Why storytelling will become the biggest business skill

Yes, it’s a 2-year-old piece, but it’s still relevant. “The reason Kickstarter works, and how thousands of creators have rallied the support of millions on its platform, is because it allows people to get their stories in front of others. And it doesn’t just allow it; Kickstarter requires it.” (Via HubSpot, republished from Contently.com)

My daughter works for a dance nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that’s using storytelling to attract donors to support a new outdoor art space it’s developing.

Since 1986, Dance Place has invested in transforming Brookland / Edgewood into an Arts District. Today, we embark on the final chapter of a journey that created the Brookland Artspace Lofts in 2011 and fueled Dance Place’s dramatic renovation in 2014. Your contribution will complete a vision three decades in the making, of a true arts campus in Brookland / Edgewood.

Pictured above: A rendering of the 8th Street Arts Park planned for Dance Place in Washington, D.C.

4 alternatives to lousy clickbait list slideshows

I announced on Facebook a few days ago that I would no longer indulge in website lists that force me to click through a slideshow to read all the information. “From now on,” I wrote, “if I click a link for a list of the ‘X things that Y,’ and I am greeted by a slideshow that forces me to click through for all the information, I’m backing out. Tired of this lousy and inefficient reader experience.”

It took virtually no time at all for friends to pile onto the topic in agreement. “I TOTALLY agree. I hate that,” one wrote. “And when it’s compounded by a slow slideshow, it really pisses me off.” The tenor of the replies carried on along those lines. One of them said he had given up on clickbait like that.

And yes, clickbait it may be. Do I really need to know the 20 Reasons Star Trek is Better than Star Wars (or, CNET’s corresponding 23 reasons Star Wars is Better than Star Trek)? No, probably not, but I’m not above a little clickbait like that from time to time. That’s part of the fun of the Internet. That’s really not what I object to.

And, by the way, not all lists are vapid clickbait. I actually hate this technique even more when it’s truly valuable, useful information. (I might have legitimately been interested in “15 Secret Technologies Invented by the Nazis,” but no. It was a slideshow.)

What I object to is the poor user experience, the plodding pace of the storytelling using that technique and the often confusing navigation that accompanies it.

There are better ways

Forego the short-term page views for long-term loyalty. There are sites that I now recognize in my Facebook newsfeed as the culprits of this lousy reader experience. If I see those sites are the source of one of these listicles, I won’t bother clicking anymore. I know they’re looking for page views, but if they’d given me a good user experience, I’d return in a flash for interesting clickbait. Just give me a single page.

Give us a choice. I recently landed on a listicle that was set up as a slideshow, but gave me the choice to view it as a single page. Great. The web is all about choice. Thanks for the choice! Who knows? Maybe the slideshow would have actually been a better experience on a mobile device?

Summarize. Give me the lowdown up front. If your summary is compelling enough, you might pique my interest enough to compel me to click through your slideshow. Even if I don’t, you’ve made a friend, so I’m more likely to return (see point No. 1 above).

Headline list. Let the main piece list a useful headline for each “slide” in the slideshow. If you’re telling me about the 10 Android apps you can’t live without, list them, briefly, with a two- or three-word summary. Link to the fuller description from there. Again, see point No. 1.

And for the record, Star Wars and Star Trek defy comparison. One is better for epic cinematic chapters in the life of the Empire and the Rebellion; the other is better for more character development and subtle story arcs on the small screen.

Nice tutorial for navigating pages after Facebook’s changes

Nice overview by writer Andrea Vahl. As she says, “I’m cranky about it, too. And there are extra steps involved. I don’t like extra steps. But it’s Facebook and it changes weekly.” Thanks for the tour!

Facebook Changes: Log In as Your Page and Like Other Pages

A living language, unless we disagree with the AP Stylebook

We consider English to be a living language. It grows and adapts and changes as our needs change. That’s why “myriad” can be both a noun and an adjective in nearly the same context. That’s why “google” can enter the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb eight years after Google was founded.

Then something like this happens and the world goes crazy:

That yielded lots of responses in this vein. Some more vitriolic, some less so:

The reaction was even more outraged two years ago, when AP decided “over” was just as acceptable as “more than” when referring to numerical values:

I like to consider myself a fan of the language, someone who appreciates its ability to adapt and change. I was happy to see cellphone and smartphone declared single words by the Associated Press Stylebook overlords, for example. But I can’t abide the decisions on “internet” (there, I did it) and “over” vs.” more than”). So I guess that makes me less flexible than I thought I was.

I’m struggling in the same way with the change in the past year over use of the word “they” (and its related forms) as a singular pronoun, as in, “Everyone wants their soup served hot.” The Washington Post famously reported last December that it would embrace the use of they (and related forms) as a singular noun. The change came largely, as it said, with the “increasing visibility of gender-neutral people.” A few weeks later, 200 American Dialect Society linguists declared the singular “they” to be “word of the year.”

I completely get it. I understand the reasoning 100 percent. Yet, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the plural “they.” I’ll get there. Give me some time. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

What makes it easy for us to accept some adaptions in language, but not others?