Sunday, May 27, 2012

Social Media and Communication, Part 2: Establishing the Aim

The first order of business in social networking is establishing an aim. This means clearly answering a series of questions:

  • Will the platform be for employees only? For select clients? For the world?
  • Is your aim to deliver valuable industry-specific information to readers?
  • How relevant should the information be to the products and services you deliver? 
  • Will you use the platform to announce new products or services? 
  • Is the idea to get your staff more involved in pushing the organization's message? 
  • Are you using the platform trying to increase your organization's visibility? 
  • Will you use it to bring people to your sales center website?
  • Will it use advertisements as a source of generating income?
  • What should the platform look like?
  • Do you want it to maintain an image that matches the formality level of your organizational brand, or do you want it to be less formal?
  • Should you maintain only one platform, or have one platform for each service or group of services?
  • Do you have the necessary staff to keep the platform fresh and dynamic?

You'll have a lot of questions to answer before going live, but you should weigh each of them carefully and articulate your answers unequivocally.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Social Media and Communication, Part 1: Creating a Policy

When something new happens to you two times in the same week, you take notice; when it happens three times, as it had to me last week, you think you're experiencing a trend. Within days of each other, three of my clients talked to me about their new social media policy to regulate staff usage of social media platforms not only at work but after hours as well if staff choose to identify themselves as employees of the company. 


Two points make this phenomenon important:

  • The three clients are in entirely different industries (education, investment banking, and transportation). Anecdotal as this data may seem, I take it to mean that the concern is pervasive.
  • All three have an email policy, as do most organizations, but felt compelled to create a social media policy because message boards, blogs, and other community e-communication tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are far different from email.
Companies will have a hard time completely forbidding the use social media because they themselves are deeply invested in a social media presence of their own, and they will likely encourage their staff to contribute to these platforms. 


Over the next three posts of Words on the Line, I will share best practices for those who are creating a social media policy of their own or modifying the one they already have.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Top 100 Movies


I noticed that two of the top ten films on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Movies List would not make my own top 100. I also find myself recommending movies to others during informal conversations about sources of entertainment. So I decided to list my own top 100 movies in chronological, not preferential, order. I probably left out some great pics, which would push out some of the films listed, but here's a first draft.

You may be thinking, "What does this list have to do with my writing?" Here are two strong reasons.First, as storytellers, proposal writers, poets, or technical communicators, we often allude to movies to crystallize our points. In fact, I notice that my own teaching points are often best understood by learners when I refer to popular culture. With the exception of music, movies are an abundant resource for cultural references. The movies that made this list are rich in metaphors. Second, the movies listed here share a common bond: outstanding writing. They exude imaginative narratives. Just listening to these films offers deep insights into quality writing. 

See these movies, or see them again, with these thoughts in mind.

MY TOP 100 MOVIES (in chronological order)

    1. The Grapes of Wrath (American, 1940)
    2. Casablanca (American, 1942)
    3. The Ox-Bow Incident (American, 1943)
    4All About Eve (American, 1950)
    5. An American in Paris (American, 1951)
    6. A Streetcar Named Desire (American, 1951)
    7High Noon (American, 1952)
    8. Ikiru (Japanese, 1952)
    9. On the Waterfront (American, 1954)
  10. A Star is Born (American,1954)
  11. Twelve Angry Men (American, 1957)
  12. Inherit the Wind (American, 1960)
  13. Judgment at Nuremberg (American, 1961)
  14. A Raisin in the Sun (American, 1961)
  15. Requiem for a Heavyweight (American, 1962)
  16. The Miracle Worker (American, 1962)
  17. Lawrence of Arabia (British, 1962)
  18. Long Day's Journey into Night (American, 1962)
  19. America, America (American, 1963)
  20. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (American, 1966)
  21. Persona (Swedish, 1966)
  22. The Graduate (American, 1967)
  23. Bonnie and Clyde (American, 1967)
  24. Shame (Swedish, 1968)
  25. Midnight Cowboy (American, 1969)
  26. Husbands (American, 1970)
  27. Patton (American, 1970)
  28. Death in Venice (British, 1971)
  29. A Clockwork Orange (British, 1971)
  30. Cries and Whispers (Swedish, 1972)
  31. The Godfather (American, 1972)
  32. Last Tango in Paris (Italian, 1972)
  33. Scenes from a Marriage (Swedish, 1973)
  34. Love and Anarchy (Italian, 1973)
  35. The Conversation (American, 1974)
  36. Lacombe, Lucien (French, 1974)
  37. The Godfather, Part II (American, 1974)
  38. Chinatown (American, 1974)
  39. Seven Beauties (Italian, 1975)
  40. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (American, 1975)
  41. Taxi Driver (American, 1976)
  42. Providence (French, 1977)
  43. A Special Day (Italian, 1977)
  44. The Deer Hunter (American, 1978)
  45. Apocalypse Now (American, 1979)
  46. Being There (American, 1979)
  47. Raging Bull (American, 1980)
  48. Breaker Morant (Australian, 1980)
  49. The Elephant Man (British, 1980)
  50. Pixote (Brazilian, 1981)
  51. Gallipoli (Australian, 1981)
  52. Sophie's Choice (American, 1982)
  53. Gandhi (British, 1982)
  54. Tender Mercies (American, 1983)
  55. El Norte (British, 1983)
  56. Paris, Texas (German, 1984)
  57. Amadeus (American, 1984)
  58. The Trip to Bountiful (American, 1985)
  59. Shoah (French, 1985)
  60. Cinema Paradiso (Italian, 1988)
  61. The Civil War (American, 1990)
  62. Barton Fink (American, 1991)
  63. 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould (French, 1993)
  64. Schindler’s List (American, 1993)
  65. Household Saints (American, 1993)
  66. The Shawshank Redemption (American, 1994)
  67. Shine (Australian, 1996)
  68. Ponette (French, 1996)
  69. Affliction (American, 1997)
  70. Shakespeare in Love (British, 1998)
  71. Central Station (Brazilian, 1998)
  72. Run Lola Run (German, 1998)
  73. Saving Private Ryan (American, 1998)
  74. Being John Malkovich (American, 1999)
  75. Hurlyburly (American, 1998)
  76. Calle 54 (Spanish, 2000)
  77. The Hours (British, 2002)
  78. City of God (Brazilian, 2002)
  79. American Splendor (American, 2003)
  80. Omagh (Irish, 2004)
  81. The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentinean, 2004)
  82. Tsotsi (South African, 2005)
  83. Paradise Now (Palestinian, 2005)
  84. The Lives of Others (German, 2006)
  85. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (French, 2007)
  86. Lust, Caution (American, Chinese, 2007)
  87. Hunger (British and Irish, 2008)
  88. Synecdoche, New York (American, 2008)
  89. The Hurt Locker (American, 2008)
  90. Doubt (American, 2008)
  91. Poetry (South Korea, 2010)
  92. Black Swan (American, 2010)
  93. Midnight in Paris (American, 2011)
  94. Carnage (French, 2011)
  95. Margin Call (American, 2011)
  96. Amour (French, 2012)
  97. 12 Years a Slave (British and American, 2013)
  98. Ida (Polish, 2014)
  99. Son of Saul (Hungarian, 2015)
100. Fences (American, 2016)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Industrial Revolution = Writing Revolution

3D Printer
The machine in the picture does not look like much, but it will transform our lives. It is a 3D printer, which can manufacture three-dimensional objects based on specifications a designer provides by a digital file. On the agenda for production are clothing, furniture, cars, and even planes. The advent of 3D printing has led us to "The Third Industrial Revolution," a time when we will have greater access to the manufacturing process, bypassing costly tooling charges and long waits for products. As a result, we will reap the benefits of greater choice and become manufacturers ourselves, just like we have become high-quality personal print shops. 


This revolution will affect writing as profoundly as the smartphone. We will learn more digital code to communicate in formulas that will process what we want; in short, more than ever we will think like the machine. What we now consider to be cryptic, acronym-laden style will become the parlance of every industry. How much writing will change nobody can predict. But it's coming. Skeptics can review standard documents from the business world a quarter-century ago, around the time most of us started emailing,  to how it has evolved today. Yes, the third industrial revolution means the writing revolution.