Fun Friday Links: The Web We Lost, How to Avoid Work and Storytelling Tips from Ira Glass

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Happy Link Time Festive

December 14, 2012

Welcome to Super Happy Fun Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to for consideration.

The Web We Lost

While most of us busy ourselves with predicting the future, Anil Dash turns around and looks back. In this post he explores the elements of the web that have seemingly been forgotten, and why this disservice hurts us in the long run.

“When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.”

How to Avoid Work

In this post, Maria Popova does an excellent job of outlining something we all struggle with at some point in our lives: finding a sense of purpose. Getting paid to do something that doesn’t speak to who you are your very core will never be fulfilling, and yet so many of us are guilty of it.

The post is largely inspired by How To Avoid Work, a guide written by career counselor William J. Reilly back in 1949. Designed to help readers commit to doing what they love, it offers a ton of feel-good pleasantries, including: “Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”

Tips for Storytellers from Ira Glass

I think Ira Glass is my favorite story finder in the history of story finders (if you don’t listen to This American Life, you’re seriously missing out). The tips he gives in the commencement speech below are specifically for aspiring journalists, but I think any type of content creator would do well to keep them in mind — especially as the lines between professions continue to blur.

A few of my favorites:

Amuse yourself. It’s easy to lose site.. of how important it is to amuse ourselves. In addition to all the idealistic things you might want to as a reporter or editor or whatever, it is essential to be in it for yourself. To do the things that interest you. Before anything is going to get inside a reader or a viewer or a listener and just stick in their gut, it’s got to stick in your gut first. […] The more you amuse yourself, the better your stories are, the more you serve your audience, the more your work pops, the better your career goes.

When you follow your own curiosity, when you follow your own interests and [understand] where your curiosity is leading you, it will lead you to where you need to go.

Finding a story idea is a job. That is a job in and of itself.