On Mondays, self-awareness, tzatziki parties, and the Internet.

Another Monday is nearly over — but this one’s different; it’s my last Monday working on the 15th floor of the Equitable building (I can say with all certainty). It’s been a hard year, but a good growth experience. The whole thing could be summarized as “character-building,” but overall, I’ve acquired a new skill set and a few wonderful new friends. I’m thankful for the opportunity and inspired to move on, having become slightly more self-aware, at least in terms of my professional life. I’ve taken this time to learn what I really like doing, what I don’t mind doing, and what I would rather stab myself in the foot than do anymore. The overall goal being, of course, that I’ll end up doing mostly the things I really like doing, with but a smattering of ambivalence (and not much foot-stabbing), for longer than 1-year contracts allow.

I’m looking forward to the next step. With a little bit of luck, my next big adventure will be in a place that celebrates collaborative creativity, hard work, and the desire to grow and be better and never stop learning.

In other news, to break up my navel-gazing about a quarter-life crisis: for the past several weeks, my best friend, boyfriend and I have been holding a “Saturday Night Supper Club” on the porch balcony of my house. This weekend our friend Skyler was visiting from Tampa, and we made a gorgeous spread of fresh vegetables, brie, and lemony tzatziki while listening to my favorite kitchen music. Here’s a slightly grainy picture I took to commemorate the occasion:

I track what we make every weekend with #SaturdayNightSupperClub on Twitter, if you’d like to read about what we eat, or invite yourself to dinner.

What I’ve been reading on the Internet this week:

  • Reinventing Cities With a New Urban Language: I like thinking of ways to characterize Atlanta that would lead someone to say something is “so Atlanta,” a ‘city-turned-adjective,’ according to this piece.
  • Speaking of self-awareness! You know how people always complain about how kids these days don’t know how to have a face-to-face conversation? That type of crotchety remark can be annoying, but holds weight in terms of how we think about (and prioritize) our IRL relationships: “Before we could ever think of being ‘offline,’ we had to know what it meant to be online.
  • You drive cars. You drink espresso. You could do both AT THE SAME TIME. (Before anyone beats me to it, at the same damn time.) Also: I can’t tell if this is a terrible idea or not.
  • “We’re no longer changing the shape of the physical world or even of society. We are altering internal states, transforming the invisible self or its bodily container. Not surprisingly, when you step back and take a broad view, it often looks like stagnation—or decadence”: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as they apply to our current state — an ongoing obsession with the “tools of the self.”  Here’s a handy graphic of author Nicholas Carr’s proposed “hierarchy of innovation”:

If you’re interested in seeing other pieces of the Web I enjoy on a more frequent basis, add me to your Google+ circles.

Heatwave! Heatwave!!

Blame it on the insanely insane hot weather here in Atlanta, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic on this blazing Monday afternoon. (A lot of that, to be honest, is due to being in an air-conditioned office building and no longer cooped up in my rather stagnant, un-AC’d house.)

What’s been cool on the Internet this week?

  • Who’s Your City?: “Too many places…market themselves as if they are some sort of mini-Brooklyn instead of as who they really are at heart.” I think this lends an interesting perspective to Creative Cities/Class/Economy theories, in which urban renewal/economic development can be reflected by the number of creative entrepreneurs in a metropolitan area (while we’re boiling things down). (LOL.) Should we be relying on sheer numbers of hipsters to define the brand perception of where we live? If so, is Atlanta defined by bearded twentysomethings in East Atlanta Village? Or rappers? Is it gross to say “brand perception” in regards to cities? Questions!
  • Speaking of the Creative X theories, this article on “The Fall of the Creative Class” has been making it around my Internet circles. There are lots of good points to be read here, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all/most of them. I mostly squinched up my face while reading the article because the whole thing smacked of privilege and inconvenience. Which is always an enthralling angle.
  • Why Weird Experiences Boost Creativity: “With your brain re-shuffled, you’ll be in a better position to be creative.”
  • So, I’m someone looking to build a career in social media listening and community-building. This article at Get Sponge discusses how great community managers aren’t necessarily those who’d call themselves “experts” (where’s your self-awareness?), but people who understand how to adapt to needs, grow, and perform accordingly. You do your best work when you’re empowered to be creative and do great things! That’s that.
  • You’ve likely heard about the passing of Nora Ephron this past week. I loved this snippet of hers. What does it say about navel-gazing and blogging and storytelling? Food for thought. (H/T The Awl)

Stay cool, y’all!

Life in the Ebony Tower and Internet things of note.

There has been no shortage of excitement in the Equitable building.  As of Friday, my supervisor has left our organization for a new position, so the past week has been something of a scramble to ensure that nothing will explode this morning. So far, so good.

In the midst of the scramble, I created the inaugural social media strategy for my place of work, all by my lonesome (maybe someday I’ll obtain the clearance to post it to my kraftwerk page). This kind of exercise is of clear mutual benefit for me and the organization; now that it’s done, I’m pleased with what I’ve written — even if I won’t be around to see my words and ideas in action. The process showed me that crafting digital strategy combines the things I’m good at doing (writing lists, conceptualizing, pontificating on the Internet) with the things I really like doing (talking about social media, taking charge of projects, stretching my brain to solve creative problems; also, writing lists). Identifying this intersection of interest and ability seems pretty instrumental to growing up and figuring things out. The job hunt is going as well as it can at this juncture; as I round out the last month here on the 15th floor, I’m eager not to jinx things. So, on track, then.

That’s all my news fit to print.

Internet things that have recently grabbed my attention: 

  • “Art Boot Camp” will run at Atlanta’s MINT Gallery through July. From what I gather, it’s a month’s worth of thinking about art with artists, without the pre-requisite of an art history major — if you have an interest in the visual arts, it’s a way to expand your horizons and learn about cool things! For free! I’m thinking of registering to get myself out of my summer rut of métro, boulot, dodo … into doing meaningful things that make me think differently (and more creatively).
  • Facebook: The Psychology and Creativity of Sharing. It must be nice to attend an awards ceremony over on the ol’ Croisette. So what have I learned from reading the debriefs from Cannes Lions, the “world’s biggest” advertising awards show? According to Facebook’s head of brand design, a lot of what we can take away from the “why” of social sharing is more genuine insight into human behavior and interaction (it is, unsurprisingly, capricious and guided by emotion). “Building stuff around people rather than content offers a better experience … Our research indicates that the theory of ‘influence and influencers’ is false.”
  • What does a dog day (literally) feel like? Okay, this is kind of strange but has interesting implications: a camera that “records images according to changes in the animal’s feelings.” I’m really conflicted as to how I feel about this, leaning towards “this kind of technology is too too” over “I’m really interested to find out what my dog is thinking.” In the interest of disclosure, I will note to the reading audience that I created a Horsebook account for my horse during the one summer I lived in New Haven (I regret nothing). Still!
  • Why Spotify Didn’t Exist in the ’80s.”
  • How Chris Mohney Creates the Storyboard of Tumblr.” I’ve gone from using my main Tumblr as more-or-less a dumping ground for cat GIFs and pictures of macarons (yes, I know) to making it more personally edited; in turn, using the platform has become a lot more personally interesting. IDK. LOL. I miss Tumblarity every day.
  • I’m always looking for new train commute reading. I found this infographic that details what you should read based on your favorite TV shows. So far, these titles are on my 2012 summer reading list: Middlesex; The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; The Basque History of the World. Open to further recommendations!

Happy Monday!

A love letter to Atlanta.

So, Creative Loafing Atlanta‘s published its “Favorite Places in Atlanta” piece today. I love Creative Loafing, I really do; particularly when compared to other local news sources, I feel it consistently delivers engaging, well-executed content. I suppose I could say my love has been tested recently with its recent editorial layoffs. Also, with yesterday’s news that CL writer Gwynedd Stuart is moving on to Chicago, it sort of feels like the good is draining out of Atlanta publications.

But, in the nature of things, change is what it is. Ascribing “good” or “bad” qualities to it is, in my opinion, non-constructive and uselessly cynical. (Perhaps the dynamicism of change is contradictory to saying “it is what it is,” but I stand by my statement.) Atlanta, for as much as its own residents like to hate on it, is wonderfully creative. And weird. Maybe it’s the heat that makes us all a little nuts — we have to keep creating, keep moving, because otherwise we stagnate and suffocate in our smoggy air, summer or winter. Atlanta will never not be a creative city, and will continue to attract incredible talent that’s hungry to write about its problems and crow about its triumphs; put on festivals that take back the streets and promote “human-powered amusement”; build community-supported conferences and free schools around the importance of public art, and radical education, in the face of corruption and injustice. It helps that we’re the #8 most popular metro destination for newcomers. And so on.

I love Atlanta because it can be a difficult place to live. You have to get creative with how you’re going to get anywhere if you don’t want to/can’t drive a car; May-September can be horrific if you live in a charming old house like I do that doesn’t have air conditioning; the roads (and sidewalks) themselves are in a rapid state of deterioration; the city is guilty of demolishing its historic places and bemoaning the lost value, after the fact. But if those are the main cons to living here, the pros must certainly outnumber them.

It’s nice to read pieces like “Our Favorite Places in Atlanta” because no matter where you live, disillusionment is a real thing; left untended,  it can dull the vibrancy and vitality of a community. I’ve lived in Atlanta/Decatur for 6 years now, and certainly had my bouts of frustration with the city’s flaws. The thing is, when I moved here to go to Agnes Scott, I was astounded by the pride ATLiens had in living here … whether they were natives or newcomers. From city-specific hand gestures to Braves caps to mixtapes at the corner store. It was certainly a dramatic shift from Tampa, where people I knew were quite vocal about how much they hated the place, how it seemed like a cultural black hole encircled by Gasparilla beads.

It’s good to be proud of where you live, even if you kind of dislike it sometimes. That dissatisfaction breeds creativity, breeds weird things and house shows and collectives. The results of that dissatisfaction, those fun, awesome, Atlanta-specific things, bring in new writers, artists, creatives, talkers, activists, you name it. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

(My favorite place in Atlanta, other than my balcony porch in Decatur: the intersection of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard, facing downtown, at sunrise or sunset. Also, I titled this “A love letter to Atlanta” because it’s not only an ode to the city, but today is a 3-year anniversary for me and my beau, whom I would never have met if not for Peoplestown.)

On qualifications, job applications, and a certain job posting.

If you’re familiar with my blog content territory as of late, you’ll know I’m looking for a new job. I’m not going to spend time complaining about writing cover letters or the job market (I don’t believe in beating horses, dead or alive). Additionally, “job hunt advice” posts have become about as novel a concept as sliced bread — that kind of status quo content fits in nicely with the stock-and-flow concept I mentioned in my last post.

Anyway.

So, the job application process. The act itself is nothing particularly exciting, or even all that interesting, but I’m choosing to (contrary to my nature?) take a positive outlook on the process. Twitter followers of mine may have seen the checklist my boss and I drew up for rounding out my professional lifeplan:

Now, the “retire rich” part is, perhaps, a moot point (hi Dad hope you’re not reading this). But making a checklist like this has actually made me consider my strengths, my personality as it would apply to my potential hireability, where I can work to improve my skills. All of this introspection, coupled with a ver-r-ry private survey I’ve been conducting on the language of job postings, assessing their expectations versus my reality, how to get my application to stand out without resorting to document borders or animated cats. This study is, as of yet, inconclusive.

An interesting job posting comes from BFG Communications, a Hilton Head-based agency looking for a digital content manager in its Atlanta office. All applications must be submitted via Twitter. So, they’re not looking for resume screencaps, or link to a LinkedIn profile … only fewer than 140 characters to show your worth as a potential content manager. Makes sense, for an agency that’s ostensibly searching for creativity, ingenuity, possibly a modicum of insouciance in its job candidates.

Could I go so far to say that any socially-minded agency taking the traditional route of resume-cover-letter-rinse-and-repeat … is out of touch? Would you believe I’ve now spent entire weeks considering what the ideal, stand-out application would be? I can’t say how many job postings have stuck in my head for that. long. I did some research on previous “winners” of this type of social media job application “contest.” It’s clear there’s no One True Path to Winning. Which I think is great — there’s no Platonic ideal of a Content Manager, or a Community Manager, or even a Blog Editor (as far as I can tell, anyway). We all write about different things, have differing opinions on the Oxford comma (mine: FOR), have differing strengths on different digital platforms. The Internet! It’s the great melting-pot.

So here’s where the smarm comes in. Y’all know I don’t normally post things like this, but considering the top image, entitled EMILYS 12 STEP PROGRAM TO GET RICH QUICK coupled with BFG’s search for a Digital Content Manager (wouldn’t you think that’d be right up my alley?), I thought I’d list a few reasons I think I should be hired for such a post, at least per the qualifications listed by BFG.

  • An understanding and passion for the social media universe.” I am well-connected … well, at least on the Internet. I carefully update this blog, my personal Tumblr, my photography Tumblr (minus presently broken cameras); Facebook; Twitter; Foursquare; Google Plus (yeah!); Pinterest accounts on the regular (and, of course, this is not an exhaustive list), and am constantly searching out new and interesting ways to create, and curate, web content.
  • Excellent creative writing and communications skills.” You’ve gotten this far. I talk a lot, I write a lot. Sometimes, I do both at the same time.
  • Familiarity with best-in-class examples of brands in social media.” Community engagement is all about knowing how to approach conversation with your audience, engaging, and providing insight of value. So this is a broad qualification, and I’m going to address it in a specific example. My current favorite story of a brand using social (multi-) media in an interesting, provocative, perhaps unexpected way: Jaguar in Mad Men.
  • Combo: “Ability to juggle multiple projects in a fast paced environment./Attention to detail./Ability to work within tight deadlines.” I work best under pressure, with lots of jobs to do. If I am not given jobs, I create jobs; I hate being bored. Ask anyone I’ve worked with — I am able to produce excellent work, across platforms, for different audiences, under aggressive timelines. Additionally, I am manic about immaculate editing. My #1 enemy is a typo. Right next to sloppy kerning.
  • Impeccable spelling & grammar.” See above.
  • Basic Photoshop knowledge/Audio/video skills a plus./Creativity.” I was once a Digital Design & Media Fellow, and helped students create visual aspects to their ePortfolios using Photoshop, but also created materials for promotional use with InDesign and Illustrator. I’m a writer, but I get visual literacy. Additionally, I co-hosted a live-streaming TV show (gone but not forgotten, “Phancy Pheast”) with my friend Neil on the best cat videos on the Internet. Creativity is a nebulous quality, but I’d say I’m a fairly creative person.
  • Familiarity with HTML and back end publishing operations.” Check out what I did for the Nonprofit Summit — the largest nonprofit sector event in the Southeast. I’m also comfortable using HTML to build mass email marketing campaigns, and can appreciate the efficient beauty of a closed tag.
  • Bachelor’s in Journalism, Communications, English or related field.” Will French do? I wrote 50 pages in French for my undergrad thesis. This means, among other things, that I’m fluent, am an excellent translator of francophone spam emails, and can communicate across a limited scope of Romance languages.
  • Unlisted qualification: Forever I love Atlanta: Li’l Scrappy says it best. I’ve lived here for a hot minute now, and love every day of it. (Well, nearly every day.) (August is still awful.)

Those are the things I’m good at, and I’m stickin’ to ’em. This is the longest blog post I’ve ever written; if you know me, you know I love a good checklist. So, hire me! I’m yours. If you possibly need more information, you can check out my resume and a couple of samples of my work.

Digitally curating on a holiday: Emily’s bildungsroman.

Blame the brief hiatus on a flurry of beach AND Internet activity through the past two weeks.

As previously mentioned, I went home to Florida for Mother’s Day, a vacation that (thankfully) did not consist of much more than watching dolphins frolic at sunset, zipping around in a convertible and saving a cell phone from a watery grave with the assistance of a well-timed bag of Vigo rice. So, a vacation that was all-too-brief, as usual, but proved an excellent period of pre-Summit relaxation. As always, my Tumblr is my platform for sharing content in a much more succinct manner; so, if you take issue with my verbosity, head that-a-way!

The Nonprofit Summit, the largest sector event in the Southeast, concluded this past Tuesday — and I have only now caught up on sleep.

Here’s a bit of context, so excuse me if you’ve heard this one before:

As a member of the Marketing & Communications team at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, I began working on branding the Summit in September, and was tasked with developing NonprofitSummit.org. It was the first time the conference had a separate branded identity from its host, GCN, and it was my job to … well, make sure it worked. And it did! So, this experience of building a website, and creating/maintaining all digital content, for a Very Real Big Deal Event was a new one for me; but I knew WordPress, and had all the requisite resources to make the site a hub for all Summit information; so, the rest is history, as they say.

Back to the point: along the way, I was also held responsible for social media content as it pertained to Summit, and here’s where the real American Dream success story comes in: I pitched the idea for maximizing Twitter engagement through live-tweeting and a projected Tweetcast. This is not anything novel at conferences, particularly those geared to social network engagement and digital media, et cetera. But it certainly was new for the Summit and my particular department; as far as I can tell, it was particularly novel for an event geared toward the nonprofit audience. People ate it up! I was so proud of how our audience took the #npsummit hashtag and ran with it — participants tweeted their Summit experiences, asked me questions on Twitter, and our follower count exploded. It all made sense, really, as our Day 1 keynote speaker was Claire Diaz-Ortiz, leader of social innovation at Twitter. So, anyway, a nice little pat on the back to myself and my intrepid colleagues. Here’s a little snap from some of the #npsummit activity:


Enough about me and my shameless, self-promoting ways. All caught up on sleep, what’s a girl to do on a hot Memorial Day but consider Saturday’s excellent foray into lime fish tacos, listen to Nina Simone, and/or scour the Internet for interesting things?

Without further ado, this week’s Interesting Things Worthy of Consideration As Well As Your Respective Thinking Caps:

  • The idea of media “stock and flow.” So, this piece basically consolidates what I’m thinking and feeling about content curation, and how indisputably major the concept of crowd collaboration and group-thinking is becoming, not in the least within the context of contemporary marketing (and web writing, really). I do notice a disproportionate amount of “flow” to “stock” from today’s marketers; and, IMO, that tactic is rife with error. No, the Internet does not need 800 identical listicles on “10 Ways to Fix Your Twitter Strategy”/”100 Reasons Your Resume is Terrible”/”1000 Ways to Market to Millenials.” What the Internet does need: good stock comprised of interesting concepts & ideas that are repurposed through the flow. Anyway, that Snark Market post is just a more articulate way of looking at what I’ve been railing about to my nerdy friends — marketers have got to stop littering the Internet with fluffy pieces of (un?)content constructed entirely for pageviews. This whole content curation thing I’m so obsessed with is based on the tenet that the Internet is … well … a gigantic community, a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing and knowledge-building.
  • Furthermore, this piece from Ad Age by Ted McConnell, a digital executive at the Advertising Research Foundation, ties the content marketing  argument together: “Recently, in a room full of advertising brain trustees, one executive said, ‘The ‘new creative’ might be an ecosystem of content.’ Brilliant. The brand lives in the connections, the juxtapositions, the inferences, the feeling of reciprocity. The relationship of content and distribution is not the setting of traps in every hallway, but more like a system of helpful Post-it Notes and handrails that help consumers get where they want to go.” This is everything you need to know about approaching social community management! And then some.
  • Have you considered being your Facebook profile for Halloween? Sorry, I’m not sorry if you’re disturbed by The REALFACE.
  • Okay, THIS is the coolest thing I’ve found on the Internet today. The Listening Machine is a UK-based project that takes 500 Twitter users at random, and generates sounds (really, an entirely unique musical project) based on those users’ emotions as expressed through their posts. The sounds are broadcast live through their website from May to October 2012. From the website: “As a strategically selected cluster of 500 users from around the UK interact, converse and go about their online lives, their messages and emotions are translated into music by a series of automated processes, or algorithms.Collectively, these algorithms reflect the group’s sentiments (positive or negative), topics of conversation (from sports and culture to technology and education), rate of activity, and the rhythms and tone of their speech itself.” The result is listenable and … almost relaxing.

thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

Between 2 computers, I’m constantly flipping between daily work, job applications and promoting the Nonprofit Summit; needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and skimming, and not a whole lot of personal writing. Because I have a self-mandated deadline to finish X amount of applications before Friday, I figured I’d just give a short list of things I’ve been reading/enjoying across the Internet in the past week — in the hope of getting things closer to a normal pace next week.

  • What Foodies Can’t Get (Not Even at Whole Foods).” If you’ve spent any time with me in the past year or so, you know I’ve gotten passionate about food access and how privilege can affect the dialogue around “good” food. This is definitely a topic I’ll be coming back to when I have more time to rant and rave – in the meantime, this post from the Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium is excellent.
  • A 5-Step Technique for Producing Ideas, circa 1939. I’m not sure if I think it’s odd or not that what’s spurred me back into blogging has been advertising. Ad agency blogs, advertising books, agency-produced visuals. “Knowledge is basic-to-good creative thinking but that it is not enough, that this knowledge must be digested and eventually emerge in the form of fresh, new combinations and relationships…a good idea has, as it were, self-expanding qualities. It stimulates those who see it to add to it.”
  • I didn’t really have lunch today, so I’m thinking about food a lot. Here’s a great profile on Holeman & Finch bread. H&F demi-baguettes are $1 at the Grant Park and East Atlanta Village Farmer’s Markets, FYI.
  • Why we have a case of the Mondays. I get to work just before 9 every morning, but don’t really hit my stride until ~10, and can work solidly up until about 2:30. Before and after, it’s more or less system obliteration by caffeine.

Happy Monday. I’ll be home in Florida this weekend, enjoying St. Pete Beach with my mom. Until next time, here’s this: