were trying to start a club, or who were behind some sort of student policy initiative. I love this because those people I interviewed were passionate and excited about the work they were doing and I found it infectious. I remember I was doing a short article for the newspaper about a fashion show the Black Student Alliance was hosting. After interviewing the person coordinating the event about it, I really wanted to go! I’m not into fashion and I wasn’t a member of the Black Student Alliance, but the event coordinator was so energized about doing the event, about it’s theme and about the people she was working in it. It was hard not to be part of her passion.

I’m Interested in Just About Everything

This quality is a good one. I work for a news app that released its first vertical news app, Inside Drones, and we’re going to have two more coming out this week on two completely different topics. The week after or so, we’re going to have another two or three coming out on two or three more different topics. By the end of the summer, we should have 11 vertical apps out as well as our main Inside news app, all available in the App Store for people to download. That is A LOT of topics, and that won’t be the end of the line. The point is that being interested in everything is a good thing because Inside is going to cover everything ultimately, whether we do it in a vertical app or we feature the topic in our main app. My job involves sharing all the cool things we cover and getting people who love these topics into the right app(s). If I’m not interested in drones, then I certainly share the neat stories we feature or get drone enthusiasts using the app. They’ll be able to tell a mile away and they’ll just use a different app or website instead.

Right now, my job is primarily Inside Drones and the main app. But, come August or September, I’m gonna be doing this 11 times over across 11 different topics. So, really, my job isn’t for someone who has already decided they know what they like or who isn’t willing to learn about things they may have previously thought was gross or boring. I’m not lying. We cover EVERYTHING, which is a lot of things.

I Just Need to Start Talking, Reading and Writing

I just need to do those things and not be afraid. I need to not be afraid of not being good at any particular thing or of making people angry because I don’t talk about the things they want to read about all the time. I need to stop being afraid of being criticized or of crazy people threatening to dox me or send me rape threats or something. Talking, reading and writing, both here on this blog and at work. I think that’s really it. I need to do a whole bunch of little things, but talking, reading and writing are the main things. The little things can follow and can amplify the main things once the main things are actually on this blog and on the work blog and are actually being done.

As Seth Godin said, “the heart of real growth is a simple idea: people decide to tell other people. Start with that.”

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