This man speaks the truth. Read him.
Category Archives: The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes
At 27 years old, Paul Templer was swallowed by a hippo.
Templer documented the incident in an article written for The Guardian in May 2013. Templer writes:
I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness…I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs…My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.
…I’ve no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.
After having a book about the experience published in 2012 (ironically titled What’s Left Of Me), he thought that his nightmare with the “rogue hippo”, as he calls it, was over.
It is official: social media now dominates the Series of Tubes.
Every year, these smart people produce a slick video about the interwebs, and this year’s video is especially good and interesting.
Now, having filled your brain with facts and numbers and industrial euro-pop dance music, WHAT DO WE DO?
Simple. We change the world.
Change # 1: One Contact Thing to rule them all
So you’ve got contacts in your gmail at home and Outlook at work, Twitter lists of followers and all kinds of Facebook friends, Tumblr buddies and Pinterest pals and a dozen other things.
It is an unholy mess.
Blessed be the app that gives us One Contact Thing, a single shebang with the magical powers to organize all your contacts, from all those stupid platforms, in one tidy place. The power will be unthinkable.
This means ending the nonsense about Instagram not talking to Twitter because she saw him flirting with Google or whatever. And yes, we need it to be easy and quick and on our phones. Because I’m not firing up the PC every time I need to look up a phone number or Twitter handle.
Whoever does this first — Apple, Google, Microsoft, some dude in his basement coding the app in his pajamas — will rule the interwebs forever and ever.
Change # 2: Obliterate voice mail and switch to texting
Am I saying we should take voice mail behind the barn and shoot it? No. I’m saying take it behind the barn, hang it, set it on fire, THEN shoot it.
Nobody likes voice mail. Nobody.
Don’t call my cell phone and make me dial up voice mail, punch in a password I keep forgetting, then listen for two minutes. Especially when 99.99 percent of all voice mail messages are things you can sum up in a short text like, “Phone tag, you’re it” or “Pick up some milk, yo” or “I’m a reclusive billionaire with $400 million sitting around, and instead of handing it to Karl Rove, who I wouldn’t trust at this point to run a successful race for student body president at Willapa Valley Junior High, I’d like some return on my investment.”
Send a text, people. College kids these days don’t even use email anymore. They think email is so 1994.
If it’s too complicated for a text, send an email.
If you really hate me, send a voice mail. Make it long. Don’t leave your number or email — assume that I’ve memorized it. And then when I call back, make sure you don’t answer your phone so I can start the whole thing rolling with a voice mail of my own.
Therefore, we will nuke voice mail from orbit, and the world will rejoice.
Change # 3: Real photos, good bios and no anonymous trolls
Twitter, Facebook and every other social media shebang is full of photos and bios of people that may be human, and might be young or old, male or female, con artist or genius.
You can’t tell, though, because (a) their profile photo is a shot of a cat, Yoda holding a lightsaber or a pile of leaves, (b) their Twittter handle is @jkringer392 and (c) their bio is a train wreck of obscure references to Star Trek fan fiction and such. I have seen all of these things and more. Who will pay for my therapy?
Related post: 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
There are plenty of places for anonymous folks to say whatever they like. Sites like reddit will always be around. Have at it.
HOWEVER: papers of news, TV stations and serious blogs need to stop feeding the trolls by letting TrailerParkNinja and TexasMustSecede2016! dominate the comment sections with anonymous spam and hateful, nonsense. So let’s cut back on that by requiring commenters to use real photos and bios. Want to spew? Go spew in Anonymous Land.
If you’re going to be on the Series of Tubes, and want to be taken Seriously, you need a Serious photo — of you, not your cat — and a real bio. Period.
Long ago, only famous people needed public relations folks, who made sure actors, authors and other celebrities had good mug shots and nice bios. Today, everybody is online. Your photo, bio and name are what people see first. But average people don’t have a publicist. They’re flying in the dark with a blindfold, and yeah, it shows.
Wonder why you aren’t getting many followers on Twitter or hits to your blog? Take a look at your photo and bio.
Trying to get a job / book deal / punk rock music contract? Take a hard look at what people see, in the first five seconds, when they check you out on Twitter and the Book of Face and such.
People don’t make a decision about you after reading your short stories or listening to three mp3s of sample songs on your blog. They glance at your photo and decide, in half a second, whether to interact with you or never give you a second thought. They do this all the time, in a hurry. Ten people just followed you on Twitter, and you follow back or not, clicking away with your mousity mouse, no-no-yes-no-yes-yes-no. You don’t ponder these decisions, right? Bam. So make it easy on people by taking it seriously. I’m talking to you, Miss Duckface, who shot your profile photo in the bathroom mirror using an iPhone.
People need a place –a Profile Doctor–to get easy and quick help with this sort of thing, without putting a public relations firm on retainer.
As an experiment, I just did a bit of profile doctoring for Lauren the Palazzo, recent public relations grad. Did she get a job? Yes, she did.
Yet I can’t doctor the profiles of all 3 billion people with profile photos of their cat, Spock or Darth Vader paired with a train-wreck bios, not unless I quit my job and hire a crack legion of minions with red pens and Photoshop skills. Though if such a crack legion of secret editing agents existed, it’s a good bet that the underground headquarters would include tiger sharks (lasers optional) swimming in the moat and komodo dragons next to the BBQ pit.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.
Oh, if I could go back in time, and whisper in the ear of my younger self during journalism school.
Not that I was busy screwing it up. Editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, graduated No. 1 in my class, won a bunch of awards, blah-blah-blah. (Related: Who is this Guy?)
But the traditional things that most journalism students think they SHOULD be doing — well, often those are seven separate kinds of wrong.
And there are other things Serious Journalism Majors scoff at, things that you actually should not only embrace, but hug tightly to your bosom.
So here we go with the Top 10 Myths of Journalism School.
Myth No. 10: Hard news is the only true love of a Serious Journalism Major
Sure, unfiltered Marlboros and Jim Beam come close. But nothing beats a scoop about an amazing scandal. You laugh at people trying to make the words flow for their feature story on dumpster divers, a story packed with all these photos, which are for nancypants who don’t have the stones to write more words.
Here’s the truth: hard news is all about news gathering and using the inverted pyramid, which is a horrible structure for any sort of writing and needs to be taken behind the barn and shot.
Hard news is worthy, and does the public a great service. Yet if all you do is hard news, you won’t truly learn journalism — or how to write.
- Why the Inverted Pyramid must DIE
- How to write KILLER headlines and hooks
- Why reporters love mayhem, destruction and FREE DONUTS
- The evil secret to ALL WRITING – editing is everything
Myth No. 9: Journalism school will teach you how to write
Once you get that pigskin from j-school, and land your first journalism gig — at The Willapa Valley Shopper or The New York Times – you’ll go home after 12 hours of banging on the keyboard to stay up past midnight, banging on the keyboard some more while smoking Gallouise Blondes and drinking cheap whiskey sours as you write (a) the next Great American Novel, (b) a Broadway play involving a debutant who falls in love with a struggling young reporter or (c) a Hollywood screenplay about a vast government conspiracy unraveled by an intrepid young intern at CBS.
This will be a lot of fun, and you’ll remember this as being the Best Thing Ever until you’ve been doing it for seven months and turning every draft of your extra-curricular writerly fun into three-point attempts. Also, you will miss this thing we call “sleep” and these other things we call “money in the checking account” and “a social life that does not involve typing on a keyboard chatting with a person who may, or may not, actually exist.”
Internet Fanboys claim that the invincible air attack of the Series of Tubes will shred the ground game of Boring Old Media — that there’s no way newspapers, TV and radio stations compete with the lightning speed and low-cost goodness of the interwebs,
Four yards and a cloud of dust has no chance. This game will be over at halftime when the score is 44-7.
So, it’s halftime and we’re bored. Let’s talk about a blog so powerful and amazing that it posted not seven times a week, but hundreds of times every day — a blog with a professional staff of writers, designers and minions, cranking out news scoops and funny posts.
A blog so strong that it doesn’t burn through venture capital like cocaine at a ’70s disco, but MAKES monies year after year, with millions of page hits and paid subscribers.
Oh, that kind of blog must be making Boring Old Media quake in their boots. See? The Internet Fanboys are right. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Except that blog is called “every newspaper on the planet in a city large enough to support at least one Home Depot.”
Great article from somebody in the business.
Advertisers are smart. They spend actual money and have to show actual results. And sometimes, hype is simply hype.
Perla isn’t pooh-poohing the Series of Tubes as a whole. He says Google ads are smart and do lead to sales. Different model entirely.
ANYWAY: Go read this. It will make your brain grow big and strong.
Conventional wisdom is conventionally wrong.
Nowhere is this more true than in the fields of writing, social media and publicity — three lands where tradition and mythology rule the day.
Those who haven’t read these posts should start here, so they don’t get all Confused, because this is really Part 2 of Why critique groups MUST DIE.
- Why critique groups MUST DIE
- The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
- The evil secret to ALL WRITING – editing is everything
So: if people listen to this silly blog and (a) stop trying to use Twitter to sell books and (b) go all Michael Bay as they blow up old, obsolete critique groups, what should they do instead?
Get a team. Build your own Writing Monster.
Hopefully, better than one of these.
Now, this is the opposite of a critique group, which is typically people who live in the same area, have the same rough skill level and do essentially the same thing, whether it’s writing romances about Men in Kilts, epic fantasies about elves with lightsabers riding dragons or dark mysteries about haunted detectives who are allergic to razors and brush their teeth with bourbon.
That’s not a team. Those are your buddies, your clones.
Successful authors, actors, pro athletes and other public figures have a team full of world-class specialists: publicists to get free ink and airtime, marketers to sell widgets, trainers to make them look good if paparazzi shoot them on a beach in Maui, minions to handle the scheduling and correspondence, editors to edit their words and speechwriters to, I don’t know, write the speeches.
If you want to truly break through and be world-class at whatever you’re trying to do (punk rock, zombie movies, novels about undead orcs and the high school girls who love them), then you must at least PRETEND to do things in a world-class way.
A traditional critique group is like trying to win a Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers with you as the quarterback and a collection of buddies who play flag football sometimes. If football is a foreign language, try this: the usual critique group is like playing a game of chess with a board full of the same piece: all pawns, all bishops or all knights. You need pawns and rooks, bishops and a queen, knights and a king. You need balance.
And if you’re competing against the best in the world, you can’t do it all yourself. That’s like playing the Super Bowl by yourself, or taking a lonely king into a match against the Bobby Fishers of the world.