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.
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.
New York City's Book Row
A nice video tribute to New York City’s famed Book Row which ran along 4th Avenue.
Learning to Tell Stories
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.”
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?”
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:
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.”
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.”
Author 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?
This is pretty cool. It’s called Starfield. It’s an art installation by the French art collective Lab212. “It involves a swing, the projection of a star field in front of it and a Microsoft Kinect.” Participants can swing over scenes from the earth, Saturn’s rings, a black hole or other constellations.
“Since the invention of the cuneiform system of writing in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE and of hieroglyphics in Egypt around 3150 BCE, the serious reader of texts has enjoyed cultural acclamation,” writes Frank Furedi in Aeon."In Roman times, starting in the second century BCE, books were brought down from heaven to earth, where they served as luxury goods that endowed their wealthy owners with cultural prestige. The Roman philosopher Seneca, who lived in the first century, directed his sarcasm at the fetish for grandiose display of texts, complaining that ‘many people without a school education use books not as tools for study but as decorations for the dining room’. Of the flamboyant collector of scrolls, he wrote that ‘you can see the complete works of orators and historians on shelves up to the ceiling, because like bathrooms, a library has become an essential ornament of a rich house’.”
Owning books is not about the appearance of sophistication. Nevertheless, bookish fools exist. Furedi asks, “Is book ownership still a sign of public cultural distinction in the digital age? It’s not the performance, and not the optics that really matter, but the experience of the journey to the unknown.”