Here are some things I’ve learned about being a better writer

For its age and influence and subjectivity, writing is one of those crafts that require great study and practice, though they don’t guarantee success alone.

The ordering of words has always been a great love of mine. I’ve been writing at length for as long as I can remember in whatever medium I could find. I’ve spent the last 10 years developing my news writing form, a tradition I have great pride in. However I’ve tried to keep developing my creative storytelling instincts too — fiction being a complimentary but wholly distinct offering from the non-fiction I know best.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

Continue reading Here are some things I’ve learned about being a better writer

The speed of government (and other institutions) is a feature not a bug

Recently a few ideas came together for me that made me want to acknowledge something that might be obvious to others. It isn’t directly related to the Election but it offers a timeliness.

At their best, institutions, and governments specifically, move slowly by design. Like the plan for charter schools influencing school districts, the very hope for startups and other young organizations is to be a place for risk and experimentation.

By merger or sheer influence, the best of these ideas should survive their way through bureaucracy and other obstacles. Others won’t survive. Though that has worked for so long in much of American political life, we were just reminded of how vulnerable that still is. But that isn’t the real goal.

Continue reading The speed of government (and other institutions) is a feature not a bug

Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context

Policymakers and economic development strategists are startup crazy — in pursuit of a silly goal. I know. I’ve spent most of the last decade reporting on young tech companies, exactly the slice of firm creation that has led much of the attention in this post-recession fixation.

Though I’ve taken various approaches at understanding what, if anything, is really different about this era’s of business creation, I recently found myself pulling together some data that I wanted to share.

Hype around startups — newly created businesses, particularly ones that are approaching new business models — has merit. But the concept isn’t as new and their impact isn’t yet as bold as you might hope — Millennials are on pace to be one of the least entrepreneurial generations on record.

Continue reading Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context

One professor’s attempt at a $25 programmable robot: my profile of Locorobos and Pramod Abichandani

The research on low-cost, educational robotics led by Drexel University professor Pramod Abichandani was the focus of a profile I wrote for the college’s academic journal. It ran this summer.

We’ve written about him on Technical.ly here. My piece was a bit more focused on his research process. Find the full story online here.

As I do with my freelance writing, I have some extras that I cut from the story below.

Continue reading One professor’s attempt at a $25 programmable robot: my profile of Locorobos and Pramod Abichandani

Innovation is taking a risk on a new approach for an old challenge

Sometimes when a word is really powerful, it gets over-used enough that its power dwindles. This happens in cycles, like how “collaboration” was sorely stretched in recent years as institutions got hip to open source culture, and now as “innovation” is being slid into the name of any new effort from any organization aiming to look forward-thinking.

That over-use doesn’t mean the word isn’t effective. It is. But it should mean it requires defense. So when I was asked to submit to business marketing magazine SmartCEO my own definition of the word and my process for employing it, I tried to do just that.

Continue reading Innovation is taking a risk on a new approach for an old challenge

Choose a time, not a place to live: my piece for our live Technical.ly podcast

I helped organize our first ever live Technical.ly podcast and, in addition to helping to produce the event, I put together one of the main pieces.

My point? We don’t really choose a Place to live. We choose a Time in a Place to live.

Continue reading Choose a time, not a place to live: my piece for our live Technical.ly podcast

Snowpocalypse: here’s a flowchart on whether you can park your car

Parking in the snow in dense urban neighborhoods is always a testy issue. People have strong opinions about whether you can use a chair to reserve a spot or swipe another’s — legal or not. Thankfully I sold my car last year, but I’m still a sucker for life hacks for city living.

Considering it’s something that happens in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia and likely anywhere else where great urbanism means parking is limitless, we need better agreement of what’s proper etiquette. Here’s my take, built on some thoughts I shared back in 2010.

Continue reading Snowpocalypse: here’s a flowchart on whether you can park your car

Beyond Recruiting: I edited and published my first ebook for Technical.ly

I edited, co-wrote and helped publish Beyond Recruiting, a new 8,000-word ebook on creative approaches to the challenging hiring environment for technical and creative talent.

It’s the work of Technical.ly, based on the reporting of many of our lead reporters and contributors, in addition to my own sourcing, and the technical and strategy work of my cofounder Brian Kirk. It’s 45-pages and features nine big ideas based on case studies from nearly two dozen tech companies in the mid-Atlantic.

Download it free here with an email address.

[PDF if that link doesn’t work]

Wilmington, Del. needs to develop its innovation corridor [Op-Ed]

The fate of small, urban satellite cities and the role technology and entrepreneurship communities will have in their future is of interest to me. I recently wrote something about it for the Delaware state newspaper.

After this op-ed in the Wilmington News Journal about the innovation economy, Delaware entrepreneur leader Jon Brilliant encouraged me to write something in response. I did so here for Technical.ly Delaware and contributed a shorter version that was published in the News Journal here.

Today, any U.S. community preparing for the future is fostering a technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Delaware is too.

A recent News Journal op-ed on the matter didn’t take into account much of an organic, nascent community that is building toward a bigger impact. There are efforts in Newark, Lewes, Rehoboth and elsewhere, Wilmington, despite its challenges, already has the foundation of an innovation corridor. MORE

Read the rest here

Download an image of the paper version [PDF].