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We produce contents of all kinds. The posts here demonstrate our diverse content capacity.

Communication MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

I enrolled in a MOOC this past week offered by the University of Amsterdam and taught by
Dr. Rutger de Graaf. The course title is Introduction to Communication Science. The lessons are delivered in short videos of about 6 minutes in which Dr. de Graaf explains theories of communication, transmission models and other interesting things. After you watch the video, you take a short quiz.

globe with headphonesThe key to communication I can gather thus far is that the sender of a message must construct the message so that the receiver of the message understands the intent of the sender. This is tricky because how the message is created and how it is delivered impacts how the receiver interprets the message. In addition, the message can be misinterpreted by diverse audiences who each hear the message within a different context.

Let’s take the example of US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking in a news conference about Syria recently. He gave what was intended to be a somewhat flippant response to a reporter’s question about whether there was anything the Syrians could do to avoid being bombed. Secretary Kerry suggested Syria could give up their chemical weapons in the following week to avoid being bombed.

It is not clear whether Sec. Kerry ran this idea up the flag pole with anyone before he delivered it; but if he did, I suspect it was with the boys at the country club. They probably all pulled their cigars from their mouths and jiggled their jolly jowls in a round of guffaws and snorts at such an outlandish proposition. Mr. Kerry may have taken from this test audience that all audiences would interpret the message the same way. In the MOOC we learned about the work of Jacobson in 1960 who proposed the theory of polysemic communication, that different people may interpret the same message differently.

Sec. Kerry’s message was not tailored to a diverse mass media audience. Not everyone listening to the press conference was a rich middle-aged American guy in a Polo shirt so far removed from the realities of war. Syrians heard this message from the perspective of people who were soon to be on the receiving end of untold mayhem. The Syrian government and the Russians saw this message as an opportunity to propose diplomacy; and to our government’s surprise (Embarrassment? Relief? Calculation?), they did so.

If this was a gaffe, Mr. Kerry should sign up for the MOOC I’m taking. He will learn enough in week one to avoid delivering a poetic (message) using a code (defined meaning) that gave a conative (call to action) which was either unwanted or at the very least unexpected.

Another victim of Little Boy

cigar2Blue flies peppered the bedroom window pane; trapped, their carcasses fell and littered the sill like ashes from the old man’s cigar whose corpse lay rotting in bed. Mike hadn’t seen the old man smoking behind his house all week, so he went to check on him. He knocked but heard no sounds inside. Mike peered through windows and noticed the flies, then saw the gasping, tilted skull, its upper lip drawn high over long yellow teeth. The old man had fabricated sheet-metal parts for the bombs dropped on Japan. Exposure to radiation had killed the nerves in his bottom jaw, and his lower teeth had rotted away. He told Mike about it once across their common fence chewing pensively on his cigar. He’d described visiting a prison to review designs with Nazi scientists. Now the old man was dead of cancer, another victim of Little Boy.

Third place – Sacramento News and Review Flash Fiction Contest 2012

Barney the Volunteer

barneyVolunteers are great people. They do good work at low rates. But sometimes volunteers do low quality work at low rates and others get territorial. This is a case study of a territorial volunteer grant writer.

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Dear Derek,

Dr. Tom Majors, the nonprofit executive director, told me you were hired to rewrite my grant from last year. I voluntarily authored last year’s grant because I am launching my career as a freelance grant writer. If I knew last year the agency was willing to pay, I would have charged them myself. LOL! It was a lot of work to write that grant. I’d like to work with you on the revision. I have some new ideas for it. Mr. Majors said that would be a good idea. I am willing to share the Microsoft Word files with you so that you can tweak my narrative that was almost funded last year. Please let me know if you’re willing to work together and I’ll send you the files so you can read up on the grant, then we can schedule a few hours to meet and make revisions.

Yours in grant Writing,

Barney

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Dear Barney,

Barney, It was kind of you to voluntarily write the grant last year and thank you for your offer to work with me to co-author the grant; however, I must decline as I work alone. I don’t find group writing to be a productive exercise. Thank you for offering to send me your electronic files from last year but I prefer to write from scratch. I find that re-writing someone else’s grant is more work than writing original copy. I will not need your assistance but thank you kindly for your offer.

Sincerely,
Derek

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Derek,

I don’t understand why you’d want to write from scratch when my narrative is finished. Did you know it was almost funded last year? I know that with a little tweaking here and there it would be brilliant. I know my narrative would have been funded last time around if I didn’t get biased readers. Even though you said not to send it, I am attaching my narrative for you to use; perhaps you didn’t see it. I hope you won’t allow pride to stop you from working with me, working together would help you because I have a AA in English and I am fully certified by the ACME Grant Writer’s Association. I told Tom that I’d be in touch with you to offer my files and expertise and that we’d collaborate. He was delighted.

Regards,
Barnard

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Hard G,

Thank you for attaching the files, but I’ve deleted them. I don’t download anything that my computer identifies as a potential virus. Tom gave me a hard copy of last year’s grant and the readers’ comments. I’ve just returned from a weekend retreat at a Buddhist Monastery where I spent two days in the Lotus position staring at a sand painting trying to get your narrative out of my head. I am grateful to have the scrap paper though because my kids are on a school holiday and making paper airplanes is all the rage around here at the moment.

Karmacally Yours

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

My MS Word files were not contaminated by a virus. My narrative received excellent scores last year except for one biased reader. I think you’re putting down my writing because you’re afraid that your lucrative contract might be undermined by a volunteer with superior talent. I can’t understand why Tom hired you in the first place since I was willing to revise my grant at no charge. I know all my narrative needs is a few minor adjustments to win the money. Your narrative won’t score any better than mine did and it’ll probably score worse. It is an inappropriate use of agency resources to let your kids make airplanes out of my grant.

B.C.G., CGW

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

As you plan a career as a freelance grant writer, the first thing to learn is that a high score of 37/100 among a three reader panel is not a strong result. These scores infer that you submitted a grant narrative version of Naked Lunch to the competition. The following passage from your narrative just flew onto my desk in the form of an F-16:

Another characteristic of our migrant population is their lack of means to access early intervention services. This results in detainment and many times, total lack of identification of special physical, emotional or cognitive needs for services to these families, which often have children qualifying for school accommodations or special education supports. Access to early intervention saves tremendous amounts of money in reaching the at risk students, and beginning participation in programs addressing their special needs, if neglected is often not identified until well into his/her school age enrollment.

I have no idea what that means, but after 40 pages of similar incoherent gibberish, your readers tend to infer you were shooting heroin and hallucinating about black centipedes in your kidneys. It was not a strong effort Barney.

Regretfully yours

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

My name is not Barney, it is Barnard. Will you please use my proper name? You took that paragraph out of context. Of course it is confusing without the rest of the section. I’ll have you know that I earned a distinction in my Certified Grant Writer coursework from the ACME Association of Grant Writers. I took all of their courses, some twice, and my instructor told me I was her most consistent student in many years. I’ll also have you know that I have never used heroin or any other drug. I do not eat lunch in the nude either. Is that what you did at your retreat?

Barnard

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

G. Chesty, I’m sure you were a big hit with the instructor. I find that anyone who pays me exorbitant sums of money for something I should give away rises in my esteem. I am reminded of a woman at my garage sale recently. She was a fan of some show called Antiques Road Show. She paid me $25 for a Norman Rockwell picture which my sons cut out of a magazine and glued into a frame for Father’s Day. Her enthusiasm told me she was inspired by my progeny’s craftiness, so I scraped off the 25 cent sticker on the back with my thumb and took her money. To this day I hold her in high esteem indeed.

Given your level of education, I am surprised you don’t know that Buddhist Monks are modest souls and do not eat lunch in the nude. You could go and suggest the practice; I’ll send you the address. The Monks may enjoy a change in routine, but bring your own heroin if you plan to do any writing whilst there.

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

I do not use drugs, and I did not buy my AGWA distinction. I have a certificate on my wall and I’ll bet you don’t have one. I doubt that the AGWA would certify a raving, cynical lunatic like yourself anyway. And my name is Barnard, not Barney, Hard G, or G. Chesty.

You suck.

Barnard

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Dear G-man,

I don’t have time to continue our banter; I have a grant to write. Even if your writing was less than appalling – a distinction it exceeds – I wouldn’t want to write with you. But don’t take it personally; I work alone. Perhaps after the grant is funded you’ll be invited to cut out construction paper gingerbread men for the after school arts and crafts program. I’ve no doubt that dull repetitive tasks are your strong suit.

Sincerely Busy,
Derek

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Derek

I hope your grant is read by ignorant, biased readers like mine was last year. I can’t wait to hear that your grant is rejected so I can call Tom and remind him how much you stink.

Drop dead.

Wishing you failure,
Barnard

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Barn,

I have an inspired idea, the next time you submit a grant, attach copies of your distinction certificate as an appendix so the readers will appreciate your talents and won’t be mislead by your narrative.

Helpfully yours,
Derek

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

I detest you.

Most sincerely,
Barnard

To: Barnard G. Chesterfield, CGW?
From: Derek
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

Dear B-Nard,

I checked your CGW status online. Did you realize it expired? As a protection to our industry, I called the AGWA and reported you for falsely using CGW behind your name. Since email crosses state lines via the Internet, I am pretty sure it’s a federal offense.

Let me know what your visiting days will be,

Derek

To: Derek
From: Barnard G. Chesterfield
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Grant Rewrite
Date: March 29, 2013

PLEASE open the attachment.

Barnard

trojan.docx
17K View Download

Content Creation

mhAWGQU (1)Writing a story requires inspiration. I like to use a prompt when I have trouble getting started. Some friends and I have started a writing group called Promptly Writing. One prompt each month is what we agreed we can handle and the narrative is limited to 500 words.

A 500 word essay sounded do-able to everyone. But we discovered the limitation is hard. It means every word counts. There isn’t room to wander around the page and use extraneous verbiage. We have to understand the story we want to tell, then tell it.

I suspect writers who read this will think, “Writing should be economical, and every word should count.” If you’re thinking this, you’re right of course, but without a page limit or word count restriction it is easy to get verbose and careless.

Most writing starts with a prompt of some sort. In marketing it may be a prompt to write product sales copy, a grant is prompted by the RFP,  non-fiction can be prompted by desire to describe events, people, circumstances, etc.

Fiction writing is pure story telling. The path a fictional story takes depends on what’s inside the writer that is trying to get out. Organizing that internal stuff to tell a story is the work and the joy of it.

Here is the prompt I found on McSweeny’s web site. It is the one our group is writing to this month:

A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.

Note that the purpose isn’t in given in the prompt; that is, each author must supply their own purpose.

If you’re ambitious, give the prompt a go and post your piece in the comments!

Online Tone is Tricky

Online copy writing is tricky business. Potential pitfalls become more evident when strangers correspond. When people don’t know each other, there’s no trust and no relationship so tone important. You must go out of your way to be polite or things can go sour in a click. The conversation below from a Microsoft Community is a great example. I found it because I had the same question as Sharon. The conversation that erupts after Sharon’s simple question is hysterical and instructive.

Sharon’s Question:
If you suspect that the sender has bcc’d an email you received, is there any way to verify that they have and to who

I was wondering…If you suspect that the sender has bcc’d an email you received, is there any way to verify that they have and to who?

I was wondering this too Sharon, thank you for asking.

archer

 

Brian:
The very nature of Bcc is that you cannot tell who else was included as a recipient. “Bcc” stands for “blind carbon (or courtesy) copy”. It wouldn’t be very blind if you could tell there were other recipients and who they were.

A simple NO wasn’t good enough. Brian felt the need to throw in a pinch of sarcasm.

Gordon:
No. Why would there be? That would completely negate the point of BCC…..

Gordon could have left it alone, but as you’ll see, he thinks he owns MS Communities. Answering a question with a question always leaves open the inference, “Answer my smart question and you’ll know the answer to your stupid question.”

Sharon:
Thank you for your response Brian- I do of course understand what bcc stands for, otherwise I would not have posed the question. I know our company has eliminated the reply all function but there are ways around that as well. My mistake was thinking I could get an professional response from this venue. Apparently this site is for belittling people who ask good question in an effort to make them feel better about themselves. I don’t think I am interested in being a part of this group any longer.

Sharon is bruised because neither Brian nor Gordon actually answered with a NO, they said the question is too stupid to even say no to.

Gordon
The reason there IS no way of telling is because the addresses in the BCC field do not leave the sender’s computer.
Sorry, if you don’t like the answers then that’s your problem not ours.

The first part of Gordon’s response would have been a perfectly appropriate first response. But then he slaps her for taking offence to his offense.

Brian
I don’t know what you think in my response was in any way belittling. I simple stated a fact. There is no way to tell if there were any recipients included via Bcc, pure and simple.

But Brian stated a fact that did not directly answer her question. You defined BCC, she wanted to know if there’s a way around BCC. She did not ask for a definition. Like Gordon, after he’s insulted Sharon and defends the insult, he does give her an answer.

Note that at this point Brian and Sharon leave the conversation to the Trolls.

Rutherford (darts in)

Sharon’s question is perfectly reasonable. The fact that it never crossed your mind shows just how flaccid and vapid your mind is.

Microsoft should be ashamed to have combative, ignorant, and condescending posts like yours on it’s website.

Your personality is your problem, but you have made it Microsoft’s as well.

If you don’t like helping people by providing thoughtful answers to reasonable questions, then that’s your problem not ours ;)

Best of luck on crafting polite responses to future inquiries or on finding something else to do with your time.

Rutherford is one of those trolls who jumps into a fight and kicks someone in the ribs who’s knocked out on the ground.

Gordon:
May I suggest you look at my profile before you make such ridiculous assertions?
I have nearly FIVE THOUSAND posts marked as answers – I see you have made NO POSTS OTHER THAN THIS ONE.

Gordon is a territorial troll, he believes that this forum is his bridge to lurk under and he has five thousand posts to prove it.

No More Mr Mean Guy (chimes in to stoke the fire)
I respectfully disagree with one thing. You should stay. He reminds me of one of those “HowTo” sites.
You’ll ask a good question. e.g. “How to Connect a NAS device to U-verse blah blah blah…”

Ans:
1) Buy NAS Storage
2) Follow Intructions 3) Use NAS

(For all the nerds..I had to build an HKEY because Win7…If you know a better way I don’t care)

I’m not overly disgrutled. Mildly….hardly even grutling. We should just all strive to provide intelligent answers when intelligent people ask them…or stupid people for that matter.

Great response Sharon. Love to see a verbal joust or in this case a one punch knock out.

No More is really a troll but wants to look like a sage.

Gordon:
.I know Gordon B-P is an angry little idiot based on a comment he made in 2011. We all know!

Gordon is losing his grip but can’t leave the fight.

Dailen (comes in like a piranha on drowning pig)

I’m gonna have to agree, both of you (community star and moderator) are acting extraordinarily rude. It’s that kind of condescending attitude that makes computer techs get a bad rep. That’s exactly why people don’t like talking to computer professionals. And Gordon, the only thing that having 5000+ messages on here shows is that you spend WAAAAY too much time on here.

Righteous indignation must be given a voice.

No More Mr Mean Guy:

Wonderful. You replied. This is the part like the most. I seriously doubt you have what it takes to deliver a valid point but I’m intrigued. Lets start with why you called me a liar. I never lied about a thing. Lets see if you can handle this question before I waste my time on you.

No more smells blood and he’s convinced he’s on the high road.

Gordon:
If you really think that posting proper replies and then getting a bit shirty when ” Sharon” won’t accept the correct answer is rude, then you have a very strange concept of what is “rude”.
And as to 5000 answers, do the maths. That equates to THREE posts a DAY on average…

OK – I’ll take your bait just for the fun of it to see you wriggle.
Here’s what you posted -
“I know Gordon B-P is an angry little idiot based on a comment he made in 2011. We all know!!”

As you’ve only been a member here for a few days, and offer no evidence for your statement then until you do, I still say you are a liar, hiding behind a pseudonym. (And if you don’t know what that means, look it up).

Gordon sees a chink in the armor and thrusts his sword home.

No more is wounded but desperate to keep the manure flinging contest going. But Gordon frustrates him and goes silent, content that he has mortally wounded his foe.

No More Mr. Mean Guy:
Post 1 – Bait him with name calling
Failed. Actually before I start..you remind me of a bratty little child.
OK. I seems you want to twist things a bit and make it appear that I somehow made a claim than I have been a member for longer than a day. I did not. I did say you I know you are an idiot based off something you said two years ago simply because the date. Why would that matter anyway? So not only did you fall for the bait you proved once again….forget it. Be angry little man. Whatever works for you. Oh and the little bit about not knowing the definition of your favorite grown up word…really?
Log off man
You do not serve a purpose
You are not helpful
Game over..

No reply by Gordon – Post 2 – Appeal to his better angels to get him talking again.
I’ll bury the hatchet and reach out to you.

No reply by Gordon – Post 3 – Desperation leads him to threaten his existence on the site by appealing to the crowd as a last resort.
I would encourage anyone who runs across someone like Gordon to report him/her. It is very easy to do and for that extra few seconds of time you will make this site more informative and valuable. Read the thread and decide for yourself.

Hit the jackpot on #3!

Gordon:
Oh yeah? Over 5000 marked as answers.

Then David ruins the party:
Hi everyone,
I am locking this thread. it has run its course from answering the user’s question and into violations of the Microsoft Community Code of Conduct. My intent is to keep the community civil.

The lessons in writing to a stranger:

1. Be overtly polite. Add a greeting of welcome and  a thank you for posting.

2. Answer the question asked directly and with kindness.

3. Don’t take offense too quickly. If the answer to your question is not clear, perhaps your question is not clear. Restate it with patience.

4. Don’t feed the trolls. Trolls live on your anger. They’re just ugly, wrinkled little souls who are best left to talk to themselves under their bridge. 

(Read the complete text of this conversation here – http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2010-outlook/if-you-suspect-that-the-sender-has-bccd-an-email/0347125a-b108-4b6b-b43c-ef1e35b00262?msgId=8997e7e5-d053-4289-9bfd-a5d795e40974&page=3 )

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facebook  By now the business world has figured out that takes more than putting up a Facebook page and opening a twitter account to get social media working for your company.

You need a strategy. No, you need an effective strategy.

You need a deep understanding of how social media marketing works. And you need time, more time than you think you need.

Social media managers are like cars.  You didn’t know that, did you? They all have some basic things in common.  They all have wheels (basic understanding of the main social media outlets), an engine (at least some level of research in social media marketing), and a body (they look good on the outside because they use social media themselves). That’s where the similarities end. Most linkedinhave nothing more than those basics.  They are the Yugo’s of the social media management world. They are cheap and you get you pay for.  They will put up a basic (emphasis on the word basic) Facebook page for you and they will start a twitter account for you. They will probably sign you up (with or without your knowledge) for some automated services to help you get a bunch of non-targeted followers really fast, but which are not engaged, not customers or clients, and who do nothing for you except boost your numbers of “blue light” followers.

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