November 2015 Calendar - *November 5: Eastern Idaho Technical College Merit Badge Pow-Wow. Meet at the church at 6:30. We will be at EITC from 7-9 pm. WEAR YOUR SCOUT SHIRT, as a...
1 year ago
Richard Thompson is the artist/writer/creator of the daily comic strip “Cul de Sac” syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, as well as an illustrator and cartoonist on other features. He is the creator of the weekly cartoon series “Poor Richard’s Almanac” which runs in the Washington Post, and his illustrations have appeared in numerous publications including U.S. News and World Report, National Geographic and The New Yorker. He has won NCS divisional awards for Magazine and Book Illustration in 1995 and Newspaper Illustration also in 1995. He won a Gold and a Silver Funny Bone Award in 1989 from the Society of Illustrators for humorous illustration. This is Richard’s second nomination.I've got to admit that in my book the Otterloops are the most authentic comic strip family I've ever encountered. He also comes as close as Charles Schulz in understanding what makes ordinary kids work. Bravo, Mr. Thompson.
As the book industry continues to evolve, it seems almost inevitable that books and writing will become more social (whether authors like it or not). Amazon has taken some steps in this area by adding the ability to share the passages that you highlight while reading books on the Kindle. And there have been many other moves toward “socializing” the reader experience — including some involving things that are not specifically books, such as the addition of social-sharing features to #longreads, which started as a Twitter hashtag and has become a full-fledged service.The short of it is that authors who refuse to be social are going to be pushed to the margins, while those who are out there promoting their books relentlessly are going to be the ones who keep selling books. And that, again, isn't necessarily new to the book industry. Robert Newton Peck, in his book "Secrets of Successful Fiction," says that he kept his books continually in print in the ancient, pre-Internet times of the 1970s and 80s by socializing as much as he could with groups ranging from high-falutin book readers who paid him to come to fans at the ladies' auxiliary hall who invited him and paid him with plates of cookies. In other words, socializing your books -- whether the medium is Twitter or traveling the midwest talking to your fans and selling them books -- is a major part of getting your books sold. Look at any successful book, from those published traditionally to those published independently, and while the writing quality may vary, what you're going to see in common is lots and lots and lots of energetic marketing.
The traditional New York publishing business model — publish a ton of books, fail to market most of them, and hope that somebody buys something — worked well when publishers had a hammerlock on the distribution and marketing of books. Publishers essentially faced no competition and enjoyed complete control of what books people could publish and sell.That’s the heady goodness part. Yay! We don’t need the snobs in New York to publish and market our own books. We are free of the tyrannical chains of The Man.
In today’s world, however, anyone from John Grisham to John Doe can put up a book online with Smashwords, Lulu, or Kindle Direct, and bypass publishers — and bookstores — all together. Authors can use Google AdWords or social networking strategies to market their books far more effectively than publishers ever could. So who needs New York?*
Yes, Kindle and iPad are game-changers. When you read books on a device, a few things change. You’re moving into an environment where you typically don’t pay for content — almost everything online is free. So publishers won’t be able to charge $10 or $12 for an entire book when people only want a chapter’s worth of information. So much for ebooks as a revenue stream for the publishing houses.I’ve seen these so-called “social networking strategies.” They work for the tiniest of majorities, function as an empty room in which to shout for the masses. And the idea of giving things away? Ay yi yi. So how do I get paid?
It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of . . .And as much as people like to say Ray Bradbury was a chronicler of science fiction and fantasy, it’s closer to the truth that he was a chronicler of youth. A chronicler of boys, because boys – whether they are Tom Skelton in “The Halloween Tree” or Jim nightshade in “Something Wicked this Way Comes” or the grown-up boys panting in the thin air in “The Martian Chronicles” – are what Bradbury knows best.
And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren’t rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn’t begun yet. July, well, July’s really fine; there’s no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June’s best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September’s a billion years away.It’s more than boys and Halloween that make these boys chronicles. Therein lies the desire for what will be, the nostalgia for what was and what may never be again, but most of all, the desire to live now and make now last forever and make the pain we feel now dim because of the better now that’s likely just around the corner, flapping along with the bedsheets.
But you take October, now. School’s been on a month and you’re riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you’ll dump on old man Prickett’s porch, or the hairy-ape costume you’ll wear to the YMCA last night of the month. And if it’s around October twentieth and everything’s smoky-smelling and the sky’s orange and ash grey at twilight, it seems Hallowe’en will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.
[O]ne strange wild dark long year, Hallowe’en came early.Those who see the now about to be are the ones who grew up overnight. They may be young in years, but not young in seeing the world for what it is. They do not fall into the carnival traps, the snares that life sets, those who anticipate the now about to come.
One year Hallowe’en came on October 24, three hours after midnight.
At that time, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street was thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-three days old. Next door, William Halloway was thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-four days old. Both touched toward fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands.
And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more . . .
Congressman Simpson,Sheesh. That depressed me even more, just writing it out. I sent that to Mike Simpson, and a similarly-worded missive to Sen. Mike Crapo as well. Expecting back the traditional form letters, the glass of water and the pat on the head, because this kind of rhetoric just isn’t heard over the partisan noise in Washington except at election time, when such drivel can be used a fodder for campaign stops when all sorts of wild promises are made with 99.9 percent of those in the audience cheering them on while at least fifty percent of us know such promises won’t be kept. At all.
What's a guy to do when he gets a letter from his health insurance provider saying that come the end of June he's going to have to pay more for health insurance than he's currently paying for his home mortgage?
The individual health insurance market is murder. And yet all I hear from the GOP is that we need to turn to the private market for health care solutions. The private market sucks rocks, congressman.
What's worse is that I don't feel that writing to my congressional delegation will do anything to fix the problem, or that it's even fixable by anyone outside of those guys who write those utopian novels.
Feeling slightly depressed,
As I wondered at a new world alongside Jon O’Connor, as I tagged along in the background as Henry Huggins romped with Ribsy, as I sat beside Mrs. Frisby in the rats’ library, rapt at the story of the rats of NIMH, I decided I wanted to be a writer.Okay. So I’ve given you a list of books, and a scratch on the surface of why I liked them then (and still like them now, frankly). But I didn’t do enough. So I tried again:
I wondered at a new world alongside Jon O’Connor after he fell through that forgotten door from his planet into the wilds of the Carolinas, befriended by the Bean family, hunted by the greedy Gilby Pitts. I tagged along in the background as Henry Huggins romped with Ribsy, that ragged, sharp-eyebrowed dog beneath the bold serif font declaring his name on the cover of the book. I sat beside Mrs. Frisby in the rats’ library, rapt at the story of the how the rats of NIMH gained their intelligence and how they hoped to use it to stop stealing from man, and later soared with her on the back of Jeremy the crow in the film inspired by the book.I hope, by offering the expanded details, I’m offering a more vivid peek into that childhood brain, and what’s motivating me now to get back to that writing career I wanted to start back then.
I read these books, and many others. I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Contrary to other news organizations, the BBC considers as paramount the principle of verification and fact-checking of each and every online resource. Before informing the other BBC reporters at the World Desk or BBC World about an interesting online source, “We always check out each and every image, video or key contact before we broadcast them, to make sure they are genuine and to resolve any copyright issues. When it’s impossible to do that – such as with content sent from Iran or Burma – when contacting the contributors is very hard to do or might put them in danger, we interrogate the images, using BBC colleagues who know the area and the story to help identify them.”Further, James Morgan with the BBC, Bruno writes, subjects his sources to other tests of authenticity, from considering the context of his or her tweets or Facebook posts of interest with what the user posts in general, to checking on things like IP addresses, cell phone prefixes, et cetera.
When the telephone first entered the newsroom, journalists were skeptical. ‘How can we be sure that the person at the other end is who they say they are?’ The question seems odd now, because we have become so used to phone technology that we barely think of it as technology at all – and there are a range of techniques we use, almost unconsciously, to verify what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, from their tone of voice to the number they are ringing from, and the information they are providing. Dealing with online sources is no different. How do you know the source is telling the truth? You’re a journalist, for god’s sake: it’s your job to find out.Amen to that.
When we read a review on Amazon, we have to administer our own version of the Turing test—was this really written by an innocent, human consumer like me? With the amount of money at stake, and the amount of PR energy brought to bear, it will become increasingly difficult to sort the genuine from the fake. One can imagine a future (perhaps it's already arrived) when companies deliberately insert bad grammar or regional slang to give reviews the appearance of authenticity—sort of like the distressed khakis of reviews.In other words, or errors make us human. And believable. Even on this blog. I may be anal about fixing what errors I see, but I don’t lie awake at nights, scouring my blog posts for things to fix. That’s also why I gave up the “Grammar Nazi” segments of this blog – they merely attracted other grammar Nazis who found mistakes aplenty on my blog, and rubbed my nose in them.
For now, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction. By cleaning up its reviews, Zappos is hurting shoppers as it helps its bottom line. The lowercase reviews, the all-caps reviews, the Internet speak, the subject-verb-agreement manglings, the sentence fragments, the pathetic attempts to spell chic—all of these are factors to weigh when considering someone's opinion of low-top Chuck Taylors. Or, to be more earnest about it, our mistakes are what make us human. On the Internet, it's important that other people can tell if you're an idiot.
But the British people had by now hardened their hearts towards their rulers, even the greatest. Many felt less gratitude to those presiding over victory in the most terrible conflict in history than implacable resentment against the politicians whom they held responsible for getting them into it in the first place. Even if Churchill had not himself been among the guilty men of the 1930s, he was now their political standard-bearer. And for all his giant stature as Britain’s war leader, millions of voters sensed that his interest in the humdrum domestic troubles of peace was perfunctory. An anonymous officer of the Second Army, fighting in Holland, wrote in the Spectator about the mood of the British soldier under his command: “[He] is fighting for the future of the world and does not believe in that future . . . He asks a lot of the future, but he doesn’t expect to get any of it.” The writer perceived his men as chronically mistrustful of all authority, institutions and politicians, but Tories most of all: “It is, perhaps, encouraging that Tommy, 1944, will not be foozled by facile talk of a land fit for heroes. He wants deeds, not words.” Few among such men perceived Winston Churchill as the national leader likely to fulfil such hopes once victory came.Page 421, “Bargaining with an Empty Wallet,” In “Winston’s War.”
[T]he findings suggest that there is not one group of news consumers online but several, each of which behaves differently. These differences call for news organizations to develop separate strategies to serve and make money from each audience.The home page thing, to me, is the most startling, and yet almost the most obvious thing to think of. Back when Web 1.0 was king, much was made of making the home page visible, dominant, and navigable. In the Google age, however, thought has poured into the philosophy that since traffic is coming to sites in droves through search engines that the home page is not necessarily as important as it was in the past. Not so, according to Pew, at least for the 25 major news sites they looked at:
The findings also reveal that while search aggregators remain the most popular way users find news, the universe of referring sites is diverse. Social media is rapidly becoming a competing driver of traffic. And far from obsolete, home pages are usually the most popular page for most of the top news sites.
With roughly 500 million users worldwide, Facebook’s audience is vastly larger than any single news organization. Its role has evolved from a network for friends to share personal information to a way for people to share, recommend and link together all kinds of information, including news. If searching for news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing news may be among the most important of the next.Google ought to be a little concerned here – which is why they tried to get Google Buzz going. Sharing news, I think, is going to become increasingly significant in the future. We’re doing that already, thank heaven, with our Facebook page, and with the AddThis widget we have on the tail end of every story we’ve got. Speaking of which:
The addition of social networking “share” tools to the margins of nearly every news story seems to have paid off. Facebook shows up among the top destinations for every site studied. So do sharing tool widgets like Addthis.com, which allow users to share a story across a wide range of social network pages. And the share tools rank higher among the content producers on the list than aggregators, suggesting that people share actual news stories more than search results. While these are technically clicks away from the site, they are positive clicks away, likely multiplying additional traffic to that story. The extent of their use may even be under counted here as this figure measures when people click on a link or tool to share the story. It does not record instances when users copy and paste URL’s onto a share page.So we’re at least doing the share thing right. I’d love to search Facebook to see whether or not the stuff on our site is being shared, however, as our users tend to be an inscrutable bunch.
"They cleaned it out,” one official said. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”U.S. officials are about to find out. The material is being examined at a secret location in Afghanistan.“Hundreds of people are going through it now,” an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” the official said.
Here is the link to the workshop I will be teaching. The Columbia University people told me that the reasons they are having me come teach this summer are because I come well prepared and get really good reviews with class numbers increasing. The words they used to describe the sessions were things like innovative and attention-grabbing. They also like that we cross train and deal with small staffs. This invitation would not be possible if it were not for the team effort that goes into helping me prepare for these events. Each of you have played a key role in this and I appreciate it. When I go to these things and am successful it is only because of this team. You should all take credit for this. Thanks.That makes us feel pretty good. Here's the link he mentions.