Email newsletters — the new blogs? Maybe. Maybe not. But they sure do comprise a vast frontier of content delivery experimentation that looks and feels a lot like the golden era of blogging.
I have examples of newsletters I’ve crafted in various formats. I’m still trying to figure out how to develop Nerdvana’s newsletter into more than an RSS-driven recap of content from my own website — but in the meantime, there’s plenty of illustrious inspiration invading my inbox (invited, of course).
Ernie Smith bills his creation as “The Dull Side of the Internet” — however, Tedium is anything but boring.
Known for delivering a “twice-weekly deep dive towards the absolute end of the long tail,” this publication most recently explored the strange and wonderful world of homebrew games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Like most Tedium pieces (this one contributed by friend David Buck), it’s a must-read.
What? Jayson likes sports?
Bite your tongue, dumb jock! No, he doesn’t — but his job frequently requires a rudimentary understanding of what’s going on in the sportsball arena, and he likes getting a paycheck. And that’s just what TipOff Sports delivers. (Understanding, not his paycheck.)
Why am I blogging in the third person?
Anyway, TipOff describes itself as “a newsletter for people who want a quick and easy way to know what’s going on in the world of sports.” Like Tedium, it’s delivered twice a week.
I haven’t been fired yet — and I’m the guy who once torpedoed the implementation of a universal copy desk by writing headlines about “wrestling games.” So TipOff definitely lives up to its mission. Score! … or something?
As someone toiling in the innards of the news media industry, the Pew Research Center’s Daily Briefing of Media News keeps me informed about the famously non-communicative communication field.
Although it’s basically little more than a curated link roundup, I find myself clicking through to almost everything it offers; and when I already know about something, there’s usually a more in-depth explanation or analysis here that adds to the story anyway.
What more can you ask for?
OK, yeah, there’s this — Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources newsletter for CNN — a companion to the Sunday morning talk show — is a great daily roundup. It takes more of an insider tone and does a great job of reading between the headlines, connecting the dots and looking forward as it also reports the news.
As inspiration, Reliable Sources’ exhaustiveness (with the full resources of CNN) and healthy mix of aggregation with original inline content is also intimidating, but that’s a worthy example to which we can aspire.
Nerdvana Media Newsletter
While we’re on the subject, why not subscribe to my Nerdvana newsletter anyway? As I said, it’s a work in progress — but you won’t regret it. And I’d love to hear your suggestions for making it better.
This is no great revelation — just an old writeup I found in my notes, an exercise for an online course (about managing online courses!) that required me to come up with some kind of content for example lesson material. It’s sort of morphed into actual material for an actual course I may teach on web content management systems. It’s been fleshed out a bit, but mainly I wanted to dust it off and share it with an intern I’m introducting to WordPress.
I’m reposting it here because why not? With WordPress now powering 30 percent of the web, it seems like it could be a useful roadmap for some folks out there. Just keep in mind that its original intended audience is post-secondary educators who mostly professed to not being “tech savvy,” many of whose students are being encouraged to build online portfolios.
WordPress is typically known as a blogging platform, but it’s actually a full content management system (CMS) capable of running entire websites. It’s also well suited to deploying a portfolio-style website quickly.
WordPress.com allows users to create a free account and create and manage any number of different “blogs” or, in this case, websites. When you create a new WordPress “site” after starting an account, you are prompted to enter a site name – example:
(Paid upgrades to use a custom domain name, such as jaysonpeters.com, are available but not strictly necessary.)
WordPress sites consist of Posts, which are analogous to “blog entries” but also can serve as announcements; and Pages, which are for content of a more “static” nature, such as “About Me” pages, resumes and entire portfolio entries. In our case, one Page can be used to display Graphic Design work, another Writing Samples, and yet another References.
Either Posts or Pages can use images, uploaded from your PC or loaded from another website URL. Posts and Pages have “Titles,” which act like headlines or labels for the content of a Post or Page.
Posts, unlike Pages, can be sorted into Categories (broad subjects) and Tags (specific subjects), which can be used for navigation – like a table of contents. This is optional.
Pages generally get added to a WordPress site’s navigation menu automatically, but this can be controlled in Appearance options. Different layouts, or “Themes,” treat this differently. Many Themes are available at WordPress.com, but the selection is more limited than if you were using the WordPress software (obtained from WordPress.org) on your own web server – but there are so many on WordPress.com now that the selection there should be more than sufficient for a portfolio site.
On either Posts or Pages, you can display images either individually or in Galleries, which can be displayed in grid or slideshow formats. This is handy for showing off photos, graphics, illustrations and screenshots of your work.
Videos, also, are easily embedded in WordPress Posts or Pages, often as easily as just pasting the full URL of a YouTube video where you want it to display.
The advantage to WordPress is that all content can be exported as an XML file that can be imported later to a different WordPress site, so a portfolio creator can start at WordPress.com and move to a self-hosted site, or vice versa.
Self-hosted, you say? That refers to websites outside of WordPress.com’s walled garden, maintained by those who have downloaded the open-source CMS from WordPress.org and installed it at a host that allows more control and customization than WordPress.com.
But if you’re just getting started with WordPress, it’s best to play around for free at WordPress.com for a while first.
Over at GeekDad, I talk with the man behind a monument to the first (and only?) cat in space.
I recently adapted a couple of posts from my Nerdvana site, looking at the Wii Virtual Console in light of the Wii Shop Channel’s planned shutdown and how to make the most of it, for The Pueblo Chieftain’s “Tech Thursday” page.
Chieftain graphic designer Jennifer Tate did an amazing job capturing the classic look of old Nintendo Power magazines with her nostalgic layout! You can check out the print version below.
Many gamers’ first hands-on experience with Super Mario Bros. 3 was playing it on a friend’s NES or, for the very fortunate, ripping the shrink wrap off your very own Game Pak’s cardboard box.
Mine was actually in an arcade at Knott’s Berry Farm. It was a fleeting flirtation with a game I had, thus far, only ogled in previews on the pages of Nintendo Power magazine. I don’t think I even finished that familiar, yet warped, World 1-1 before I was dragged away to be reminded that we were on an expensive theme park vacation.
Mastering flight with the Raccoon Suit’s tail? Forget about it!
Then there was The Wizard, a movie starring Fred Savage, Beau Bridges and Christian Slater, which seemed to exist only to market Nintendo’s later generation of NES games and accessories. Our favorite video game lyricist, Brentalfloss, explains:
But despite all the movie hype, magazine…
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The modern web. Third party plugins galore. And the site-breaking conflicts that can come with them.
I spent most of the last 36+ hours hounding our CMS vendor after, it turns out, another vendor’s code broke our slideshows. (Not just on our site, but across the CMS’ user base.) Then their hotfix to address that broke all our ads (which run through yet another third party — would that be a fifth party?).
And every single one of these -rd/-th parties initially reacted to my reports of “something’s up on your end” with “Nah! Everything is fine! You’re crazy.”
But I’m not crazy. And I have the support ticket updates to prove it.
While all this was going on, I was also fighting our CMS team over whether or not the content-import jobs we run were slowing down dramatically — something that’s caused significant friction among out staff — and, eventually, they had to admit I was right (along with their other clients, apparently).
At least now, instead of blaming the user, they’re blaming … the hurricanes. For real.