How to become Content with your Content

“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Nothing is original. In order to generate the best content, we gather information and ideas from sources we  love. We then use these ideas to formulate our own creative content, with the hope that someone will one day borrow from us.

We’ve always been stealing.

In his New York Times Bestseller, Austin Kleon advises his readers to “Steal like an Artist.” He notes that we should start to discover our own voice by copying our heroes. Since no one is born knowing exactly who they want to be in life, we have all developed parts of who we are from other people. One of my dearest friends once told me that you are the average of the five people you are closest to. Pick your five people, think about your favorite qualities in each of them, then begin to process who you’ve become.

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Source: Austin Kleon

Why stealing is okay.

Stealing and copying are not plagiarizing. Instead of parading someone’s content as your own, stealing like an artist entails finding content that you like, figuring out why you enjoyed it, and copying the originator’s motivations.

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Source: Newinshoes.com

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright note a similar process in their discussion of cultural appropriation. They use the term bricolage to describe the idea that we “make do” with components of popular ideals, especially within youth consumer culture. For example,  Doc Martins were sold as orthopedic and work boots in the 1940s-60s. However, they became a feature of the late 20th century grunge and neopunk youth subculture. Teens wearing black Gothic dresses and Doc Martins weren’t plagiarizing an element of past culture; they were reinventing an existing aspect of society.

But what does this mean for a blog post?

It means that the world is full of untapped Doc Martin-esque ideas to steal from. It means that creativity is the process of recycling things we love into new forms of communication and connectivity. Therefore, in order to become content with your content, you must learn to appreciate the world around you and steal it in the best possible way.

This post is nothing new. I adore Kleon’s book and am trying to embody his energy as I write. This blog is also not original. I’ve been inspired by political bloggers young and old, partisan and non, government and civilian. And the buck doesn’t stop here; My content is designed for you. Steal from me, discuss my content.

Start your own.

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Source: Austin Kleon

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Millennial Political Participation: The Problem and the Solution(s)

We are the problem

Since the presidential election of 1964, U.S. citizens between the ages of 18-24 have had the lowest voter turnout.

 

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Graphic from the U.S. Census Bureau showing decrease in millennial voting patterns.

Nowadays, millennials tend to be apathetic towards voting and/or do not care about government at all. Resulting in desperate attempts like this:

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Advertisement for the Affordable Care Act

How I know

I live on a college campus that has an extremely low voter turnout. As a Political Science major, that’s embarrassing.  Fortunately, a few of my fellow Furman students recently won a lawsuit against oppressive voting restrictions toward college students. And although the presidental election has already passed, it’s not too early to get to know the local government players:

We are the solution; Participating in politics is not hard

The United States does not and should not make it difficult for its citizens to have a voice in politics. That voice usually includes voting. The right to vote is a fundamental principle that this country was founded upon. In order to vote citizens need to do three things:

  1. Turn 18
  2. Register
  3. Turn out
logos
Major News Channels

And what if you can’t meet step one? Being informed about politics is just as important. Talking about politics, watching news coverage, and asking questions about political actors or policies also count as political participation.

Participating in politics is not boring.

Find a issue that resonates with you. If you like hiking, think about get-

Greenpeace Condemns Brutal Police Clampdown On Peaceful Gezi Park Protest.
Green Peace Protest

ting involved in local environmental groups to improve parks and trails. If you’re into food, it might be worth knowing what types of things the FDA allows companies to put in their products. Or if you’re sick of how much money you make at your job, look into minimum wage laws in your state.

Participating in politics is not meaningless.

I’ve too often heard my friends say that their voice doesn’t count. That claim is ridiculous. Voting matters. Politics isn’t all Hillarys, Trumps and long bills that you hear your parents mention. Politics is the lake by your house. It’s the favorite teacher you had in high school. It’s your paycheck you get every two weeks. Politics are both large scale and small scale. We should not forget about our local government officials that work hard to provide us with the quality of life we want. So tell them!

You have a voice, speak.

 

Sources and Image Credit

Food and Drug Administration

Furman Newspaper

Greenville News

Image: Graphic from US Census Bureau

Image: ObamaCare advertisement from Factcheck.org

Image: Protest photo from GreenPeace.org

Image: New sources from TheWrap.com

Scholar Archives at OSU

Trey Gowdy web page

USA.gov

U.S. Department of Labor

 

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Blogging is Dating: A How-To Guide

Your audience is the most important aspect of blogging. Every word you write, headline you create, or phrase you omit should be motivated by the idea that people will be reading your blog. That being said, you blog has to be the perfect date: intriguing, credible, and attractive.

The Love Gurus

Brian Carroll, an academic authority on writing and editing for digital media, and Linda Felder, an expert with years of experience writing professional digital content, provide essential information about writing in the digital world.

How to Snag Them

Less flirting, be direct.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tool that digital writers can use to influence how often views visit their page. Search engines like Google use algorithms to find and rank online content using key words in your headings, subheadings, or tags. Carroll writes that the most intriguing headlines are brief, complete, clear, and proactive. Direct headlines increase the likelihood that your page is a top result in a Google search, and interesting headlines increase the chances that your viewer will want to click on your page.

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Source: Web Candy

How to Impress Them

Give them what they want.

Carroll notes that online readers view content in a “F” pattern, meaning that they look at the upper left quadrant of a webpage first. Dominant headlines draw the eye and are a useful place to include important or intriguing information. Fittingly, Carroll uses the KISS Method for headlines: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

  • Determine what to highlight
  • Decide how to phrase it given limitations on space

In addition to headlines, Felder writes that the first sentence of a post should be a topic sentence with the most important information. This sentence should be followed by supporting facts, and you should end with the less important fluff. She calls this the inverted pyramid.

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Source: Write for the Web

How to Keep Them Interested

Look good.

Carroll notes that an audience does not read online content. They surf, scan, scroll, and skip. Therefore, he suggests that a blogger layer his or her digital content. Layering enhances the readers’ ability to scan the post. These page attributes can include:

  • bulleted lists
  • highlighted words
  • subheads
  • hyperlinks

Felder also notes that page attributes like bulleted lists, rather than lists separated by commas, can make information easier to scan quickly. She advises that lists can break up large portions of texts, which can make the page more attractive.

 

So go put yourself out there!