Monkey mind and the zen web editor

I’m not a Buddhist, but I try to engage Buddhist principles in my life for the same reason a lot of diets work: It shakes up my viewpoint enough that I have to work hard to decide which choices to make. Then I can see which junk is taking up shelf space.

This post over at the source of all wisdom, The Huffington Post, defines monkey mind for us:

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.

The Internet, and particular social media, is basically built on monkey mind. Yes, there are luminous pieces and epic moments to be found out here on the web, but if you are in the business of regular, daily content, I would argue that part of your success is almost bound to be wrapped up in how well you appeal to monkey mind.

If your readers were having a calm, centred moment, they probably would not be hovering their finger or cursor over your link.

Every brand, site and web editor has to come to terms with this contradiction. How to deliver quality that also appeals to the monkey mind. Sometimes it’s about an “engaging” (read: distracting) headline. Sometimes it’s a graphic. Sometimes it’s timing. Usually it’s all three and then some.


Byte sized #5: The Traffic Factories and more

If you’re fascinated by how journalists/sites/brands get content online and measure its success, Caitlin Petre’s report The Traffic Factories: Metrics at Chartbeat, Gawker Media, and The New York Times at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism is totally worth a read. A tip of the hat to Jim Romenesko’s blog for that one, lo these months ago.

Navel-gazing but still fun: J. Freedom du Lac reports on ‘LOVE SUPREME’: How newspapers played the landmark gay-marriage decision at The Washington Post. It’s a lovely roundup but I found the Facebook rainbow tool and even the WordPress Pride header I’m looking at equally fascinating. It was definitely time.

We have a coyote in our neighbourhood; do you? Drew Nelles looks at the issue over at The Walrus. Also spotted at the Walrus: A username “TooManyCrayons.” Love the name but spent way too many seconds figuring out whether you really can have too many.

I saw Inside Out and it was really great. After Up I guess we all know Pixar can tell a life story in a short montage. Here’s the little memories clip.

Moby Dick in Manhattan

Back just before my husband and I bought our first house, I was ramping up for a career writing fiction. But then I read a story in the New Yorker about this really talented writer who was living in poverty despite critical praise for his books, because they weren’t really selling. In my mid-20s, the whole thing read like a fate worse than a full-time job, so I got one, and became fascinated by the web, and ended up throwing a lot of my energy into building sites. No regrets really, except that there was one famous Canadian writer who offered to blurb my book if I ever finished and sold it, and he died. Sigh.

Weirdly, though, this weekend I was on one of my favourite question-and-answer sites and someone else remembered that article and asked about it. I remembered enough detail to plug a bit more into Google and so I found “Moby Dick in Manhattan” online. Reading it now, although it still isn’t exactly a tale of glory, it really doesn’t sound so bad after all. It does sound quaint, though, a world without blogs, Twitter, or Kindle self-publishing.

Byte sized #4: The golden oldies edition (Friday fun)

Faux dek for this piece: As fresh as a Far Side cartoon.

Lots of running around today. There’s a long post brewing but meantime, a few old favourites. I will actually use this batch to highlight that on the web, content can live forever…which is awesome for finding old links. Sometimes it makes it hard to compete with every article/web comic/video out there ever.

It’s also Friday, so hey, let’s start with the very funny way to learn customer reviews can far surpass the product: Bic Cristal For Her Pen reviews at Amazon. Don’t miss the customer questions either.

The Five Geek Social Fallacies at Plausibly Deniable, circa 2003. Post with legs…it keeps getting quoted and quoted until it becomes as well known a principle as a quote-unquote real self-help system…at least within certain pockets of the Internet.

The rise and decline of mommy blogging is a thing, but the classic And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles is always worth a re-read.

Total Eclipse of the Heart Literal Video

Byte sized #3: Adventurous women

A theme developed for this post, so let’s have at it: stories about adventurous women.

The Toughest Woman on Two Wheels by Grayson Schaffer for Outside answers a question I’m sure we’ve all had, which is, once you’ve survived growing up in a cult and written a bestseller about it, what next? Ride around the world, apparently, if you’re Juliana Buhring. If you fall in love with this woman, there’s also the Telegraph‘s profile of her. But the real add-on is to follow the links to the piece Schaffer wrote about Buhring’s boyfrield for Outside in 2011, Consumed, which wins for a fantastic one-word title (that is completely un-web-friendly). The piece follows the career and last days of whitewater kayaker & boyfriend Hendrik Coetzee, who, in the style of The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Hankered To Retire But Was Eaten By A Crocodile.

(Boy that doesn’t scan.)

Next up is Blair Braverman (name love!)’s Welcome to Dog World! at Atavist Magazine. (There is a paywall but you get three free articles.) Beautifully produced, I keep thinking this piece’s elevator pitch is Clerks meets Never Cry Wolf.

And finally, Eva Holland’s Unclimbable at SBNation (oh Vox Media, we love you, with your crazy mix of content) stands out as an adventure story which tackles failure in just about the best possible way. The pictures are stunning.  Now Cirque of the Unclimbables is on my bucket list.

To stay on theme, here’s a pretty adventurous girl.

Featured picture: Cirque of the Unclimbables, Nahanni National Park. Photo: Alison and Fil via Flickr.

Byte sized #2: Reply All and the Girl Guides, plus bonus Alanis

This week’s Reply All, episode #28, Shipped To Timbuktu, made me cry. Find out how adults running Girl Guides, to loosely quote one of the interviewees, “saved the childhoods” of children living in a concentration camp. Not even kidding.

#ICYMI: It’s Gen X theme week, probably because everything is suddenly turning 20. Soraya Roberts over at Hazlitt looks at the making of Alanis Morissette.

Even though Father’s Day is over, Lindsay Popper’s How to Love Your Father When He’s in Prison for Child Porn on Narratively has stayed with me. (Trigger warning)

Fav Tweet today

Featured picture: Girl Guides: Eating Watermelon, circa 1924-1934. Photographer: Unknown. Archives: Girl Guides of Canada -Guides du Canada via Flickr.