Welcome to the 52nd edition of The Three Things, the weekly update of three links, podcasts, videos, or books you can’t miss from Michael Schechter (A Better Mess),Howie Goldfarb (Blue Star Strategic Marketing), and me.
For those of you new to this series, The Three Things arrives in your inbox on Sunday mornings (unless you don’t subscribe, but that can easily be fixed if you hurry over and enter your email address or add to your RSS feed) so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we’ve curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.
This week we look at writing, water and perspective, and strange wonders.
Michael on Writing. While there are more than a few tools you can use to write, there are few that will make you a better writer. For a long time I’ve been a big fan of Brett Terpstra’s Marked. In the past I’ve always been reticent to suggest it to non-geek friends as you had to learn this basic way of formatting your writing called Markdown. (Without getting too geeky, it’s an amazing tool if you write for the web. If you write for the web and don’t write in Markdown, you should consider it.)
What I love about Marked 2 – the latest update to this amazing little app – is, while maintaining everything a geek like me could love, it has now become a tool that anyone who writes will love. I’m betting a fair amount of the people who read Spin Sucks do a fair amount of writing. I’m also guessing the majority of you who write a fair amount have some bad habits.
With this new release, Marked helps you keep track of words and phrases you tend to overuse so you can eliminate or reduce them from your work. It also, by default, points out the words the Plain English Campaign suggests you avoid. In other words, it helps you be a better writer.
Another feature those who write for clients will love is the on-the-fly keyword highlighting. Working on a project that needs specific keyword density? Have keywords you need to avoid in a specific piece? Marked 2 lets you add them to a Keyword Drawer so you can keep on top of their placement and frequency.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be on this beta for more than a year now and I’m psyched it is now out and available to all.
It’s a great tool I use every day to make myself a better writer and to make it easier than ever to make what I write look great on or off the web.
***Unrelated side note:** This is my last “Thing.” I’ve had a blast doing this for the last year and cannot wait to see what smarter and better looking person Gini gets to replace me. Thanks for following along and I hope you’ve enjoyed what I had to share.*
Howie on Water and Perspective. I know much of my content often has a bigger meaning. I read this knowing in LA, where I lived 17 years, water is becoming scarce. I have seen smog. GE is still dredging the Hudson River in upstate NY where my parents live and it is not safe to drink the water or eat fish from it. And I think to everyone who wants to remove environmental regulations or sack the EPA….. China? You want this country to be polluted like China? Like how we used to be polluted in the 50s? No, thank you. I am so glad to live in the U.S. where we worked really hard not to become what China’s air, land, and water is like.
Gini on Strange Wonders. This is way out of my normal realm of reading, but the title caught my eye. And here’s the deal: McDonald’s invited renowned chefs to cook 1oo people using only the ingredients found in the restaurant kitchen. The goal was to create gourmet dishes from things such as chicken mcnuggets, fries, and hamburger.
The article details every course the guests were served, from a bacon old fashioned to slow-cooked beef with blueberry pomegranate sauce and Mac Fry gnocchi. The photos are gorgeous, which make the food look appetizing.
I don’t know. You be the judge. It’s both fascinating and totally weird.
Now it’s your turn. Is there a book, podcast, article, TV show, blog post, or story we should read?