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April 18 2012

16:21

When in doubt, try something new.

I caught this tweet from a long-time colleague flying across my screen this morning:

Referenced @PhillipADsmith’s post on not working weekends while chatting productivity hacks: bit.ly/IKlwfF Definitely worth a read.

— Erin Polgreen (@erinpolgreen) April 18, 2012


It reminded me that, a ways back, I wrote stuff about my personal life that wasn’t just travel updates or work-related musings. I had this idea many years ago that I’d write more about personal beliefs when it comes to striking a balance between doing what you love, and loving what you do. I thought I would call it the “Tao of consulting,” because I believed that to be great at consulting, you needed to be even better at living.

Some time later, taking enormous inspiration from a range of characters that I’d met over the years, I decided to try out a new persona: The Slacker. The concept is quite simple really and not that novel: work smart, not hard. There’s a fair bit of writing out there that supports the idea that people who make time to reflect and who engage a variety of interests are more effective at creative problem solving — it’s well worth a Google search or two.

After more than fifteen years of actively exploring and thinking about the various ways of being an effective professional activist, consultant, collaborator, convener, and agitator, I’m always rejuvenated to return to the point where there’s something new to learn. And, thankfully, it’s still easy to find that place.

But… learning is hard for me. I’m a Taurus and I was born in the Year of the Ox. To say I’m stubborn or set in my ways would be a understatement of the most significant kind. I don’t like to try new things. I like routine. I like repeatable patterns. I like a steady pace and a known, well-trodden, path. I am pulled toward the things that I already know well.

However, and stealing of bit of inspiration from Clay Johnson’s book The Information Diet, just because you like something doesn’t mean that it’s good for you.

So I’ve started thinking about some easy ways to ensure that I stay on my learning edge. We’re currently living in a world of learning opportunities, so — in general — this isn’t exactly difficult, but even in the pursuit of learning, my experience is that it’s possible to fall into the pattern of taking the easy, or known, path vs. trying something new. And, for me at least, it’s the stretch goals that result in the most significant outcomes.

In addition to not working weekends, I’m going to propose another “mission” for you to experiment with (as I am, currently): When in doubt, try something new.

It’s really that simple.

Let me know how it works for you. :)

January 19 2012

10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 

10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: adam tinworth, adam westbrook, adrian short, bayesian methods, Code 2.0, community management, CPJ, dan gillmor, Data Journalism Handbook, documentary, ebooks, Franzi Baerhle, free culture, global casebook, Guardian Students, Guy Degan, how to blog, imagejunkies, investigative journalism manual, jono bacon, Journalism 2.0, kindle, lawrence lessig, Mark Briggs, Mark Lee Hunter, matt mason, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, nokia, paul radu, philip meyer, productivity, Proven Path, Remix, richard millington, security, SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day, story-based inquiry, Testing Treatments, the art of community, The Future of Ideas, The New Precision Journalism, The Pirate's Dilemma, University of Gottingen
10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: adam tinworth, adam westbrook, adrian short, bayesian methods, Code 2.0, community management, CPJ, dan gillmor, Data Journalism Handbook, documentary, ebooks, Franzi Baerhle, free culture, global casebook, Guardian Students, Guy Degan, how to blog, imagejunkies, investigative journalism manual, jono bacon, Journalism 2.0, kindle, lawrence lessig, Mark Briggs, Mark Lee Hunter, matt mason, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, nokia, paul radu, philip meyer, productivity, Proven Path, Remix, richard millington, security, SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day, story-based inquiry, Testing Treatments, the art of community, The Future of Ideas, The New Precision Journalism, The Pirate's Dilemma, University of Gottingen

July 01 2011

14:35

Tao of consulting: Why working weekends doesn't work

Will return on Monday

What could be fitting for a Canada Day / Independence Day post, than a plea for you to take the weekend off?

That’s right: it’s your friendly neighborhood slacker trying to spread the message of slacktivism throughout the world.

But let’s get this whole slacker thing straight: I’m a slacker as much for your benefit, as I am for my own. How does that work you ask? Read on…

We all know people that are over-committed. Have you noticed that it’s a chronic state for many of them? It’s the classic case of “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” Busy people trend toward busier not less busy, it’s pretty much a fact of life.

The problem is: it can often lead into a downward spiral — a permanent state of busy and over-committed that self-perpetuates. I’m hear to tell you that working weekends is not the answer.

“What’s the big deal about working weekends?” you ask. The downsides are considerable, I assure you:

  • Neglecting more important “work”: For example, pursuing interests outside of what you get paid for, or charge clients for. It’s common knowledge that lateral thinking capacity is increased when a person has a wider set of experiences to draw from. Advice: Expand your mind. Take a course in something new, join a Hackerspace and make something, or push yourself to learn a new language. It’s “work,” yes; but it’s the most important kind.

  • Not giving yourself time to repair: it’s also well known that the human body follows cycles. If those cycles are ignored, not only does productivity decrease — especially creative problem solving skills — but also the body’s ability to repair itself, and defend itself from illness. Taking regular breaks, including a nice long one at the end of the work week, is critical toward ensuring better performance over the long run. You’ll be more focused when you’re working, and less likely to miss work because you’re sick.

  • Starting the week tired: The one side effect of working on weekends (yes, I’ve done it, as much as I hate to admit it) that I feel most immediately & significantly is a lack of excitement on Monday morning. The work week is a sprint for me — it’s a personal contest to see how efficiently I can use my time, and how productive I can be (within the bounds of being a slacker, of course). Starting out tired on Monday almost inevitably leads to a less productive week, which — in turn — can trigger that impulse to work on the weekend. You see? It’s a negative feedback loop! And one that you should fight to get out of.

  • Setting a bad example Most importantly, working weekends sets a bad example for your staff and peers. Sending work-related e-mails on Saturday or Sunday to co-workers says “Hey, I’m over-committed and trying to catch-up,” and “I’m expecting you to work weekends too!” Even if neither are the message you intended, that’s the signal it sends. Advice: if you have to write them on Sunday to get them out of your head — so be it — just save them as drafts and send them Monday morning.

Remember: Doing amazing work in the world usually comes from doing amazing work in your life first. And there’s no better way to start doing amazing work in your life than to give yourself the time to do it.

Weekends are a great place to start. So start by taking this weekend off.

Happy Canada Day & Independence Day weekend. :)

— The Slacker-in-Chief

June 30 2011

19:31

Why the “Cost to the economy” of strike action could be misleading

It’s become a modern catchphrase. When planes are grounded, when cars crash, when computers are hacked, and when the earth shakes. There is, it seems, always a “cost to the economy”.

Today, with a mass strike over pensions in the UK, the cliche is brought forth again:

“The Treasury could save £30m from the pay forfeited by the striking teachers today but business leaders warned that this was hugely outbalanced by the wider cost to the economy of hundreds of thousands of parents having to take the day off.

“The British Chambers of Commerce said disruption will lead to many parents having to take the day off work to look after their children, losing them pay and hitting productivity.”

Statements like these (by David Frost, the director general, it turns out) pass unquestioned (also here, here and elsewhere), but in this case (and I wonder how many others), I think a little statistical literacy is needed.

Beyond the churnalism of ‘he said-she said’ reporting, when costs and figures are mentioned journalists should be exercising a little scepticism.

Here’s the thing. In reality, most parents will have taken annual leave today to look after their children. That’s annual leave that they would have taken anyway, so is it really costing the economy any more to take that leave on this day in particular? And specifically, enough to “hugely outbalance” £30m?

Stretching credulity further is the reference to parents losing pay. All UK workers have a statutory right to 5.6 weeks of annual leave paid at their normal rate of pay. If they’ve used all that up halfway into the year (or 3 months into the financial year) – before the start of the school holidays no less – and have to take unpaid leave, then they’re stupid enough to be a cost to the economy without any extra help.

And this isn’t just a fuss about statistics: it’s a central element of one of the narratives around the strikes: that the Government are “deliberately trying to provoke the unions into industrial action so they could blame them for the failure of the Government’s economic strategy.”

If they do, it’ll be a good story. Will journalists let the facts get in the way of it?

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June 14 2011

06:07

‘Hacks for hacks’ Carnival of Journalism results are in

The Carnival of Journalism results are in and I’m furious with myself that I just thought of ‘hacks for hacks’ as a semi-clever title for the project. … Anyway, last month we asked for your suggestions on the best life/workflow/info/journalism hacks to help us all get faster, better, smarter and working harder. Thanks to everyone who contributed. There’s so many awesome tips, tools and techniques here, please check them out and then get to back to rocking out productively!

04:35

5 more productivity tips for the Carnival of Journalism

For the Carnival of Journalism this month, we’re looking for productivity tools and info/work hacks. Besides the 18 or so tips I offered to kick start the conversation, here’s 5 more that have been especially helpful for me this year managing all the projects I’ve been working on (ONA Board, SND St. Louis, Multimedia Immersion, speaking and consulting gigs, etc.):

1- Android
I’m sorry all you iPhone folks, I’m not trying to start a civil war here, I’ve used both the iPhone as a personal phone and it’s good, but Google’s Android integration with all Google’s products has saved massive time and frustration this year, especially with all the travel I’ve been doing. Specifically:

  • Google Calendar (be careful with time zones though, change them manually to be sure)
  • Google Voice (Saved me massive amounts of cell phone minutes because I can use Voice seamlessly as my phone’s native calling service — no app opening, my phone can just default to always use Google Voice. Also loved being able to direct my calls to where I was, auto voicemail transcriptions and mp3′s of voicemails are awesome)
  • Gmail (one email archive, easily integrates with other services)
  • Google Docs (especially with the awesome new Android app, great to use a personal Dropbox with their ultra cheap storage space – $5 fo 20 GB!)
  • Gtasks (Google Tasks third party app, that allows me to sync my desktop tasks with mobile tasks, I use it for my to do lists.)
  • Free Android tethering also rocks (while it’s more up to your carrier this has saved me many times avoiding $13.99 a day hotel wifi charges.. or even free “wireless broadband” at hotels that isn’t broadband at all… not even DSL speeds.)

2- Boomerang for Gmail

Taming and managing email has been a critical skill I’ve tried to master over the past year and this tool has been a godsend. This tool for Gmail is fantastic for sending email reminders to yourself (especially if people haven’t responded to previous messages — critical in project management) as well as sending scheduled email messages. They’ve also created an interesting game to learn and practice better workflow (who would have thought email could be a game?). Fyi, Don’t worry about the Boomerang website (the design is a little weird, especially the font on the customer testimonials, which made me nervous initially) but I’ve been using it and this tool is the real deal. If all of Android’s brilliance has made me admire Google, the fact that they haven’t bought up this company and integrated it into Gmail makes me question if they really are in it to win it. :)

2- Gmail prioritization management and filters
There’s no quick and easy tip for this, but I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing my email to do pre-sorting before I see it. It can be dangerous though if you have a filter being a little bit too aggressive and deleting things automatically. So I’ve started to clean this up and move them to a “possible junk mail folder” that I go through occasionally.

4- Google Reader plugin from PostRank
This helps you dive through your RSS feeds quickly and see what the most popular posts are. You must keep in mind, that this is popularity, not interestingness to yourself though.

5- My 6 Sense
Awesome tool that learns your interests and customizes feeds for your preferences and it only gets better with time!

May 11 2011

06:17

Carnival of Journalism: Life hacks and how to rock your journalism information workflow

Greetings Carnies!
For this installment of the Carnival of Journalism we’re going to go ultra practical:

What are your life hacks, workflows, tips, tools, apps, websites, skills and techniques that allow you to work smarter and more effectively?

As a recovering RSS-aholic, (my Google Reader account peaked around 2,100 about a year and half ago, I’ve paired it down to 931 currently and am looking to drop that by a half this summer) I’ve always marveled at people like Robert Scoble who seems to be everywhere and tracking everything. Part of this is because he’s an information hound, part social media addict and it’s also part his job to be out there in the conversation with the tech industry. Tim Ferris interviewed him four years ago about his 600+ feeds and how he digs through them for good information.

In my effort to cull my RSS feeds, I’ve relied much more on social networks for network curation but in that transition I realized I was doing it wrong, again. This Winter while meeting with a group of news nerds talking about their workflows, most confessed that they read only a very small portion of their Twitter alerts. At this time, I was close to reading around 70-80+% (obviously that fluctuated but on the average day I’d hit that number or higher); almost everyone else in the room was in the 5-15% range.

So during 2011, I’ve tried to focus on finding more tools and techniques to help boost productivity and save time, while not compromising the quality of information/work completed. Everyone has different ideas on what makes their workflow work, and while sites like Lifehacker.com does a fantastic job, I believe journalists especially manage and filter a lot of information every day, so it would be fascinating to share some of our best practices with the JCarn community.

So for instance, what tools, plugins, apps and websites do you use to get the most out of the day?
For example, here are a few that I’ve tried at various times:

What work techniques and strategies have you learned over the years that help boost your productivity and effectiveness?
More examples of things I’ve tried to get you thinking:

Other ideas?

Our deadline for publishing will be Friday, June 10th. I hope we can all help each other become better, more productive and informed journalists.

April 04 2011

13:20

Daylite adventures: Migrating from MobileMe to Spanning Sync

30-second summary:

  • Apple is forcing an upgrade to their new MobileMe calendar on May 5, 2011
  • The new MobileMe calendars are not CalDav compatible and break calendar synchronization for some third-party applications like Daylite CRM
  • I use Daylite with MobileMe calendar syncing & needed a solution before May 5th
  • After some investigation & experimentation, I implemented to Spanning Sync 3 (referral link) to replace MobileMe
  • Now, thanks to Spanning Sync, I can continue to use Daylite and also enjoy Google calendar and contacts syncing (that syncs to both my Android phone and iPad)

If you want the nitty-gritty, read on...

Back in February, I got an e-mail from Apple's MobileMe department informing me that I would need to upgrade to the new MobileMe calendar by May 5th. The new calendar promised "calendar sharing with friends and family," a "beautiful new Web application," and "event invitations with 1-click RSVP" -- what could be better, right?

Sadly, MobileMe's new calendar is a bust, and has left many people like me looking for other solutions to keep our various calendars in sync. Specifically, I used MobileMe as a hub for calendar data, various applications would create calendar events and MobileMe would keep those events in sync across my Macs, iOS devices, and also provided a Web-based calendar. The new calendar breaks this functionality for third-party applications -- coming from Apple, this is no big surprise.

Since 2005, I've been using Daylite to keep my life organized. You know: appointments, contact information, projects and to-do lists, and so on. Back then, it was pretty much the only game in town for Outlook-like functionality on a Mac, i.e., something that integrated with my e-mail-centric workflow.

I've paid for Daylite maybe two or three times over the years -- the initial purchase, the mail integration plug-in, and maybe one upgrade -- so, overall, I'm pretty happy with the cost-benefit analysis. However, the company that makes Daylite (Marketcirle) is moving toward a software rental business model -- a model that I'm not super-fond of -- and that means it's probably time to think about moving on.

Alas, I've not had the time to find a replacement yet, so the looming date of May 5th to migrate from MobileMe was starting to feel ominous.

There was a feisty thread over on the Marketcircle forums about the issue. Long story short, the choices appeared to be: migrate to a Daylite-only solution for syncing (requiring a hefty investment in software licenses and ongoing annual fees), or implement a third-party sync solution like BusyMac or Spanning Sync.

I had some free time this weekend and decided not to delay the inevitable. Conclusion: after a decent amount of reading and experimenting, I migrated to Spanning Sync 3 (referral link).

So, basically, my system works like so:

  • I'm still using Daylite on my main laptop (where I create most appointments and contacts) * Daylite synchronizes to my local iCal and Address Book
  • Spanning Sync now synchronizes appointments and contacts to Google
  • My Google Nexus One (Android) phone syncs with Google calendar and contacts
  • My iPad also syncs with Google calendar and contacts using the Exchange sync option 
  • Spanning sync also runs on my Dell Mini 10v "Hackintosh" to keep iCal and Address Book synced over there too

So, after a couple hours of mucking about, I've now got the same functionality that I had before, plus I can see and edit my appointments & contacts on my Android phone and share calendars with other people -- both are big bonuses. More than that, now that I'm migrated to Google calendar and contacts, I feel like I'm one step less dependent on Daylite.

Maybe one of these days I'll be able to migrate completely. (If you have suggestions, please let me know. Extra points if it runs on Linux too.)

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September 17 2010

20:53

4 Minute Roundup: New Twitter Makes Room for Ads

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In this week's 4MR podcast I look at the newly redesigned Twitter.com, now with a double-pane view, embedded photos and video, and infinite scroll. Some folks say this means Twitter is more of a media company, getting people to pay more attention to its website, where it could serve up more ads. I talked with tech pundit and blogger Robert Scoble, who said he likes the redesign and thinks third party Twitter app makers will need to innovate to survive.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio91710.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Robert Scoble:

scoble twitter final.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Meet the new Twitter.com from Twitter

A Better Twitter at the Twitter Blog

The good and bad of Twitter's new design at Scobleizer

New Twitter - Why It is Important for You at Fast Company

New Twitter shows the Web isn't dead at CNN.com

Twitter Revamp Appears Better for Businesses at PC World

Twitter as broadcast - What #newtwitter might mean for networked journalism at Nieman Lab

Twitter Is a (Reluctant) Media Company at Media Memo

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about the new Twitter:




The new redesigned Twitter.com is ______.online surveys

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

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