I love the variety of the web. Every time I encounter a site having useful information I add it to one of my Feedspot folders. This way I am building an on-line library of interesting sites. I lookup articles on these every day. Some of which become part of Web explored. November is the anniversary of Web Explored, and I am honouring that milestone by re-using the original featured image from the November 2016 edition. Web explored celebrates the wide variety of views that are out in the web. Silence of god is the opening story for this edition of Web explored.
The purpose of Web Explored is to bring a flavour of the things that people are writing about. Some you may have seen before — others you could be seeing for the first time. The object, to share the thoughts of others to my readers in an enjoyable way.
Silence of God
An interesting question placed on Facebook: “if you’re an atheist, does a character who believes in Jesus offend you?” As an atheist that is an interesting question. I know people who believe fervently in god. Just because they have such beliefs and I do not doesn’t mean we are unable to work together. The first link here is appropriate to that question.
“I sit in silence on my back porch, contemplating. The leaves are worshiping all around me in a kaleidoscope of color. I sit and wait, for what? I do not know”. So says Michelle Gunnin in her piece Silence of God. Personally I may not use words like ‘worshiping’ but it does paint an excellent picture of the mood of the season. Hearing the pitter-patter of leaves is an interesting description. I love descriptive words like this and how they can drive the imagination.
What she is describing is based on reality, painting an excellent picture, the autumnal scene in which she finds herself and the thoughts to accompany it. Such moving writing is normally associated with fiction. Yet this writing is factual. It is imaginative nonetheless. All writers should pay attention to the way she has put these words together. The way we use words matters.
Demographics: find out your readers’ gender, age, income, and interests.
What types of content do your readers like?
The kinds of problems your readers want solved
These are excellent lines of enquiry. Personally, I plan and re-plan my publishing schedule every six to eight weeks. Not an end-of-year event, but an ongoing exercise. It is always important to get feedback though. I have tried a couple of Twitter surveys, with moderate success.
Learning from Machines
Valeria Maltone, A.K.A. the Conversation Agent talks about “What Cognitive Computing can Teach us About How we Learn”. “We need the power of cognitive computing to put into context the volumes of information we deal with daily in many professions”. I agree. This has been a thought I have had for quite some time. I see Amazon Echo or Google’s offering as a limited facility gimmick, a nice to have, but not a necessity.
For an A.I. assistant, I need a tool that will search through volumes of information (whether on my own computer or across the Internet) and gather together the most relevant elements.
The idea being that it assists me in producing what I am working on. I should be able to set it to work at any time, like midnight — before I go to bed. It then gathers all useful data and presents it in a way that allows me to easily write the first draft of a project. Find facts, figures, info-graphics, and other useful material. Perhaps the data gathered can prove or disprove a theory. Help me understand whether or not to publish. A useful tool, not a gimmick.
One of the challenges of A.I. is about context. Understanding how us humans use words. The tone. Is a person using humour, or are they being cynical? Sometimes it is difficult for us humans to tell, how hard is it for a machine? This is an interesting discussion that must be ongoing.
Self Imposed Deadline
Writer Jack Vance came up with a plan “giving myself a specific block of time (e.g., 10 – 15 minutes) to write a post”. His contribution “Blogging Under Time Pressure” is an interesting read. The goal/desire/hope to train himself to finish most posts in the condensed time frame without having to come back and finish them later.
The idea of using alloted time slots in which to write is a good one, but a 15 minute article becomes very short and you have to ask the value it offers. I would not limit it to 15 minutes, a 30 minute ‘sprint’ can offer a lot of value. This can focus the mind and get you to put the words on the page.
Personally, I refute his notion that editing and re-writing contribute little to the post. Editing adds a lot of value, it is about adding spit and polish to the final thoughts.
Bill Ferris offers Ten Tips on Self-Motivating for a writer. His first tip, “set a regular schedule” is one I thoroughly agree with. Even if you only have 10 minutes a day to write then you must make those 10 minutes count and use them every day. When are those ten minutes? Are they at lunch time? As soon as you arrive home from work? They are crucial minutes.
He offers many other great tips which the dedicated writer can learn from. “Rekindle the romance” for your work is another powerful tip. Look at what you loved about the project and try to reach that point again. That can become an important driver. For other tips then take a look at Ferris’s piece.
Perfect Business Email
Mary Cullen on the Instructional Solutions Blog offers tips on “How to Write a Business Email” which everyone ought to consider. I have received some dreadful emails sent by highly intelligent, indeed brilliant, people over the years. It is not that they can’t write , they simply forget the basic rules of communication in that moment.
Key questions, such as, who is my audience and what is the purpose, indeed is it necessary, should always be asked by the writer. All too many emails are written as a knee-jerk reaction to something said when the writer ought to rationalise their thoughts.
I agree that style, tone, and the format of the email are all essential. Consider that when next writing an email. Perhaps you should bookmark this page.