Digital Free Tools Millenial Journalists Ought to Use More

Author cum journalist Allen Salkin at his writing desk. (Image credit: Wikimedia)
Author cum journalist Allen Salkin at his writing desk. (Image credit: Wikimedia)

There’s no reason a millenial journalist must stick to the old, inefficient ways of gathering information just like the baby-boomers journalists. Ren LaForme of Poynter Institute leaked some digital free tools we journos should use more often to let our work much easier than ever.

  1. Geofeedia.com: It enables us find given locations and grab digital information uploaded to the social media services from locations in question. You may also set a certain time bracket here. Cool, right
  2. Storehouse: The platform makes combining photos, text and videos more hassle-free.
  3. Timeline.js: It creates a timeline which doesn’t take you to be a geek like Edward Snowden.
  4. Storymap.js: The service lets you follow streams of information in certain locations.
  5. Snapchat: You’ll like it if you have to reach younger audience aged 15 or even under.
  6. Hyperlapse: Forget that notebook and pen. Use your smartphone with Hyperlapse installed on it.. Recording videos now becomes way easier. There’s algorithm to reduce shake as well.
  7. Tabula: The open source tool helps you extract precious data to a newsworthy document.
  8. Import.io: This tool can do you charm with the ability of turning information on the web into a chart as requested. Wonderfully executed, indeed.

Now that 2015 just began, it’s time to embrace these digital tools you’ve hardly used to impress your audience with speed and accuracy at an equal balance.

The Book Launch Finale

bookI step into the room, hoping to see a huge number of audience. They could be clapping now or making a round applause after a considerably inspiring talk or ultra meaningful presentation.

I feel like I came into a giant gut of a whale. And this whale is dying of hunger, which is why almost nothing is in the stomach.

The room seems too big or there are too few people inside. It could be because of both. I mumble to myself, “They might’ve picked a smaller room for this ‎so as to make it look more packed as a venue.” But the show must go on.

In a non-chalant manner, I pick my seat. I hate sitting in the rear row like a lazy university student I’ve always hated throughout my shortlived teaching career and decide to sit in the penultimate row. A seat ‎looks unoccupied next to a girl, as if it were trying to lure me into sitting on it. Without trying to be polite, I just sit. She might have a friend sitting there but why do I have to bother asking? Chances are she is younger than me and I’m a haughty, self-centered old jerk who attends an event for the sake of searching writing ideas. I assert my rights to be rude to younger people. That’s the privilege of being older, I’m sure.

It’s all green here. And the audience is so so quiet like a collection of sitting manequins. Most of them are young girls wearing hijabs, but all the speakers in front are males with almost all of them growing beards.‎ You know who they are typically like. I have a single or two strands of beard and that’s more than enough to prove I’m male without costing me much money to buy razors or any facial hair removal methods on a weekly or, if you’re Arab, daily basis.

I know no one in the room. I guess they’re all just under my age. A lot younger even. But thanks to the youthful looks and outfits I’m sporting, no one notices.

I’ve known this type of men. This one falls into this group of activists on campuses. He wears a hoodie jacket, speaking in a bold manner just like a trainer because he is. He says a lot about the book industry. He mentions a whopping sum of money, 25 millions for writing a book he ghostwrites. On another occasion, I found out he has a car. Brio car, which a lot resembles his name. So I suppose he leverages his book writing service by training more hopefuls to be writers themselves. Yes, he promises anyone to be an author, a published one, not just an intermittent blogger well known inside your social circles. He’s got the connections. Celebrities, he knows some of them. Thanks to his mentor anyway.

It is totally one of my life missions; becoming a published author. A well-fed author. A financially independent writer.‎ Whatever it is to earn a living with my writing skills because it frees me from talking too much with people or any living things that can judge or comment about how much I should ideally weigh or what I seriously need to fix in my life. That’s the best thing in any writing professions. I love being paid to be left alone, working and making lots of money.

He later details more about the joy of being a writer. “It’s a super lucrative business that makes you filthy rich,” he said. Probably it holds true about J.K. Rowling but I feel sorry for most of writers who still have to struggle for years or ever to feed themselves.‎ He tactfully excluded the miserable stories of Indonesian writers like N. H. Dini who leads a financially deprived life in Central Java despite having published many novels, and a prolific moslem author Pipiet Senja, who in her 60’s lost her house to a disease. She is really sick and to get rid of the illness, she had to sell her small brick house. Life’s a total bitch for most living writers out there, you know. And he sugarcoated this all.

He says he’s written 7 books and ghostwritten 3 books. Very productive, I should say. I imagine he’s busily hiding in his bachelor pad with a laptop on days and nights in search of coherent and cohesive words to publish.

No one needs talents to be a writer, he claims, all you need is consistency! To a certain extent, I know it’s true and wrong at the very same time. With all the competition in the publishing industry right now, you also need creativity ‎and insanity to stand out, to impress potential readers.

Content and context, the two are crucial to our master trainer cum professional published author. Content is stuff you think useful for others; context is how you serve it to people you think will enjoy the benefits of your stuff. In other words, context is the packaging. Sort of thing.

The blue boy stands up. It’s now his turn to speak up. And he does speak like a lion. It’s hard to believe a mouth that small can speak that loudly. He reminds me of myself during my first class back then. But my audience was fiercer. Some of them were morons who ‎took another class after flunking the prior class in yesteryear’s semester. That was a difficult phase I had gone through so successfully. The blue boy is a lot luckier.

The atmosphere truly goes odd when the blue boy narrates a clamshell story. That’s the time when he shouts like a small boy asking for mercy. It makes me question him:Is it a book launch or theatrical performance?! I giggle impishly like a leprechaun.

Processes matter. My goodness, can’t we have enough with this? Results are what people want to see. You suck when things go wrong and people don’t forgive your failures. People just don’t. They blame you, they crush you for being a loser certainly.

And here comes the drill:What do you want to be in 10 years? The blue boy – who cowrites the book with the master trainer – asks the audience. His voice goes way up to the ceiling of the hall but fails to reach the eardrums of audience. No one answers. I can understand. They want to be successful writers, not speakers. So they don’t feel like they’re obliged to open mouth. They will write instead. Just like me, who silently follows how the discussion goes and takes notes on my offline phone.

‎It’s self-sabotage which is mostly the culprit of our failure, the blue boy utters. To convince us, they play a footage of a team of American Football players training like medieval African slaves. And the blue boy begins explaining while the footage is being played. I really want to scream,”Why don’t you just wait while we watch the brief movie and as the screening is done, you can resume explaining?!” He refuses to shut up before the movie is done. So we have to listen to both his voice and audio of the footage simultaneously. Very neatly done to torture our ears, young man!

The sinister sister makes a harsh comment on the secretively planned sudden appearance of the blue boy’s mother and herself,”It doesn’t seem like a surprise. So dull and ordinary.” She is a sort of sister you wish to disown at some point in your life. The one that makes you lament,”Maybe my whole life is a lot better without her being born.” However, life is not that simple.

So he brags about how he can write 50 pages a day, and fasting all day long in the process. While we’re at it, I remember the stamina of writing of Jonathan Franzen. He admits he can’t write 8 hours a day like a toil. Even 6 hours is already fatiguing for him nowadays. He touches on the issue of age (he’s not young anymore) and hence he has fewer things to prove in life. So when the master trainer tells us the need to push to the highest point of our potential, I simply think,”Way to go, mr Superwriter!” Well, you can’t write that way every day. It’s not a sustainable way of work.

The book signage starts right after the talks end. Only two people throw questions. Impressive, considering the number of engaged audience. I’m obviously excluded from the crowd. Maybe it’s only 10 people or so and the rest of the unsold books are brought back home. ‎The sinister sister and her mother and I go home right after that.

In the taxi, I am wondering how my first book launch will go. Maybe the historical moment would involve a million viewers, so I imagine. I waver, maybe I don’t need the stellar height of fame. There’ll be too much responsibility for my readers’ satisfaction. I can’t imagine having stalks or die-hard fans. Privacy always comes first, J. D. Salinger teaches us so.

All I can imagine is people gathering to talk about my books. I want them to create dialogs because words alone don’t bring anything but entertainment.

All I need is the happiness of being able to share what I have through writing. So to answer the question “What do you want to be in 10 years?”, I’d say I want to be a happy writer. Just be happy and be able to write and make a decent living in the process. Not too skimpy, not too much. Only enough.

When Your Lover Turns into a Monk

monksAFTER she told the story, I almost couldn’t help myself for having hastened to grab myself a sheet of paper. This could be another big thing in the novel industry. Maybe I could turn her miserable love story into a comedy every mainstream audience will watch over and over again until they feel dead bored, but when I read people got shot dead in Paris for making a satire humiliating my faith, I made up my mind. I won’t do it. Leave her alone.

“Thou shall not leak it,” she gave us the lamest commandment. Writers’ mouth are shut. That’s true. But their fingers move and leak it all. Even if you cut our fingers, amputate our arms, we still manage to type or scribe with our legs. If you even finally cut our legs too, we’ll try somehow to write things on anything using our mouth. I can imagine myself writing with a piece of chalk in my mouth. And at some point in my writing session, my lips turn dry and chapped and I start to whine,”Can someone get me a lip balm?!!” An unpaid assistant cum slave comes over and patiently smears it on my naturally big lips.

She ranted again,”Dude, I’m sad. Terribly sad.” Who isn’t? Her crush, a Chinese 32-year-old man, left him for a temple somewhere. Were I her, I felt absurdly insulted. It’s a blatant statement of “you ain’t sexier than a lifetime full of meditation and devotion to Buddha”. Of course, she is not that sexy. At least compared to Sophia Latjuba, her idol and benchmark of weight loss and total in-and-out beauty.

That’s life, I said to her. A lousy consolation remark I intend more to mock. Yes, I’m that evil sometimes. But perhaps if doing evil things to her can make her lose weight, she might not mind at all. She may even encourage me to do so more and more till I’m drained all over completely.

She didn’t shed any tears while telling us the tragic story. She knew it’s too cheesy, even for a girl as tough as her. She cut her hair short and let it shine dully, dove to the ocean bed with hunky expatriates, had also had an expatriate man wanting her to be his spouse, roamed an exotic place in eastern Indonesia where things are sold more expensive 100% than any places in the archipelago, and still she is subject to a tragic love story. That’s a tragedy of and in itself.

“He deactivated his Facebook account and changed phone number, and name, too,” she murmured again, wanting our symphatetic response. But we just blinked as if our hearts are hardened by the curse of Greek gods and goddesses. Maybe she needed ears that can listen and mouths to provide sincere comforting words. She went to the wrong people. She wouldn’t get any of it here. With us.

And then came the “what-if” session. There are always different scenarios popping out in her mind, what if things went different ways and that sort of thing. At this point, I knew she needed a waste of time to scour her fresh wounds of romance. I wanted to yawn, but managed to hold my mouth shut.  Dramas are good on television screens but in real life they bore you to death.

A few days after that, I told my writer buddy that story. Someone was left forlorn by a man, I said. This male author has been known for his fascination of Chinese men. I have no idea. To him, Chinese males are objects of adoration. His brain is wired differently so when everything Chinese snaps through his mind, he writes like crazy.

(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Gerindra Perjuangkan Hak Kaum Tuna Netra untuk Kenali Pecahan Uang Kertas

Saya dituduh seorang teman membenci Prabowo. “Kamu kenapa sih sampe nulis yang Lee Kuan Yew itu? Kamu benci Prabowo ya?” Belum selesai pertanyaannya, saya berusaha menutup mulut karena rahang saya susah diangkat. ‎Saya tak tahu isu semacam itu masih relevan diangkat dan dibahas pasca Pilpres. Apakah sepenting itu saya dulu mendukung Prabowo atau Jokowi?

Konyol.

Saya bahkan tidak paham kenapa atasan saya sampai mewanti-wanti,”Kamu kenapa sampai nulis begituan? Nanti kalau diapa-apain gimana ama dia? Kan kamu lihat wawancaranya di BBC? Kamu ga takut? Kamu ga kasian keluarga kamu kalau nanti mereka diapa-apain?”

‎Saya hanya ingin menguap. Membosankan.

Mungkin atasan saya itu sedang mabuk, tapi saya pikir tidak. Kemungkinan besar ia sedang berhalusinasi bahwa dirinya dan saya tinggal di China Daratan. Tetapi saya pikir ini Indonesia, negara demokrasi. Semua bisa berkata apapun selama masih dalam koridor hukum. Kalaupun tidak terima, tinggal perkarakan di muka hukum saja.

Baru saja tadi kabar ini disampaikan melalui email blast Sahabat Jaringan Gerindra, sebuah portal daring yang bertujuan mengakomodasi para simpatisan dan non-simpatisan yang tertarik mengikuti perkembangan terbaru Gerindra.

Begini bunyinya:

“Sahabat Jaringan Gerindra,

Berdasarkan data Kementerian Kesehatan, jumlah kaum tuna netra saat ini mencapai 1,5 persen atau 2 juta orang dari total penduduk Indonesia. Saat ini, tidaklah mudah bagi mereka untuk membedakan pecahan mata uang kertas Rupiah. Hal ini disebabkan karena mata uang kertas kita belum memiliki penanda khusus untuk membantu kaum tuna netra. Demi meningkatkan kedaulatan keuangan bagi kaum tuna netra Indonesia, Fraksi Partai Gerindra di DPR RI memperjuangkan pasal berikut dalam RUU Penyandang Disabilitas: Bank Indonesia (BI) menjamin hak Penyandang Disabilitas (Tuna Netra) untuk mendapatkan haknya dalam membedakan pecahan mata uang kertas, dengan titik timbul (emboss) pada Rp. 5.000, Rp. 10.000, Rp. 20.000, Rp. 50.000 dan Rp. 100.000.”

Kiranya jika benar-benar tercapai, akan menjadi sebuah prestasi bagi tidak hanya Gerindra namun juga bangsa Indonesia karena negeri ini sungguh tak bersahabat bagi saudara-saudara yang memiliki kondisi khusus.”

Apakah dengan menulis ini saya telah berubah haluan menjadi pendukung Prabowo? Sudahlah, saya mengantuk.

%d bloggers like this: