‘Finding Your Fanatics’

Shawn Blanc, on finding your audience and how your audience finds you:

Your brand is also important. I’m not talking about logo marks here, I’m talking about your reputation. How do people perceive you (as professional or amateur; friendly or angsty; humble or self-centered; etc.)? What topic or subject people do people connect to you (design, development, typography, photography, etc.)?

Your content and your brand are summed up as being what you make and who you are. This is true for the individual, the small business, and the large corporation. And over time the two become deeply intertwined. What you make represents who you are, and who you are fuels what you make. Your brand and your content become one and the same.

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‘The Pretty Birds Got Smashed, and Then They Got Smashed’

Adam Rogers for Wired, “Animals Who Drink and the People Who Cut Them Open”:

The first thing Kinde noticed in the birds was damage, bits of bleeding and bruising to the muscles. No surprise—they’d run into buildings. In most of the birds, the liver had also burst, another hallmark of collision. But it was the throat that took Kinde by surprise. Cut open, the esophagus of each was packed with tiny red berries. “And then we go down to the stomach, the gizzard, and it’s engorged, too,” Kinde says. That’s not weird by itself; cedar waxwings are frugivores. They live mostly on fruit. But it started Kinde thinking. “The immediate cause of death in these birds was trauma,” he says. “But why?”

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‘If You Wake Up Groggy After Napping, You’re Probably Doing It Wrong’

Benjamin Spall, “How to Nap”:

Afternoon fatigue is a real problem; a problem that can cause us to dose ourselves with as much caffeine as possible as the inevitable decline of our day plays out.

Your body is craving sleep. The solution to afternoon fatigue simple: feed your body’s desire, don’t cover it up.

Napping has gained a resurgence in popularity in recent years but it remains an area that’s largely frowned upon, rather than something that’s celebrated as the rejuvenating method of upping your per-day productivity it is.

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‘AP Style Should Adopt the Oxford Comma’

Roy Peter Clark, writing for Poynter:

It’s great to see that Nate Silver’s 538 is finally hitting its stride. Stepping aside from the conflicts of politics and sports, the data site has decided to weigh in on a controversy that truly ignites the passion of partisans. Forget Red States versus Blue States, campers. Forget Brazil vs. Argentina in the World Cup. Want to see the fur fly? Debate the Oxford comma.

The Oxford or serial comma (which I prefer) is the one that comes before the “and” in a series such as: “Kelly, Al, Kenny, Ellyn, Jill, Butch, and Roy teach at Poynter.” AP style, which Poynter follows, omits that final comma, leaving “Butch and Roy” attached like “Siegfried and Roy.”

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On Being in America

Neven Mrgan, “I’m New Here”:

But I’ve been in the United States for fifteen years now, and it feels more like home than any other place. The US of A has been inviting and welcoming to me. I’d worried about fitting in—I have always worried this my whole life, and I always will—and was pleasantly surprised to find the people here patient and eager to help a newcomer. This is largely luck, likely; had I been of slightly darker skin, or slightly more visible religious beliefs, or of less middle-class-mainstream needs, things may have turned out differently. That sucks. But this is home now, and the cracks and holes in my home are mine to fix.

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‘Boost’

Matt Gemmell, on the barrage of "republication" emails he receives:

Whenever a piece “hits” like that, I start getting emails – and this has happened for years. The messages from readers are fantastic, no matter whether they’re positive or negative, but it’s the other kind of emails I want to talk about here: the requests for republication.

As my writing — either freelance work or work published here — has grown in popularity, I’ve noticed a rise in the patronizing, soliciting emails Gemmell talks about. In every case, I just ignore them, and after awhile, these people get the hint that I’m not interested in their "promotion".

On the Commercialization of the Amish

Chris Scinta, writing for NPR’s The Salt blog:

The Amish, with their emphasis on family, hard work and simplicity, have drawn hordes of tourists but also an influx of residents, malls, roads and housing developments. The upshot? Swaths of farmland have been lost, and many Amish are now choosing to give up farming or are leaving the state to pursue quieter surrounding and cheaper land.

The irony, spelled out in research from Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University, couldn’t be more blunt: “The commercialization of the Amish lifestyle has grown tremendously in recent decades, so much so that it actually threatens the viability of the very tourism industry it created. … Stores catering to the tourists now sit on land that was once an Amish farm.”

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‘Working From Home’

Matt Gemmell offers advice for getting the best out of working from home:

It’s not just as straightforward as pulling out a laptop in the living room, though. Working from home has a number of difficulties and challenges. In many ways, it’s a battle for mastery of yourself. I’d like to talk about a few of the issues I’ve faced, and how I handle them.

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The Beard

I don’t know why, but I watched this over and over. It’s great.

(via Jim Dalrymple)

On ASL Classes

Libby Nelson, writing for Vox:

The fastest-growing foreign language class in the past 20 years isn’t foreign at all. Nor is it spoken. It’s American Sign Language.

More college students are now studying American Sign Language than Chinese and Russian combined. In 2009, ASL was the fourth-most popular language for college students to study, falling behind only Spanish, French, and German.

True story: When I was in high school, my guidance counselor waived the foreign language graduation requirement because of my fluency in American Sign Language. It’s my first language, and deeply ingrained into who I am as a person.