Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Learn to Write Better Titles at Associated Content's Town Hall on Wednesday

(Hint #1: Don't make them as long as that title. I definitely need attend this Town Hall)

The next AC Town Hall: "Title Writing for Associated Content" Register here.

Wednesday October 1 at 6:00 pm EST, join Join AC's Lead Content Manager, Valerie Singleton, as she gives tips and tricks for writing solid, informative titles that will help your content perform on Associated Content. Valerie will teach you to properly use keywords and search terms within your titles to increase exposure of your content.

Attending the Town Hall and following Valerie's wise advice will help draw more readers to your content, thereby upping your page views and making you a happy CP. We like happy CPs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Winners of the Obama-McCain Political Haiku Contest

Thank you to everyone who participated in the political haiku writing contest that AC ran recently. We had a huge number of submissions, and so many were so good that it was tough to settle on the winners.

Should these inspire you, a political limerick contest will be announced in October and we'll be looking for Halloween-related creative writing as well. Please send your congratulations to the Content Producers below!

Lenora Murdock is the creator of the winning Pro-McCain haikus:
Oh say, can you see
Bright futures for you and me?
Truth. Pride. Liberty.

These perilous times:
War, hate, economy, crime,
Young troops on the line.

Victory, valor,
Pride, strength, peace, justice, honor
We need this hour.

Raise star-spangled squall.
McCain and Palin for all!
We, the people, call.

Shawn Struck is the Pro-Obama haiku winner (he wrote about Sarah Palin):
Moose feast happily
On Alaskan tundra moss.
Bang! Goes Palin's gun.

On-the-job training
is best for learning new things.
At least, we hope so.

She compared herself
to dumb dog, takes offense when
compared to bright pig?

Mommy! Hunts a moose!:
When I think of leadership,
those two top my list.

Bridges to nowhere
Ain't really that ambitious:
How 'bout hockey rinks?

Cops over budget?
Just use Palin's solution:
Rape kits now cost you!

Finally, the independent or third party winner is Justice Lives Not with "Obama McCain's Crazy Train":
Obama McCain
Just like Pinky and the Brain
They want to RULE us

Ain't it such a shame?
Are they evil or insane?
Trying to FOOL us

To them it's a game
Both guys claim to feel our pain
Attempt to COOL us

Feel the budget strain
Flush more money down the drain
Fleece and DE-WOOL us

Obama McCain
The destination's the same
Downward they'll PULL us!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday's Featured Content: McCain Has a Goldfish

Looks like the debate is on for tonight! As an appetizer, I thought you might enjoy this funny bit from wbva3fan (aka Gustevson Gornadi), resident of Harrisburg, PA, called "McCain Has a Goldfish."

In a style similar to George Saunders's humor for the New Yorker, wbva3fan writes facts about Senator McCain that you probably already know, like how he is "part of the government" and "wears a suit."But he adds details that you may not be so well acquainted with, such as how McCain has three pet goldfish that he sings to but has not named. Head to wbva3fan's CP page for other articles including "Hillary Clinton is Nice" and "Bush and Cheney are Nice."

It wouldn't be fair to laugh at only one presidential candidate so check out Angela Coleman's roundup of "Best Video Political Parodies of Barack Obama."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Associated Content and Your Office Fitness

Quite a few employees in AC's Denver and NYC offices sit on big exercise balls instead of desk chairs for at least part of their day. Its a small but effective change that makes the ball-sitters less passive as they inhabit their desk and stare at a computer screen for long periods of time. Its also highly entertaining to watch your colleagues bounce up and down slightly as they furiously type away.

Office fitness (or "home office fitness", or simply "desk fitness") is an important issue for Content Producers. Many of you use computers fairly constantly, and as a result are susceptible to all of the afflictions that the lifestyle is accompanied by. I've cribbed a few suggestions from AC articles (with links to the originals) in the hopes of inspiring you (and myself) to be more active in your daily office routine.

The first and easiest is to simply make sure that you get up and move around frequently. A general rule of thumb is to get up at least once every 30 min and move around. Instead of emailing a coworker, go and have a conversation in person. Make a coffee run for your office mates. Simply stand up and stretch--you'll get used to the odd looks from cube mates soon enough.

While you're sitting, clench different muscle groups for 10 seconds at a time. Start with your abs, then move to your glutes and finally your thighs. Repeat 3 times each. This is good for airplanes, too. Sometimes they're called Deskercises, which is just so cute.

Rest your eyes. Your eyes tire out while you stare a computer screen for long periods of time and deserve some attention, too. Close your eyes for 1 minute every half hour and use it as a time to mentally regroup. Or just count that stroll around the office every 30 min as your eye break.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What has Associated Content Led to for You?

Every so often we hear stories from Content Producers who have connected with other opportunities because of their work on AC. Freelance writers find gigs when editors read their articles, news outlets pick up their stories, or, in some exceptional cases, get called to appear on national television.

Kelly Spies asked in a forum thread for stories like these in early August and has gotten some excellent examples of AC success stories in the past weeks. Head over to read inspiring posts about pieces getting picked up by CNN, ESPN, the Washington Post and more.

We know that there are more out there! Come on, reluctant sharers, I can think of many CPs who have gotten hooked up with freelance work or have been highlighted by outside media because of their work that originated on AC.

We're gathering your AC success stories on a single page. I'll link from the blog once it has been assembled.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Write Code Tutorials on Associated Content

Today's guest post is from our Tech team. The plan was to post an abbreviated version of Sr. Software Engineer Mike S's article on "Demonstrating HTML and Other Code Samples on AC and Elsewhere" but, funnily enough, I ran into some HTML issues with Blogger (it wasn't crazy about the HTML examples that were in the article) so I've created a condensed version and encourage you to go to the main article if you're interested in learning more.

Writing coding tutorials on AC is pretty simple, once you understand a of HTML basics such as the "pre"(in this article, " equals < for display purposes) HTML tag and ASCII encoding. These concepts apply to writing code tutorials outside of AC, if you are able to publish bare HTML. You can use this tutorial to publish help tips on any language, from HTML and JavaScript to PHP, Peri or Python.

Mike explains the HTML "pre" tag and its significance and takes a brief look at ASCII Encoding. He wraps up with a few samples of how to write code samples on AC and provides some simple examples to go along with his instruction. It's a useful article for anyone who has run into difficulty while writing code tutorials on Associated Content.

If you'd like to read the full article on Associated Content and get the unadulterated benefit of Mike's coding knowledge, click here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday's Featured Content: Pirate Mania!

It was too hard to resist, what with it being Talk Like A Pirate Day and a beautiful, sunny Friday. Pirates became all the rage a few years ago following Johnny Depp's charismatic turn as Capt. Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and with Halloween approaching the pirate trend is picking up again.

There is a treasure chest full of pirate-related content on Associated Content. Below are a few articles that are noteworthy for their creative takes on the pirate phenomenon:
  • Mary Lewis recently published an article about throwing a pirate-themed party for Seniors in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Her suggestions could easily translate to a party in a school or at home.
  • JA Huber briefs readers on the origins of Talk Like a Pirate Day. We have humorist Dave Barry to thank.
  • Finally, for those who like a little history with their silly holidays, Mike A published a lengthy comparison of Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard that highlights, among other things, religion, seafaring techniques and drinking on the high seas.
I'd like to close out with a joke from piratejokes.net:
What is a pirate's favorite type of music?
Arrr & B

Ease the Pain of the Current Financial Crisis

Things are bad. Probably even worse than I can wrap my head around since nothing but bad news has been coming from Wall Street this week. The economy is in a slump, gas prices are high, the job market is shrinking...the list goes on.

But not everything is terrible! Things are still moving right along at Associated Content. Our CPs are working hard to supplement their incomes on AC. By answering calls for content and frequently submitting new video, text, and audio recordings, our busiest CPs are easing the strain on their bank accounts. If you're looking to up your earning, now is the time to join the ranks of our especially savvy CPs by taking extra steps to ensure that your content is optimized for search (SEO) so that your articles gather a lot of page views. Promote your content! Put links to your AC profile on your Facebook, Squidoo, Myspace, Twitter and other social network sites.

We have lots of lessons on how to optimize your earning potential in the Tutorials section of the Forum. If you have specific questions please post them in there, your fellow CPs are full of great advice and are always happy to help out. Hang tough through the bad news this week and keep working hard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Guest Post: AC's Operations Dept

Occasionally you'll see posts on here from different departments at AC. This one is from Reagan in Associated Content HR:

AC is growing
'08 has brought many more
AC rocks and rolls

Inundated with
Resumes and interviews
Yeah - keep 'em coming

Denver was our start
AC New York leads our growth
Must be the water

Content Producers
Are the reasons we are here
Oh, and Luke Beatty

(How do you like my first shot at writing Haiku? I think I could use some practice. Why don't you try your hand at Political Haiku? The contest runs through 9/19, check your Calls for Content for more details.)

It's an exciting time at Associated Content--the growth of our company, the increasing number of CPs and the amazing content library that we have built up over the years are just a few of the things I'm excited about. Working in HR has opened my eyes to so many different things, and I have learned a ton from articles posted on AC. If you are job-hunting, please read the following articles on resume writing, interviewing skills, cover letters, etc. They're some basic, easy tips but you'd be surprised at how the little things can make a difference.

To see about job opportunities at AC in the Denver and New York City areas, visit our Careers page.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Follow AC on Twitter

Associated Content is Twittering! Tweeting? Anyway, we are on Twitter and you should follow us by adding acnews. Click here for a link.

We're updating daily with fun links and brief AC updates. That character limit on Twitter really does go a long way in teaching us to economize our thoughts. It will force us to be pithy and get straight to the point.

If you don't Twitter yet you should sign up and follow us! If you're already on please add acnews so that we can follow you, too!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Associated Content on the 7th Anniversary of 9/11

Today we remember 9/11/2001, in our New York offices (where a few of us experienced the events downtown) and around the country. It's amazing that it has been 7 years since the attacks, and time has not made the events of that day less shocking or painful.

The Associated Content home page featured several articles from our large collection 9/11-related content. Please take a minute to read the following:
There are so many excellent pieces on AC about 9/11 that it was impossible to find all of them. If I missed something that you particularly like please send me a link in a comment and I'll update the post tomorrow.

Friday's Featured Content: Palin Mania on Associated Content

Last night, ABC broadcast Sarah Palin's first post-VP nomination interview with Charlie Gibson. The Alaska governor has been at the center of a media frenzy since McCain selected her as his running mate and public interest shows no signs of waning.

In the two weeks the national spotlight focused on Palin at the RNC, at least 371 pieces of content have been published about her on Associated Content.

A wide range of topics are addressed: Saul Relative explores the phenomenon of Palintology and his editorial on hypothetical scandalous photos has been racking up page views. Jeffrey Moats discusses her looks; Nancy Tracy rounds up her many nicknames; Steven West penned a satirical poem about her; and Norm Schneider critiques her eyeglasses.

Serious pieces about Palin's candidacy from every side of the political spectrum abound. Check out "How Sarah Palin Saved the Republican Party" by Bruno Somerset, "The Business and Celebrity of American Politics" by Charles Dickey and Jon Hopwood's summary of her background in "What College Did Sarah Palin Graduate From...."

Several CPs with a taste for intrigue have outlined their conspiracy theories for AC readers. AC_Darnell, Shonda Delmage and Timothy Sexton think there's more to Palin's nomination than appears on the surface.

A few especially prescient CPs wrote about Sarah Palin days (or months) before the nomination, when she appeared to be little more than a long shot for VP. Sophia Levis wrote "Sarah Palin and John McCain?" in February. Darvio Morrow recommended her for the spot in May and Mark Whittington echoed those sentiments a mere 10 days before it became official.

Sarah Palin will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic on AC for a while. The only question is whether it'll last for months or years.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Best of AC & Best New CP Awards: August Winners

It's like Christmas in September around here as we continue to reward our CPs for exercising their talents at Associated Content. What can we say? You deserve it!

In August we ran the first-ever Best of AC Awards contest. These are designed to reward CPs who are publishing extraordinary content in a variety of categories across the site.

August's winners were:
Robert Dougherty for Entertainment Reviews
Ryan Christopher DeVault for Summer Olympics Coverage
Kristin Ketteringham for Back to School Guides

We'll be doing this feature every month. The blog entry from August 26 reveals the categories for September's Best of AC Awards. Nominate worthy CPs in the forum here. Winners receive $100, so get cracking!

We also announced the winners for August's Best New CP Award. All three of these talented writers have received high praise from AC staff and their fellow CPs, so be sure to read visit their pages and congratulate them!
Lindsay Woodland
Greg Reese from Cincinnati (you've seen one of his videos here recently as Friday's Featured Content)
Christopher Clark

Please nominate new CPs for September's award here. New CPs, don't hesitate to nominate yourselves (get a friend to do it if you're shy)--we want to know that you're out there working hard.

Six talented people highlighted in a single post, not bad for a rainy Tuesday evening.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday's Featured Content

Happy Fall Friday! School has started, political conferences have ended (though pre-election madness is only heating up), fall television shows have resumed and things here at Associated Content are moving along at a steady clip.

This week's featured content is an interview that CP Dr. Jamie Y Marable recently conducted with CP Valerie Michele Oliver. Click here for the full interview.

This year Valerie Michele Oliver won a "Superior Scribing Silver Medal" in web magazine PopMatters for her January 2007 AC article, "CD Sales Based on Album Artwork, Cover Design." Her article was listed alongside pieces by music legends like David Byrne and Patti Smith and venerable institutions like the LA Times, Wired and the NY Times.

You probably know that Valerie is a talented writer from the interviews, poems and song lyrics she publishes on AC. In Dr. Marable's interview you'll learn that she has also worn the hats of radio producer and host, HIV/AIDS activist, art director and educator. A creative and spiritual woman, Valerie is a to boon the AC community. Dr. Jamie Marable is also a font of productivity. She publishes many interviews with AC Content Producers as well as memoirs, inspirational articles, poems and how-to pieces.

Click here to see Valerie Oliver listed alongside the other recipients of PopMatters Superior Scribing Awards. The article, written by Jason Gross, also contains some interesting commentary on the future of published content on the internet, "With less traditional venues or less writers remaining standing, new publications and blogs will have to pick up the slack, while citizen journalism has potential even though it's in its infancy. As long as readers still care and writers are jazzed enough about their work to say something interesting, there's always hope....That means treating blogs as a boon and not a threat and taking advantage of new innovations in mobile technology and using burgeoning social networks to also spread the word."

Words to live by, CPs--Get excited and get out there to spread the word!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Learn More About Us by Perusing AC's Staff Content Page

Associated Content's staff has been busier than usual lately. Not content to simply focus on operating and improving the site while reading, watching, and listening to everything that our CPs create, we decided to get in on the action. We've been producing content!

A new page called AC Staff Content has just been created--click on the shaded words and bookmark it so that you can check back occasionally to see what is new.

You'll discover so much! What some of us did on our summer vacations, the kinds of movies we like, how to volunteer for Obama, what kind of RSS reader you should have on your iphone, which Philosophy beauty products are superior, who is among us is musically inclined, and basic file manipulation on Linux are just a few examples from the wide array of content on the staff page. In short, you'll see what a talented, diverse, funny, interesting group of people works behind the scenes in Denver and New York City at Associated Content every day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Associated Content Saw at the DNC

This post is courtesy of News Director Tim S. and AC's Content team.

To paraphrase real estate's mantra: citizen journalism is all about local, local, local.

That's what AC saw at the Democratic National Convention last week in Denver - local writers localizing a national event. The DNC included speeches, rallies, protests, caucus meetings, art shows and more. And because many of these events were open to the public (Denver Mint levitation, anyone?) it's a great vehicle to show how CPs can shine.

Take, for example, the video reporting efforts of Dave Maddox, a Denver resident. From protests to outdoor theater, Dave caught firsthand on video what many of us could only see on the evening news.

Then there's Connie Wilson, AC's go-to CP for national politics reporting. Flying in on her own dime from Chicago, Connie covered much of the on-the-floor action at the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field. Connie is aggressive and willing to talk to anyone - and photograph them, too. Just ask the Kennedys.

Those are just a couple of examples. Many CPS, from convention aficonados to political novices, contributed their experiences.

AC's efforts last week also included camping out at Google's Big Tent (in the heart of lower downtown, just a few blocks from the main convention site) to spread the word about AC. In pairs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, AC Content Managers talked to bloggers and other media types about what AC does - we publish what's important to you, get you exposure and pay you along the way.

Here are some numbers from AC's efforts at the DNC:
  • 50 first-person, original reporting stories
  • 6 photography slide shows
  • 7 video stories
But the numbers weren't even half the story. Most importantly, the DNC allowed AC to showcase what it can provide for readers and how it can improve the chops of citizen reporters.

We hope to have similar success this week at the RNC in Minneapolis-St. Paul. If you live in the area or know folks interested in writing about their experiences, check out your Calls for Content assignments or shoot us an email at news@associatedcontent.com.

Updated: New numbers for our DNC coverage just in on 9/4
  • 50 first-person, original reporting stories
  • 9 photography slide shows
  • 10 video stories

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC Coverage on Associated Content

It's a new week with a new political conference and that means more insightful and breaking coverage of the events on Associated Content. Highlights from Denver and the DNC are coming to the blog tomorrow courtesy of our Content team, but I'd like to take tonight to direct your attention to our Republican National Convention-related content.

  • Sarah Palin's VP nomination and the ensuing media frenzy (which seems unlikely to die down anytime soon) has gotten the treatment from our CPs as you can see here.
  • Ron Paul's rally in Minneapolis was covered by two of our intrepid writers, Connie Wilson here and Sylvia Cochran here.
  • Of course, Hurricanes Gustav and Hannah have revived memories of Katrina's tragedies and receive their due treatment from our CPs here.
Keep up the good work!