I recently started a post on this subject at my Webgrammar social networking site. Here is one response, with more to come. Guest post by Angela Allen I think books are on their way out, and it makes me sad. I think there will always be books, but they will fall into two categories -- the disposable paperbacks (the kind of trash novels you read on the beach, and don't care if you lose on the plane home - similar to paper cups that are used once and discarded) and the collector's beautiful gilt-edged, leather-bound tomes. As a writer and a technology nut, I'm watching with amazement and, sometimes, horror as this magnificent change materializes. Like you, I think the change in photography is a good, close comparison. But I still have those photos that I adore -- the ones printed "properly" on paper and hanging on my wall or sitting at my desk -- but I have thousands on my hard drive. So photos ... and probably books... will become something we only keep in physical formats when they are quite dear to us. The rest, the "dirty masses" if you will, will probably be in electronic format. On the flip side, I love that I can carry a couple hundred books on my iPhone. I think it's great that my one little pocket-sized device can entertain me on so many levels (books, movies, music, photos, communication, research, Internet, etc.) It appeals to my "minimization" tendencies. And, I must admit that the "flick to turn" graphics on a touch screen is pretty cool as a book reader. I like the idea of "digital paper" in a big way... but I like writing in ALL formats. I love words. Period. I admit that I miss the big and bulky, but tactile-silky pages of a hard-bound book for pleasure reading. I don't miss it for research, however. I prefer my research to be digital -- I like searching instead of scanning for hundreds of pages for the information I seek. What's happening with the publishing industry is similar to what's happening to the music industry -- we are seeing a change in the way it's approached. It's a growth and a change... and it's probably a natural evolution. I, for one, will always have a few prized books in heavy, old-fashioned hard back. But, I'm carrying more books with me now than I have since college, and I don't have the huge backpack or the backache I had then. Now, I have a pocket that's a little bulgy. It's a pretty worthwhile trade-off when I'm thinking in a practical way rather than an emotional one. What really makes me crazy is to have the educators devalue reading. To be told that "spelling really isn't that important, so long as you can sort of figure out what they are trying to say, since everything has spell-check now" makes me want to scream. And to have my 12-year old, who can read on a college level, bring home a permission slip to check out audio books, so she can listen to books instead of read them, makes me nuts. (This child has a book in her hand 18 hours a day -- to the point that I actually fuss at her for reading too much!!!) While I think she should put down the book to eat and to do her chores, she disagrees every time my back is turned. To encourage her to "listen" instead of to read is a sin, IMHO. This is the direction of books that bothers me, not the actual format for reading words. I want it to be READING -- not watching or listening -- especially in school. I like listening to an audio book while driving or while working out, so I can see some times when that's a great option. But it is not a substitution.
Guest post by Ted Rushton Six libraries in Phoenix will close due to city budget cuts, another element of the effort by Mayor Phil Gordon to transform the city into a diversified high-tech center of America's economic future. It's typical Phoenix. Last week, the story of the cuts to city programs got half-a-page coverage in 'The Arizona Republic.' Last week, a football player retired; the story got four pages in the next day's paper, plus a special six-page section on Sunday. The newspaper doesn't run Phoenix; it merely tries to reflect what it considers important to its readers. Football, not libraries. As a baseball fan, I've watched fans stand in silence before the game, listening to the national anthem. It never affects the game. It reflects what people consider important. Likewise, 10 pages for a football player. Half-a-page for library closings, plus a dozen or so parks, senior centers and other people-centered facilities. It reflects what newspaper readers consider important. The 15 library system faces a 19 percent cut in funds, largest of any department. The city's 90 senior executives, who utterly failed to see the collapse of the local economy which began in the fall of 2006, will get a 2 percent cut. No executive layoffs are planned. It's not just Phoenix. Mesa, the state's third largest city, is also making major cuts to police services and other civic programs. Yet, Mesa is offering $84 million to build a new ballpark exclusively for the Chicago Cubs, who will use it for only one month of the year. What is a library? Isaac Asimov explains, "I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. "For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself," Asimov wrote. On Sunday, the paper had several pages to a "Let's Grow Jobs" feature in response to Arizona's economic decline, worse than Michigan and exceeded only by Nevada. For decades, Arizona's economy was based on illegal migrants in construction, warehousing and landscaping. The $1.4 billion trolley 20-mile car line, which gets $3 in taxes for every $1 in fares, is almost untouched. Trolley cars reflect the mayor's ego. Libraries house ideas, as abundant as lemons on a well-watered tree but with all the fruits of the world in one small plot of land. Sports is fun, Arizona emphasizes the pay-for-fun approach rather than do-it-yourself fun. Arizona has four major league sports teams; but, Phoenix will cancel its summer baseball program for youths. What is a library? Gerald Manley Hopkins describes it thus: Glory be to God for dappled things --- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pierced --- fold, fallow, and plow; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change; Praise Him. What is a library? It is ideas. A town without a library is like a baseball team that never practices. In recent years, Arizonans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build some of the nation's finest baseball spring training facilities; they are gems, well worth the money and well worth the commitment to the sports future. But great cities have more than playgrounds. Ideas deserve as much consideration, care and commitment. In Phoenix, the tangible value is concrete, steel and asphalt. Conservatives trust concrete. Progress is rubberized asphalt. Ideas are dangerous, as William Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar: Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights. Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. An original idea? Hardly. Shakespeare cribbed it from a comment by Julius Caesar as written by Plutarch, which he could discover only because of a library, "It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and hungry-looking." Perhaps, like Caesar, the mayor fears libraries because they house ideas.
"More than seventy extraordinary authors and thinkers contributed to this ebook," says Seth Godin. "It's designed to make you sit up and think, to change your new year's resolutions, to foster some difficult conversations with your team." Seth Godin is the bestselling author of ten books. He writes about marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect. You'll find refreshing, thoughtful ideas by Elizabeth Gilbert, Jacqueline Novogratz, Tom Peters, Dan Pink, Kevin Kelly, Tim O'Reilly, Dave Ramsey, Jackie Huba, Jason Fried, Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor, and Alan Webber. And many more. If you are involved in any kind of teamwork, you will find value in this snazzy free document. The team could be your family, a group at work, church, an agency, school, a volunteer team...it doesn't matter: there's something here for everyone. Here's the link.
By Judy Vorfeld
Have you been hearing about the importance of having of a good e-mail signature line (sig line / tag line / sig file), but you don't have a clue as to how to create one?
Never fear! It takes time, but it will come. By incorporating several pieces of information, you can benefit from a signature line in ways that may amaze you.
When I started on the Internet, I didn't have a signature line. After studying the comments of people in newsgroups, I noticed many of them using at least one line to give more information about their businesses. The brief phrases generally seemed to be slogans, but on closer study, many of them were not: they were part of the business's USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
How can you do this? It begins with studying your niche . . . what sets you apart from other similar businesses in the eyes of the reader, potential client, or those who will refer others to you. Just as you think constantly of customer/client needs when crafting the words on your website, so must you think of these people when crafting your USP.
You can certainly say something that will make people want to ask more about your business, but be careful not to be too clever. You have a global audience, and some common American phrases are not understood in many parts of the world.
My first tag line was something like:Judy Vorfeld, Office Support Services Typing, Training, and Troubleshooting
There it was: my name, business name, and what I did. Wasn't that enough? Nope. Lots of people type, train, and troubleshoot. People didn't understand my clever little phrase. This was my first clue that something was missing. I needed a different approach, both locally and on the Internet.
Little by little I learned that there must be reasons for every word and digit in the signature line, and that by carefully crafting every part of it, I'm now better able to describe my business. Later, my major sig line reads as follows: Judy Vorfeld - mailto:email@example.com Office Support Services - http://www.ossweb.com Online & Document Editor - Web Analyst & Renovator Webgrammar - http://www.webgrammar.com Arizona Phone: 623-876-8168 || eFax 801-720-4333
My second sig line is reserved when I send comments directly to newsgroups they generally restrict the sig line to 3-4 lines: Judy Vorfeld - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ossweb.com Copyediting, Web Design, Renovation, & Analysis
Then I went to the sig line below.Judy Vorfeld - Editing and Writing Services - Arizona (623) 876-8168 www.EditingAndWritingServices.com | mailto:jv@EditingAndWritingServices.com www.ossweb.com &nbs; | mailto:email@example.com www.webgrammar.com | mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Wait, Judy, you say. What or who is Webgrammar? Years ago, when I started on the Web, I invented Webgrammar as a way to help people with grammar, research, education, etc. It was first a part of ossweb.com, but later I bought a separate domain name, and later had it trademarked. A number of organizations and schools use Webgrammar as a resource. I created The Writing Center, and then duplicated it when I began the Editing and Writing Services website. So now, I have The Writing Center in two places, where it helps people with writing and research issues.
Back to sig/tag lines. In October, 2009, I'm using this:
Judy Vorfeld - mailto:email@example.com www.EditingAndWritingServices.com A division of Office Support Services BLOG: http://www.ossweb.com Peoria, Arizona
It's a digital evolution out there! You may have noticed that I don't use my phone number in the latest sig line. Yep. I have such a hearing loss that I'm likely to miss something important. That said, I do have an assistive phone (one that keeps breaking down) and I can talk on the phone. It's just a risk with all the types of phones being used these days, and I don't want to miss a word of what my clients have to say.
But, Judy, didn't you use Twitter in your sig line? Yes, for about a year. And while I have a link to Twitter in my blog, after a year I saw no value in keeping it in the sig line. The people with whom I correspond don't care. That said, some people find value in my Tweets, which are mostly brief grammar and style tips.
If you have a website with any kind of business purpose behind it, do sit down and sweat out your Unique Selling Proposition, creating a clear, effective USP. Brainstorm with friends and family. Or with me. Even if it takes days, or weeks, it will be worth it . . . and you may find that in time you can make it better.
Use it with every e-mail. There are many similarities between sig lines and websites. Be considerate of the other party. If you're writing to someone regularly, and they suddenly decide to go to your site or give your Web address to someone else - but can't remember your Web address (URL) - make it easy for them. They should be able to go to any of your previous letters and find that URL. It's good business practice to leave plenty of information.
If you network often on the Internet (and I strongly recommend it), a good sig line with a clear USP should help increase your credibility, your visibility . . . and your business. It works for me!
For more information, contact Judy Vorfeld