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Do you think that today’s maps present an accurate description of the world we live in? Think again. This post at Open Culture shows how difficult it is to show what the world is actually like on a flat page. That is, until a Japanese designer solved the problem last year. “For either cultural or…

An Accurate Map of the World

Do you think that today’s maps present an accurate description of the world we live in? Think again. This post at Open Culture shows how difficult it is to show what the world is actually like on a flat page. That is, until a Japanese designer solved the problem last year.

“For either cultural or navigational reasons, this hugely distorted map inflates the size of Europe and North America and makes Greenland and Africa roughly the same size. A long overdue update, the Peters Projection from 1973, improved the Mercator’s accuracy, but at the cost of legibility and proportion. But last year, architect and artist Hajime Narukawa of Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance in Tokyo solved these problems with his AuthaGraph World Map, at the top, which won Japan’s Good Design Grand Award, beating out “over 1000 entries.”

This video explains the problem, and the solution, in greater detail. Fascinating.

Posted by Joel on March 11 2017 • Current Affairs

Journalism: Coastal and Metropolitan

Are journalists becoming more sequestered to coastal and metropolitan settings? Why? These are good questions addressed in this post at The Atlantic.

“There’s little question the journalistic class has diverged sharply from the country it covers. In 1960, nearly a third of reporters and editors had never attended a single year of college; in 2015, only 8.3 percent could say the same, according to Census figures…

“To a modest degree, journalists have also become increasingly sequestered on the East and West coasts, to the detriment of newsrooms in the interior of the country. In fact, as of 2011, 92 percent of journalists worked within a metropolitan area, up from 75 percent a half century earlier.” Today, 13 percent of all journalists work in Manhatten, according to the piece. The total number of jobs has declined sharply since 1990, but the decline has hit rural areas the most.

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Posted by Joel on February 25 2017 • Journalism

Libraries are for Everyone

Hafuboti is the work of a self-described “Punk Rock Book Jockey, crafter, ukulele player, do-gooder, TV watcher, pop culture enthusiast, Jim Henson fan, and a lot more.” The site’s creator, Rebecca McCorkindale, is also a Nebraska public librarian. Definitely check her site out. She created these great graphics for all to use online. Thank you. I love the message: Libraries are certainly for everyone.

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Posted by Joel on February 19 2017 • Current Affairs

Encountering Digital News

A new report issued by The Pew Research Center reveals some interesting insight into how readers consume and interpret digital news. The Columbia Journalism Review summarizes the report: “By a statistically insignificant margin, the most common way for people to get their news is still by visiting a news organization directly. In these cases, findings showed that people are more aware of the source of the news, and they’re less likely to share it with others.

“However, when people get their news through social media—or from friends via email or text—they’re less likely to remember the source, and they’re more likely to share it online or send it to friends.”

According to the study: “When asked how they arrived at news content in their most recent web interaction, online news consumers were about equally likely to get news by going directly to a news website (36% of the times they got news, on average) as getting it through social media (35%). They were less likely to access news through emails, text messages or search engines. And most people favored one pathway over another. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of online news consumers had one preferred pathway for getting most of their online news.”

The study addresses recent questions about fake news as well: “When consumers click on a link to get to news, they can often recall the news source’s name. Individuals who said they followed a link to a news story were asked if they could write down the name of the news outlet they landed on. On average, they provided a name 56% of the time. But they were far more able to do so when that link came directly from a news organization – such as through an email or text alert from the news organization itself – than when it came from social media or an email or text from a friend. It was also the case that 10% of consumers, when asked to name the source of the news, wrote in “Facebook” as a specific news outlet.”

There are some very interesting findings in the report, including how gender and age play a role in how people consume news. Younger and older consumers follow news links at the same rate but younger consumers are more likely to forget the source. According to The Columbia Journalsim Review summary of the report, younger and female news consumers are more likely to get their news through social media, while older and male consumers are more likely to seek it out directly from a news organization.

This chart highlights another interesting detail: how certain topics are more likely to be learned about through one method over another. It is an interesting study for those who work in journalism or marketing.

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Posted by Joel on February 11 2017 • Journalism

New York City's Book Row

A nice video tribute to New York City’s famed Book Row which ran along 4th Avenue.

Posted by Joel on January 28 2017 • Books

Learning to Tell Stories

image Branded content can take various forms. In this case the medium is actually a barn. When I took this photo earlier this fall, I wasn’t quite sure what it was but I loved the sentiment. Clear and eye-catching, the message finds its mark as drivers pass by along Interstate 35 just south of the Twin Cities. I finally learned more about it this week when a press release passed my desk about Culver’s campaign to thank farmers. Sure enough, big blue barns are part of the program. The food chain’s “commitment to the next generation runs deep,” says their campaign. They are also moving from “gratitude to full-fledged support” as they support the National FFA organization.

Another campaign came across my desk this week: Haagen Das and the Extraodinary Honey Bee. According to this story in Ad Week, the company has been working on the project for the past eight years. The virtual reality immersive video will tell the story from the bee’s perspective. It looks wonderful and it is scheduled to debut later this summer. They gave a sneak peek of their work at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

From Adweek: “We’re here at the Sundance Film Festival really learning to tell stories even better,” said Alex Placzek, director of marketing for Häagen-Dazs in the U.S. “At the core brands are basically a story so if you don’t tell a compelling and engaging story you’re basically a commodity. What we’re excited about is learning how to tell stories in a much more impactful way.”

Posted by Joel on January 28 2017 • Content Marketing

Writers and the CIA

There is a really interesting story in The New Republic about writers, literary magazines and the CIA. Patrick Iber writes about the history of the CIA’s attempt to impact culture and ideas. It’s fascinating literary history>

“Today’s intellectuals approach their labors in a very different set of circumstances,” he writes. “The struggle for academic patronage and the strained conditions of nearly all media properties have led to fewer jobs and fewer venues for substantial writing; the possibility of leading a public-facing life of the mind now seems vanishingly small, which only heightens nostalgia for the golden age of the 1950s. Yet the shadow of the CIA lurks behind the achievements of that time. The free play of ideas—the very thing that was supposed to distinguish the United States from the Soviet Union in the first place—turned out to be, at least in part, a carefully constructed illusion. What if the prominence of midcentury intellectuals, the sense that they were engaged in important political and artistic projects, is inseparable from the fact that they were useful to America’s Cold War empire?”

Posted by Joel on January 13 2017 • Journalism

Best Books of the Year

What was your favorite book you read this year? Many great best-of-the-year lists are out, including My Bookshelf, Myself and the year’s 10 Best Books from the New York Times as well as 16 Favorites from Brain Pickings and the Smithsonian’s Best Books about Innovation and Science. Bill Gate’s always highlights his favorite reads of the year in a video. This year he picks a few that will soon be on my list:

image Recently I have enjoyed well-written biography more than anything else. A talented biographer not only tells a very personal story, but she also carries the reader through the time period in which the subject made their impact on the world. The reader learns about philosophy, history and science while following a captivating narrative. More biographies are already on my list for 2017.

This year, I read two very good examples of the craft: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin; and Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson.

Kai Bird is a wonderful author, and the news has it that he is at work on a biography of Jimmy Carter during his White House years. I would like to end this post with a quote from another favorite president: Barack Obama. It’s included in another book I’ve nearly finished, Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late. The quote is about story and its power to shape our culture.

“What makes our species unique is that we are not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story, one that describes a common humanity, one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.”

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Joel on December 21 2016 • Books

Brand Storytelling

I love this quote from Content Standard’s story: Why Brand Storytelling is the New Marketing: an Interview with Robert McKee:

“The way to persuade the buyer is to get their attention with a story, and that is very difficult in this day and age of distraction. Story is the most effective way to get attention because what attracts human attention is change. As long as things are moving on an even keel, you pay attention to whatever you’re doing. But if something around you changes—if the temperature around you changes, if the phone rings—that gets your attention. The way in which a story begins is a starting event that creates a moment of change. When someone is watching a story, something happens that turns the situation, usually to the negative. (It could be to the positive, but even if it turns to the positive, it’s going to become negative in a moment.)”

McKee on writing:

“There’s this whole world of study that [all people] have to accomplish. They have to have an author’s knowledge of the art form. That’s the hardest thing for them to get through their heads: here they are, at age 25, 30, and they thought they’d done all the schooling they needed to do. That they could just sit down and be a writer, a businessman, and that they didn’t have to start learning from the beginning.

“If this was music, and not story, you would have to master music theory. You’d have to master the form of it—whether it’s classical, jazz, or rock—musicians are technicians who know the structure of music. They recognize that there’s a technique—there’s a craft. It’s the same thing with writing, you have to be able to compose.”

One campaign that McKee highlights for doing it well is Dove. “It’s a perfect example of what a great marketing/storytelling campaign can be, but it begins with an insight into human nature. Without that substance, it doesn’t matter how skillful the storytelling may be.”

Posted by Joel on December 12 2016 • Content Marketing

Bookstore Tourism

imageAuthor and bookstore owner Ann Patchett takes readers on a wonderful tour of her favorite bookstores around the country in this article in the New York Times. I will certainly visit her store in Nashville, Parnassus Books, when I get a chance to travel in the area. Her story highlights two favorites here in the Twin Cities: Wild Rumpus, a wonderful children’s bookstore, and Birchbark Books, which is also owned and operated by an author, Louise Erdrich. Another author-owned bookstore didn’t make Patchett’s list, but if you are in the area I would suggest that you stop by. Common Good Books in St. Paul is owned by Garrison Keillor.

I visited two of my favorites this year: Powell’s in Portland, and The Strand, the legendary “18 miles of books” in New York City, which ranks high on my list. Here seven authors list their favorite stores. What’s your favorite bookstore?

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Posted by Joel on December 11 2016 •