Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On evolving a digital writing style

A while ago I tweeted to @copacino that writing on a tablet produces different results than keyboarding.

Yes I risked rejection tweeting something obscure out of the blue to demonstrate a point: digital writing is new and different from “sm conversations” and long-form writing.

We need writing teachers for the digital. But, for the most part, writing is being taught by people who learned to write by hand or on a typewriter. Certainly not by tablet. Tablet reading is very different.
Think about it. Are people who are relatively new to digital communication able to teach effective digital writing? (Most adult writers today joined the social media party late. Thank you @apple, #iPad.)

Digital writing is changing too rapidly to not be one of the people using it intensively and actively experimenting with the rules. Pushing it.

Phone vs. Tablet vs. Laptop

Have you noticed a shifted view from one to the other? (Does anyone still use a desktop?) I find I can’t take in all of the information reading on the small screen, yet I also want the full meal deal.

When we read on a laptop we digest information differently than we do on a small screen. On the small screen, 4 guiding visual elements allow us to receive and transmit ideas with greater complexity: Punctuation. Spacing. Paragraph length. Grammar.

4 crucial writing foundations. All rapidly changing.

Are you changing your writing fundamentals? How far do you stretch in order to effectively communicate? For example…

Do you assess each sentence for whether it could stand alone in the 140 (+/- a # providing an opportunity to delve deeper). Do you provide context for each tweet? Obama did a terrific job of this during his Democratic Party nomination speech. As he was speaking, his staff was simul-tweeting the sound bites.

An effective tweet allows the reader to decide whether to dig deeper into my intention, or stay skimming across the top. Their choice.

My tweet was a shot across @copacino’s bow. A volley to enjoin them in a new digital writing conversation. (And I hope they will want to dig deeper with me because they’re so smart and Jim is so very good at the turn of phrase.)

Written digital style is evolving.

Digital writing must
· capture attention,
· build trust,
· communicate ideas,
· Inspire action.

The impact of digital on our reading attention will affect all of Today’s 5 effective writing styles. From formal business to every day emails, we need to adapt the digital style rules to keep up in the changing digital environment.

Digital style should *not* be distinct from informal business communication.

#DSM13: The 2013 Digital Style Manual.

I’m playing with the idea of creating an open source #DSM13. Why 2013? It’s a goal. A marker. A starting place. Good idea?

Come play with me. Make up your own rules. Push Back. Share with your word nerd friends. Participate in the #DSM13 conversations.

First proposed guideline on the table: Limit paragraphs to two or three 140 character sentences.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rethinking the timeout chair

I never thought I’d be saying this, but one of the best parenting tools I use is the timeout chair.

I had read a lot about timeouts in the quest to reign in my emotionally volatile daughter. But I had never been able to effectively use it with Miss. In fact, trying to get her to sit there escalated the emotion instead of getting it under control.

Besides the idea of the timeout chair evokes visions of children sitting in corners with dunce caps on their heads. Not my idea of positive parenting. So imagine my astonishment when I discovered putting myself in the timeout chair made me a better parent.

I don’t recall much about the first time I used the timeout chair for myself. Probably my memory is blank because I was screaming mad at something I discovered Son had done.  (Egging houses perhaps?) I just know I was boiling over. Ready to throw the book at him. No consequence felt large enough to equal my wrath.  You know that feeling, right?

Somewhere inside, a small voice told me grounding him forever was not rational. Just walk away before you do something you regret. So I went into the kitchen, sat on a stool and gave myself a chance to think.

While I sat there I realized something powerful. A game changer:
  • I do not have to react. I can give myself time to think. 
  • I have the right to allow myself time to process. Time to process is the key to staying calm.
  • A consequence that I assign 15 minutes later is still an effective consequence.
  • In fact, I learned that when I move past my anger and think things through, I assign a fair consequence that I can live with. No more backing down because I overreacted.
  • Bonus. I’m a good model for my children on managing my anger.

Do I make my children sit in the timeout chair now that I’ve found it works for me? I don’t. I narrate what I’m doing and expect them to verbalize their feelings in return. (“I’m so angry I can’t think. I’m going to the timeout chair. While I’m in timeout I don’t want you to talk to me.” Etc.) 

My current goal is giving them space to calm down when they get angry and tell me they need space. After all, if I’m allowed to calm down before I react, they should be able to calm down before they face the music, right?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blue October Dreams

From Where I Sit

[#Seattle, today, in the moment]:
I am exploring a new frame of mind. Playing guilt free.  
To do this I must first offer up my neglected responsibilities.
Deferring the undesirable into the morrow, 
I free myself of thoughts such as these:
And sink into bliss. 
I daydream about evolving a visual language,
Combining photo, caption, #hashmarks, 
Tell a narrative. Story. 
Share a feeling. Idea.
Each photo evolved the story.
Each stood alone to 
Transport me into blue October dreams.