Tag Archives: Huffington Post

Politicians vs. Small Business vs. Truth

On Monday I posted True or Not? Top 10 Election Talking Points on Small Business, a slide show with reader voting, on the Huffington Post. Here’s how that turned out – the talking points listed in order. A score of 1 would have been all true, and 10 would have been all false.

1. The government favors large business over small 3.8
2. The government can keep U.S. jobs at home. 4.2
3. Raising minimum wage helps struggling families 4.4
4. Small business drives economic recovery 5.4
5. Government policy makes or breaks small business 7.0
6. The government protects U.S. business from foreign competition 7.1
7. Hiring goes up when taxes go down 8.1
8. Small business owners vote as a block (bloc) 8.1
9. The government gives free money to start a business 8.5
10. Immigration hurts small business 8.6

I notice the imbalance in the results. People leaned a lot more towards false, the high numbers, than true. I managed to catch myths that nearly nobody believes – those four bottom points ranked higher than 8 of 10.  I think that’s because I set the points up with a high degree of skepticism from the beginning.

The closest statement to truth, as voted by Huffington Post readers, was that the government favors large business. Frankly I was surprised to see so many people thinking points two and three were true; I don’t.

The biggest surprise here, in my opinion, is that slightly less than half the readers believe small business drives the economic recovery. I would have thought that was true. I’ve seen research showing that small business generates most of the new jobs in our economy.

Another thing that interested me about this post was a pair of comments asking for the facts. One said:

No links to hard data on each issue? Facts are not a matter of ‘HOT’ or ‘NOT.’

And the second:

some good questions, some questionable presuppositions, and no information, not even links to research

They are right, there are no links to data. That is on purpose and by design. Because, if you think about it, supposed facts and data are the first victims of politics the way we do it in this country. Here’s what I answered:

what makes you think we live in a world where the facts or the links to facts come riding into the scene like the cavalry in bad movies, to save us all with the actual real truth? More and more now, in our public political debates, slogans and half truths are presented by both sides as facts, and, worse yet, facts are virtually manufactured to match slogans. All the talking points, on both sides, are backed by alleged research. Which side do you like? You can find research to support it. That’s one of the points I wanted to make.

So much for getting the facts straight.

(Note: if this looks a lot like what I posted on Small Business Trends yesterday, I apologize for the redundancy. I started with the same list, but I’ve had time to reflect more on those comments about facts and links; that wasn’t in yesterday’s post.)

Journalism and Blogging: Both Sides Now

Jolie O’Dell is a journalist who blogs. She cares about journalism, I gather, because of the way she writes about it in posts like How to Tell a journalist from a Blogger and Not all bloggers are journalists and not all journalists are jerks on her own blog. Most of the time, though, she’s a very prolific tech writer for Mashable. Blog PageAnd what she does for Mashable, one of the top techie blogs in the world, is technology journalism.

I really like her vision of what makes a journalist, as opposed to “just” a blogger. In that journalist or blogger post she says journalists are trained in journalism (and she means they have a degree in it), they aim for objectivity and truth, they care about form, they’re skeptical, and they serve the people. She makes it sound like a profession; like the quality matters.

I loved this down-home real-world description of a critical difference between journalists and bloggers. I’m quoting her here, journalists, she says, get used to editing, which she calls “having your work get ripped to shreds.” This is good writing. I’ve been there myself:

As a result, you do not get offended when your editor tells you, and I quote, “Jolie, this sentence fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” (Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb) You begin to look at your writing the way a stranger would. You see the errors, the ugliness, the factual haziness, the sloppy turn of phrase. And you or your editor make repairs as needed without much fuss.

These words aren’t your limbs, your children, your masterpieces. They’re simply another grouping of column inches or another few hundred words to fill up the “news hole.” You’re not married to them, because you’ll be on to a new collection of words within an hour or two. With any effort, the next article will be better written than the last as you quickly learn from your mistakes.

The blogger is an autonomous creature, not accustomed to being under the scrutiny of a professional editor. He hasn’t had his work and soul trampled quite as mercilessly — although commenters can be cruel bitches, it’s true — so he’s a bit more attached to his words. Also, his words are more frequently tied to his personal ideas. More on that in a bit.

This brings back my own fond memory of UPI overnight editor Norberto Swarzman, who managed the New York Latin America desk for United Press International (UPI) when I was on the night desk in Mexico City, back in the early 1970s. I was very young, and he wasn’t. He was a frequent caller.

“Berry,” he said, more than once, “you write like a god-damned literature major.”

I’d finished class work for an MA in Journalism to add to the lit degree by then, but the only way to soften the abuse, long term, was to write better. In his terms, not mine. Later, when I finished a thesis and actually got that MA in Journalism officially, the Dean of the J-school at University of Oregon told me his only complaint with my thesis was:

“Your writing style is not academic enough. You write like a wire-service journalist.”

You might guess, if you knew my background, that I was going to like Jolie O’Dell’s respect for journalism. I do have the degree, and I did spend nine years as foreign correspondent in Mexico before quitting to get the MBA. And I’m delighted to see a 20-something professional journalist come up with the same kind of respectful view of why journalism matters that I’d learned 40 years ago.

I’ve come full circle, from journalism to entrepreneurship and lately to blogging. And I have no problem at all with her saying blogging is easier. Her kind of journalist researches and interviews to generate actual information, not just good writing. And then cites sources and quotes people with their actual words. I used to do that. Back then, as a journalist, I couldn’t write anything ever just because I knew it was true. That was really hard. I couldn’t just write what was true, back then; I had to quote somebody.  And we didn’t have the Web, not even cell phones, so I actually had to get that somebody on the phone, at least, and talk to them, I have no problem recognizing that blogging, which is basically me writing to you about whatever I can come up with as long as I don’t bore you, is a whole lot easier. Today, as a blogger, I get to be me. I can have opinions.

As you probably guessed, controversy followed Jolie O’Dell’s journalist vs. blogger piece. A lot of bloggers don’t like to be told they’re not journalists. And journalists without degrees don’t like to be told they need a degree. There’s a reference to “English-degree journalists” who don’t like to be told they’re not journalists unless they have a degree. And a lot of people think any hack getting paid to fill news space between ads is a journalist. I followed the controversy from the original post to some heated words (and a lot of praise) on Twitter, and a thoughtful follow-up post by journalism professor and journalist Kirk LaPointe, punctuated by some surprisingly emotional comments.

The “trained in journalism” mention is galling to many. and O’Dell distinguishes journalists from writers, casts some doubt on “English-degree journalists,” and accurately predicts the objections that followed. I loved her best-defense-is-a-good-offense conclusion:

If you’re a blogger and you’ve been offended somehow by my piece, ask yourself why — I highly suspect it’s because I called some behavior of yours out as not being “journalist-y” enough. While it’s true that we all hold ourselves to different professional standards, the above are pretty basic. If you feel threatened or attacked by what I’ve written, I suggest you get back at me by taking a couple journalism classes at a community college and doing an internship at a local newspaper; it’ll change your writing and your life.

So why do I care? Why does anybody care?  It’s because we still need journalism and we’re starting to confuse blogging with journalism. But then it gets confusing when we have excellent journalism showing up on so-called blogs like Mashable, or the mix at Huffington Post, which gathers the news – including with its own reporters – but also indulges in lots of blogging opinion. Mashable is a blog. Jolie O’Dell, writing on Mashable, is a journalist. If you have any doubt, look at her work on Mashable.

There has always been an awkward gap between journalism as trade and journalism as profession. Doctors need med school and exams, CPAs have their boards of standards, and dentists, vets, psychologists, and other so-called professionals have their licensing and standards. And we do have schools of journalism and professors and degrees and journals and standards. But still, give any hack a few dollars for writing anything that gets published as news, and then we call that hack a journalist.

And then you add in the ease of entry in blogging – sign up at WordPress or Blogger or TypePad and start publishing – and I for one am glad to see the occasional reminder of what journalism is supposed to be.

On the other hand, do you know who H.L Mencken was? One of the best journalists ever, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, as famous a journalist as any in his time. Google “H.L. Mencken quotes.” He first wrote “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” And he didn’t have a degree in journalism.

With or Without Paper, the News Lives On. I hope.

As the newspaper business seems to die slowly, I console myself with the idea that journalism isn’t dying with it. The Huffington Post is booming. The New York Times will bring in about $350 million this year. The new iPad shows us how we can spread the paper in front of us with coffee and a newspaper in the morning. There’s hope. They capped the stupid oil spill overnight. Maybe they’ll cap the journalism spill too. Eventually.

I wish I knew who I’m quoting here, but I don’t. Somebody mentioned this quote to me recently:

I don’t care about newspapers. I do care about journalism.

iPad NewsWhat if news didn’t come on mashed-up trees? What if it came online instead? What if the iPad is the future of the daily newspaper? I can still sit with my coffee and page through the news. Sort of.

Can we survive with a few big online news organizations, but no newspapers?

In that case, who’s going to cover the city council meeting? Who’s going to spend months doing investigative reporting? And who’s going to pay the salaries of the people spending months on investigative reporting?

Meanwhile the Huffington Post, by far the most successful news business of the last half decade, is paying journalists full time incomes to develop the news. They have a handful of their own correspondents. That’s not the answer to those questions, but it is a start.

And I read this morning on TechCrunch how Ex-Google News, Bing Engineers Set Out To Build ‘Newspaper Of The Future’. Oh the irony: my stream of consciousness goes from TechCrunch to blogs to declining print advertising to slow death of newspapers; and I read about it in TechCrunch.

And, then, without hesitation, I signed up for both the apps mentioned, Apollo and Pulse, to go with my New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and SkyGrid. So it’s not like I won’t have news. And local news? That icon in the lower left of my iPad picture above is the Eugene Register Guard, which is my local newspaper. Now, as long as the local paper can figure out how to survive on its online revenues … sigh…

No, I’m not suggesting the iPad is the big answer or magic solution. It’s mostly just a good illustration. This is a long-term change of worldwide news landscape, and the iPad is significant here because this is how things are going to be. The iPad will have good competition soon enough. Let’s hope it does, and that the competition generates money for news organizations, so that the journalism survives.

It’s Not the Technology That Makes You Dumb. It’s What You Do With Your Time and Attention.

Yesterday I posted WSJ vs. NYTimes on How Dumb You Are or Aren’t on Huffington Post, tracking conflicting opinions on whether technology makes us all smarter or dumber. Smarter because it’s a lot of print, creativity, and intellectual work; dumber because of multitasking, distractions, shorter attention spans.

I find the debate interesting, but I go with the commenter to that post who summarized:

Seems to me that the Internet can do both. It probably depends on the person…

Amen to that. Don’t confuse tools with how they’re used. I think we all have that friend who’s petting the phone, reading email and doing instant messages while pretending to listen, and we’re all guilty of that sometimes (well, I am). But we also have that other friend who’s now writing seriously on their blog, taking up haiku via Twitter, and reading and writing like never before.

I grew up without all this. I was in my 30s before there was email, in my 40s before I got a cell phone, in my 50s when the dot-com world crashed, and in my 60s when I fell in love with Twitter. Back in that distant past, we still had endless choices of distractions and amusements vs. thinking and working. We still made choices. We still had to choose between staying late at the office, getting things done, or not. There were a lot of good business reasons not to take vacations. Today I find myself turning away from the computer at times, while talking on the phone, to focus on the conversation, without the IM interrupting me. And I find myself not doing that, wandering out of the conversation and looking at email, turning dumb.

The power of it all, these days, the instantaneous communication or whatever you want to call it, it’s just plain amazing. I love it. And yes, I misuse it all the time, just like you do.

But in the end, today as in the 1960s, what you value, who you are, and what and who you care about is a matter of how you spend your time. It’s a matter of focusing attention. You aim attention, or fail to; it doesn’t just happen.

And attention is time, and time is the scarcest resource.

(Image: HomeStudio/Shutterstock)

Google Buzz Explodes the Myth of First Mover Advantage. Again.

Somewhere in the 1980s we coined the phrase “first mover advantage.” Right or wrong, I associate it in my mind with the birth of Compaq Computer, in the middle 1980s. Compaq’s original 34-pound sewing-machine-sized computer was dubbed the first compact computer. Luggable was more accurate. And it wasn’t the first, either.

This bugs me. “But that’s not new,” people say, meaning, as they say it, “so it can’t be an interesting new business.” It’s an idea fetish. It misunderstands that underlying fact that being first doesn’t mean diddly without getting the traction to stand out, and stay.

Apple wasn’t the first personal computer. And Google wasn’t the first search engine (I read recently it was the 11th). Amazon.com wasn’t the first book site on the Web. And so it goes.

Which brings me to Google Buzz. Not first, at all. Not original. But very powerful. My favorite quote on this is Mobclix evangelist Megan Berry’s Power Trumps Innovation post on Huffington Post yesterday (bias alert: she’s my daughter). She says:

So how is Google Buzz different? It doesn’t have a character limit and conversations are threaded so you can comment below the original post. (OK so there’s actually a few more differences and you can check out Monica O’Brien’s ode to Buzz for the play by play). But, honestly, that’s pretty much it and neither of these ideas are really new. Google Buzz is decidedly unoriginal (for more on this check out TechCrunch’s superbly titled If Google Wave is the Future, Google Buzz is the Present). There’s nothing new here. Threaded comments have been around since online forums, the idea of social sharing is so 2005, and choosing who to follow is, well, have you heard of Twitter?

I totally agree. It’s not new, but it’s very important, because Google has power. We can’t ignore it.

A case in point, actually, is how many of us will revive our gmail facility just to get into Buzz. I’m annoyed, I admit it. This means that if I’m going to be absolutely up to date with everything I do in blogging and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn these days, now I have to add Google Buzz into the mix. I’m really hoping Tweetdeck adds it into the interface, like they did with Facebook and LinkedIn, so I only have to go to one place.

What I mean is: damn! Another social media platform? Really? But this one is Google, so I don’t dare ignore it.

And that’s the point. Like Microsoft before it, Google has the power to jump into a market after it’s become important, and change it, even, in a short time, lead it. So first mover advantage? Well, not so much.

Contradiction and Paradox Are the Spice of Business

Measurement, metrics, and accountability are everything. Except when they aren’t.

Yes, I contradict myself. No, I don’t mind. Contradiction and paradox are reality in business as in life. As soon as you develop a general rule, you find exceptions.

And I have posted here both the magic of metrics, and do we undervalue marketing we can’t measure. Like the old folk song says, both sides now.

So with that in the background I read with relish Management by Imagination on the Harvard Business Review’s The Conversation blog. Here’s the lead:

The perception that good management is closely linked to good measurement runs deep. How often do you hear these old saws repeated: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count”; “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”; “If you can’t measure it, it won’t happen”? We like these sayings because they’re comforting. The act of measurement provides security; if we know enough about something to measure it we almost certainly have some control over it.

But however comforting it can be to stick with what we can measure, we run the risk of expunging something really important. What’s more, we won’t see what we’re missing because we don’t know what it is that we don’t know. By sticking simply to what we can measure, we come to imagine a small and constrained world in which we are prisoners of a “reality” that is in fact an edifice we’ve unknowingly constructed around ourselves.

The Harvard post goes on to question the more extreme exercises of metrics:

if you stick to measuring what you can already measure, you cannot create a future that is different than the past.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that the underlying mathematics of computing, as applied on the Web, are total luxury of measurement in today’s business world, especially when compared to what we all did as recently as the 1980s and early 1990s. Back then we’d spend the marketing money on ads and direct mail and such, and then hope for the best, waiting weeks and months to get at best a distorted view of results. Now we get clicks and conversions and return on investment almost instantly.

When I worked as a wire service journalist in the 1970s, the turn of a headline made a huge difference. So we crossed our fingers and hoped it would work. We’d find out the next day. Today the industry leaders like the Huffington Post test headlines, and adjust them, in real time.

Conclusion: I love the truth of case by case judgment of so much of real business. Know the rules, follow them when it makes sense, and break them when it makes sense. Paradox and contradiction are the spice of life. And good business.

Or, if you prefer, take this, straight from the Harvard blog, as a conclusion:

We need to get away from all those old sayings about measurement and management, and in that spirit I’d like to propose a new wisdom: “If you can’t imagine it, you will never create it.” The future is about imagination, not measurement. To imagine a future, one has to look beyond the measurable variables, beyond what can be proven with past data.

(Image credit: Vlue/Shutterstock)

5 Ways to Break Up a Bad Office Work Day

It’s one of those days. Maybe you have technical problems, or a project that isn’t going well, you couldn’t sleep last night, you’ve run into a writer’s block or thinker’s block or city block. Maybe you just lost a client. Or learned about a powerful new competitor. Or maybe it’s simply just a bad day. It happens.

These are things that help break up a bad day.

1. Clean up the clutter.

Put on some music you like. Throw things out. Find the desk space down at the bottom of all the papers, books, cables, envelopes, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel in just a few minutes.

Second prize: clean out your digital clutter. Start with email. Sort into categories (folders or tags) for things you should keep, and archive. Empty the inbox.

Grand prize: take an hour or two. Do both.

2. Do one of those nagging-annoying tasks you’ve been avoiding.

Your business life is full of small annoying tasks you put off. Most of us rationalize that we have other more important, or more urgent, things to do, and we let this go. It’s that list you promised, the research you wanted to do, maybe it’s a call or a letter or email task you’ve been avoiding. Get this one done and you’ll feel better about everything else.

3. Exercise. Take a walk. Or a run.

Break out of your routine. Exercise is funny because of what John Jantsch, the marketing guru, called the math of exercise: the time you take gives you more time later. Particularly when you’re in that droopy slump time. Break it up, get out, come back to it later, fresh.

4. Do something Creative. Draw something. Write a haiku. Or a blog post.

What I mean is do something creative. Seriously, a haiku is a great mood changer: just three lines. Try this search for haiku on Twitter, and you’ll see. And if that’s too much, do whatever you do when you want to break the mood. Or, how about this: write an email to somebody you care about, not about business, just catching up with things.

5. Indulge somebody else.

My point 4 above reminded me: if the first thought is to go get yourself a chocolate and a hug somewhere, indulge yourself. But this is even better: indulge somebody else. Don’t get yourself a candy and a hug, give both to somebody else. Or call your mother or your sister or your spouse. Buy a kid you know a book you think they’d like.

There’s research I saw in the New York Times that shows spending money on somebody else is more likely to buy happiness than spending it on yourself. Here’s a quote:

“These experimental results,” the researchers conclude, “provide direct support for our causal argument that spending money on others promotes happiness more than spending money on oneself.”

So, seriously, have a good day.

(Note: I posted this on Huffington Post yesterday. I’m reposting here because this is my main blog.)

On Twitter, A/B Analysis, and the Art of Headlines

Do you like my headline here, on this post? Can you write a better one?

Headlines are critical. I’ve noted that, with some frustration (I’m not so good at headlines) on this blog before, here.

Headlines come up today because being in New York last week to  judge the Forbes.com business plan contest gave me a chance to visit with my son Paul, who lives in New York, and is CTO of Huffington Post. And he told me what they’re doing on the Huffington Post about headlines.

Why do you care? Maybe because (whether you like its political views or not) in the last 2-3 years Huffington Post has posted huge growth in traffic and advertiser and investor interest and visibility and traffic. So they have to be doing a lot of things right. And, if you’re writing or blogging, you should know about how they do headlines.

It starts with a lot of testing. Paul was quoted in How the Huffington Post uses real-time testing for headlines in Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab:

The Huffington Post applies A/B testing to some of its headlines. Readers are randomly shown one of two headlines for the same story. After five minutes, which is enough time for such a high-traffic site, the version with the most clicks becomes the wood that everyone sees.

And then there’s Twitter. As a Twitter user, I enjoyed reading Huffpost crowd sources headlines in Snoo.ws. Here are highlights:

Using the hashtag #headlinehelp, visitors will be able to click on a link to an article and help write an appropriate headline that fits the story. Through social byproduct, the best headline will filter through to editors.

The Huffington Post made its first attempt at using the hashtag late yesterday asking participants to replace the headline, “No, YOU Lie,” regarding a story about Rep. Joe Wilson’s interjectory fireworks during President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.

Hashtags are not perfect aggregators by any means, as previous use of them has seen contests hijacked and critical messaging spoiled. With Huffington Post’s reputation, they surely have gained some followers who may wish to use this idea in a negative way for the company.

How cool is that? I’d love to copy that idea. But reality rears up its ugly head: Huffington Post has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter; I have barely four thousand. Mine are smarter and better looking, but still …

Or no, perhaps, not so cool? Maybe data-driven headlines are a problem (quoting The Noisy Channel on this subject):

I’m sure this approach must rattle some old-school journalists. And there is a real danger of optimizing for the wrong outcome. For example, including the word “sex” in this message might improve its traffic … but to what end?

OK, good point, but the discovery that there are some words (sex, violence, naked, brutal) which get better results is nothing new. It’s older than I am (I posted about words I won’t put into titles despite the temptation on this blog a couple of years ago).  What’s new is the ability to test quickly and bring a crowd into it in a practical way.

It’s not about asking people what’s new, or changing the news content. It’s about headlines. And gaining readers.

Gee, You Had to Pay $2, Once, to Get News?

Interesting juxtaposition: while much of the world worries about where we get real news, and particularly investigative reporting, iPhone users are up in arms about CNN charging less than $2, once, for an iPhone app that includes ads.

Journalism MournedMegan Berry posted Do You Get What You Pay For? yesterday on the Huffington Post:

CNN’s new iPhone app is creating quite a stir. First of all, they’re the first major news site to have a paid app ($1.99). Secondly, they’ve included ads in it. Users are in quite an uproar over this. They wouldn’t pay for something with ads in it!

There’s no doubt that the iPhone world is new and strange. I have an iPhone myself, and I love it; but how did $1.99 for an application end up as expensive? In what world? Maybe I’ve been in software for too long. Megan (disclosure: she’s my daughter) adds:

Yet, what about newspapers, magazines, television, and increasingly games? We constantly pay for media that includes ads, and we don’t even think twice about it.

Meanwhile there’s a lot of real worry about what’s happening to journalism, and especially investigative journalism, as newspapers and magazines fade. Within a click or two of that same CNN-iPhone-related post on Huffington, there’s this post in which Arianna Huffington frets over the debate over online news, another about whether the New York Times should charge for news, and yet another titled What Google Can Do for Journalism. I posted about that here just a couple of months ago.

On The Huffington Post, meanwhile, they took a Quick Poll on how people feel about paying for an iPhone application with advertising in it. Almost half the respondents said no: “If I pay for an app, I shouldn’t have to put up with advertising.”

I’m not saying that iPhone users shouldn’t worry about a couple of dollars, but … no, wait a minute, maybe that is what I’m saying. Skip a cup of coffee, once. Not that I even like CNN, but if nobody can figure out how to pay the reporters, we’re not going to have Journalism. I can imagine a world without newspapers, but a world without Journalism would be a lot worse than that. If saving Journalism (note: not newspapers necessarily, but investigative reporting) takes some ads, I can deal with ads.

So I just bought the CNN application for my iPhone.

(Photo credit: cen/Shutterstock.)

Maybe Writing Isn’t So Obsolete After All

Just a few years ago I was mourning the loss of the printed word in our media-hungry and web-hungry society. Even people I really respect, although most of them much younger than I, were starting to show cavalier disregard for the English language. I’d grimace while reading something that mistook then for than, or they’re for their, or misspelled lots of simple words. The response would be rolled eyes, like…

Maria Skaldina/Shutterstock

why do you care? You can read it. You can see what it says.

It makes me feel like the archetypical grumpy old man.

Meanwhile, television news has taken over from print news. Newspapers are dying. And books?  Doomed. I picked this up in a 2007 New Yorker piece called Twilight of Books:

In 1982, 56.9 per cent of Americans had read a work of creative literature in the previous twelve months. The proportion fell to fifty-four per cent in 1992, and to 46.7 per cent in 2002. Last month, the N.E.A. released a follow-up report, “To Read or Not to Read,” which showed correlations between the decline of reading and social phenomena as diverse as income disparity, exercise, and voting. In his introduction, the N.E.A. chairman, Dana Gioia, wrote, “Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement.”

But then — about 2007 for me, late, I know, compared to the web literate elites — I caught on to blogs. And discovered where writing had gone to; and where people cared about writing. Writing and reading are alive and well, it turns out, but they’ve migrated to some extent. The Huffington Post, the world’s leading blog, gets something upwards of 20 million unique visitors per month.  Blog after blog is about writing: writing well, writing better. I just looked: more than 10,000 hits on Google for the search term “writing blog headlines.” And I keep stumbling on blogs that are exhilaratingly well written. Look at Ann Handley’s Annarchy, for example (for a good sample, read Refugee at Home). Or Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist (sample this post for good writing, but you should know first that, like a lot of good writing, it’s dark.). And I read business and entrepreneurship blogs that are not just good content, but extremely well written. Seth Godin delivers a short beautifully written post almost every day.

Lately there’s twitter, limiting the writing to 140 characters, putting a whole new twist on writing. There’s so many examples of good writing in 140 characters that it’s like searching for needles in a pile of needles. Do this twitter search for haiku to see what I mean. And then I just browsed the tweets of the people above, and came up with this one, by Penelope Trunk. I didn’t have to search for a good one, this was simply her latest as I wrote this post:

I forget to tell the waiter to hold the bacon bits. Then I go wild: I decide a Jewish woman who dates a pig farmer can take a taste of pork.

That’s good writing. And there’s so much of it out there. I’m feeling way better about the future or writing after all.

(Photo credit: Maria Skaldina/Shutterstock)