Saturday, December 29, 2012

Simply Beautiful Photographs, Tips on Composing Photographs, Gallery – National Geographic

When I began this blog, I thought I might be writing more posts on two of my favorite topics: travel and photography ... and travel photography! Those topics are essential parts of quality communication. Mostly, though, I've focused on writing and editing.

Still, I liked the tips provided in this National Geographic article. Fortunately, I try to follow most of them in my photography.

This article is featured today, Dec. 29, in a new daily paper of mine, Garbl's Visualizing Culture. I'm experimenting with its content about "inspiring photos while we travel."

If you're interested, here are photo albums of my recent trip to Peru, including Machu Picchu.

85 Low-Cost or Free Web-Based Tools for Nonprofits « A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

This article is featured today, Dec. 29, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communications, but many of the tools it lists could be useful to people generally, in other workplaces and professions.

Some random examples from the first half of the list (I haven't visited all these sites or others in the list, so their presence here isn't an endorsement):
2. 360 Panorama :: occipital.com/360/app
Ideal for mobile social networkers, this $.99 app allows you to easily create panoramic photos on your smartphone. Simply tap the screen and pan your device in any direction. You’ll see your panorama being built in realtime as every incoming frame is processed. This is a must-buy app if your nonprofit regularly tells your story through mobile photo-sharing.

5. Alexa Top Sites :: alexa.com/topsites
This website tracks what sites are the most popular in the world today. In addition to the list of global top sites, you can also view top sites by country.

9. Cause.it :: cause.it
Cause.it is an iOS App that allows users to earn points for doing things like volunteering at local food banks or animal shelters. Points can later be redeemed for deals and free items at local merchants.

15. CrowdVoice :: crowdvoice.org
Ideal for activist organizations, CrowdVoice allows organizers to create “Voices” of protest where users can monitor and contribute links, photos, and videos of protests worldwide. It’s a creative, visual way to tell your organization’s stories of protest to your online communities.
24. FotoFlexer :: fotoflexer.com
FotoFlexer is a free Web-based photo-editing tool that allows you to cut, crop, resize, and embed text and logos onto your photos. If your nonprofit is active on Pinterest or wants to make better use of your digital library, knowledge of photo-editing is essential.

44. LastPass :: lastpass.com
LastPass is a tool that consolidates all your online passwords into one easy-to-use, secure password manager. Ideal for social and mobile media managers that are juggling 20+ accounts, the premium version is only $12 a year.
50. Museum of Me :: intel.com/museumofme
A Facebook app that creatively displays you and your Facebook friends in a virtual museum. While at first it may feel a little narcissistic, it is a clever and moving exhibition of your Facebook life – and one of the few Facebook apps I have recommended that anyone add on Facebook.
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My daily Good Cause Communications paper is available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Associated Press Stylebook | Updates

As a subscriber to the online Associated Press Stylebook, I got an email today about new entries and recent changes to the handy manual.

All the terms relate to the growing vocabulary of social media and related apps and devices: Android, circles, flash mob, Google Hangout, hashtag, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, retweet, Skype and tablet.

Most are simply descriptions; for example:
Android An operating system created by Google that's used in many smartphones and tablets.
flash mob A gathering of people performing an action in a public place designated by a text message, email, social media post or other notification sent to the participants. ...
 And a few provide advice on using the terms: 
hashtag  The use of a number sign (#) in a tweet to convey the subject a user is writing about so that it can be indexed and accessed in other users' feeds. If someone is writing about the Super Bowl, for example, the use of #superbowl could be an appropriate hashtag. No space is used between the hashtag and the accompanying search term. ...
retweet The practice, on Twitter, of forwarding a message or link from someone else to your followers. Users can either formally retweet to make the forwarded message appear exactly as written by the original user or use the informal convention of "RT @username:" to share the tweet and edit or add comment. Spelled out in all references, though common usage on Twitter abbreviates to RT. If you amend the tweet before forwarding, use the abbreviation MT for "modified tweet." ...
AP also provides this advice to its staffers (and other journalists, I assume):
[R]etweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like an expression of personal opinion on the issues of the day. However, AP staffers can judiciously retweet opinionated material by making clear it is being reported, much like a quote in a story. Add this context before the RT in the tweet, or write a new tweet that includes the original in quote marks.
The AP email message includes more advice on news media use of "user-generated content," or UGC. But that discussion deserves its own blog entry. Stay tuned.


Shall We Abandon Shall? | Bryan Garner, ABA Journal

As a writer and editor, I have great respect for the author of this column, Bryan Garner. One of his books, Garner's Modern American Usage, is a contemporary equivalent to the Fowler and Follett books. It sits on my desk with my dictionary and style manuals.

As a legal writer, Garner also advocates clear, concise writing in legal documents ... and other types of documents. This article focuses on use of shall in legal documents, but its advice is worth heeding for other writing.

Garner concludes:
My own practice is to delete shall in all legal instruments and to replace it with a clearer word more characteristic of American English: must, will, is, may or the phrase is entitled to. ...
Here's advice from my online guide, Garbl's Editorial Style Manual; I think it's similar to Garner's recommendations:
shall Avoid this formal, ambiguous, pretentious word:
  • Try dropping use of any pronoun.
  • Use is when something is fact: The senior editor is [not shall beresponsible for reviewing all documents for clarity and consistency.
  • Use may instead to give permission: Members may borrow up to three CDs a month.
  • Use must instead to express legal obligation: Tenants must pay rent by the 15th of each month.
  • Use have to, must, need to or required instead to express other requirements: Each student is required to take the exam.
  • Use should when recommending a course of action: We should move ahead with the project by Friday.
  • Use will instead to express what someone plans to do or expects: I will be there. We will meet. You will like it. She will not be pleased.
My manual also provides advice on other related verbs: can, maymay, mightshould, wouldwill, would.

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Garner's column is featured today, Dec. 28, in my online daily paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Plain Language in Plain English | Cheryl Stephens's Books and Publications Spotlight

I haven't read all of Stephens's books. But I know her work and her expertise in clear, concise writing from emails we've shared, her comments in writing forums, and her articles published on the Web.

She's also a leader in the global plain-language movement, having co-founded the Plain Language Association International in the '90s.

You also can learn more about plain language at Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes a seven-step approach to writing clearly and concisely to meet the needs of your readers:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
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Stephens's article is featured today, Dec. 26, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.


Why Encouraging Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business |

This day after Christmas, I'm thinking of the smiles and happy thoughts inspired by Christmas giving and sharing--especially among young people. My two sons are in their 30s, but I still feel the joy from them--and I love it!

Rubin's article caught me as I'm recalling this Christmas and the coming year.

He describes how parents and teachers knock the creativity out of children and students. But he writes (emphasis added):
Spend time with very young children, and you’ll soon notice that they default to happy. They sing at the drop of a hat. They skip rather than trudge. And as a parent I think we need to encourage this—not penalize it—because that creative spontaneity is sorely needed in the adult world of business. Why? Because innovation springs from creative thought. When a child is happy and relaxed rather than stressed, they think better and learn faster. ...
And he describes how employers often knock the creativity out of their employees. But Rubin writes:
[C]ompanies that are always innovating generally have a much more energized set of employees because they have a less rigidly structured environment. They create the space and time for people to doodle, daydream and collaboratively think up out-of-the-box ideas. They reward those ideas—even if they fail—because they understand that it’s essential to encourage that type of thinking in order to keep innovations happening.
Rubin notes, however, that the creativity spark can't just come from employer motivation. He concludes:
As employees we need to start a revolution of creative thought, empower our co-workers and subordinates to freely express ideas and truly jump into the creative process. We need to push this up to the c-suite and help them to understand the value. Social Media, internal and external to the organization, can help us do that in ways we never could before. Let’s make 2013 the year of opening up the floodgates to creative and innovative thought … at home, at work, and at play.
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Rubin's article is featured today, Dec. 26, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections, available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to my Garblog readers

Photos from the annual Christmas Ships cruise on Lake Union in Seattle, Dec. 23, 2012.




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