Love is so much more about the technique than the ingredients and other Story Shuffle 5.0 audio

James Kennedy, Chris Wink and Shannon McDonald in the story blanket fort. Photo by Rachel Playe.

All of the audio from Story Shuffle 5.0 is now up, featuring the theme of ‘I Love’ and hosted by Roxborough  farmer Rachel Playe. In her infinitely playful manner, Playe had us all tell our stories in a blanket fort she had constructed.

As if that wasn’t enough of a highlight, West Philly folk rock band Flat Mary Road was on hand for a short acoustic set.

My story — Love is like water ice: it’s so much more about the technique than the ingredients.

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The notes I prepared before:

  • I love water ice, and, really, water ice is a lot about love.
  • When you make water ice, an old woman once told me, it really is so much more about the technique than the ingredients.
  • I don’t know how old the woman was, maybe only in her later 50s, but her hair kept me guessing. She had a long gray pony tail, like an early winter had set in before her leaves had the chance to fall like most women do, shortening their hair as they get older.
  • Water ice is like love: you boil water and sugar, add the ingredients and freeze with the greatest and most patient of techniques
Number of Views:3121

If a topic is boring, then go into more detail: like with spaghetti sauce

When someone is boring me, at a party or in line in the post office, I ask questions.

Now to be fair, I almost always ask questions. Questions are wonderful, provided that there are answers or at least good conversation to be had. Questions are one of the big reasons I do what I do.

It occurred to me recently, though, that that might be novel, at least for some.

That the best way to improve upon a conversation that isn’t much interesting you is to ask questions. That’s how you can direct that conversation and make it into something more than what it would be otherwise.

If you’re talking to a guy who sells fences, you might be bored. But if you talk to him about how different kinds of fence are made, distributed and costs kept low, it could get interesting. Without enough detail, anything can become interesting.

Like spaghetti sauce, as author Malcolm Gladwell showed with a great TED talk back in 2004.

Number of Views:17294

Exit Interview series on Technically Philly

To kick off this year, we at Technically Philly ran a weekly Tuesday feature interviewing a technology community member and/or entrepreneur who left Philadelphia. It is called Exit Interview and the weekly portion of the series is winding down, with perhaps one more to run next week.

The three of us who founded TP love Philadelphia, in particular its creative and entrepreneur communities. Journalism aside, we tend to think those whom we cover are going to be a big part of improving Philadelphia, its perception, its government, its taxes and its reputation.

Journalism should uncover truths and push forward dialogue. That can come with important public affairs coverage and institutional oversight, but it can also by highlighting key issues among its audience.

So I felt strongly that to further the conversation among these communities, it was our role to face directly concerns holding it back. To do so, I led the move to bring together nearly a dozen interviews and will now roll back out Exit Interview when new perception comes forward.

Today, on the Technically Media blog, I shared six lessons I took from running the series.

To get a quick sense, here are three example headlines from the series:

Number of Views:3086

What open data we care about: moderating Code for America Digital Philadelphia event

Photo by John Mertens.

The first concerted effort to seek what types of city government data and information Philadelphians want was kicked off last night with an event I helped organize on behalf of Technically Philly with Young Involved Philadelphia.

Partnered with the Code for America fellowship program, I moderated a panel meant to illustrate concrete and simple definitions and needs for city data that was then followed by a half dozen breakout sessions in which moderators had their dozen group members answer two questions:

  1. What city information would you actually use?
  2. How would you want to access that information?

Read my coverage of the event here, including reference to this Google Doc, in which I tallied the suggestions. This event is one of four big lessons we’re learning while leading this grant project.

More details and video below.

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Number of Views:4210

Whiskey Chats: Technically Media talks with Jim Brady

Over at, we’re feeling out the editorial strategy of our editorial strategy company’s website.

For now, it’ll have about a post a week, usually focusing on lessons in growing audience and sharing content online, in addition to specific case studies from our work and now, whenever we have the chance to grab someone smart who pops into our new office to talk about journalism, the future of news and the like, we’ll share a new episode in our Whiskey Chats podcast.

We launched the first episode this week when former General Manager and executive editor Jim Brady stopped by.

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Thanks to Sean Blanda for editing and naming the product.

Number of Views:6375

Sunlight Foundation shares Transparencity open data project

Last month, I kicked off Transparencity, a grant-funded reporting initiative I am leading for Technically Philly focusing on the open data movement within the City of Philadelphia. Not long after, the Sunlight Foundation, the national leader in the space of government transparency, made mention of it, much to my glee.

The William Penn Foundation, together with Technically Philly are partnering on a project that will use technology and journalism to increase the availability and use of “actionable government data”. Codenamed Transparencity,  the project will provide extensive coverage of issues on city technology policy, the Division of Technology and government data sets. Take a look at how Christopher Wink and partners strive to increase Philadelphia’s use of data to inform on policy at Technically Philly

Number of Views:2888

Grow audience and revenue: two ways to increase the number of news sources

Yes, that is George Michael. There are three clear steps to increase the number of news sources to the level that, say, surrounded Singer George Michael in May 1985 when this photo was taken by Ann Clifford for Life magazine.

To increase the number of news sources in a community one needs to do two things: (1) grow audience and/or (2) grow revenue.

In a followup to a prompt that ushered in a post last month, Spot.Us founder David Cohn again opens the Carnival of Journalism, in which a handful of media makers and molders opine a subject of his choosing. This session, the question focuses on the role that we all play in increasing the number of news creators.

As organizers put it:

What can you, as an individual or employee, do to increase the number of news sources. Everyone has a different set of circumstances. Some work at universities (which we found out last month) others work for public media, for independent media or for-profit media entities large and small. Take a moment to reflect on your unique skills and circumstances. Then answer: What specific things can you do to increase the number of news sources for a local community.

We can figure that out by doing building audiences and revenue.

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Number of Views:7743

How do I reach out to bloggers and reporters for coverage?: advice from experience

I received an email a couple weeks ago from an entrepreneur who formerly worked for a startup in Philly. He’s with a new startup in another region but asked for quick  advice on reaching out to bloggers and other journalists for coverage.

I shot back three quick thoughts:

  1. First, prove you’re a human being and not a robot. Anyone who receives press interest will at first assume any email is a mass email. Prove it’s not. Say, ‘yo, I saw you wrote about this, so I thought you might be interested in this thing I do.’ And say ‘I think it’s relevant because you seem to write a lot about this.’ Basically, the five minutes of scanning a site will bring you much stronger results, and so the success is worth the extra effort.
  2. Secondly, just make it really freakin’ easy. (a) Don’t get caught up in every nuance of what you think your business is about, give the name and the 5-10 word summation and share a few links. Then, maybe include a bit deeper graf, but not much more. (b) Offer to talk on the phone — they probably won’t want to but it again shows you’re a real person — or answer any questions via email. (c) If there is interest, provide compelling images or photos or video to make publishing online more compelling without any extra effort from the writer. (d) Help promote the thing. If you want it, push the coverage for your own benefit and for the goodwill from the publication you’re pushing.
  3. Thirdly, do do a second follow up about a week later. If no response from there, forget about it.

A small item on a niche blog or an industry site can have great power and be a start, so, in general, do not underestimate the important and influence of smaller, more focused publications online or otherwise.

Number of Views:8498

Tokyo: Archived Podcasting and Blogging from Junior Year Abroad with NBC

Four years later, I’m finishing this piece of archiving business.

A couple months ago, I announced I had moved my honors thesis to a subdomain of this site for the sake of organization and archiving. Following up on that resolution to make more tidy a rambling online portfolio, I have brought another dated, collection of work of which I am proud under this house.

I spent the better chunk of 2006 in Tokyo video podcasting, writing, traveling and learning on behalf of NBC Universal Digital Studios. Now all of that work can be found at

See all the Episodes here and all the Archives here. Go and explore.

A few things interested me from my work in 2006:

  • Short, bad titles — The post headlines were all short and sometimes not even descriptive. I didn’t recognize then the importance.
  • I wrote a lot — I far outpaced all of my fellow castmembers in output, which is great, but I could have made much of the content terser and more straightforward.
  • I actually had comments — On many posts, I had a handful of comments. I haven’t transferred them… yet.
  • I never linked – I didn’t have a single link to a past post.
  • Photo albums, not in posts – Photos and the video episodes were never embedded. This is the one major change I’ve made, by incorporating them.
  • Yes, I called posts ‘blogs’ — But that was 2006. What’s the excuse today?
  • I learned and experienced so damn much — I interacted with an audience and explored and created multimedia, but ultimately, I was just a young kid learning. ..And what a clear stepping stone toward the WDSTL podcast I did while in Western Europe.
Number of Views:3448

Cancel your meetings: TEDx Midwest talk on on workplace management from Jason Fried

I’m always interested in workflow management. How can I, and the people around me, become more efficient, to get more and better work done in more condensed periods of time.

Real work flow is developed over time and with people whose work ethic you respect. But there are concepts to be had about getting that to work from the start. After moving into office space with Technically Media and working alongside my two colleagues so closely more often than ever before, I have been hunting for new ideas to bring to the process.

I came across a great TED talk from Jason Fried, one of the founders of web development firm 37signals, who was responsible for a great book with simple take aways on best business practices.

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Number of Views:8320