Tag Archives: Arts

Last Book Read: Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead

The last book I read is Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead by Neil Strauss. It’s a collection of interviews that Strauss feels are particularly revealing about some high-profile personalities. Strauss is a well-known author and longtime interviewer for magazines such as Rolling Stone, and was formerly on staff at The New York Times.

What I like about this book, besides the content, design, and the insight into the mental workings of some charismatic and sometimes famously reclusive celebrities, is the fact that it is a collection of powerful yet digestible works. I have never had the patience for the long-form novel, especially nonfiction.

Not Into Books? This book is for you.

This may sound odd, coming from someone writes professionally and also has a degree in English. But maybe it’s because I had so many dull reading assignments foisted onto me through my academic career that my favorite form of literature is a well-crafted article, interview or story. Flannery O’Connor is, by far, my favorite short story author of all time.

I can count on two hands the number of long-form books to truly engage me, ever. You may think this is a sad confession, but I can in no way count the number of interesting articles, magazines or other short-form compositions I consume continuously every day, every night, on the weekends, and probably in between.

I’ve always been a news junkie, and my work in PR is fueled by that fire. Many other PR professionals are also avid newshounds. So it isn’t that I’m  uninformed or ill-cultured (but that’s debatable), rather it’s just that I enjoy reading especially good writing in concentrated bursts. If you also fall into this category of reader, definitely check out Strauss’ engaging collection of interviews. Here’s a review I wrote about the book on Amazon.com:

Compelling Sketches, Interview Style

I’d love to see this book’s unedited manuscript, or especially Strauss’s notes, because that would mean being a modicum closer to the personalities in these pages — something you’ll want to do with at least several since the interviews are like rhythmic character sketches, with journalistic precision. Definitely my favorite of 2011.

rsmithing at Amazon.com

What do you think? What’s the last book you read and really enjoyed? Are you familiar with Neil Strauss? Are you more of a magazine person than a book person? Or is the opposite true for you – why do you think that is? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Foursquare: Do or Die Time?

Here’s something interesting: I often look to the media for blog post ideas, but this time it seems to have happened in reverse. Case in point: a few weeks back I heard a broadcast from Marketplace Radio speaking to Foursquare’s CEO. Amazingly, just a few weeks prior I asked this very question on LinkedIn: “Has Foursquare’s time passed?” There were several good answers and a general consensus that it’s too early to tell.

Not long after I posted my question, Foursquare released a major update to its mobile app and got its PR machine cranking. What’s interesting here is that both Marketplace and I shared the same thought: Foursquare was introduced in 2009, gained massive popularity, and has been gradually cooling off ever since. Is that a sign of its having peaked already or just the fleeting attention span of the digerati?

Life After Death of the Check-In

“Life After Death of the Check In” -Jon Mitchell via ReadWriteWeb

Earlier this year, months before any of this, Jon Mitchell of ReadWriteWeb did this excellent and provocative article on the death of the check in. He rightly notes that it can be overkill:

…it’s a mundane performance of “I’m at the grocery store!” which is annoying noise to one’s friends and followers.

I started using it in early 2011, out of curiosity and to have something to do – like taking photos – while waiting in line at places or making art out of routine trips to places like, well… the grocery store. Hey, at least I try to make my activity interesting – but I sure as heck do NOT post every single update to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Businesses Could be Using Foursquare Better

Here’s the secret ingredient: Photos. Include fun photos of your storefront, employees (smiling, preferably), specials, or a behind-the-scenes view of what’s going on. These kind of unique details draw people in, and it can certainly be endearing to customers. I’d love to see an “ask us about this photo” post at some place I check in, then feel like an insider when I take them up on the offer. I’d be getting to know the business better, and maybe even getting a special deal.

I’m glad to see Foursquare innovating and I look forward to what’s next. The real test will be adoption. It won’t be genuinely interesting  until more businesses and users get in on it and get creative. I just hope the next major developments don’t take as long – and with any luck they won’t. I’m sure Foursquare itself has also surely noticed its buzz decline, like Marketplace and your humble author.

What do you think? Are you on Foursquare? Have you been on it and lost interest? Have you ever gotten a deal somewhere because through the app? Let us hear from you in the comments!