Tag Archives: biography

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian compatriots.  For those of you who have the day off, what better way to idle a few hours away than immerse yourself in my Monday’s Link Roundup. ;-)

  • Oral history and hearing loss. “I rarely consider the basics of oral history collection and production, the act of sharing someone’s story with a wider audience. That is one of several reasons I so enjoyed Brad Rakerd’s contribution to Oral History Review issue on Oral History in the Digital Age, “On Making Oral Histories More Accessible to Persons with Hearing Loss.” In his piece, Rakerd discusses the obstacles people with hearing loss or other limitations on speech understanding face when engaging with oral history, and offers several recommendations to allow scholars to make their material more accessible. Mad with the power of the OUPblog post, I contacted Rakerd to prod him for more information.”
  • How to Write a Simple Business Plan. “Simple is always best. So with this in mind, here’s our guide to writing a business plan that won’t make potential investors want to tear their hair out in confusion.”
  • The Stories That Only Artists Can Tell. “…it seems to me that artists talk about different things when describing themselves than do their biographers and commentators. Biographers focus almost exclusively on the artwork, who taught and influenced the artist, changes in the artist’s work, an estimation of the artist’s work. Who the artist knew and spent time with, as well as notable events in the artist’s life, are detailed to the degree that they explain the evolution of the artwork.”
  • Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man. “It’s rare we take the time to listen to hour-long radio stories anymore, but I hope you’ll listen to this one, maybe twice. It’s an epic journey, a coming of age story, and a portrait of this country–big-hearted, wild, innocent, and wise…Andrew Forsthoefel, a first-time radio producer, who set out at age 23 to walk across America, East to West, 4000 miles, with a sign on him that said, “Walking to Listen.” Eventually, he showed up here in Woods Hole.Andrew didn’t intend to make a radio story–he just wanted to listen to people. You’ll hear in Andrew’s interviews his quality of attention. He is a magnet for stories and for the desire to connect.”
  • The Einstein Principle: Accomplish More By Doing Less. “Einstein’s push for general relativity highlights an important reality about accomplishment. We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention.”
  • Why You Should Give A $*%! About Words That Offend. [NPR Interview] “If you said the “s” word in the ninth century, you probably wouldn’t have shocked or offended anyone. Back then, the “s” word was just the everyday word that was used to refer to excrement. That’s one of many surprising, foul-mouthed facts Melissa Mohr reveals in her new book, Holy S- – -: A Brief History of Swearing. Though the curse words themselves change over time, the category remains constant — we always have a set of words that are off-limits. “We need some category of swear words,” Mohr says. “[These] words really fulfill a function that people have found necessary for thousands of years.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In today’s Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss Why obituaries seduce us. It examines why the best obituaries are mini biographies. And whether your interviewing, writing, or promoting you’ll definitely want to read The psychology of language: Which words matter the most when we talk.

  • Bookstore Of The Year 2013. “Every year, industry bible Publishers Weekly names a Bookstore of the Year, and it announced yesterday that the 2013 award would be given to to Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, “the center of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County in William Faulkner’s novels.”
  • StoryPress for the iPad. “StoryPress is an iPad app (with an Android version promised “real soon now”) that helps you preserve your memories in your own voice by recording spoken history…Subscribers to StoryPress are greeted with a sequence of questions to help them create a story. The app uses a book metaphor for each story, allowing the user to enter the author’s name, date of birth, and story title. Users also can use a photo from their iPad photo libraries for cover art on their story.”
  • Why obituaries seduce us: They’re a door on a world that’s vanishing. “Properly done, obituaries are “biographical essays that set a life in context, pay tribute to achievements, and account for failures and faults,” as Sandra Martin, who has produced many great ones for this paper, wrote in her recent collection, Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada.”
  • Free “Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving” Publication. “We [Library of Congress] are very excited to unveil our new e-publication, Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving! This is something new for us: a published compilation of selected blog posts published in The Signal. All of these posts are written by NDIIPP staff as well as guest bloggers from inside and outside the Library of Congress. This resource can serve as a primer for the digital archive novice, as well as a refresher for those with more experience.”
  • The psychology of language: Which words matter the most when we talk. “Recently, a lot of the long standing paradigms in how our brain processes language were overthrown. New and cutting edge studies that produced quite startling and different results. The one study I found most interesting is UCL’s findings on how we can separate words from intonation. Whenever we listen to words, this is what happens:”
  • Too busy? Maybe you’re procrastinating. “Here’s the thing: when we’re busy we can easily trick ourselves into thinking that all of that activity means that we’re not procrastinating.  We’re busy, sure, but we’re not focused on the things that should really have our attention. If someone were to tap us on the shoulder and say, “that thing you’re doing, is that the best use of your attention right now?” we would hesitate to agree. We’re busy procrastinating.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss Should you work for free? It looks at what it means to do the work of a professional and the difference between that and the work that goes into a hobby.  If you’re concerned about the proliferation of digital gadgets in our lives, then you’ll want to read Cyborg dreams. It examines the dangers inherent in the magic of new technologies.

  • Getting Over Your Self-Promotion Phobia. “…here are a few tips to help you nip your fear of self-promotion in the bud. When you overcome the perceived horrors of doing so, you will likely find that your business grows–and that self-promotion isn’t so bad after all. You may even grow to love it!”
  • 10½ Favorite Reads from TED Bookstore 2013. “I had the honor of curating a selection of books for the TED Bookstore at TED 2013, themed The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered. Below are this year’s picks, along with the original text that appears on the bookstore cards and the introductory blurb about the selection:”
  • Should you work for free? “Work is what you do as a professional, when you make a promise that involves rigor and labor (physical and emotional) and risk. Work is showing up at the appointed time, whether or not you feel like it. Work is creating value on demand, and work (for the artist) means putting all of it (or most of it) on the line. So it’s not work when you indulge your hobby and paint an oil landscape, but it’s work when you agree to paint someone’s house by next week. And it’s not work when you cook dinner for friends, but it’s work when you’re a sous chef on the line on Saturday night.”
  • The Ghost in the Gulfstream. “Tapped by the late billionaire entrepreneur Theodore Forstmann to ghostwrite his autobiography, in 2010, the author found himself jetting off to Paris and London on Forstmann’s Gulfstream while the then chairman of IMG told tales of his legendary career as private-equity pioneer, philanthropist, and playboy. It was only when Rich Cohen sat down to actually write the book that the trouble began: an emotional tug-of-war that mirrored a central conflict in Forstmann’s life.”
  • Cyborg dreams. “Digital gadgets are the first thing we touch in the morning, and the last thing we stroke at night. Are we slaves to their magic?”
  • ‘Licking the Spoon’ by Candace Walsh. “…is a gastro-journey to self-discovery. It begins with a short family history, because Walsh’s family is instrumental in her life and cooking. Then it moves from her birth through her growing up on Long Island, her college years in Buffalo, her early twenties in New York City, her first marriage, divorce, and more. Through it all, Walsh narrates her life alongside the food that inspired and sustained her—from cookies baked at her mother’s side to thrifty split pea soup to “dinners of the defeated” to bacon-wrapped eggs with polenta. It’s a clever concept, and there is much to savor within these pages.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

If you’re new to Monday’s Link Roundup, welcome! My collection of links is very idiosyncratic.  I find articles that “tickle my fancy” and that I hope will interest others with a passion for personal and family histories, life stories, memoirs, writing, or genealogy. Enjoy your visit!

  • The Art of Obituaries.[KQED radio interview]“Some people think of obituaries as sad. Not obit writers, though. It’s been said that the best obits are actually about life and that death is just the footnote. We discuss the craft of obituary writing, what kind of life warrants an obit and the effect of the Internet and social media on how we remember the dead.” [Thanks to Wendy Ledger VoType Transcription Services for alerting me to this item.]
  • The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing About Their Kids. “The ubiquity of confessional writing has spilled over into confessions that implicate not so much the author as the author’s still-underage offspring. Readers are meant to celebrate confessional parenting-writing for its courage, perhaps also because it is a rare creative (sometimes lucrative) outlet for women who identify primarily as mothers. Yet these parents’ “courage” involves telling stories not theirs to tell. Confessional writing is about risk. An author telling of her own troubles risks her own reputation and relationships. But an author doing the same about her kid risks primarily his, not hers.”
  • America’s First Man in Orbit Recording. “From a mail-order placed in September 1962 the original recording of ‘America’s First Man in Orbit’ was sold on 33 1/3 vinyl to relive the exciting new territory from the comfort of your living room. Listen to the full recording digitized here:”
  • What is a biography of a poet for? ” Whom is it for? In the time it takes to read John Keats: A New Life, you could read all of Keats’s poems. If you stick to the major poems, you could read them several times. But unlike a biography, great poems can be hard to read; they demand that you read very slowly, not dispensing with the language in favor of its extractible information, as one might when reading a biography, but rather lingering over the language in spite of a dearth of information…Even the most seasoned reader has more experience with the intricacies of people than the intricacies of poems, so a good book about a poet can focus our experience of reading, returning us to the language of the poems with a renewed vigor, with an appetite for varieties of difficulty that may have eluded or even repulsed us in the past.”
  • How to Format the Interior of Your Book. “If you’re interested in putting together a print version of your book, then it’s especially important to make sure your book’s interior looks as professional as possible. You might have written the next Moby-Dick, but if customers are so used to the way that big publishing houses format their books that they might be put off by yours if it’s not similar! First, here are some things you need to think about:”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

On the eve of a new year, my wish is that 2013 brings you much happiness and peace.

This is the last of Monday’s Link Roundup for 2012. Don’t miss A vested interest in palimpsest. I must confess I didn’t know what palimpsest meant. Now I can’t wait to use it. ;-) For another wonderful word to add to your vocabulary, check out 19 Regional Words All Americans Should Adopt Immediately. There you’ll find out  what whoopensocker means.

  • Biographies That Defy Expectations. “This year brought us some brilliant biographies of world-famous leaders .., but this list focuses on books that chronicle the lives of some true originals from many different walks of life…the subjects of these biographies spent most of their lives well off the beaten path and gained fame for their stubborn refusal to conform to other people’s expectations. You could say the same thing about the biographers. These books are written with extraordinary style and originality, by masters of the craft who can spin a tale as adroitly and memorably as any novelist out there.”
  • 12 communication basics everyone should know. “You know that saying about not getting a second chance to make a good first impression when you meet someone? Well, when you’re communicating with someone, especially if it’s electronically or by phone, you get even less slack—particularly when it’s for work. That’s when lost opportunities can have bottom-line consequences. If you want the prospect to open your email, the client to return your call, or the journalist to read your pitch, you’ve got to communicate impeccably. Here are some of my favorite basics:”
  • 19 Regional Words All Americans Should Adopt Immediately. “When traveling across the United States, it sometimes feels like the locals are speaking a whole different language. That’s where the Dictionary of American Regional English comes to the rescue. The last installment of this staggering five-volume tome, edited by Joan Houston Hall, was published last month, and let me tell you, it’s a whoopensocker. In celebration of slang, here’s a list of 19 delightful obscure words from around the U.S. that you’ll want to start working into conversation.”
  • I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why. “If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.”
  • Reading Habits by Place. “The latest survey from The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project focuses on how residents of different communities (ie: urban, suburban, rural) read and use reading-related technology and institutions.”
  • A vested interest in palimpsest. “The English language contains certain meaning-rich words that command attention and stir controversy. “Paradigm,” for instance: When Thomas Kuhn used it in 1966 to describe accepted scientific theories, and gave us the phrase “paradigm shift,” he launched a thousand articles, several hundred books and quite a few careers, some just distantly related to science.That kind of word raises curiosity and pries open the imagination, encouraging us to think about what we might otherwise ignore. My favourite is “palimpsest.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this week’s Monday’s Link Roundup, if you’re an introvert like me, you’ll want to read 5 Ways an Introvert Can Build a Thriving Audience Online.  And for a unique perspective on capturing personal histories, take a look at Photos of Very Old, Very Loved Teddy Bears.

  • The Dual Lives of the Biographer. “The biographer has two lives: The one she leads, and the one she ultimately understands. The first is a muddle of misgivings and misapprehensions, hesitations and half-chances, devoted to the baggage carousel or the Netflix queue or wherever the empty calories of existence are served. The second — the life the biographer pins to the page — has themes. It has chapters, a beginning, middle and end. Intentions align with actions, which bloom into logical consequences.”
  • The Best Design Books of 2012. “From Marshall McLuhan to Frank Lloyd Wright, or what vintage type has to do with the evolution of iconic logos.”
  • Pranks, Ghosts, And Gore: Amazing Photo Manipulations Before Photoshop.”New York’s Metropolitan Museum is the largest (and at 150 years old, almost the oldest) museum of art in America, exhibiting some of the best examples of pre-Modern art this side of Europe. Which makes it a fascinating stage for a current exhibit examining the legacy of Photoshop, a tool that has done much to undermine traditional thinking about photography over the past decade.”
  • 5 Ways an Introvert Can Build a Thriving Audience Online. “Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, clarifies that introversion is different from shyness, which is a fear of social judgment. Introversion simply means you are more energized and at your best in less stimulating and quieter environments. So, how can introversion help you achieve world domination, how can you — the introvert — capture the hearts, minds, and trust of an audience?”
  • Photos of Very Old, Very Loved Teddy Bears. “For his MuchLoved series, photographer Mark Nixon has shot minimalistic portraits of some well-loved stuffed toys and collected their stories. Spotted by Laughing Squid and on view now at the Mark Nixon / STUDIO in Dublin, Ireland, here are some of plush friends loved a little too well. I mean, seriously, some of them are missing limbs and have their woolen little guts spilling out. That’s, uh, some lovin’ right there.”

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Encore! Bringing the Dead to Life: Writing a Biography of an Ancestor.

The other day I was asked if I had any ideas about writing the biography of a dead family member. This struck a responsive chord in me. For some time I’ve wanted to write  about my mother’s father, my grandfather. He was only thirty-two when he died in 1920. A Winnipeg fire fighter, he succumbed to the great flu pandemic that was sweeping the world. My mother was only two when he died and she had few stories about him…Read more.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

For Ken Burns fans,  this Monday’s Link Roundup includes a terrific 5 minute video,  Ken Burns on the Art of Storytelling. In Skepticism About Stories: The “Narrababble” Critique,  you’ll find a challenge to the popular view that people’s lives are a collection of stories.  And find out if you live in one of America’s well- read cities by checking out What Are The Most Well-Read Cities In America?

  • Alzheimer’s Patients Turn To Stories Instead Of Memories.[NPR] “Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of communication — it’s how we learn about the world. It turns out that for people with dementia, storytelling can be therapeutic. It gives people who don’t communicate well a chance to communicate. And you don’t need any training to run a session.”
  • Life Writing. [pdf] “This special virtual edition of Life Writing presents eight articles that have a clear connection with the themes of the upcoming conference of the International Auto/Biography Association, to be held in Canberra, Australia, in July 2012. The conference is called ‘Framing Lives’, and its title signals an emphasis on the visual aspects of life narrative: ‘graphics and animations, photographs and portraits, installations and performances, avatars and characters that come alive on screens, stages, pages, and canvas, through digital and analogue technologies’ (www.iaba2012.com).”
  • The Colossal Camera that will capture Vanishing Cultures. “One photograph, no retakes, no retouching, just a pure honest photograph and a giant camera that will travel 20,000 miles across the US to photograph American Cultures. Vanishing Cultures is an astounding and completely unique concept…This one of a kind monumental camera will be transported by a huge truck trailer, due to it’s extremely large size. His [Dennis Manarchy] aim is to capture cultures that are rapidly fading from society and to feature their portraits on 2-story sized prints displayed in stadium-sized traveling outdoor exhibitions along with the amazing negatives and the stories behind the people and cultures.”
  • Skepticism About Stories: The “Narrababble” Critique. “…it is a very popular idea in psychology, philosophy and various social sciences that people experience their lives as a story or collection of stories. For example, the philosopher Dan Dennett explains the mind as a master novelist: “We try to make all of our material cohere into a single good story. And that story is our autobiography,” he has written. Moreover, says the philosopher Galen Strawson, there’s a parallel claim in the air that this is A Good Thing: that each person should be able to understand his/her life as a meaningful story, with an arc and a recognizable end. Strawson, though, is having none of it. He thinks these ideas, which he’s called “narrababble,” are a fad.”
  • What Are The Most Well-Read Cities In America? “Amazon has released their second annual list of the most well-read cities in the country, based on their book, magazine and newspaper sales data in both print and digital, since June 1, 2011. The statistics are per capita, and only include towns with more than 100,000 residents.”
  • What’s so special about biography? “It is my contention that biography has a unique way of helping us to understand what we are like as people. There have been true Golden Ages and Reigns of Terror in the fabric of human history; but, by examining the lives of real, flesh-and-blood human beings who inhabited those places and times, we can see the similarities and the constancy of human nature throughout that history. So, how does biography accomplish this in ways that other genres cannot?”
  • Ken Burns on the Art of Storytelling.[Video] “In explaining his own view on filmmaking, Burns rolls out that old quote from Jean Luc-Godard, “Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second.” But he has his own response to the famous proclamation: “Maybe. It’s lying twenty-four times a second, too. All the time. All story is manipulation.”

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The Best of Monday’s Link Roundup.

Over the past year Monday’s Link Roundup has brought you 336 links to articles of particular interest to personal historians, genealogists, storytellers, and memoir writers.  In case you missed some of these articles,  here are 7 of the best.

  • The art of bookplates – in pictures. “A bookplate, or ex libris, is a small print for pasting inside the cover of a book, to express ownership. By the late 19th century, bookplates had developed into a highly imaginative form of miniature art. The British Museum’s new book showcases some of the many plates in their extensive collection. Browse through some of the best here.”
  • The power of place: Robert Caro. “Show, don’t tell” is a mantra of narrative writers everywhere, but even the most useful adage can lose meaning with repetition. Before a lunchtime audience of writers at the Second Annual Compleat Biographer Conference on Saturday, legendary biographer Robert Caro reinvigorated the concept.”
  • Belongings. “There are three million immigrants in New York City. When they left home, knowing it could be forever, they packed what they could not bear to leave behind: necessities, luxuries, memories. Here is a look at what some of them brought.” [Thanks to Lettice Stuart of Portrait in Words for alerting me to this item.]
  • Dear Photograph: A website with a window into the past. “In the past month, a summery, slightly sad website has made the trip from non-existence to international exposure. It’s called Dear Photograph, and its premise is simple: Take a picture of an old photo being carefully held up in front of the place it was originally taken, so it appears to be a window into the past.”
  • miniBiography and the 99%. “David Lynch’s Interview Project,[is] an online series of short video documentaries centering on the lives of “normal” people across America. In Interview Project’s 121 mini-biographies, the filmmakers (including Lynch’s son Austin) ask complete strangers piercing, existential questions. It is a source of ever-renewed wonder that each stranger has an answer, and that the answers are so often so rich and brimming with hard-luck stories and lived experience.”
  • Objects and Memory. “The documentary film Objects and Memory depicts experiences in the aftermath of 9/11 and other major historic events to reveal how, in times of stress, we join together in community and see otherwise ordinary things as symbols of identity, memory and aspiration. In its exploration of people preserving the past and speaking to the future, Objects and Memory invites us to think about the fundamental nature of human interaction.”  [Thanks to cj madigan of Shoebox Stories for alerting me to this item.]

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Don’t miss Reflections in today’s Monday’s Link Roundup. It’s a powerful reminder that behind every aged face there was once a younger self with dreams and ambitions. If you’re a serious blogger,  you’ll find some practical wisdom in 10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging.

  • Robert Caro’s Big Dig. “Caro is the last of the 19th-century biographers, the kind who believe that the life of a great or powerful man deserves not just a slim volume, or even a fat one, but a whole shelf full. He dresses every day in a jacket and tie and reports to a 22nd-floor office in a nondescript building near Columbus Circle, where his neighbors are lawyers or investment firms.”
  • Choosing Between Making Money and Doing What You Love. “…when you are facing the unknown, they only way to know anything for sure is to act. When you are dealing with uncertainty — and whether you are going to make any money from your passion at this point is definitely an uncertainty — you act. You don’t think about what might happen, or try to predict the outcome, or plan for every contingency. You take a small step toward making it a reality, and you see what happens.”
  • Why Entrepreneurial Thinking Is For Everyone Now. “We need a new playbook,” says entrepreneur and author Ben Casnocha. “The world has changed. The world of work has changed. Many of the assumptions that have guided how we think about careers in America are no longer true.” The Start-Up of You, written by Casnocha and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, is that playbook. It argues that we can no longer expect to find a job, instead we must make our jobs. As Hoffman says, we have to “find a way to add value in a way no one else can. For entrepreneurs, it’s differentiate or die — that now goes for all of us.”
  • Reflections. A poignant reconstructed portrait series  where  older people gaze into a mirror at a reflection of their  younger selves . Created  by photographer Tom Husey.
  • Social media self-promotion scheme draws authors including Margaret Atwood. “As bookshops teeter and publishers sway in the shifting landscape of the digital age, authors are being urged to go out and find their own readers by a new $20m (£12.5m) fund that will pay them a dollar for every book sold. With early adopters including Margaret Atwood and FlashForward author Robert Sawyer – who claimed the scheme would have added $20,000 to his income from audio over the past two years – the fund is being launched by digital audiobook site Audible at the London Book Fair this weekend.”
  • Book Design: Choosing Your Paragraphing Style. “Anyone who wants to do their own book design can spend some very worthwhile time studying books that are old. I mean really old, like going all the way back to the beginning of printed books. Early on, I found these books and the book typography that’s used in them very stimulating when thinking about how I wanted the books I was working on to look.”
  • 10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging. “Ever since I started in business, I’ve always loved Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer and a great writer. In fact, he runs one of the most popular blogs…And while many people view him as “America’s greatest marketer,” there is a lot to learn from him about blogging.”

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