e is a streamlined way to get to all those great tools and resources we’ve published. After you have a look through this week’s tools and resources, head on over to get your learn on.
Below you’ll find some first looks at Apple’s new OS, Lion, a guide to taking your business freemium, and tips for creating a successful eBay storefront.
Looking for even more social media resources? This guide appears every weekend, and you can check out all the lists-gone-by here any time.
Why Data Mining Is the Next Frontier for Social Media Marketing The age of social broadcasting is over. It’s time to harness the power of data and target marketing messages more precisely than ever.
Is Developing a Mobile App Worth the Cost? There is a new way to present custom content on Facebook Pages. Tabs and FBML are going away. Get ready to friend iFrames.
The 5 Stages of Apple Rumors The rumors surrounding Apple products follow an interesting set of patterns that seem to reappear every time Apple ramps up for a launch.
The Apple Canvas: 10 Outstanding Works of iOS Art [PICS] Thanks to some great apps that turn iOS devices into digital canvasses, iOwners can create works of art on their touchscreen gadgets. Here are 10 great landscape paintings.
Why Viral Campaigns Can Still Be Challenging for Non-Profits Brands can correlate sales to the success of a viral social campaign, but what if your end goal is to affect change?
Viral Video Stars: Where Are They Now? [COMIC] So you’ve hit it big on YouTube. Now what?
Swipe, Save And Serve: What’s New in Mac OS X Lion [VIDEO] Slated for release this summer, Mac OS X Lion is all about fusing the worlds of Mac OS X and iOS together.
A New Way To Explore Resources on Mashable Mashable Explore is a new channel on the site dedicated to making Mashable’s evergreen guides, how-tos and feature lists easier to discover and explore.
Just How Offensive Is Your Facebook Profile? Socioclean crawls through your Facebook profile photos, groups, and wall posts and alerts you to anything inappropriate.
10 Fascinating YouTube Facts That May Surprise You The average YouTube user spends 15 minutes a day on the site, but how much do we know about the world’s largest video sharing site? Here are 10 factoids…
6 Ways to Design Your Own Jewelry Online Why buy standard department-store jewelry when you can customize your own pieces online for around the same price? Check out these six offerings.
HOW TO: Spend an Entire Year Giving to Charity Why did Carlo Garcia start Living Philanthropic, a one-year, one-man project to donate money 365 days in a row?
Meet the Newest Member of YouTube’s Billion Views Club: Eminem Only three artists have accumulated 1 billion views on YouTube: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and now Eminem.
How Social Media Is Having a Positive Impact On Our Culture [OPINION] One man’s TMI is another man’s treasure. Here’s a look at all we’ve gained from being constantly connected.
For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Tech & Mobile
HANDS ON: The Quietest (Powerful) Computer In The World [PICS] Most computers make noise, but we found one that’s tremendously powerful, yet it’s so quiet we couldn’t tell it was running.
10 Classy Cocktail Apps for Your iPhone If you’re passionate about fancy drinks and have an iPhone, then do we have a treat for you.
21 Free iPhone Apps for Staying Financially Fit in 2011 Here are 21 iPhone apps — all free — to help you stay informed and monitor your finances.
Review: Shape-Shifting Travel Bag Divides Into 3 Pieces [VIDEO & PICS] Today’s travelers need maximum flexibility, and that’s the promise of the Balanzza Truco, a 3-piece modular carry-on bag that stacks together into a size that’s made to fit into most overhead bins.
Rumor Roundup: The MacBook Pro Edition A rundown of all the rumors concerning the 2011 MacBook Pro.
The Influence of Social Gaming on Consoles We connected with gaming industry expert Scott Steinberg to discuss the influence of social upstarts on the console establishment.
HANDS ON: Amazon’s Prime Instant Video Hands-on review of Amazon’s new Netflix competitor, Prime Instant Video.
HOW TO: Use QR Codes for Event Marketing How can QR codes help entertainment brand marketers? Here’s a “brass tacks” breakdown of proven-successful strategies.
How HTML5 Is Aiding in Cross-Platform Development Disparate platforms have created the need for a unified way to develop web and mobile apps. HTML5 might be the answer.
Ruby on Rails: Scaling Your App for Rapid Growth Gowalla CTO Scott Raymond talks about his experiences building a popular web app from the ground up using Ruby on Rails.
The Future of Your Wireless Home Network Nearly everything in your future home will be web-enabled. Here’s a look at the broadband and Wi-Fi tech that will power the “connected house.”
Thunderbolt: Everything You Need To Know What? Yet another PC connection? When you take a look at Thunderbolt, you’ll see that it’s going to be a welcome addition.
First Look: Mac OS X Lion [SCREENSHOTS] Mac OS X Lion was released to Mac developers Thursday. Here are some screenshots of the upcoming version of Apple’s operating system.
10 Top Cases for Your 7-Inch Tablet [PICS] Whether you’re toting a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a Dell Streak 7, or hoping to get your hands on one of the 7-inch tablets announced at CES, we’ve got a case for you.
The Future of the Connected Car Things are starting to get exciting in the in-car technology space. We spoke to auto experts to find out what we can look forward to in the near future.
For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
How an Imaginative Child Learning Software Startup Avoided Death by Retail Sabi Games, a startup building imaginative learning software for kids, is transitioning from desktop to mobile after facing near death by retail.
10 Essential Online Resources for Preparing Your Small Business Taxes While tax time can seem overwhelming for the time-pressed small business owner, there are many online tools and forums available to make the process a little easier and stress-free. Here are ten of our favorites.
Power to the People: 3 Tasty Crowdsourcing Case Studies We spoke with reps from three major brands — Ben & Jerry’s, Coca Cola and Dunkin’ Donuts — to find out more about their recent crowdsourcing campaigns.
3 Facebook Commerce Success Stories Here are three small businesses that have successfully integrated stores into their Facebook Pages, and what they’re learning about the process.
9 Dynamic Digital Resumes That Stand Out From the Crowd Pure text is boring. If you’ve got an artistic eye, distinguish yourself by adding charts, graphics, and a little creativity. These examples should serve up inspiration.
HOW TO: Deal With Negative Online Sentiment About Your Brand It’s important for any brand to learn how to manage negative comments and motivate its base of brand advocates.
8 Tips For Creating a Successful eBay Storefront Before you open an eBay storefront, consider these 8 tips.
HOW TO: Change Your Business Model From Paid to Freemium If you’re considering implementing a freemium model for your business, here are a few factors to weigh.
Why Online Marketers Should Not Track Children [OPINION] We accept a certain level of data collection from most websites and networks, but should we make exceptions when it comes to minors?
How 5 Companies Are Using the iPad to Increase Productivity Pro auto racers, an art gallery, a dog gym, a health care provider and a home renovations company have all found ways to use iPads to streamline their businesses.
Do you know about any great tools or resources that Car Dealers can use? Please share them with the ADM Professional Community in the comments section below...
iveness from Dada artist, writer, and general fruit-bat, Kurt Schwitters. On the face of it Schwitters’ sound poem, “Ursonate“, doesn’t make sense, but I think that it’s an excellent illustration of the need for distinctiveness.
iTunes link for podcast archive and subscription.
A writing lesson from the back of a motorcycle
(3:15 mins.) We follow that with more on writing distinctiveness – this time from the back of a Triumph Bonneville. Except that this one doesn’t just concern writing: Distinctiveness is more than a writing technique. It’s something you have to create across your brand, in everything you do on your platform.
The message is this: Beware the cliché of every kind – clichés of form, clichés of ideas, cliches of perspective, of design, of conception, and so on. Go through your writing and your branding and find the clichés. Then do a Kurt Schwitters on them. (For an in-depth Slideshare presentation on avoiding convention and cliche, go here.)
Do you want to sound like everyone else?
(6:30 mins.) More on the technique of distinctiveness. We move to a discussion of George Orwell’s quote from his essay Politics and the English Language:
“Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print”
Or, of course, on pixels. So, do you want to sound like everyone else? Don’t answer that. If I ever see you use terms like “rockstar blogger”, or “WTF?”, I’ll come to your house and do a Kurt Schwitters on you. Do you hear me? You’re supposed to avoid buzzwords and catch phrases – unless, of course, you want to sound like everyone else.
Orwell was wont to make constant changes and re-writes until he found the right words:
I know what you’re thinking...
Now, I know what you’re not thinking: “Clichés in writing are handy. I don’t have to think – I just slot them in and that saves me time.” Erm, yes. That’s correct.
But thinking is the whole point: Good writing is about choosing the words that capture your true meaning, not reaching for the easiest cliche. So, learn to take a moment to look for accurate, interesting, fresh, clear ways to do the capturing. Your readers deserve it.
The most useful writing technique of all?
So, here’s one of the most useful writing techniques ever invented: Stop and ask, this question
“What exactly am I trying to say here?”
The question is so simple that we often ignore its power. It amazes me how often I’ve struggled with a piece of writing, for hours on end until I really faced up to this question. Ouch.
So, what are you trying to say? Your writing should reflect your voice, not everyone else’s. To find your voice, think your word choice through. It’ll help.
Distinctive writing in drama
Do dramatic things. Like this.
(12:00 mins.) We head to the lobby of a local theater only to find Host regaling his literary lackeys. Amidst the swill of hooch and the clink of glass, Host takes his cue from Edmund White, who wrote:
“Great theater begins with great talkers… and great talkers… never sound like anyone else…”
The need for distinctive writing is as true for non-fiction writers – meaning you – as it is for screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, and everyone else: You have to find your own voice and make it distinctive. Cheers.
How to sell half a million digital books
Now, (15:20 mins.) Host changes the subject for a few moments to talk about a fitness instructor called mike Geary. Geary has sold half a million digital books that he wrote and marketed himself – no editiors, no publishers, no gatekeepers, no middle-men – all by himself. See the book here: www.truthaboutabs.com.
Now Geary would never have become a writer in the days before the platform. And his writing is not the pristine stuff you’d expect to see in the New Yorker. But it serves its purpose. There are writing techniques behind the sales pages if you look closely. I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 25 years. I know I’ve said it before but, everything is changing. We’re seeing the rise of the solopreneur and the age of the information product. And the ability to perform certain crucial writing functions has enormous potential value. Are you with me?
“Too many -ings”
Here’s a stealth writing technique from Roy Peter Clark that impacts distinctiveness:
Avoid too many –ing verb endings.
I recommend that you listen to the anecdote that I take from Clark’s excellent Writing Tools (21:00 mins). I highly recommend that book – there’s a kind of audio summary of it here.
But why are ‘too many –ings’ bad for your writing? Well, first of all, when you have too many verbs ending in -ing, the verbs all start to look like each other. With too many ings there’s a dullness and a sameness about the piece. It’ll look flat and generic, rather than vigorous and distinctive. With each –ing ending that you use, you’re almost certain to lose a little bit more of the reader’s interest. Still with me?
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Weak verb forms
Beyond the sameness problem, –ings are inherently weaker verb forms. The ing ending creates what’s known as a gerund. But gerunds refer to generic activities, things that we can’t envisage. ‘Swimming’, ‘singing’, ‘walking’, ‘talking’ refer to activities in some general sense, not to a specific person doing something.
It’s always better to write about specific people doing specific things so the reader can follow visually. Specifics, and in particular, specific people doing specific things, make for engaging and distinctive writing. Like in the audio anecdote from the busy office. Or when we track down George Orwell.
Watch out for the ings, watch out for the gerunds.
Respect the verb
Respect the verb. Because the verb is the motor of the sentence. But it has to refer to a specific person doing a specific action if it’s to take the reader anywhere interesting. Let verbs be verbs. Don’t convert them to nouns – especially generic nouns i.e. gerunds. Gerunds are abstract. Martin Amis talked about the need for a war against cliche. I think we need a war against abstraction and I plan to start that war in an imminent installment.
So, let the people in your prose swim, or swing, or walk or talk and avoid the generic verb forms – the ings. Do you rely on too many ings?
The War Against Cliche: E***** and Reviews 1971-2000
George Orwell’s crib
(24: mins.) I go to George Orwell’s house in London, pull back the curtain, and find him cramped over a Remington portable and a pile of manuscripts.
Orwell doesn’t appreciate the intrusion, but who cares? This is Writing Techniques, with Ken Carroll. I find some gems in his papers: Here’s one: Two qualities that he inevitably finds in bad writing – stale imagery and a lack of precision.
Hmmm. This squares exactly with what we’ve been saying. Clichés and stock phrases are almost always stale images - putting all your eggs in one basket, thinking outside the box, free as a bird, go the extra mile, and so on. Stale as three-week old bread.
And imprecise. Because clichés, by definition, are generic things that you slot into place. They may kind of convey your meaning but they’ll also distort it.
The alternative is to think and choose your words according to precisely what it is you want to convey. That’s how you make your writing precise. And precision really goes a long way in giving power and vigor to your writing. It also makes for distinctiveness.
Does Orwell live up to his own standards?
“Don’t let us disturb you, Mr Orwell. Please. Keep writing…” The question I have as I wander around George’s crib is whether or not he lives up to his own standards. I find the manuscript of Coming Up For Air. Here’s how it begins: “The idea came to me the day I got my new false teeth.” Ha! Not flash but original, unexpected.
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Hmmm. Concrete. Very concrete. Orwell doesn’t do distinctiveness in a Kurt Schwitters way. He does it through plain language. This helps me understand distinctiveness in writing but also in branding.
First off, you have to avoid doing what everyone else is doing. That’s the avoidance part of distinctiveness. But at the same time you need to develop your own voice. If you’re weird, then be weird. If you’re political, then be political. This is true for your brand and your writing.
And Orwell’s distinctiveness has penetrated deep into our culture:
Gorge Orwell loses it
But it seems I disturbed George Orwell once too many times. I’m tempted to use a cliché, or worse, to describe what happens, but I think you should just listen instead. …
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