Amy\’s Grab Bag, Oct. 27

I’m finally back home in Colorado after two weeks on the east coast. While playing catch-up, I checked the CONTENTIOUS to-do folder of my Furl archive (that’s all the stuff I’ve saved to blog about). Wow, there’s a whopping 93 items in there! Guess it’s time for another grab bag posting to starting clearing these out of the way.

TOP OF THIS LIST: Write Right: Polishing Your E-Learning Prose, by Laura Francis, Learning Circuits, April 2001: This article isn’t new, but it’s incredibly practical. I’m sad to say that the e-learning field truly needs all the content-quality help it can get!

Read the rest of this list. Once again I’m organizing these items by topic….

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Are Books \”News About the Culture?\”

On Oct. 4, Poynter.org published an interview by “Book Babes” Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel with the editor of the New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus. During that conversation, Tanenhaus said, “We’re going to treat books not as literary artifacts but as news about the culture.”

Expanding on that point, Hammond wrote, “To me, that means that the selection of what is reviewed by the NYTBR will depend not on whether a book will stand the test of time in a literary universe, but whether it has currency in the here and now.”

Interesting point. Generally I like that approach – although I think the focus on currency would be hindered if reviews were restricted only to newly published or reprinted books.

Here’s what I mean…

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Publish Press Releases on Your Own Site First (Online Media Outreach, Part 5)

(NOTE: This is part 5 of a 10-part series. Index to this series.)

Many organizations distribute their press releases by fax, postal mail, or via services like PR Newswire. That’s fine. However, if you also have a web site you should post your press releases on your own site BEFORE transmitting them by other means.

Here’s why…
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Notes from the SEJ Geek Dinner

I’ve taken a break today from the hectic and all-consuming annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists to catch up on some sleep. Now that I’ve napped for a few hours and feel reasonably human again, I’ll catch up on some blogging, too. Sorry I’ve neglected CONTENTIOUS over the last week or two; things tend to be crazy when I’m on the road.

One of my duties at the SEJ conferences is to help organize a number of “Network Meal” events where journalists get together over food to chat with their colleagues and with experts about prearranged topics. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner versions of this event. Last night I was one of the hosts of the “Beat Dinners” entitled Tools of the EJ Trade: Gadgets, Gear & Resources. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what we discussed…

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What Every Press Release Needs (Online Media Outreach, Part 4)

(NOTE: This is part 4 of a 10-part series. Index to this series.)

OK – I really shouldn’t have to inform the public relations (PR) community about something so basic, but apparently it’s necessary:

Every press release should include contact information – ideally specific contact information, but there should at least be something to meet the crucial journalistic need for contact.

When a press release includes no contact information, it sends a clear message to journalists: “We don’t want to answer any questions.” To journalists, this indicates ineptitude, uncooperativeness, or possibly a desire to conceal – all of which make the organization publishing the release look bad. In effect, this is anti-PR.

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Any CONTENTIOUS Readers in Pittsburgh?

Today I’m driving to Pittsburgh for the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists – my annual brain-food festival. I’ll be there through next Tuesday.

Are there any CONTENTIOUS readers in Pittsburgh? If so, e-mail me. Maybe we can arrange an informal reader get-together for lunch, tea, or drinks.

I know I’ll need a break from the journalists at some point or my brain will explode.

My series on online media outreach will resume tomorrow (Wednesday).

…And Then I Discovered Podcasting…

I am holding a big part of the net’s future in the palm of my hand. Literally.

This blog has been quiet because I’ve been spending a few days visiting family and concentrating on a couple of client projects. (Sorry folks, but occasionally I have to realign my blogging to accommodate life.) While I’m here, I decided to finally treat myself to a portable MP3 player: the MPIO FL300, a basic model just a bit smaller than a C battery. The model doesn’t matter though. What does matter is that I can now download and easily listen to podcasts.

What’s a podcast?
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How Do You Use Furl?

(UPDATE, Apr. 20, 2005: Furl and Del.icio.us: Almost Perfect Together)

Looks like a lot of people are intrigued by b>, the free online service (chased by LookSmart) which allows you to save web pages into your own private online library, and share your list of pages in various ways.

One of the all-time most popular articles I’ve published in CONTENTIOUS is 10 Cool Things to Do with Furl. I’m curious – has anyone followed up on these ideas? How did that work out? Also, what other creative uses have you found for Furl? How are you using it?

Please comment below.