Smart Speaking, Deep Writing About Shallow Reading, & Great SEO Content

Jun 11th

J.K. Rowling gave the Commencement Address at Harvard this year. Two killer quotes:

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

and

Those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

Nick Carr, who I was lucky enough to interview a few months back, wrote the cover article for this month's The Atlantic. His story, about how the web is reshaping our minds, is important to consider from both a sanity perspective and a marketing perspective:

The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen, either. As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads, and magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets. When, in March of this year, The New York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of every edition to article abstracts, its design director, Tom Bodkin, explained that the “shortcuts” would give harried readers a quick “taste” of the day’s news, sparing them the “less efficient” method of actually turning the pages and reading the articles. Old media have little choice but to play by the new-media rules.

You can learn a lot about how ideas spread by playing on the web 16 hours a day, but many of the best ideas are either recycled from other markets and/or sparked by deep thinking from reading about other markets and determining how those markets & ideas intersect with your own. When I play online too much I start to feel stagnant and like I am not learning anymore. Reading a good book cures that.

And, more SEO related, Joost de Valk wrote a 12 page Guide to Wordpress SEO, which goes nicely with our Blogger's Guide to SEO.

Published: June 11, 2008

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Comments

June 11, 2008 - 3:42pm

Aaron,

I was Harvard '08 so I got to see J.K. give the speech (although it rained so I watched it from inside). It was an amazing speech and by far outdid all others that I've ever seen.

She's incredible.

-Daniel

June 11, 2008 - 5:44pm

The Carr article is an excellent one, and I've found--anecdotally--even reading a technical book helps bring back my productive focus.

June 11, 2008 - 10:01pm

It's a common theme. Never give up. Persistence makes the difference.

The hardest part is not giving up or giving in. Once that's taken care of, you're on your way. props to Harry Potters mom.

June 13, 2008 - 12:57am

I've certainly noticed an increase in my offline reading as I spend more time online. I think hours of scanning snippets and half-thoughts online can provide a renewed appreciation for a well-written book.

June 17, 2008 - 3:10pm

good quotes indeed,

Along with reading a good book now and then, many of my best ideas come while taking a walk, kayaking, or anything else that has nothing to do with work or the Internet. :)

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