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The Way They Were

Screen shot 2014-01-05 at 9.45.14 PMWhen the Mars Rover was in production in the ’90s, NASA senior computer scientist Rich Levinson noticed a limitation in its ability to make reactive decisions. The Rover could avoid falling off a cliff, but it didn’t have the capability to backtrack or plan other routes of navigation. That’s when he learned about a little-known term and much-needed brain process called “executive function” which would become the inspiration behind a set of sensors for those suffering from cognitive impairment.

Read more about my first story for Fast Company‘s Co.Labs here!

The Art of The Blade

After dedicating his life’s work toward supporting his special needs son, Slice founder and serial entrepreneur TJ Scimone turned his day job into a channel of innovating basic household items. (Content Magazine)

SVTweetup Takeaways

 

Content consistency was the key theme (and sweet music to my ears) at last night’s Silicon Valley Tweetup at the Women’s Club of Palo Alto. 

Hosted by One Medical Group, the panel discussion included Jennifer Leggio (Sourcefire, Forbes), Lasandra Brill (Cisco Systems), Ted Sapountzis (SAP) and Michael Brito (Edelman). Ideals were discussed, arguments were made, but one theme remained the same: relevant, non-gimmick content is key in social (business).

1. Consistency and Repetition. Jennifer Leggio consistently repeated in our minds throughout the night. The Sourcefire firecracker said she doesn’t have marketing people write on the blog, supporting her ideals that content should not be a direct promotional tool and blogging just for SEO’s sake is stupid.

2. Behavioral Change. Edelman Digital’s Michael Brito (my former social media professor, holla!) said he thinks the biggest push must be made internally with behavioral change being the priority when it comes to a consistent voice in content. It’s something Cisco’s Lasandra Brill knows a thing or two about managing several hundred channels and departments in a robust corporate business. Brito added an example of Barack Obama’s “Change” message from the last election and how this year’s election lacks a clear message for either party.

3. Quality, not quantity. Commenting on the current state of social in business, SAP’s Ted Sapountzis said that businesses are understanding this content concept more today but that we still have a ways to go. “People are asking better questions and not just paying attention to vanity metrics.” Sapountzis concluded the panel saying “Good content is the only good way to grow a community.”

Formula: content – marketing + consistent voice = quality community growth.

Props to this panel for preaching valuable points on this concept, now let’s go make some good content.

Sincerely,

The Choir

 

8 Intriguing Facts About Dwight Bentel

Photo Courtesy of San Jose Mercury News

 

Exactly a week before graduation, nostalgic feelings became even more surreal after learning of the death of the man who I owe my invaluable storytelling education and experience. As a writer and editor of several SJSU publications including The Spartan Daily, Dwight Bentel’s namesake became virtually (and sometimes literally) my home for the past five years.

At the center of SJSU’s campus the beautifully-aged, ivy-covered building still holds Bentel’s legacy of young, passionate journalists whose blood spikes at breaking news and eyes settle on every imperfection.

Known as “The Father of Journalism,” Dwight Bentel was a Bay Area legend and nationally known for pioneering an ethically informative journalism and fighting for a free society. These are just a few of many intriguing facts about the late Dwight Bentel:

1. Wrote two books

2. Lived through 11 U.S. wars dating back to World War I.

3. Oldest living former member of the San Jose Mercury News staff.

4. Wore white gloves because he was ironically allergic to newsprint.

5. Spent 40 years as an SJSU professor, including one as “teacher of the year.”

6. Avid advocate and defender of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

7. Produced at least two Pulitzer Prize winners, who’ve collectively won six Pulitzer Prizes.

8. Began the SJSU Journalism degree, The Spartan Daily  becoming one of the top departments in the country.

 

Big Fish In A Small Pond

The coincidentally refined 29-year-old Katie Hintz-Zambrano @MrsZambrano

Spearheading one of fashion’s biggest hit site’s Refinery 29‘s latest and most-successful locale, Katherine Zambroza sat on the other side of the interviewing table with us SJSU media students.

Originally from Nebraska, this soft-spoken, intelligentsia grew up obsessing over periodicals and glossy magazines. “I’d study back issues from the library and then quiz myself on looks and designers.” The fashion-ravenous female made it her goal to go to New York where her passion would come to life.
Upon getting into NYU, she successfully made contacts that led to big-name by-lines that boasted an impressive resume. She immersed herself into the journalism world of sports, music and eventually fashion. Even before graduating, Zambrano landed her breakout role pitching stories for ESPN the Magazine to the likes of her passion for the NBA. She’s since gained headway at Style.com, NYMag.com’s The Cut, Elle, teen Vogue, Marie Claire and Nylon just to name a few. The diverse writer’s also contributed to more unlikely pubs such as XXL, Vibe and KING magazine as a hip-hop expert. She then worked for Marie Claire as a writer when all her assignments and clips snowballed into an impressive portfolio.
The 29-year-old also has a fascination with bathrooms. Well, design- in general, but bathrooms specifically for the meeting place at San Francisco’s oober-hip Four Barrel Coffee. Always in search of unique places in the city, she pays close attention to detail and invariously jots down potential story ideas as they come up in conversation. And, a chat with young Bay Area natives last Friday proved no different.
Working in tech, her husband inevitably moved to Cisco headquarters in the Silicon Valley almost a year ago which brought on Refinery’s latest Spawn: the San Francisco edition. Among Chicago, New York, Miami, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, why is San Francisco the most successful locale? Zambrano thinks it’s the unique variables that attract people to San Francisco “Girls here have to worry bout the elements so that adds a different factor that the other cities don’t have to. There’s hills, wind, fog and everything in between,” she says.”People have unique style that you have to find and aren’t necessaryily surrounding you. Makes it more interesting.”

A perk of being a big fashionable fish in a small pond, is Zambrano gets the opportunity to hit hot fashion spots and events that she may not otherwise in a bigger city like New York. The night before our meeting she covered the Academy of Art University’s annual fashion show where she got a personal interview with Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton. So there she was—sitting and speaking with fashion’s most hailed designer who just a year ago boasted the most famous bridal gown on another Katherine. Kate Middleton (who goes without explanation). But this year, Zambrano had the pleasure of meeting Burton among other events such as Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum.
Refinery29 SF Stats:
  • SF is most successful locale
  • Rate viewing by clicks on email newsletters
  • Stories hit NYC headquarters 48 hours before deadline
  • Have general social networks but hope to have location-based twitter handles.
So here we were—six girls swallowing each experienced word that leaves the egoless beauty’s bright pink lips. We sat as she shared with us advice for  young journalists and style-g0-getters:
  • When pitching story ideas, pitch to “fashion news” section.
  • It’s all about people you know. Make contacts on good terms with whoever you can no matter how big or small the publication.
  • Network with people a few years older because they are not threatened by youand can give you junior-level opportunities so your not competing.
Katie’s Coffee Fit:
Shoes: Tsubo (local brand)
Necklace from Argentina
Bag: A vintage tool bag from a friend
For more photos, follow me on Instagram @Jennyz63

Obsessed With Innovation

VentureBeat writers are obsessed with innovation. Healthy or not, it’s an obsession that rings relevant to the heart of the San Francisco and at bay with tech’s finest. How could we at SJSU’s Mag Club not visit?

Conceived by San Jose Mercury News reporter Matt Marshall, VentureBeat covers the tech, people and money that innovate our lives. On the forefront of the tech news cycle, Venturebeat’s tech-savvy journalists allowed us SJSU media students to join the obsessive conversation in their small, humble offices where we had the pleasure of speaking with Executive Editor Dylan Tweney and Senior Editor Heather Kelly .

An unlikely sight in tech, VB is comprised mostly of women writers and editors. Geek-chic staffers Heather Kelly and writer Jolie O’ Dell coined the term “Pink-collared”  when referring to the small staff. On the ball, VentureBeat’s Jennifer Van Grove was responsible for revealing Twitter’s secret offer for Instagram that made Facebook pay $1B.

Editors make a conscience effort  to make shareable headlines that will attract clicks. Following a story posting, they retreat headlines to make it twitter and google search-friendly. For instance, they will make a headline read “Facebook IPO Zuckerberg” as opposed to “Zuckerberg Earns Facebook’s IPO On A Grand Scale.” While it may seem awkward, it’s definitely an effective sneak tactic. But more than SEO, Tweney advocates readability as a must-have. “Readability always trumps SEO. You can’t go wrong with read-friendly material.”

As far as community management, Tweney admits they need more engagement. But, close-fetched dreams aside, the team is in good direction with eventual hopes of breaking into more lifestyle and entertainment-based content. “I’d like to show how we live better with technology.” And, I’d say they have a good chance since seeing exploding responses from stories such as SNL’s hilarious club-hopping character Stefon who now has a Yelp account. While it’s not hard news, the staff’s quirky writing voices make for a promising broader obsessing-spectrum.
Big thanks to the VentureBeat team for hosting us!

VB Quick Stats (Averages):

  • Staff of 20
  • 12-hour news day
  • 40 stories a day
  • 4 or 5 stories a person
  • Postings till about 7 or 8 p.m.

 Tweney’s advice for young, prospective obsessors:

  • Be aware that first impressions are important when communicating through initial emails.
  • Show reporting experience. Working on a school newspaper is a plus.
  • Don’t include too many links of your work, but just use between three and five of your most relevant work.
  • Always following up.
  • Show you can write things fast. “I push people really hard at first to gage what they can do best. I like timing people” Tweney says.

 


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