Categories
Business Entrepreneurship Relationships Society

Build a reputation instead of a personal brand

Replied to The personal brand paradox (wepresent.wetransfer.com)

When we position ourselves as a brand, we are forced to project an image of what we believe most people will approve of and admire and buy into. The moment we cater our creativity to popular opinion is the precise moment we lose our freedom and autonomy.

But rather than manufacturing a personal brand, why not build a reputation? Why not develop our character? Imagine what we could learn from each other if we felt worthy as we are instead of who we project ourselves to be.

I think it’s interesting to look at personal brands through the lens of insecurity. I imagine many people think of it as “positioning” or storytelling, but underneath, those are needed if you’re afraid you won’t be enough on your own.

I think it can be helpful to consider personal branding as a form of self discovery, a tool to help determine what you want to do, but there can be a risk of self containment.

I think of my other blog, Cascadia Inspired, which I started ten years ago as a way to get to know the Pacific Northwest better. I bought into the idea that blogs need to focus on a particular subject area or no one will read it. While I’ve enjoyed writing there, to some extent it created a constraint around what I felt appropriate to write about. For example, I didn’t publish photos from anywhere outside the northwest, so I have all these southwest trip photos I’ve never shared but on Instagram maybe.

Likewise, I had created a portfolio website at tracydurnell.com, and felt obliged to leave it serving solely a professional purpose. When I let go of that and transitioned to this blog-like format, allowing myself to write about whatever I wanted, I started writing so much more. I hadn’t realized how much I was holding back.

I still don’t expose my entire self here, but I’m much more open and vocal about my opinions, and more willing to risk publishing imperfect posts that show my incomplete thoughts in progress. I’ve held myself back and quiet for too much of my life already.

I’ve also realized I’m more interested in following people as people — while I might have been drawn to certain blogs in the past because of the topic, the reason I keep reading many of them is having gotten to know the writer. For example, I used to read Get Rich Slowly, but stopped when J.D. sold it (he’s since bought it back). I lost a lot of interest in Design*Sponge when my favorite writers there moved on to other things, and looked mostly to Grace Bonney‘s articles. Even though she’s moved on from writing about design, I’m still interested in her work.

I find myself drawn more to what individuals are writing than publications; if others are like me, all the publications who treat their staff as disposable and interchangeable will be in for a rough ride when they try to replace them all with AI churn content. Sure, you’ll pick up some SEO shit clicks, but that actively breeds distrust instead of long-term readership. I read my first Ed Yong article because I was interested in COVID; his thoughtful writing and reporting earned my trust, so I started following *him* on Twitter — not The Atlantic. I read Annalee Newitz back on io9, last year I read their non-fiction book, this year I’m looking forward to their next fiction work.

This is what makes self publishing viable for journalists and writers: people following them for them, not for their title or brand. When writing for a brand constrains these writers, good for them to split off and start their own thing where they can write about what they want, how they want.

Categories
Outreach

The report vs transmedia communications

Bookmarked BACK TO WONKCOMMS AND SUPERHEROES (screensresearchhypertext.com)

Our two literary theory concepts—paratext and transmedia storytelling—map nicely onto alternative approaches for WonkComms.

The big, honking report is The Thing. The blog posts, the op-eds, the roundtable forum, the tweets, the media write ups, the infographics…

all function as paratexts, as “extra stuff” that’s great to have but not always a requirement.

That “extra stuff” exists to “hype, promote, introduce, and discuss” the main text—which is probably a big .

Versus the transmedia model:

This is the  model. It’s one in which you create  that you can remix and push out across multiple channels. No single output is a “main” thing. Rather, each blog post, each tweet, each infographic, each op-ed tells part of the story.

To consider as I start working on reports and plans in government: what is the best format and approach to information? As a long-form print designer I am a fan of making reports better, but alternative formats like websites could be something to consider too.

Categories
Art and Design

A process for *selecting* rather than culling

Liked A Better Edit Makes Better Photographs by DavidDavid (davidduchemin.com)

My own edit process goes much more quickly because I’m not looking for every single image that meets some basic minimal technical standard. I’m looking for the ones that make me lean in. The ones that make my heart sing. The ones that grab me and won’t let me not select them.

You might have a great reason for rating images, but I think trying to decide whether an image deserves 2, 3, or 4 stars slows the process. Because I’m looking for a few frames that are a decisive “Yes!”, I’ve found rating them makes me look for the wrong thing.

I appreciate hearing about other creative people’s processes and approaches. A lot of these things, we kind of figure out on our own, but others may have developed more effective methods to do the same thing.

I totally am a “delete the bad stuff” editor, with my first round of edits simply clearing out the out of focus or poorly exposed or unnecessary duplicates. A second pass clears out boring and blah. Then I select my pool of images to edit (which is probably too many 😉).

As in everything, working with more intentionality yields better results, though it is harder. I like his mindset of thinking of a collection of photos from a trip as a body of work — this is probably similar to my thinking when I’m constructing an excursion blog post, where I try to curate a representative selection of photos, but if some shots are too similar I might remove one. In the comments, Jon Revere shares his perspective of framing a story, which sometimes means including less than great shots. This resonates with the approach I took to my 2021 photography and writing project Sense Memory.

I am unclear from his description: how many images does he delete? Does he save copies of all his photos to revisit in the future, or only the select best? Are there still 30k photos from that trip on his hard drive?

Categories
Society The Internet

Critical Ignoring

Bookmarked Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens by Kozyreva et al (journals.sagepub.com)

Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue that digital information literacy must include the competence of critical ignoring—choosing what to ignore and where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities. We review three types of cognitive strategies for implementing critical ignoring: self-nudging, in which one ignores temptations by removing them from one’s digital environments; lateral reading, in which one vets information by leaving the source and verifying its credibility elsewhere online; and the do-not-feed-the-trolls heuristic, which advises one to not reward malicious actors with attention.

As important as the ability to think critically continues to be, we argue that it is insufficient to borrow the tools developed for offline environments and apply them to the digital world.

Investing effortful and conscious critical thinking in sources that should have been ignored in the first place means that one’s attention has already been expropriated (Caulfield, 2018). Digital literacy and critical thinking should therefore include a focus on the competence of critical ignoring: choosing what to ignore, learning how to resist low-quality and misleading but cognitively attractive information, and deciding where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities.

This is like a “to don’t” list — deciding what to ignore.

Lateral reading begins with a key insight: One cannot necessarily know how trustworthy a website or a social-media post is by engaging with and critically reflecting on its content. Without relevant background knowledge or reliable indicators of trustworthiness, the best strategy for deciding whether one can believe a source is to look up the author or organization and the claims elsewhere… Instead of dwelling on an unfamiliar site (i.e., reading vertically), fact-checkers strategically and deliberately ignored it until they first opened new tabs to search for information about the organization or individual behind it.

 

Via Paul Millerd:

A common heuristic for many is to pay attention to what other people are talking about. This worked well enough for most people for a long time but it seems to be [failing(?)] in an age of information overload because of how fast the “current thing” changes.

This is my approach too — I like the way he phrases it in feeding his curiosity:

My approach instead is to follow individuals and I try to think about this like a diversified portfolio of information, optimizing for the long-term aliveness of my own curiosity.

Categories
Learning Reflection

Follow your curiosity deeper

Replied to The Power of Indulging Your Weird, Offbeat Obsessions by an author (Medium)

It’s enormously valuable to simply follow your curiosity—and follow it for a really long time, even if it doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere in particular.

This reminds me of when I traveled to the Mediterranean after high school; my coach didn’t think we were exhibiting enough Wonder as we encountered history, and made us write an extra essay about it. But what does Wonder look like? Must it be Awe, clearly written on your face, or can it be curiosity?

Wonder must be felt, it cannot be forced or faked; likewise, curiosity. There are many instances when fake it till you make it applies, but performing wonder or awe or curiosity for someone else I suspect prevents it from being felt. Someone else cannot tell you an experience is meaningful; you assign your own meaning. No one else can be curious on your behalf; you must find your own curiosities.

You can create conditions more friendly to experiencing the emotions you seek, but the emotion is not guaranteed. Place is one way to prompt connection with the past, but having expectations of emotional meaning makes it easier to disrupt. We got up early to run the track at Delphi; the landscapers were there too, leaf-blowing. The modern din forestalled a bond with the priestesses of yore. Likewise, too much intent strains curiosity; it is an invitation to be followed, not a certain path. Expecting a direct trail keeps you from seeing the cairns and blazes marking a way off to one side, or reading the topography for the easiest passage.

I like this encouragement to indulge my curiosity because sometimes I’ll be intrigued by something, then remind myself I have no reason to learn more about it or save it because there’s nothing about the information that’s relevant to my life or work. And sometimes that is true, but practicing curiosity inculcates that perspective in your thought habits, making it easier to be curious about more things.

Is the same true for wonder? Were we not trying hard enough to feel it? Is it a state of mind that practice can bring you to more readily? Both Wonder and curiosity require openness and humility, but feeling Wonder also takes vulnerability. Curiosity, in contrast, needs an acceptance of inefficiency. These additional demands may make one more challenging for some to feel than another.

In Egypt, I doodled motifs from the walls of an ancient tomb — sketching and photography were my way of absorbing what I was seeing. Curiosity is an active engagement that adds to what exists, ciphering it through the self; Wonder is a receiving and a changing of the self. Curiosity seeks to unravel the mysterious; Wonder values the mysterious for itself. Constitutionally, I am more suited to curiosity than Wonder.

Categories
Art and Design Relationships

Gifting art

Liked Reflections for 2022, Aspirations for 2023 :: Notes On Attention Paid — by Michael Bogdanffy-kriegh (Reflections for 2022, Aspirations for 2023)

I also aspire to move my production and distribution of art work into the gift, or sacred economy. This is an approach in which the work is offered up as gift. To family and friends without expectation of return, to interested individuals at whatever cost works for them. In exchange, they can give me something they have made, or make a contribution of whatever amount of money it is worth to them.

This reminds me of Lucy Bellwood’s Boat Gnome pin exchange.

I keep seeing this book Sacred Economics recommended, maybe it’s time to give it a try.

See also: Rethinking Success of Art Outside Profit

Categories
Getting Shit Done Meta Technology

Use different tools for creation and consumption

Replied to

I just realized I have mostly  migrated consumption to my phone somewhat unintentionally — but because I read articles on my phone I also tend to compose my commentary on the phone as well, even though typing on my phone sucks 😂 The editor is also hard to use on my phone, and cutting and pasting doesn’t work correctly, so I edit less than I might on desktop. On my phone, I can only see about two sentences at a time, making it harder to write longer form work.

How much does the tool shape what content people produce? Considering many people no longer have desktops and solely use phones for computing, does lacking a PC deter them from writing? How much of the shift to video is because it’s simpler to film than type on phones? How much is the rise of microblogging and descent of blogging tied to smartphones?

Categories
Getting Shit Done Writing

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

In this book we show writers how to use the 12 Week Year system to help them increase their productivity dramatically. The 12WY for Writers system, based on the principles of the 12 Week Year and honed over many years of helping students learn to write more effectively, is a strategic operating system for writers. The system helps writers answer the most fundamental and big picture questions: What is my vision for the future? What are my writing goals? What are the best strategies and tactics to achieve those goals? How can I manage my writing process to ensure that I stay focused, productive, and on track?

While the examples primarily draw from academia, the structure is also applicable to fiction writing. This book won’t help you figure out the steps of your writing project, but does seem very helpful for *accomplishing* the steps. I have some quibbles about his emphasis on grit, but agree with his overall philosophy of time >> writing and planning >> better, easier, faster writing.

I am excited to try out this approach in conjunction with Sarra Cannon’s Plan Your Writing Schedule workshop on YouTube, which starts by going through your calendar and identifying all the days you *can’t* write so you know exactly how many days are even available to you.

Categories
Business Marketing

“Non-coercive” marketing

Bookmarked Non-Coercive Marketing: A Primer by Rob HardyRob Hardy (Ungated)

A new philosophy of marketing, rooted in letting go of control, and trusting people to be their own authority.

Saw this recommended multiple places, need to get around to reading it I guess 😂

Categories
Outreach

Notes from the SPARKS Conference 2022: Day 1

The Time is Always Now:

Centering Equity and Community Voice as an Evergreen Communications Tool

by Paj Nandi at DH

  • everyone filters information through their unique lens of lived experience
  • thus CONTEXT is essential to communicate effectively
  • communications serves to share information AND power
  • comms sits at the axis of power and access
  • comms as strategy channels access, counters discrimination
  • equity-centered philosophy:
    • partner directly with community and shift power
    • create positive narratives rooted in community
    • work to undo harmful narrative
    • practice cultural humility
    • be mindful of own biases
  • intent > process > outcome > impact