Saturday, June 16, 2012

We need artists to solve the challenges of this century | Sara Diamond, The Globe and Mail

Writing in the Economy section of her Toronto, Canada, newspaper, Diamond asks this provocative question:
Why don’t we set the imaginative muscle of artists, designers and arts-inspired thinkers against the great challenges of our century?
I like it! Diamond's arguments are convincing. 

She writes:
Artists are designers who thrive on calculated risks and curiosity. Our emerging generation of talent brings a commitment to intersecting areas of knowledge: 1) design thinking; 2) creative practice; 3) critical and scientific inquiry; 4) technological fluency; and 5) entrepreneurialism.
And she describes these significant characteristics of artistic people:
  • These are multi-dimensional, creative individuals, capable of acting in their own right, and also facilitating across cultures, communities of interest and disciplines.
  • They are nimble, self-motivated learners.
  • Their learning is in the classroom, the studio, the workplace online and mobile; it is cross-cultural and international.
  • They are self-reflective and manage evaluation – peer and expert.
  • They are economic realists, yet entrepreneurial. They hold strong values, yet are playful.
The rest of her serious column describes what artists and designers bring to the "credibility gap."

If we give them a chance, these innovators might be just what we need to tackle many of the challenges facing our face-paced, interconnected world, as Diamond describes:
  • An abundance of data assembled at breakneck speeds
  • the redistribution of wealth
  • the online world integrating our physical experiences and human processes
  • 24/7 mobility and connectivity
  • a declining social safety net
  • the repositioning of global power
  • fragile ecologies replacing infinite resources
  • a need for co-operation to counter competitiveness
  • previously passive individuals and experiences becoming participatory.
It's time for a different kind of creative thinking. 

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This article is one of several stimulating articles in the June 16 edition of Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above (and by a free subscription). 



Friday, June 15, 2012

5 Goals for a Nonprofit Content Marketing Strategy | Kivi Leroux Miller, Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Nonprofit marketing expert Miller launches her article with this definition:
Content marketing for nonprofits is creating and sharing relevant and valuable content that attracts, educates, motivates, and inspires your participants and supporters so that they can help you achieve your mission.
(She doesn't like the term content marketing and asks for suggestions to replace it.)

Miller described five ways communications and marketing staff can use the content they create to position their nonprofit to meet their goals. Here are the headings for each of the goals (emphasis added):
  • Content Marketing Can Position Your Nonprofit as a Helpful Friend
  • Content Marketing Can Position Your Nonprofit as a Trusted Authority
  • Content Marketing Can Position Your Nonprofit as an Influential Thinker
  • Content Marketing Can Position Your Nonprofit as a Reliable Performer
  • Content Marketing Can Position Your Nonprofit as an Innovative Changemaker.
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This article is featured in today's (June 14) edition of Garbl's Good Cause Communications, available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above.

A GUIDE TO TWEETING FOR PEACE and SOCIAL CHANGE | Craig Zelizer, Peace and Collaborative Development Network

This resource guide provides an introduction to Twitter, discuss the role it can and has played in peacebuilding and social change and offers key resources to begin actively using the platform.
So writes Craig Zelizer about this useful, informative blog. He explains [emphasis added]:
Over the past few years, Twitter has rapidly become a powerful tool for connecting social activists fostering political reform and change in many regions of the world. From the Arab spring countries, to Occupy Wall Street in the US, to how individuals inform and connect on serious issues such as organizing political movements, documenting resistance, reporting on violence, to more lighthearted uses such as connected groups around common issues, ranging from education to humor, Twitter has and will continue to have a tremendous impact.
After defining Twitter and describing how it works, Zelizer answers these questions, including links to other useful sites:
  • How to find interesting tweeters to follow?
  • How can a user get others to follow her account?
  • What is the connection of Twitter to peace and social change?
  • What does it take to have influence on Twitter?
He then posts an annotated list of some of his organization's favorite 23 "Top Tweeters" to consider following on peace, international development, social change and related fields.

Zelizer also lists three tools for using Twitter. And then he describes several challenges in using Twitter for social change:
  • Overconnecteness
  • Oversharing
  • Tweet ownership.
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This article is featured in today's daily paper under the Peace Now tab above.


Are you father-wauer or father-better? The forgotten language of fathers | Katherine Connor Martin, OxfordWords blog

With Father's Day coming in just a couple of days, here's an appropriate article. It might not be all that useful these days, but I found it interesting.

As Martin writes:
The history of the English language reveals some different and even surprising associations in some rare words and meanings alluding to the paternal parent. Some of these largely forgotten words may be worthy of a revival: in honor of Father’s Day, why not be a philopater and promise Dad you’ll patrizate?
About that headline, Martin explains:
Are you father-waur or father-better? These early Scots words mean ‘worse than one’s father’ and ‘better than one’s father,’ respectively, establishing dear old dad as the standard by which one is judged. In the 1535 Buik of the Croniclis of Scotland, the British chieftain Caratacus is quoted as rallying his men by reminding them of their fathers’ valor and urging “lat ws nocht be cawit fader war” (let us not be called father-waur). If being father-waur was dishonorable, being father-better was aspirational. The Scottish clergyman Robert Baillie closed a 1645 letter to the Earl of Lauderdale with greetings to the Earl’s wife and to his son “whom I pray God to bless, and make father-better.” ...
She continues with other old, odd words and terms, under these headings:
  • Like father, like progeny
  • A more feminine side
  • Political aspirations
  • Father-love
BTW, this article is in today's The Write Style: Editorial Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above (and by free subscription).

For other similar articles, check out Garbl's Word Links. It's an annotated directory of websites that can help you discover, understand and use (or avoid) Latin and Greek derivations, misused words, unusual words, word origins, new words and slang. You'll also find separate sections below on spelling and vocabulary.

How to beat isolation and feeling alone when you freelance | Katy Cowan, Creative Boom Magazine

I've been semi-retired for the past year, while doing some freelance writing and editing and seeking more work with nonprofit agencies and organizations -- even a full-time communications position (in Seattle).

So I can relate to this article! As Cowan begins:
When you work for yourself, you often work from home and therefore work alone. With no one to bounce ideas off or seek reassurance from, you feel isolated and alone. Everything you do to make your business a success is dependent on you and you alone, which leaves you feeling overwhelmed. All the problems and issues you face are tackled by you and no one else. Make no mistake, freelancing can be lonely.
Referring to her own experience (in the United Kingdom), Cowan provides a long list of "top tips" on tackling isolation and becoming a happier freelancer.

Here are the headings for her useful tips:
  • Meet other freelancers
  • Get networking
  • Start your own meet-up
  • Sort your desk out
  • Become location independent
  • Get some office space
  • Try out co-working
  • Try hot-desking
  • Social network
  • Join a local group
  • Collaborate where possible
  • Get chatting online
  • Remember, you're not alone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Post: Your Punctuation Personality Type by Leah Petersen

Note the three words in parentheses at the start of Peterson's amusing column:
A recent (totally made up) scientific study analyzed what your favorite punctuation mark means about you. Every writer, every person, over-uses and abuses at least one punctuation mark. Here’s what your particular weakness means about you ...
I'm still trying to figure out who or what I am, based on Peterson's analysis. As a writer/editor who advocates clear, concise writing, I support frequent use of periods (short sentences) and careful, limited use of commas (uncomplicated sentences).

So, does that make me a decisive, sometimes clear but sometimes confusing, sometimes stodgy but sometimes fun peacemaker? I must think about that!

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Seriously, for more advice on using punctuation, check out the Punctuation section at Garbl's Online Grammar Guides. It's an annotated directory of websites where you can find answers to your questions about sentence structure and using the parts of speech correctly. You'll find a separate section featuring websites with punctuation advice.

Who Needs Luck? Try Planned Serendipity | Wendy Lea, Inc.com

I recently bought and downloaded to my Kindle the book written by the subjects of this interview, Thor Muller and Lane Becker. Their best-selling book, Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business.

I'm looking forward to reading it. Meanwhile, this interview (and other articles I've read) will suffice.

Lea writes:
I recently spoke with Muller and Becker about how other companies can adopt this way of thinking for their businesses. Here's a taste of the great advice they have for people and companies of all sizes.
Here are Lea's questions. Muller and Becker answer them in the blog:
In Get Lucky, you admit that "luck" can be seen as a four-letter word." How is "planned serendipity" different than luck?
The idea of creating a structure that lends itself to chance is a bit of an oxymoron. Can you give some examples of structures that lend themselves to serendipitous encounters?
For companies accustomed to putting up walls dividing managers, employees and customers, this can be hard. What advice do you have for companies looking implement "permeability?"
You say that the start-up environment lends itself to planned serendipity, and that as businesses scale, it's harder to be open to chance. More walls go up. What are some practices that companies can implement as they grow to ensure they stay open to possibility?
Planning for serendipity requires activating the "geek brain." Can you talk a bit more about what that is and how people with huge responsibilities--like CEOs--can pause to get in touch with their geek brain, despite the stress of running a company?
What are some tips for leaders who want to communicate the "get lucky" attitude to their employees?
For more articles about serendipity, see the daily Happy Accidents paper at the Serendipity tab above.


Ann Green's Nonprofit Blog: Don't Use Jargon

Ann Green's advice -- stated clearly in her headline -- is so obviously correct that it seems needless to say. But, unfortunately, it's equally obvious that not everyone realizes or accepts that using unexplained jargon annoys readers and listeners, at best.

At worst, using unexplained jargon frustrates and confuses readers/listeners and, ultimately, prompts them to stop reading or listening.

And what's the point of that? Why waste time, money and energy writing something that people likely won't understand or won't read?

Green writes:
I think people use jargon because it's an insider language, and it makes them feel like they are "in the know" in their professional world.
She covers these topics in her blog:
  • People need to understand you to connect with you
  • Use fresh language
  • Get rid of all your jargon
  • Don't get sent to jargon jail.
Green also links to several useful Web resources, including the Using suitable words section of Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. I appreciated that!

Green's blog is featured in today's (June 13) Garbl's Good Cause Communications, available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above. Of course, the advice applies to all types of writing, at least when you're writing for an audience that does not use the jargon in its daily work.


Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: schism [and more!] | Bryan A. Garner, LawProse Blog

Schism isn't a word I foresee using much, but it's certainly a clear, powerful word to remember for that particular relevant statement.

However, I'm not highlighting schism for its own sake. Instead, I want to highlight Garner's Usage Tip of the Day, which you can subscribe to at his LawProse website or read in his blog.

Bryan Garner's site is about legal writing, and he writes a lot about legal writing in plain language. But his word choices and other writings apply to all fields of writing.

I also want to highlight Garner's Modern American Usage. Garner deals with grammar, syntax, word choice, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and style. I consider it the modern equivalent of the classic books on writing usage by Fowler and Follett. In fact, I prefer it to them.

I keep several references books handy on my desk (and a bunch more on six shelves next to my desk). Garner's book is on my desk. The others:
  • The Associated Press Stylebook
  • The Gregg Reference Manual
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Robert Hartwell Fiske's Dictionary of Concise Writing
  • Oxford American Dictionary
Also, Garner's usage tip on schizm is featured in my daily paper, The Write Style: Editorial Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above (and by free email subscription). 


Tips & Tools: Simple Word Suggestions | Plain Language Action & Information Network

Arranged as "Instead of" ... "Try," this useful chart provides simple, clear alternatives to long words and phrases. The chart highlights "the dirty dozen" in bold, the "12 offenders most likely to weaken your work."

This chart is one of many useful resources at the website of the Plain Language Action and Information Network, a volunteer group of U.S. government employees who advocate use of clear, concise writing. Of course, their advice applies to all types of writing, including business, law, health care, engineering, education, marketing, nonprofits, public relations, journalism, and the Web.

For more charts like this one, check out Garbl's Concise Writing Guide. If you want to make your writing easier to read and understand, this free guide provides alternatives to overstated, pompous words; wordy, bureaucratic phrases; and verbose, sometimes amusing redundant phrases:


My tabbed papers not readable in Internet Explorer (yet)

I discovered on Tuesday that the daily papers available at the tabs above aren't readable here in Internet Explorer. They are readable in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

I'm checking to see if there's an IE fix for papers embedded in my blog. The papers are readable in IE separately from the blog.

Sorry!

Garbl's Creativity Connections

Today's edition of Garbl's Creativity Connections, also available at the Creativity tab above, contains a bunch of tantalizing articles.

Headlines include:
  • The 7 Biggest Creativity Killers
  • Why Boredom is Good for Your Creativity
  • Go Ahead, Daydream
  • How Your Mood Affects Your Creativity
  • Dyslexia and Creativity
  • Unlock Your Team's Creativity
  • The Value of Creativity
  • How Genius is Linked to Madness.
Whew! That's more than I can read in one day (when I also have other things to read). I must set some priorities!

Besides reading the daily paper here, you can bookmark it in your browser and even subscribe to it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The enchanting story of words | Rajan Philips, Oman Observer

English is one of the most dynamic languages that enriches its vocabulary through generous borrowing and novel adaptations.
So begins this article by Rajan Philips. He continues with this example:
What is common to all these ‘common’ English words? Alcohol, admiral, albatross, chemistry, algebra, camphor, decipher and magazine? Believe it or not, all these have come into English from Arabic. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these.
Philips tells the stories of admiral and magazine and add other stories for these words:
  • vermicelli, paparazzi -- both Italian
  • money -- French, Latin
  • echo, tantalize -- both Greek.
He concludes:
Words and their enchanting origin will never cease to surprise or delight those who embark on an exploration of this exquisite treasure house of the language.
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For other similar articles, check out Garbl's Word Links. It's an annotated directory of websites that can help you discover, understand and use (or avoid) Latin and Greek derivations, misused words, unusual words, word origins, new words and slang. You'll also find separate sections below on spelling and vocabulary.


Skim (don’t read) these tips for writing for the web | David Williams, BrownBoots Interactive, Inc.

Finally! Here's an article about writing for the Web that practices what it preaches. I get Google Alerts daily with headlined articles on this topic. If I think an article provides useful advice, I may mention or summarize it in this blog.

But I have stopped highlighting any article -- no matter the quality of its advice -- if it is just a lengthy piece of gray matter. That is, if an article has long sentences or paragraphs with no subheads, bullets, graphics or emphasized words, I do not want to waste my time or yours mentioning it here. Even if the advice is useful, I question the competence of its writer. I wonder if the writer simply copied the advice from somewhere else. 

But this blog is different. It is easy to read, provides useful advice and even has its tongue in its cheek. A fun, informative read! Thank you, blogger David Williams.

Consider its first two paragraphs -- and then read the rest at the blog:
The chances are you won’t read the next sentence or two, especially if I make this a sentence so long that it extends several lines and forms a large text block (formerly called a paragraph), which will inevitably intimidate your eye due to the implied number of words and, therefore, the time commitment needed to read and understand them. So I suppose there’s really no reason to put anything pertinent in this spot. Nope, nothing to see here.
But a succinct sentence is more likely to get your attention.
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For more free advice that's useful for writing on the Web and in print, check Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide.

The Radical Theory of Evolution That Explains Democrats and Republicans | Larrie D. Ferreiro, The Atlantic

Eminent biologist E.O. Wilson says competing altruistic and selfish impulses govern society. That seems true of politics around the world, too.

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Ferreiro begins by asking this question (emphasis added):
Why does the United States have two political parties that espouse such opposing philosophies? The Republicans fight for the conservative ideals of "individual rights -- and the responsibilities that go with them," from which flows the belief in limited government and few regulations. Democrats argue for the liberal notion that "we also rise or fall as one nation ... I am my brother's keeper, my sister's keeper," from which derives the support for social-assistance programs and universal access to health care.
He writes that the answer is found in a new "groundbreaking" book by Edward O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth. Ferreiro calls it "a radical and magisterial theory of evolution." He writes:
Greatly simplified, his argument is that two rival evolutionary forces drive human behavior: first, individual selection, which rewards the fittest individuals by passing along their genes; and second, group selection, in which the communities that work best together come to dominate the gene pool. ...
And the genes resulting from those forces prompt some people to think like Democrats, who favor altruism, and some to think like Republicans, who favor individualistic behaviors.

But Ferreiro writes:
If this theory is correct, it should be applicable not simply to Democrats and Republicans but to political parties around the world -- that is, the general political structure of nations should split roughly into the "individualistic" versus "altruistic" models. ...
He concludes:
Democrats and Republicans are not two sides of the same coin, but rather different parts of the same genome. One cannot dominate the other, nor can either live without the other. Like it or not, the two parties are condemned to coexist with one another.
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This article doesn't mention Wilson's book, but it covers the same territory: The Science of Compassion, from the Huffington Post and   The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. It begins:
Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world's resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, "It's the economy, stupid," Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, "It's the lack compassion, stupid."

E-WRITE | Guide to Writing for Social Media

E-Write developed a writing guide for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that's available free at this site. You'll need to provide your email address before downloading it -- but the guide looks like a useful tool.

E-Write writes:
While the examples [in the guide] will be most relevant to health communicators, the guidance about writing for social media is practical for any organization that wants to provide high quality social content for customers and readers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Once Upon a Time Can Be Now: Rescuing Planet Earth and Restoring Paradise | David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

I can't begin to summarize the inspired, informative and thought-provoking words in this essay by David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. I encourage you to read it.

But I'll highlight a few quotations Krieger included and some of his key comments [emphasis added]. He writes:
In describing our time, the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, writes, “The planet had been parceled out among various countries, each one provided with loyalties, cherished memories, with a past undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs, with a particular mythology, with bronze forefathers, with anniversaries, with demagogues and symbols. This arbitrary division was favorable for wars.” Our time has been favorable for wars, but the development of our technologies of warfare and the resources we have devoted to war and its preparations have made wars unfavorable for us.
Later, Krieger writes:
The principal points that I want to make are these: first, we are destroying our paradise by our own actions; second, nuclear weapons are incompatible with a sustainable future; and third, the future is in our collective hands. We must abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us. We must also abolish war as a means of settling our conflicts. By doing so, we would release vast amounts of capital and human creativity.
After describing the threat of the nuclear arsenals held by the United States and Russia, Krieger writes:
The US and Russian presidents would have only a few minutes, perhaps 12 minutes at the most, to evaluate a warning of attack and decide whether or not to launch their own missiles and initiate World War III. This is an intolerable situation. President Mikhail Gorbachev recognized this when he said, “It is my firm belief that the infinite and uncontrollable fury of nuclear weapons should never be held in the hands of any mere mortal ever again, for any reason.” This is sound advice. We mortals, all of us, are not gods, and none of us should be trusted with nuclear weapons when the future of our planet, our species and other forms of life are in our hands. All of us are threatened by the power of our nuclear arsenals and the all-too-real possibilities of nuclear proliferation, nuclear war and nuclear famine.
As Krieger moves toward his conclusion, he writes:
In 1955, a group of scientists, led by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, issued the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which stated, “There lies before us, if we choose, continued progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”
And Krieger concludes:
It is up to us to choose. Let us choose peace and hope and a sustainable future. May we show by our actions that we take seriously our roles as trustees of the Earth for our children and their children and all children of the future – that they may enjoy a peaceful and harmonious life on our planetary home.
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If you're interested, check out the website for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.  

Keep calm, and say it plainly | Malie Lalor, OxfordWords blog

Ever since I first read an ancient edition of Ernest Gowers’ book on plain English about fifteen years ago, I’ve tried to put his guidelines into practice whenever I write. I don’t always get it right – I’m sure you’ll catch me out in this piece of writing – but I always try.
And so, Lalor begins her blog. She goes on to answer these questions:
What is plain English, and why should you use it?
When should you use plain English?
Lalor also discusses the six rules for writing plain English in George Orwell's well-known essay, “Politics and the English Language” (1946).
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do. 
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active. 
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. 
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
I like her conclusion:
For me, the golden rule is: think about your readers, and don’t make them work too hard. When you follow that rule, you will find yourself striving to get your meaning across effectively, and doing the hard work of writing plainly yourself, rather than risk confusing your readers.
This article is featured in today's (June 11) Creativity Connections paper, available at the Creativity tab above.

For more information on writing in plain English, see Garbl's Plain English Writing GuideCheck out the pages below to learn how to improve your writing skills by using plain-English techniques:

Warning: Common Grammar Mistakes You Should Never Make | Tara Hornor, FreelanceSwitch

Hornor's blog provides useful, clear advice on the words and terms below:
For more related information on these words and terms, follow the links above to entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual


‘Ya’ll’ and other speech patterns an integral part of Appalachian culture | Samantha Perry, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Perry, editor of the daily newspaper in Bluefield, West Virginia, provides some useful, friendly advice and information, especially for those of us who live outside the U.S. South:
Some mistake an Appalachian drawl as a beacon of ignorance. They believe the word “y’all” is synonymous with low SAT scores.
How wrong could they be?
Here in the mountains, we don’t run and hide from our speech patterns. We embrace our slang and colloquialisms, knowing the way we speak is a part of our culture. It’s a generational thing, passed down from those before us.
What’s wrong with speaking with a slight drawl, a wisp of a twang or, my favorite, a bright smile that ever-so-slightly alters the enunciation to exude the southern charm indicative of a wide-brim hat with silk flowers and mint juleps served up fresh at the Kentucky Derby?
She also comments on a new TV miniseries about the feuding Hatfields and McCoys. Sounds like it's worth seeing:
In light of our state’s depiction in many other movies and productions — such as the film “Wrong Turn” and the fairly recent Australian news segment — “Hatfields & McCoys” showed a much more honest and accurate representation.
And, it underscored the importance of family, faith and forgiveness. In light of today’s societal problems, that’s not a bad message to get out to 13.8 million viewers.

"Use" versus "Usage" | English Language Blog

This blog provides a clear explanation of the uses of these two words. Blogger Gabriele concludes:
In general when thinking about how these words are different it is helpful to keep in mind that the term “usage” refers to conventions or patterns and often refers to language or words and how they are used, accepted, and understood. The word “use” has a much broader meaning and is found in more contexts. In my opinion, when in doubt, use the word “use.”
For additional advice, see the usage, use, utilize, utilization entry in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual.  

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