Correlation, causation, and confusion: The Backlinko study of 912 million blog posts

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Brian Dean of Backlinko, an SEO maven whose site includes a technique that “almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content that you publish,” published a study of 912 million blog posts. He says his results include worthwhile insights. I say they support an alternate explanation: nearly all content marketing … Continued

Emergency!

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Is Donald Trump’s national emergency actually an emergency? Let’s take an unemotional look at that. Trump has declared a national emergency to get access to funds originally designated for other purposes so he can build his border wall. There are any number of analyses of whether this is legal, and certainly congressional Democrats and others … Continued

“Dreyer’s English” is a style guide with style

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Benjamin Dreyer is a master copy editor. He wrote a book on correct English. You might find it amusing. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style is currently at No. 12 on the Amazon bestseller list. That is absurd (and based on Dreyer’s comment’s on Twitter, he agrees with me). Here’s what … Continued

How to spot a crappy self-published book (and make sure yours isn’t)

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Here’s a syllogism for you: A book will boost your reputation. It’s easy to self-publish a book. Therefore, a self-published book will boost your reputation. Not so fast. The problem is, most self-published books reveal themselves to be crappy and do more harm than good. Self-publishing is faster than working with a traditional publisher and … Continued

My valentine to Zoom video conferencing

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Some tools are so helpful, useful, and dependable that you rapidly find you cannot live without them. In my work, video meetings have now become essential. And Zoom is the best way to do them. If you read this space regularly you know that I am by nature a skeptical hardass with the contrarian instinct … Continued

Some questions about the President’s American Artificial Intelligence Initiative

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President Trump announced the “American AI initiative” with an executive order. Like many such presidential pronouncements (and not just from Trump), it’s somehow both blustery and mushy. Let’s take it apart and see if it makes sense. In what follows, commentary is mine. Passages in bold italic are passive voice, weasel words, or other notably … Continued

Is your idea book-worthy? Ask these 11 questions to make sure.

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It’s easy to tell people “I have a book idea.” But before you invest your time in writing, you need to make sure that idea is powerful enough to build a book on. Here are 11 questions to ask yourself before you exert significant effort towards becoming a nonfiction author. If you can’t answer these … Continued

How not to plagiarize like Jill Abramson in “Merchants of Truth”

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Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, published a book on media called Merchants of Truth. Many passages appear to be plagiarized. I’ll explain why authors do this and how you can make sure you never do. I can already feel your outrage. Plagiarize? I would never do that! No respectable author … Continued