The assignment that became reality

Photos. Thought-life. New media.

Storify Launches VIP Service for Publishers

Storify announcing a new premium service for media organizations, enterprise and other power users.

With the new paid Storify VIP service, premium users will be able to live update all stories, have a custom story display, use custom sources in Storify, share private stories within their own organizations and get enterprise-level support.

Storify also announced they are now a part of the WordPress VIP program, meaning publishers can easily embed Storify stories from within the WordPress dashboard.

Time to Stop Pretending About Content Marketing

Advocates and a growing number of organizations are onboard with the idea that any brand can become a continuous publisher of content that their prospects and customers will find relevant and valuable. But before you drink the Kool-aid, fire your agency and set out to meet the new requirement to add “publisher” to your title and responsibilities, let’s step back a moment and consider what success in this emerging discipline might actually take.

What The Alchemist teaches you about listening to your heart

Have you read The Alchemist?

Those who have been made weary by the dreariness of everyday life will find this book a refreshing drink for the soul. 

It has been a refreshing drink for my soul. 

The novel follows the shepherd boy on his journey, as he seeks out his destiny - from his early years in the monastery to his decision to become a shepherd boy so he can travel the world.  

Partake in his experiences in Andalusia, his sojourn across the desert to follow a dream that promises to lead him to find treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt, and meet the people he meets along the way. The King of Salem, the baker, thief, merchant, Englishman, a stranger in the desert who becomes the love of his life, and finally, the alchemist himself. 

There are mishaps, there are successes. But through it all, he learns to listen to his heart, and his revelations are profound and life changing. 

The novel reminds me to listen to my heart. 

To see the “omens” - signs and signposts everywhere around us, pointing to the existence of something greater than ourselves, to recognise a hand at work bringing all things - good and evil - together for a purpose. 

It reminds me that the best choices I’ve made in life have been formed from the strength of the conviction that have arisen out of listening to the stirring of what’s deep inside. 

The novel also sounds a warning to just how easy it is for the heart to become dull and calloused, for one to lose sight of the passions and dreams that have once inspired and motivated, and to allow fear, scarcity and pragmatism creep in step by step and chart a very different course from what we originally intended for our lives. 

But all things said, the beauty of books like The Alchemist is that it’s no good merely finding out what other people’s listening points are. Your heart will only be moved when you go along the journey and find out what your heart says to you. 

What books have you read that have caused you to reach inside your heart and examine what’s there? 

Maldives by day: Bring the wild child back

Maldives by day is a stunning place. It’s like every travel book or touristy website/brochure/paraphernalia describes it. 

Like every other tourist that has visited the island Veli, I have been enthralled by the clear skies, sandy beaches and shimmering blue waters that stretch out into the horizon. I have revelled and indulged, basking in the glorious sunlight, my skin cooled by dips in the water and the gentle but steady sea breeze.

I have surprised myself, and rediscovered parts of me that I thought I had left behind a long time ago. My skin, now browned by the sun, brings me back to my days of childhood, when I used to tear through the neighbourhood on my bike, on my rollerskates (remember those?).

Then there was the playground which was built on a giant sandpit of sorts, and I would spend hours with my neighbour and childhood partner in crime, digging with our spades till we hit rock bottom, where the sand was muddy - the perfect consitency for crafting sandcastle upon sandcastle till we built a fortress that would make any prince (or princess) proud.

I was also determined then to defy every creative intention of the playground’s creator. I climbed up slides when you were supposed to slide down them, I clambered atop the tunnels you were meant to crawl through. I pulled off enough antics basically to be labelled a tomboy, and to earn the disapproval “tsk tsk-ing” of my mother. 

And then I grew up, and “blossomed” to become a lady. I discovered academia and the joy of exercising my mind. I grew increasingly risk averse and introverted.

I forgot I once figured myself the outdoorsy type.

This trip at the Maldives has brought some of that child back. The yearning to be constantly outdoors and in the sun, in the waters. We learnt how to snorkel and I was hooked by the thrill of exploring the sea and the creatures it contains. We went kayaking and I realised I still retained a faint memory of my canoeing days in secondary school. 

So what now?

I love the brown (albeit slightly sunburnt) body that now stares back at me in the mirror.   - and I hope that, in the months it will take for it to fade away, it will be a reminder for me to start getting out there a little bit more. 

@mellowdramatic #places  (Taken with Instagram)

@mellowdramatic #places (Taken with Instagram)

Turning 30 - does it all go downhill from here?

Many women approach their thirties with dread. So often I come across youthful twenty-somethings who, like weathered souls, lament how “old” they are, as if age was a tyrannical dictator hell-bent on taking the best of our years from us.

Turning thirty has been one of the best things that has happened to me.

At thirty, I’m comfortable under my own skin, I’m more choosy about my friends, and I’m conscientious about making the most of my life.

I’ve stopped procrastinating, quit my job, and started pursuing my dream. The journey of faith has been tough but exhilarating, and I’ve never been more alive. Through times of hardship and disappointments, many friendships have been tested, and the ones that have remained I thank God for everyday.

I’m happily married, and I’ve come to realise that whether I’m fat or thin, plain or beautiful, it figures little in love. I wish I knew that when I was in my teens and early twenties, and it would have changed the way I carried myself, who and how I dated, and my understanding of what it meant to be “treated right”.

Age isn’t something to be feared. It ought to be embraced as an active and ongoing symbol of our growth and maturity, a reflection of the kind of person we have and are becoming. 

Perhaps the only time we should fear age is when we’ve stopped subscribing to a lifetime of learning. 

Google’s head of news: Newspapers are the new Yahoo

On how newspapers got to where they are:

We look back at the 40 golden years of newspaper profitability as if things had been structured that way forever. But these four decades were triggered by an earlier media disruption: television. The rise of television advertising caused a contraction in the newspaper business, where major metropolitan markets went from supporting 4-5 newspapers to 1-2 papers. The limited number of remaining companies allowed monopolitistic pricing. This wealth was created by disruption, and what disruption gives, it taketh away.

Gingras says that the previous dominance that newspapers enjoyed was due primarily to geography, and to some degree demographic targeting. Now, thanks to the Web, he says we are seeing “a disaggregation of content flows as well as advertising.” Like media theorist Clay Shirky, the Google executive argues that one of the big problems for newspapers is that they always depended on “cross-subsidization” of topics — so the classified ads and the lifestyle section paid for the foreign reporting. Now, he says “we have blogs focusing on these niches alone, with a much keener sense of commercialization.”

On whether journalism is better or worse:

The pace of technological change will not abate, and to think of our current time as a transition between two eras, rather than a continuum of change, is a mistake. There has been tremendous disruption in journalism, but there are upsides: everyone has a printing press, there are no gatekeepers [or at least new gatekeepers], and journalism can and will be better than in the past.

On the iPad as the savior of journalism:

[The iPad is] a fatal distraction for media companies. Too many publishers looked at the tablet as the road home to their magazine format, subscription model, and expensive full-page ads. The format of a single device does not change the fundamental ecosystem underneath it, and this shiny tablet has taken media companies’ eyes off of the ball.

Jason Pontin, publisher of MIT’s Technology Review, made a similar point in a recent post in which he described how unsatisfying the magazine’s apps were, and how he is giving up the “walled garden” approach and moving towards a Web-native model.

On how newspapers are like the old Web portals:

Gingras doesn’t believe the vertical model of a newspaper makes sense going forward. He compares the metropolitan newspapers’ all-things to all-people product to content portals for specific communities. This strategy doesn’t make sense given the possibilities. Yahoo!’s initial success was as a portal. But portals have disappeared online as consumers have learned to navigate the web on their own and found the niche sites they love.

On whether paywalls are the answer:

Some publishers say, “They bought it before, they’ll buy it again,” or “We need to get people back into the habit of paying for news.” But consumers never did pay the true costs. The Wall Street Journal pulls their paywall off because it publishes information that is perceived to have high value and is written for business audiences, whose subscriptions are paid for by their employers. News companies must disambiguate their content and business models and devolve from the generalist approach, which is hemmoraging both readers and revenue.