Finally, a Good Desktop Publishing Tool

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Nerdery | 2 Comments

I’ve been creating content personally and professionally for over a decade. That’s not a presumptuous statement—I’ve always enjoyed writing personally and every job I’ve had has required me to produce content, both written and visual.

One thing that’s always bothered me about creating content, whether for myself or my job, is that I’ve never found a really good workflow for publishing. I’ve used multiple blogging platforms personally, from iWeb (yes, iWeb) to Tumblr, WordPress and more nerdy solutions like Jekyll and Octopress. There are advantages and disadvantages to each tool, but the common denominator is that actually pushing content onto the web through each is at best mildly frustrating and at worst a project management nightmare.

One of my major frustrations with publishing platforms is that many relegate you to a web interface (or web and mobile interfaces). That’s understandable from a user-experience standpoint: managing multiple platforms, including native apps, can be a nightmare and requires a massive engineering team. For me, though, content creation is best done with complete focus and a web browser is not the ideal environment. (Self-control has much to do with this, of course, but to some extent “the medium is the message,” and we use our browsers for information discovery a significant amount of the time.)

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Email Signatures, Onboarding and Perception of Authority

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Work | No Comments

I’ve recently signed up for two services: Uberconference and Zirtual.

As expected, I recieved several well-designed, templated emails as a part of the onboarding process for each company. The emails I received from Zirtual were signed by the Founder and CEO of the company. That’s not uncommon and I wouldn’t be surprised if responses didn’t go directly to her.

zirtual-email-signature-founder-and-ceo

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Do People Still Check Out Books at Libraries?

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

Recently I’ve written two posts about changes technology is driving in libraries. One of the articles I mentioned from Wired included a small snippet about books—the traditional medium available at libraries—and how these technological advances have affected how people interact with them.

But what about books? Public Library Association research shows that people have checked out slightly fewer materials in recent years. And Pew found that about a third of patrons are opposed to makerspaces if they displace books.

I haven’t checked a book out in ages, so I was really interested to know how behavior across all library patrons is trending.

Unfortunately the article didn’t actually reference that research, so I went out looking for it. After some digging I found a report from the American Library Association that confirms Wired’s claim about people checking out reference materials. Here’s a chart that displays the changes visually:

american-library-association-report-reference-materials-internet-usage-public-libraries

Here’s a summary:

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Libraries: From Consume to Create

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

Last week I wrote a post about bookless libraries. I ran across another library trend that will be just as fascinating to watch: the transition of emphasis from consumption to production.

Wired explains in a description of Chattanooga’s downtown public library:

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Business, Politics and Mudslinging at the Top

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Work | No Comments

Last year Quartz published an article comparing Bing’s direct jab at Google (the ‘Scroogle’ campaign) to tactics commonly used in political campaigns.

There’s an old saw about the difference between elections and sales: Businessmen have it easier than politicians, since 49% of the market makes a firm well-off but a politician facing the same result is a failure. The relative ruthlessness of each sector, it goes, is reflected in politics’ all-or-nothing mudslinging versus the more genteel world of corporate marketing. The tech industry might be shaking up this conventional wisdom thanks to its firms’ all-or-nothing strategies; in this new world, 15% of the market isn’t enough for some players anymore.

Quartz, along with several politicians they interviewed, thinks this for of direct attack is here to stay:

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Bookless Libraries and the Democratization of Information

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

A few recent articles have made the democratization of information—and the ‘arrival of the future,’ as some call these advances—hit much closer to home. First on display is the advent of the bookless library. That sounds like an oxymoron because of what we have known libraries to be for so long (shelves of books).

The Verge recently published an article reviewing Florida Polytechnic University’s new bookless library. Granted, the school’s curriculum focuses heavily on STEM material and the library has a book-borrowing program set up with other libraries. That isn’t the most interesting thing to me about the bookless phenomenon, though, it’s the way the concept is shaping the inventory and distribution of content:

Instead of books, the library has a deal with publishers that lets students access a title once for free. If any other student “takes out” the ebook of that title, the library automatically purchases it for its collection.

Instead of purchasing inventory, libraries can buy ebooks on-demand as needed. The efficiency brought about by that model alone will drive more libraries to adopt similar models. What’s more, as mobile devices become more and more integrated into education, we’ll see seamless ‘checkout systems’ in which students can access a school’s bookless library without even stepping foot in the physical space.

This will certainly be a fascinating transition to watch.

Advertising Hype VS Reality

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in Nerdery, Work | No Comments

This week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association’s yearly Summit. MIMA happens to be the oldest interactive marketing association in the US.

I’ve already learned great things from the smart people here, but one thing I really appreciate about some of the content is that it’s honest. For example, in a session focused on the Internet of Things, Liz Presson said this:

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Sticking With Lingering To-Do’s

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Work | 2 Comments

I am generally categorically opposed to what I call ‘productivity porn,’ or the prescription of silver-bullet productivity/GTD/time management advice. “Follow these four steps and re-claim your to-do list and your life!” One of the reasons I oppose that type of advice is that many times, the person espousing a fix has found something that works really well for themselves and won’t necessarily work for everyone.

That being said, I do think it’s healthy to think well about how we use our time (which I’m writing a series about) and from time-to-time I run across an opinion about productivity that I think is interesting enough to discuss.

To that end, a gentleman named Jeremiah Owyang wrote a post on Medium called “If Time is Money, Invest Wisely.” The premise of the post is spot-on:

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If You’re Not an Art Director, Don’t Be

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Work | One Comment

This is a snippet from an email I sent to a designer I’m working with:

Also, one additional thought: the photo seems a *bit* ambiguous—do you think it would be better to shift it left so that you can see more of the laptop (to provide better context)? Not trying to art-direct, just trying to look at it from the potential customer’s eyes.

I’m working with a designer to shore up the lines on The Iron Yard’s brand. The resulting standards will serve as a guide to any designer creating any sort of artwork or collateral related to our company.

Throughout this process I’ve worked hard to let the art/creative director do their job without interfering. What does that mean? Many times when you have a deep connection to a brand (i.e., you started the company) or your authority over that brand (which is part of my job), you’re tempted to let your preferences guide decision making about the brand. To some extent, if you know the brand intimately, you are one of the brands most valuable resources.

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My Answer: Is The Iron Yard Academy Worth The Investment?

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Work | No Comments

Yesterday I wrote about a potential customer asking a question about our business on Quora:

Is The Iron Yard Academy worth the investment?

I thought it would be interesting to publish my response—they way I tried to express what our customers receive when they give us money. (One of our graduates also responded, which provided an interesting and incredibly encouraging perspective.)

Here’s what I wrote:

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