Blogosphere Trends + Unicorns

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This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Okay, okay, so we’re not actually talking about unicorns…but even though it’s a vital part of your blog’s tone and voice, I didn’t think you’d click on anything that sounded as deceptively unsexy and unexciting as what we’re actually discussing this week, which is grammatical person. Wait! Before you zone out, stick with me for a sec: It’s not as bad as it sounds. Grammatical person is simply means that you’re either referring to yourself (first person), your reader (second person), or a third party (third person). And, um, like a unicorn, it often goes unnoticed and can be exceptionally helpful. (I’m trying, you guys.)

Every time you sit down to write a post, you make choices. Some, such as your topic and headline, are likely to be very deliberate. Others, such as grammatical person, probably happen without much scrutiny—but even if you aren’t pausing to consider person (we’ll drop the “grammatical” now ’cause I know it freaks some people out), it impacts the strength of every post you write. That’s why I’ve chosen some posts about the ten most blogged-about stories of the last week (provided, as always, by Regator) to illustrate the importance of choosing the right person. Let’s take a look:

  1. Oil Spill – Writing in the third person (using pronouns such as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘they’) isn’t just for newspapers, academic papers, and formal writing. Although we have talked about the importance of using your personality and opinions to strengthen your blog, there may be times when you simply want to convey the facts. Unsurprisingly, the blog of news organization Reuters is written in third person in “Dalian oil spill is all cleaned up” and most of its other posts. Be aware though that a “just the facts” approach can, when not used with care, leave you with a post that seems dull or stiff.
  2. Shirley Sherrod – The writer of “After Breitbart and Shirley Sherrod, We Need a Slow-News Movement” from Politics Daily chose to add first person (using pronouns such as ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘we’) in combination with third to clearly convey his opinion along with a bit of his personality.
  3. Comic-ConFirstShowing.net’s “Comic-Con 2010: Quick Review of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim” is an example of a very first-person focused post, with pronouns such as ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘my’ accounting for more than five percent of the word count. A post with this much focus on the blogger is risky because unless he or she has established a relationship with readers so that they care a great deal about personal viewpoints, the post runs the risk of being less useful to readers.
  4. Mad MenJezebel’s “Contest: Win A Complete Set Of Mad Men Barbie Dolls!” primarily uses second person (pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘your’) to give instructions directly to readers. There are plenty of times when you might want to speak directly to your readers, giving them directions for a contest is just one.
  5. Angelina JolieVulture’s “Six Lessons From Salt About the Differences Between Male and Female Action Heroes” is an example of a third-person piece that—unlike the newsy style of the Reuters blog above—infuses some personality, humor, and informality into the post.
  6. Kindle – “Don’t Really Care About Touch Screens or Color” from Conversational Reading uses a combination of first and second person. That choice, along with phrases such as “I wonder how many readers out there are like me…” establishes a conversational tone.
  7. Magic Trackpad – Telegraph.co.uk’s technology blog asks, “Would you switch your mouse for a trackpad?” Second person is the best choice when you’re trying to encourage interaction and, although the rest of this post is written in first and third person, most of the comments directly answer the second-person question from the headline.
  8. Tony Hayward – “3 Big Reasons Why Tony Hayward Failed As CEO” from The Business Insider is a third-person piece that uses first and second person in the subheaders to provide the voice of the public. Choosing a different grammatical person in subheads can make them stand out even more.
  9. Chelsea ClintonEcorazzi’s “Chelsea Clinton’s Very Vegan Rehearsal Dinner” uses first person (along with the ubiquitous third person and a dash of second) to help build the voice of the blog and connect with readers with statements such as “I’m just as confused … as some of you may be.”
  10. Oliver Stone – When a story has a direct impact on you for some reason, as “Put Down Your Pitchforks; Oliver Stone Apologizes” from Cinematical did for its author, the first person is likely to be your best choice. Many people find that first person is also the most natural option for storytelling, since that is how we are accustomed to telling stories on a day-to-day basis.

Even though the grammatical person was almost certainly not the first thing on these bloggers’ minds, each of the above posts would have been vastly different had the bloggers chosen a different option. What person do you use on your blog? Is it a conscious choice? Please share your thoughts and unicorn stories in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Post from: Blog Tips at ProBlogger.

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Blogosphere Trends + Unicorns

July 31st 2010 News

News "Game Changers" Coming Out of the Woodwork

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News Corp. is reportedly considering working on some new app-based news product that would be separate from any of its existing print or web publications. An experiment in the future of news? Perhaps. A game changer? We’ll see. CNBC seems to think it might be.

Given how few details are known about this alleged product, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There have been a lot of so called "game changers" in the news industry recently, and I’m not sure how much the game has actually changed as a result of them. Julia Boorstin reports:

Sources close to the company tell me that the company is considering creating a new purely digital news play that would be designed for the app world and would be available through subscription on devices like the iPad.

This new digital news venture would incorporate text, photo and video, tailored for the iTunes app format … neither a newspaper nor a news website — it would not be based on any of News Corp’s existing papers.

There are some new and interesting products surfacing. There’s no question about that, but without widespread adoption, how much of a game changer can any one product truly be? Google? That was a game changer. Blogging platforms? Yep. Facebook? Absolutely. Twitter? Yes. It even caused changes in Facebook (and search engines with realtime search).

This new project from News Corp. will have text, photo, and video elements though. Sounds like a game changer!

How much does the iPad really change news? Again, based on the small amount of details, it’s hard to form a real opinion on this, but is app-exclusive content the answer? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’ll be in the content itself. If the content is exclusive, and unique enough from what’s on the web, an app like this could succeed. But apart from that, I really don’t see how this would be much different than offering a print publication with exclusive-to-issue content, other than the fact that less people will have access to it, though it might be able to build on this initial, ongoing novelty that comes with a new generation of tablet devices. Remember, you can still access the web from these too.

There is a lot of excitement around the iPad and similar forthcoming products right now, especially from the news industry. However, it still remains to be seen if these tablets can truly "change the game" in terms of news. People are still overwhelmingly going to choose free content over paid.

Thoughts?

July 31st 2010 ipad, News

fbFund No More?

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Things have been a little slow on the fbFund front this year. The site hasn’t posed an update since January, and you probably won’t be hearing about new ventures anytime soon.

Inside Facebook reports that fbFund appears to be "mothballed". fbFund is a seed fund and joint venture run by Facebook Founders Fund and Accel Partners. Investment capital for the fund was provided by these entities.

fBfund gave startups up to $100k in investment, as well as access to key people, presentations on technology, product, marketing, and business topics, mentorship, and even office space. Eric Eldon writes:

After noticing that the company has been completely quiet about fbFund plans so far this year, we asked it about its plans. "At this time we have no plans for future iterations of the program," a company spokesperson tells us, “but we will keep you posted as soon as we have anything new to share.” The company also says that it will "continue to support innovation from the startup community through initiatives like the developer garage program."

fbFund operated for two years, funding companies building Facebook’s developer platform, and as Eldon points out, it has kind of taken a backseat to the big boom in the social gaming market.

July 31st 2010 Facebook, Social Media

Sabotage!

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Just about all sabotage is self-sabotage.

We don’t get forced to eat that cookie, we choose to. And so the diet is ended.

Marketing self-sabotage is fascinating to watch and understand. Consider the college application: it’s primarily an opportunity for teenagers who aren’t sure of where they want to go to undercut their chances by exposing their uncertainty. The lizard brain, the voice in the back of the head that wants security and safety–it’s not eager to go to a college that might be ‘too hard’ or ‘too good’. The easy thing to do is to scale back the effort, not do what works, but do what feels right instead.

Or consider the way we resist opportunities to lead, to connect, to do work that matters. We don’t resist because we’re not capable of it… we resist because if our marketing fails, if we don’t get the job or earn the trust, then we’re off the hook. No promises made, which means no promises to keep.

We know more than enough about marketing now. We know how to craft a story that will spread, we know how to find and lead tribes. The thing we have trouble with is making the commitment to do it even when it’s frightening and difficult.

July 31st 2010 News

The Flickr Bogan-Martin Award For “Media Overreaction”

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One thing you can say about the Flickr team – there’s some fight in ‘em. They apparently were not super pleased with our coverage of their annual (and unofficial) Grant-Pattishall Award given each year to the Yahoo engineer who “who breaks Flickr in the most spectacular way.” I’m not sure why, I think the award is fun.

So now they have a new award, called the Bogan-Martin Award: “The Bogan-Martin Award is given yearly to the Flickr staff member who inadvertently generates the most spectacular media overreaction to a personal comment or inside joke.”

So who won? Daniel Bogan this year, who was also this year’s winner of the other award. And last year was Chris Martin. Both winners names link to previous posts we’ve done. Suggesting that we’re the media that is engaging in the spectacular overreaction.

Ok, Flickr. You won this round.


July 31st 2010 yahoo

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Singapore/Malaysia CEO Dean Taylor leaves to return to New Zealand

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Dean Taylor.jpgSaatchi
& Saatchi Singapore & Malaysia CEO Dean Taylor is the latest
high profile senior executive to leave the agency. Taylor is returning
to New Zealand due to personal reasons.

Taylor
previously was the managing director of Saatchi’s Auckland office and
transferred to run the Singapore agency at the start of 2009. He replaced John Foley, an ex-Saatchi NZ team member who was promoted to CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. Taylor then
took on responsibility for the Malaysia office soon after. Patrick
Brett, south-east Asia CEO, will take over both offices as acting CEO
until a replacement is found.

The move follows a tough period for the agency which has experienced major setbacks including the loss of the prestigious Singapore Navy and Tiger Beer accounts, plus the turnover of the majority of the creative departments of both offices. Adrian Miller resigned as ECD of both offices in March and Head of Art Richard Copping left the agency in May.

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July 31st 2010 News

Links for 2010-07-30 [del.icio.us]

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July 31st 2010 News

on: typography

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Typography exists to honor content.
— Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style

July 31st 2010 News

Paul Graham’s Checklist, Would You Make The Cut? [Video]

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With more than 200 deals since 2005, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham knows how to size up a young team of entrepreneurs. However, he didn’t get it right from day one.

On Friday, we got a chance to talk to Graham after his morning panel with SV Angel’s Ron Conway. He discussed how his strategy has evolved over the past five years and why the balance of power is shifting in Silicon Valley. See videos ahead.


July 31st 2010 News

Chamillionaire Just Wants Your Business Card

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Grammy award winning artist Chamillionaire (a.k.a Hakeem Seriki) has become a regular at tech conferences, perhaps because the hustle and flow culture of the rap business and the hustle and flow culture of the tech business are surprisingly similar. His stories of struggles between artists and music labels are resonant to anyone who’s experienced the relationship intricacies of startups and VCs.

Chamillionare got his first taste of the magic of the Internet in 2004, with the launch of his first website Chamillionaire.com. The community around the site’s message boards exploded unexpectedly, “at the time it was really creative and really cool,” he told Mike Arrington at today’s Social Currency CrunchUp.

Other highlights from the interview include Mike Arrington calling the hip hop artist’s entourage “goofy,” asking, “What kind of rims are cool now?” and ending the memorable,”You guys know how to manipulate the tech industry to get what you want, but you have the lamest phones …”

In retort, Chamillionaire insisted that he carries around his 3 phones, a Blackberry Curve 8700, an iPhone 3Gs, and a Sidekick XL, for “simplicity” and joked that he checks in as “Mike Arrington” when he stays at hotels. On why he attends tech conferences, “I just want to get a business card from each of you.”

Curious, we caught up with the artist after the panel and asked him what exactly he thought the tech community had to offer?

“Everything. Access to people through social networks. We don’t build these social networks, we don’t blog on TechCrunch. People here are like what would a rapper care about TechCrunch for? It’s crazy, it’s about distribution of information. It’s just getting information to people, that’s just what major labels are. They’ve got companies that distribute for us now so it’s like cutting the record labels out – I’m doing you a favor, you’re doing me a favor and I’m getting to where I need to get to.

On his future plans? “I just want to innovate.” He said, insisting that he couldn’t reveal any more information.

Video of his onstage interview, below:


July 31st 2010 News