#masterclass / Writing built the United States.

If it hadn’t been for the writings of the leaders of the American Revolution, the United States wouldn’t have existed. The best thing that happened to this country is that its founders wrote generously.

Not only did they write generously, but some were journalists and newspaper publishers. The bi-product: A new country and a “healthy” news industry to promote it. Wicked-smart.

#independentsday / Medium brings back the blog roll.

File this under: Well it’s about damn time.

The upcoming redesign for the next version Airbag features a blog roll. And I’ve added a blog roll to the next new product offering for LexBlog. Why? Because blogs and blogging was better when authors helped promote the discovery of other publications. While other content platforms seek to turn everything into a Squarespace competitor (drag and drop, WYSIWYG site building), Medium will find greater success in focusing on creating the best blogging experience possible.

Authenticity is not only vital to the individual publication but the entire collection. Helping to promote your fellow bloggers adds to our own genuine expression. Tools that focus on providing authentic core experiences will have more impact in a world increasingly controlled by AI-driven, segmented, omnichannel bullshit.

#evolution / Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace.

Do you have a penis and identify as he/him? Then I suggest purchasing, reading, and reflecting on this book. It was recommended in a group call by a bad-ass female leader in response to a question on how men can be better—and appropriate—supporters of women at work.

The authors, W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith, work at the United States Naval Academy and the United States Naval War College, respectively. They have also written on the topic of inclusive mentorship. Here they are presenting their argument that supporting women in the workplace results in a stronger business with larger profits and properly supporting women at work.

#diplomacy / Serbia, showing the world how it's supposed to work.

Not content with inoculating its people faster than any other country in continental Europe, it has taken on the role of the vaccine fairy for neighbouring states in the Western Balkans. Late last week, word started to spread that, for a limited time, Serbia was inoculating all comers. The car park at the main vaccination centre in Belgrade quickly filled with vehicles sporting number plates from across the former Yugoslavia and beyond. Bosnian and Montenegrin accents, as well as a smattering of Macedonian and Albanian, could be heard in the orderly, fast-moving queues at the cavernous halls of the city’s World Trade Center.

The unlikely catalyst for this vaccine bonanza was the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. It asked the government to make inoculations available for businesspeople from across the region, following similar efforts for other professional groups, including Bosnian medics and journalists from North Macedonia. “We looked at this from a practical perspective,” says the chamber’s co-ordinator, Marko Mandić. “This is good for the economy and it’s good for the economies of our neighbours.”

Nice work and well played. I’d love to see more of this enlightened and forward thinking perspective.

#weneedamontage / How to be the best.

From the amazing minds at Farnam Street comes a guide for becoming the best of anything.

Using deliberate practice, we can overcome many limitations that we might view as fixed. We can go further than we might even think possible when we begin. Deliberate practice creates new physical and mental capabilities—it doesn’t just leverage existing ones.

The more we engage in deliberate practice, the greater our capabilities become. Our minds and bodies are far more malleable than we usually realize. There’s much more to deliberate practice than 10,000 hours.__

It can even accelerate your progress in widely applicable skills such as writing, decision-making, leadership, studying, and spoken communication. The key in any area is to identify objective standards for performance, study top performers, and then design practice activities reflecting what they do.

If this sounds a bit familiar, look to Austin Kleon who outlined a somewhat similar framework for becoming a better creative in his book Steal Like an Artist. I haven’t had time to read through the entire guide but knowing who wrote it, you can bank on the advice and instructions contained within.

Stay curious my friends.

#staylocal

When local newspaper focus opinion sections on their community, political polarization lessens.

Last year the local newspaper in Palm Springs, California, The Desert Sun, dropped national politics from its editorial pages for one month. The publisher wanted to test the findings from university study that showed a correlation between national politics and an increase in polarization within the population. So, they abstained from any form of publishing opinion pieces at the national level. From the editor:

That means no columns, no cartoons and no letters about the president, Congress, the Supreme Court, etc. Have a burning opinion about any of those things? Save it up, we’ll get back to that in August.

Why this recess? Let me explain.

Earlier this year, a trio of university researchers from Louisiana State, Texas A&M and Colorado State published a fascinating — and troubling — study that found that the ongoing extinction of local newspapers across the nation contributes to political polarization…

We all know that national news coverage these days has an intense focus on the partisan war in Washington. According to the research study, published in the Journal of Communication, folks who have lost their local newspaper or have given up on it turn to national news outlets. Then, they apply their (increasingly hardened) feelings about national politics to their local city council or state legislature.

The result? More partisanship close to home.

Instead, The Desert Sun focused discussing local issues from “traffic, development, downtown revitalization, schools, and other local issues you can’t read about on NYTimes.com.”

The results are interesting.

Some topics moved from also-rans to mainstays; local arts moved from 4 percent to 28 percent of published letters to the editor. Editorials and op-eds focused much more on education and environmental issues. The share of pieces that mentioned either the Democratic or Republican Party fell by 60 percent.

One unexpected change: When the subject matter got more local, the authors writing became more corporate. Before the experiment, about three-quarters of op-eds had been written by opinion journalists. Moving to local dropped that to one-third. Who filled the gap? Executives from local companies and local elected officials, mostly. In a way, that makes sense: There isn’t a pool of local opinion journalists waiting to be pulled into service, and more specialized local topic matter favored people whose jobs connect with those topics in some way.

And according to the report, web traffic to the opinions page doubled during the time of the experiment. When is the last time you read about traffic to a newspaper website doubling?

Interestingly, the experiment didn’t end partisanship. Still, it did slow it down when compared to other cities with local papers that continued to publish syndicated national opinion pieces during the same period. It’s a shame the newspaper didn’t run the experiment for longer, say 180 days, because I’d wager that the population would feel less stress, be more cordial to one another, and see an increased interest and participation in local activities and programs.

Having read about this study and the outcomes, I wish Twitter and Facebook made similar moves. The Internet might actually feel hospitable again.

#utopia / How QAnon is tearing families apart.

Religion, no matter what the source, will inevitably tear everything apart once an ounce of fanaticism forms. And that’s what QAnon is, a fervent-fanatical belief in false stories that people want to believe are true and live by that information as if it is. What I don’t get is how profoundly stupid these stories are, and yet a good portion of this company can’t subscribe fast enough.

It would appear that common sense is dead.

#breakingthelaw / Can I use fonts and stock art products in an NFT (non-fungible token)?

Though I have little interest in NFTs, I thought this question and answer were intriguing. YouWorkforThem says the short answer is “yes.”

However, you need to be sure to purchase the correct license extensions for the type of use you want to mint. For instance, you would need to purchase the “Items for Resale” extension for any Stock Art items you use. If the NFT is a video that is streamed on the internet, any font license would need to be extended for that use, etc. And as always, you would need to alter or incorporate Fonts or Stock Art into some new form before simply selling them as is.

Interesting. NFTs are more than digital art, as I’ve seen host most people explain them, they are a form of software. Now I wonder what an audit would produce in terms of NFT copyright violators. I haven’t looked at what’s out there for sales, but I imagine a digital version of Canal Street with tables full of little, animated pictures.