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Five lessons from Hardcopy AUS

Over the last couple of months I've been part of the Hardcopy Professional Development program for writers offered by the ACT Writers Centre. The format broke into two long weekends - editorial and Intro2Industry. The latter wrapped up on Sunday after three intense and well-programmed days that brought agents, experts and literary shaman to the ACT.

Okay so there were no actual shaman but the list of svengalis was impressive. Probably the best part was the range: from traditional dead tree publishers to the digital experimentation of IF: Book Australia. Over the entire program opinions varied (fiction books, apparently, must be at least 70,000 words, 60,000 words, okay 50k but that's really as low as publishers will go - unless it's a digital book) but there were a lot of great insights.

So the only way to summarise a busy program is with a listicle right? Here's the top five things I got out of the program:
1) The Book is a zombie that refuses to die So the book has …

In Other Words: Blokesploitation

It began with retrosexuals – the flipside of the latte-sipping meterosexual dandy, who’d rather a Big M and could tell people exactly where they could stuff their zucchini flowers. They were rough diamonds from a time before gourmet grub and when manscaping meant burying a bloke in your backyard.
Back in 2007 popular culture cottoned on to the Aussie man exemplified by Kenny, the waste management bloke with a heart of gold. The return of the flannie and competitions for hot tradies all made the yob on-trend again. But mostly blokesploitation appeared on lifestyle shows so no episode of Better Homes & Gardens was complete without a loveable chippy showing the requisite builder’s crack. 
In Other Words is a regular on the Big Issue's Ointment page.  

Buy your content a future

One of the best justifications for using metadata is that it is “a love letter to the future”. It means planning for metadata will give your content a chance to be found.* But I can't find who coined this phrase by Googling it or hours of browsing. It should show up under keyword searches like "metadata" or "love letters", but because a friend told me it's hard to track down the origin. If only conversations were tagged.

In the blur of the web, losing information is becoming more common. If you want your content to be found, tag it. As the web gets busier all those keywords, topics or subjects just get more important. Apps like Zite or services like create newspapers for users just by pulling this descriptive metadata. On a bigger web presence, metadata creates dynamic feeds that allow the robots to do the curating. While it's fallen out of favour with search engines because it was easily rorted, metadata-driven RSS feeds to other sites and soci…

In Other Words: Dadvocate

It’s not enough to just raise your kids to not eat their own snot – today the parent is the political as dadvocates push forward the case for active fathering. Author Jeff Sass reckons iPads are bested by iDads as the latter has better battery life though memory decreases in older units. Not to mention the danger of their dad jokes going viral.
But you don’t have to be male to wear the mantel. Author of parenting bible What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff calls herself a dadvocate and included a whole chapter in the latest edition dedicated to proactive papas. One day dadvocates may even dream of having a book of their own.
In Other Words is a regular on the Big Issue's Ointment page. 

Content Curation is king

When asked about the worst words of 2013, The Atlantic’s Richard Lawson responded that he hated the usage of curation. His objection to the word was that it has shifted far from its original high-art meaning:
"It's a reappropriated term that used to mean something good - putting lovely and interesting things in a museum! - but now denotes a technique of cobbling together preexisting web content and sharing it with readers/followers/whomever. In other words, linking to things.”
And he’s got a point. Social media means we’re all curators now. Anyone who signs up for a Twitter account is curating a stream of links and cat videos for their followers and friends. 
But personalised curation is a response to the information overblown that the web has created. Social media has given many users a way to make sense of this by looking to trusted curators: their friends. Learnist is a good example of social media curating lessons as users learn from their friends about topics that interest …