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Social Costs? Four Reasons To Spend Less Time Online

The irony of the title of this blog is not lost on me, given the piece is intended for broadcast on social media among other places. Even the structure of it, you could say, is ‘blogg-y’ – X ways to do stuff. Pop will eat itself.

A few weeks ago we spent five blissful days in coastal Suffolk. The bliss was prompted, partly, by a decision I took to leave my tablet at home and only check my phone once a day for emergencies. Sally’s (non smart) phone was also available to adult children on both sides. And as it happened the wifi didn’t work, so she couldn’t access her chromebook either. We were device-free. Time slowed and life richened.

But the lessons haven’t been learned. We’re back home and more online than ever.

And despite the joys and amusement and insight I get from many, most, of my lovely online friendships, life overall seems no happier for it.

Is it time to take the lessons of five days of RLO (Real Life Only) and recalibrate more comprehensively? It’s risky saying that kind of thing on social media, where you’ll be held to account. Actually that’s part of the point, a personal manifesto of sorts: shoot me if you see me here.

But first a brief look at the four ways my social costs are getting too high.

#SfEP 2018 – Let’s Get F***in’ Serious

The title of my blog on the 2017 SfEP conference at Wyboston Lakes was “Linnets, Laughter, Learning”. All three were available at #SfEP2018 Lancaster too.

Alongside a big helping of food for thought. The plenary session led by PTC CEO Kathryn Munt added a serious note to proceedings, highlighting big changes in the way publishing houses and outsourcing companies are working with each other and with freelance suppliers, including editors and proofreaders.

Still, better out than in. It’s better that we don’t put our heads in the sand and that we stay fully conscious of these trends; so we can work together with other industry players such as PTC to address the needs of the outsourcing companies and make them aware of our needs.

More on that later. We should also celebrate the many joys that the conference brings. Opportunities for renewing old friendships, making new ones, letting our hair down (in a, by and large, rather attractive and introverted way) and revitalising our businesses with new knowledge, techniques, hints, tips and reminders about the things we know we should be doing. And learning some new words along the way, courtesy of Kia Thomas’s inspired obscenity-compounding.

This was my second conference and I didn’t think it could possibly improve on the first. But it did. Partly because I knew so many more people already. Seeing them all again felt very warm and reassuring and exhilarating, however many tweets, forum posts and emails had passed between us since #SfEP2017. Nothing beats IRL.

Business Communication Layering: Technical Content For Different Audiences

Tagline: Layering works well as a template for summarising almost all business and technical content: a useful, valuable, legal pyramid scheme. [20 words]

Plain language summary:

Layering is a good technique for anyone writing business or technical content who wants to put across strong messages to different audiences.

It’s powerful, adaptable and based on a simple idea. Your reader matters. Your readers matter.

The template assumes you’re trying to reach different audiences who don’t have the same level of expertise. Or don’t have much time. Or both.

Using a layered summary approach helps you reach everyone you need to. There’s something for everyone, technical expert or general reader, whether they have seconds to spare or much longer.

And you don’t need to worry about what to leave out. Because you can throw the kitchen sink into your final ‘resources’ section.

The extra detail won’t distract or crowd out your summary messaging. But it’s available for anyone who really wants to know more, leaving you to focus on what really matters: the message and your main content.

[150 words: Flesch Reading Ease score 61]

Five Ways To Get Over Writer’s Block

And so VR is once again my guest.
And why is this? Was keyboard unimpressed?

Sincere apologies to Sir Tim Rice for mauling his much better lyrics, but it is the truth. I have been completely unable to get anything out of my keyboard for weeks upon weeks. Apart from one rather geeky diversion into speech punctuation.

To break the spell, at a good friend’s suggestion, I plan to go back to voice writing mode. So this blog – apart from the introduction which was written on tablet – was intended to be written in one hour flat, from start to finish, using voice recognition (VR).

An ironic twist – at this week’s London Book Fair (#LBF18) I spent time helping on the SfEP stall in the hilariously labelled ‘Writer’s Block’ in Hall One at Olympia.

Yes, writer’s block sure is what it feels like – thanks for the reminder!

There is no obvious reason for it. So this blog is an attempt to work out what may be going on. Why does the pen/keyboard/voice suddenly go dry for no apparent reason?