Tag Archives: resources

Introducing GradHacker

As a grad student, you’re expected to be a full-time everything: student, teacher, researcher, collaborator, networker. Add on the life you’re supposed to have outside of school and it can be very overwhelming. That’s where GradHacker comes in.

Written by graduate students for graduate students, GradHacker is a collaborative blog and digital roundtable that came out of the Michigan State University’s Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative. The goal? To share and learn from each other how to ‘hack’ all aspects of grad life.

Our contributing authors are all graduate students from a variety of universities and disciplines. We are always accepting new authors or guest posts from any grad student in any university. We are dedicated to creating a community of grads who can benefit from hearing the stories, tips, and challenges of others who are experiencing the same things. The topics that we will tackle are just as varied as the individuals who are writing them […]. Posts discuss topics such as raising kids in grad school, how to propose a digital dissertation to your committee, how to volunteer in grad school, the basics of twitter, strategies for being a teaching assistant, and even healthy recipes.

GradHacker just launched this week, and it’s already proving to be a fantastic new resource for students with articles such as making your dissertation more accessible outside of academia and how to write an academic conference proposal. New articles will be published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so be sure to check it out and subscribe. You can also follow GradHacker on Facebook and Twitter.

Behance ProSite now available

Looking for an easy way to get your portfolio online? Behance, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals, just launched ProSite.

ProSite lets you create a customized personal portfolio site that syncs with your Behance Network projects. There’s no programming required, and you have unlimited hosting and project space. Take a tour and browse samples to see if the new platform is a good fit for your online portfolio needs.

The Elements of Content Strategy

Content strategy is the web’s hottest new thing. But where did it come from? Why does it matter? And what does the content renaissance mean for you? Content strategist and editor Erin Kissane tackles these questions in the latest A Book Apart publication, The Elements of Content Strategy. From basic principles to tools and techniques, this brief guide is great for both experienced content strategists and those making the transition from other fields.

We’re giving away a copy of this book to one of our readers. Simply leave a comment telling us your format preference (paperback or ebook). We’ll draw a name at random on Friday, March 11 at 5pm EST. In the meantime, be sure to head over to the A Book Apart site to read an excerpt and check out the other fantastic publications.

Update: The winner is Lori, congratulations! Thank you to everyone who commented. Be sure to enter our next giveaway in May.

National Novel Writing Month + Scrivener

Every writer knows that writing comes with a fair amount of procrastination. There’s always something else that one can be doing other than writing…watching a movie, hanging out with friends, even cleaning. It’s the “I can do it later” excuse that National Novel Writing Month confronts head on.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. The goal is to write 50,000 words (about a 175-page novel) from November 1 to November 30. With the time limitation, writers are forced to simply write. No procrastinating, no editing, just writing.

It’s a challenge to put aside your doubts and to silence your inner editor, but it’s a great way to try a style of writing that you may not have a chance to do in your professional jobs. It’s also a worldwide writing event. So even if it’s two in the morning and you’re starting at your computer screen because you feel like you’ve run out of words, there’s some comfort in knowing that others are out there experiencing the same thing.

To help you focus on your writing, Scrivener is offering a special trial edition. The word processor and project management tool helps you outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing, and compose pieces of your text in isolation or in context. It’s available for both Mac OS and Windows, plus the 30-day trial period has been extended to December 7, with options to buy at a discount post-NaNoWriMo.

If writing a novel doesn’t appeal to you, there are still benefits to using the event to fuel your own writing projects. Use the month of energy and excitement about writing to find the motivation to finish your dissertation, write that short story you’ve got in mind, or start a new blog.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, but you can join at any time during the month, and while it’s nice to “win” by writing 50,000 words, any amount of writing is better than never starting. Who’s in?

Yahoo! adds style to writing for the web

Web site or website? Email or e-mail? Debates over web style are common for writers and editors who work with online copy, but have to rely on style guides that focus mainly on print publishing. But that changed last week when Yahoo! announced a style guide dedicated entirely to writing for the web.

yahoo-styleAlong with grammar and punctuation, The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, And Creating Content For The Digital World covers a range of web-specific topics such as:

  • Effective writing and editing for an online audience
  • Techniques for streamlining copy
  • Basic Web codes
  • Internet law
  • Search engine optimization

If you’re writing or editing for an online audience, this “Strunk and White for the online world” is a valuable resource to add to your arsenal. The guide is now available in both print and digital versions, plus book extracts, additional resources, and an “Ask an Editor” feature can be found online.

New resource: Bounce

I came across Bounce on Twitter the other day, and its “fun and easy way to share ideas on a website” tagline says it all. Simply add your notes and then share via your social network of choice.

This is a great tool for designers who want an easy way to give and get feedback on various phases of a site design. Anyone else using this yet?



The Digital Landscape

If you’re interested in how journalism is being affected by the digital space, check out Nieman’s “The Digital Landscape: What’s Next for News?


From Editor Melissa Ludtke’s introduction:

It’s a place where game playing thrives and augmented reality tugs at possibilities. It’s where video excels, while the appetite for long-form text and the experience of “deep reading” is diminished, and it’s where the allure of multitasking greets the crush of information.

The digital library includes articles about digital storytelling, community journalism, and online readability, just to name a few. You can browse by titles here.

The act of writing

One of my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) friends asked me recently if I’ve kept up my near-daily writing frenzy, and I was sad to have to say that I haven’t. The act of writing is something I struggle with, as I can always find things to do other then make the clackity noise. But summer is finally here, which for many means a chance to work on personal writing projects. For me, it means a season devoted to making writing a habit. No matter what your motivation, there are going to be obstacles.

Obstacle #1: Writer, meet block.

Whether you’re writing a script or a novel, short stories or blog posts, getting started is often the most difficult part. There have been many times where I’ve sat down to write only to find myself staring at a handful of words on the screen an hour later.

I asked my writer friends what they do to overcome writer’s block, and many recommended prompts. Words, situations, pictures, maps—there are a variety of writing prompts that can help spark inspiration. I’ve found them most helpful when I want to write just to write.

Many writers recommend that you stop writing while you still have words left in you so it’s easier to start again. There are many “rules” for writing. Follow them, break them, make your own—it’s up to you.

Obstacle #2: I don’t have time, but hold on while I tweet that.

Having an idea of what to write doesn’t matter unless you make time to write. To help, I’m going to take a cue from Dawn Armfield:

I live on Google. Ok, not the planet Google, but the great spacious cloud of Google. I use many of the tools extensively, for nearly everything. […] So how could I make them work for me in the same way that 750words works for others? I created a calendar event that emails me every morning, alerting to me to my time to write for 10 minutes (I picked 10 minutes to get me started — and I typically write about 500 words in that 10 minutes). I also use Docs to write in, so I can write from anywhere.

I think it’s brilliant when someone can take the tools they’re already using and use them in a new way. With all that connectivity, you really can write anywhere. But then there’s always…

Obstacle #3: No one will know if I don’t write.

To stay on track and keep writing, find someone who will hold you accountable. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a fellow writer, be vocal about your intention to write and count on your network to support you. Use whatever works best for you.

During NaNoWriMo, I discovered that I benefited a lot from meeting with other writers. Ask around to see if your area has a writing group or workshop, or start your own. Not only will it hold you to your writing commitment, but it’ll give you a chance to get feedback on your work.

If you’re on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #amwriting to tweet your progress and connect with other writers. The practice was started by Johanna Harness to “bring writers together to talk about their writing thoughts—as they write.” It’s great for both accountability and inspiration.

Obstacle #4: Distractions, distractions, dis…wait, I was writing?

Sometimes writing comes down to avoiding distractions. Ice cream, beaches, and sunshine certainly don’t make it easy to sit at a computer for any length of time (though you can always go old school with a notebook and pen while sitting outside). If you’re like me and aren’t lucky enough to have an iPad for a writing coach, these online tools may help you focus.

Ommwriter (Mac only)

CreaWriter (Windows only)


What tools and methods have worked for you? What are your writing habits?

Designing portfolios: resources + case study

If I had to sum up my portfolio redesign project, it would be “slow going, with flashes of inspiration”. When I’m stuck in a rut, it helps me to draw from my bookmarks of design inspiration and explore new ways of thinking about what an online portfolio should be. Here are a couple of great reads for those looking to carve out their own online space.

Chris Spooner of Blog.SpoonGraphics recently shared 10 Solutions to Easily Create Your Online Portfolio. Chris put together a list of sites and communities that make it easier to get an online portfolio up and running with a focus on your work.

Smashing Magazine just released its initial Portfolio Design Study: Design Patterns and Current Practices. The team spent more than 75 hours researching the visual design, structure, layout, navigation, and design details of each section of an online portfolio. There is a lot to take away from this initial study, plus there’s more to come: SM will be publishing the second part of the study in two weeks.

Reading recommendation: Redesigning Your Own Site

As someone who has been “in the process” of redesigning my online portfolio since January, I was encouraged by Lea Alcantara’s look at redesigning your own site over at A List Apart. This article is a great reminder of the time and effort that should be taken when it comes to your personal brand, from colors to fonts to readability. If you’re like me and stuck in the redesign process, or maybe you’re just getting started and aren’t sure where to start, check out the insights Lea has to share about designing for yourself.