Writing for the Web

BBC’s Journalism guide for online writing

When writing for the web, tell the story upfront. For it to work across all possible platforms and devices, it needs to be told in essence in the first four paragraphs, around 70 words:

  • Make sure the crux of the story is in the introduction – not in paragraph four

  • Check that paragraphs are clear, balanced, provide context, and are effectively self-standing

  • Double-check that the headline matches the story.


Writing for the Web- NYU Guide

Readability and Tone

  • The content of your site should be easy to read. Write in a conversational style.

  • Search out and destroy jargon, and avoid obscure acronyms. Even when your audience is internal, it’s important to be aware that other audiences, such as prospective students, are often viewing to get a sense of “what it’s really like”.

  • Online readers expect a personal, upbeat tone. They find bureaucratic writing so offensive and out-of-place that they simply ignore the message it’s trying to convey.

  • Write in active voice instead of passive voice (Ex: “Tim taught the class”, instead of “the class was taught by Tim”). Active voice is naturally less bureaucratic.

Writing for the Web- Monash University

One Person’s History of Twitter

Nevertheless, I signed up anyway, tweeted a few times, and was fairly close to deleting it a few times as well. Until one morning, I was in a cab headed to therapy, which meant I was in a mood and I absent-mindedly tweeted out “I’ve been shot!” then turned my phone off and went to talk to my therapist about becoming a well-adjusted human being.

…When I turned my phone back on I had about 20 new messages. Texts, voicemails, and a bunch of tweet replies. Including my now-wife, wondering what hospital I was at. That’s the day I discovered what Twitter was for. It was for having fun. And telling jokes. (BTW, my wife still doesn’t think this was a good joke.) That’s when I was hooked.

Full story here

NYT Articles on Big Tech’s Big Problems

Forget Washington. Facebook’s Problems Abroad Are Far More Disturbing

This past week, my colleagues at The Times reported on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in Myanmar that has been subjected to brutal violence and mass displacement. Violence against the Rohingya has been fueled, in part, by misinformation and anti-Rohingya propaganda spread on Facebook, which is used as a primary news source by many people in the country. Doctored photos and unfounded rumors have gone viral on Facebook, including many shared by official government and military accounts.

Once Saviors, Now Threats

At the start of this decade, the Arab Spring blossomed with the help of social media. That is the sort of story the tech industry loves to tell about itself: It is bringing freedom, enlightenment and a better future for all mankind.

Now there is a new narrative.

Amidst US Social Media troubles, China is feeling smart

In the United States, some of the world’s most powerful technology companies face rising pressure to do more to fight false information and stop foreign infiltration.

China, however, has watchdogs…

Have Facebook and other favorite companies created Frankenstein’s Monster?

…in response to a ProPublica report that Facebook enabled advertisers to target users with offensive terms like “Jew hater,” Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, apologized and vowed that the company would adjust its ad-buying tools to prevent similar problems in the future.

As I read her statement, my eyes lingered over one line in particular:

“We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way — and that is on us,” Ms. Sandberg wrote.

The Big Five Tech Companies want to Rule Entertainment

Now that world is scrambling to figure out what to do about them. And it is discovering that the changes they are unleashing — in the economy, in civic and political life, in arts and entertainment, and in our tech-addled psyches — are not simple to comprehend, let alone to limit.

Mona Lisa’s Smile

Walter Isaason’s beautiful account of how Leonardo’s expertise in human anatomy and art combined to make him the only person who could’ve painted Mona Lisa’s smile.

Stand before the Mona Lisa, and the science and the magic and the art all blur together into an augmented reality. While Leonardo worked on it, for most of the last 16 years of his life, it became more than a portrait of an individual. It became universal, a distillation of Leonardo’s accumulated wisdom about the outward manifestations of our inner lives and about the connections between ourselves and our world. Like Vitruvian Man standing in the square of the Earth and the circle of the heavens, Lisa sitting on her balcony is Leonardo’s profound meditation on what it means to be human.

Tim O’Reilly talks about the future

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media Inc. discusses the present and future: tech, humanity, economy, politics and much more. With Edge.org

Right now, the problem in our politics is it’s so backward-looking. We have a set of people who are telling a story about how the old days were the good old days, and we just need to go back to the old policies of the Great Society, or we have to go back to some conservative ideal.

We have to make it new. That’s a wonderful line from Ezra Pound that’s always stuck in my brain: “Make it new.” It’s not just true in literature and in art, it’s in our social conscience, in our politics.

The Putin Problem

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine exacerbated the situation. In Moscow’s reading, the United States had masterminded the revolution to install a pro-Western figure as president over the candidate endorsed by Putin. Putin soon came to view the revolution in Ukraine as a dress rehearsal for regime change in Russia itself. Putin believed it was part of the United States’ larger effort to construct a unipolar world based on its values and interests, a world that it could dominate with little regard for other major powers. “It is extremely dangerous,” he noted shortly after the Orange Revolution, “to attempt to rebuild modern civilization, which God has created to be diverse and multifaceted, according to the barracks principles of a unipolar world.”

Boston Review