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When I was in school, my teachers would never allow us to read comic books because they weren’t “real books”. Everyone knew that picture books were for just for little kids. Once you learned to read, you didn’t need the pictures anymore.

By the time I became a teacher, schools were increasingly concerned with visual literacy. An astounding number of American adults couldn’t read a map, or even identify their own country. Many think technology is to blame, with smartphones and GPS, people simply didn’t need map-skills the way they once had.

As a special education teacher, I learned the value of images for learning. Visual learning is more than just another learning style. For many of my students, pictures were their only means of communication – I had to find ways of teaching that combined images and hands-on learning.

Today, kids check out graphic novels from their school library, and Barnes & Noble just announced they’re adding a children’s graphic novel section to their stores. Teachers ask their students to draw pictures, and even create their own comic strips to demonstrate the concepts they’ve learned.

Having left teaching, I now spend my days scouring the internet as a research intern at NowSourcing. I can’t help but think the internet is the reason for our newfound focus on visual learning and literacy. Today the internet is more visual than ever. From selfies, to pictures of our food, social media is becoming more reliant on images. Infographics let adults learn through pictures the same way children do – with pictures that not only make reading more interesting, but add meaning as well.

Marguerite Kinne is a Research Intern at NowSourcing.

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Tuesday night at Genscape the Louisville Digital Association held its monthly meeting, and the speaker was Kyle Culver from Humana. Culver is working on a project that will utilize blockchain in the healthcare space, but not in a way that you might expect.

There’s not as much of a rush right now to put everything on the blockchain as you might expect, but there IS a rush to figure out the best possible uses for this technology. This is what Culver is doing right now in real life. Humana announced just Monday that they will be partnering with UnitedHealth Group, Optum, and more to pilot a program that would significantly reduce non-medical healthcare administration costs by using blockchain technology.

The program will aim to keep public physician records – things like name, address, phone number, and whether they are accepting new patients – on the blockchain where they can easily be updated and shared across health insurance providers, thereby cutting down on redundancies within the healthcare system overall.

The purpose of this experiment is to see how blockchain functions in a real-world application on something that is public information and doesn’t have to be protected. The group will identify any problems that might arise when the application is scaled up to things that are protected information and see whether it makes sense to take that next step.

Culver also talked about blockchain in more general terms, as this is still an emerging technology that most people have a hard time wrapping their heads around. One of the best explanations he gave all night was a simplified way to understand ICOs. An ICO, he says, is basically if Chuck E. Cheese is going to sell tokens before opening a new location and use that capital to build the Chuck E. Cheese. It’s so simple.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Culver and the others discover through this project.

Maggie Kimberl is the Content Manager at NowSourcing.

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Friend: What’s new in your life?
Me: I’m working as an intern at a place called NowSourcing.
Friend: What’s that?
Me: It’s an Infographic design agency!
Friend: Cool! Do you design for them? (Probably secretly thinking how strange this is because I have no talent in graphic design work).
Me: No, I work in the promotions department *long awkward pause*….I work to get our infographics out in the cyber world in order to promote the company that hired us to make the infographic.
Friend: So you work in advertising!
Me: Not quite, let’s think of it as content marketing.

This isn’t how I use to end the conversation when I first started as an intern. At first I really thought advertising and marketing were the same thing, just interchangeable words. When I started working as a promotions intern for NowSourcing I thought I understood fairly well how this company worked and what part my position played in it all. I knew what infographics were and I knew what it meant to promote something, but I mistakenly thought that what this company did in part was to advertise for other companies. It did not take long after starting that I learned we were doing something very different from advertising; we were doing content marketing.

Advertising and content marketing are vastly different. They may have similar goals but the methods used to accomplish them are not the same. Advertising seeks to be ‘in your face’ and has a goal to reach the most people as possible. Content marketing seeks to put out information readily available to a specific targeted audience who will find the content helpful to them. The hope in this is to build trust by showing that the brand not only sells a good product but that they are knowledgeable in what they do first and foremost. Content marketing cares about building a relationship with an audience whereas advertising cares about getting an audience.

Advertising is about getting a message out to as many people as possible. This approach is not personal and it’s less about who the company is and why you should trust them and more about making a product look good. The hope is that as long as people are seeing this product everywhere someone will eventually buy it. Unfortunately this doesn’t work as well as some may think.

Content marketing on the other hand isn’t as direct but it is certainly more targeted. Time isn’t wasted trying to convince an audience that doesn’t need a product that they need it; instead content marketers looks for the people who would want the product but don’t yet know about it. This creates a confidence in the audience that this business is knowledgeable in whatever they are doing while building relationships upon that confidence.

During my time as a promotions intern I learned what the difference is between advertising and content marking by actually doing content marketing. Most of the hard work has already been done by the time an infographic reaches me, and I have to find that specific audience that will find this infographic interesting, helpful, and useful to them. If I did my job well I did not sell a product but rather I helped a particular audience find content that they saw as helpful and relevant.

Emilee Smith is a Promotions Intern at NowSourcing.

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SXSW starts this weekend. Are you ready? We’re wrapping up our SXSW Insider series and we hope you got some good information from it! Here’s my recent interview with Gordon Meyer of Lampix.
You can see the full version here:

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Everyone seems to be in love with the idea of working from home. The thought normally conjures pleasant mental images of a warm laptop resting on the lackadaisical lap of pajama bottoms, papers strewn about your memory foam mattress turned makeshift desk, and warm feelings of working in an intimately familiar environment that is entirely your own. Best of all, one is excused from the mores of office culture and all that entails. No demanding attendance policy, no domineering supervisors breathing down your neck, and no dress code to deter you from wearing your favorite dino-print snuggie that you have been told is somehow “inappropriate” for a business setting. Working from home must be the magnum opus of working conditions of the modern age, right? WRONG.

Working from home is a modern novelty that is like taking a vacation to Antarctica; an interesting proposal but really just a cold, isolated, and life-draining experience. This is not my opinion (it is), this is scientifically proven fact (it’s not). Many of the perceived benefits mentioned so far of working from home are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

First of all, having to go into a workplace demands a certain level of hygiene and appearance standards. It requires one to shower semi-regularly, and have the decency to wear clean clothes that look respectable in the daylight, and not have roadkill breath. I can easily go weeks without making a major effort to be presentable and I cannot be the only one out there. My appearance quickly deteriorates and I can commonly be noted by features such as Dijon mustard stained white tank top, hair greasy from both natural oils and foreign contaminates, crusty cotton pajama pants unchanged in months, and foul odors from the body and mouth that can only be described as profane and blasphemous to human decency. Going to an office has a way of forcing a few positive behaviors like grooming and personal maintenance so as to not be offensive to those around you.

Another aspect of at-home work that I have trouble with is the actual ability to get work done outside of an office. It is a constant uphill battle against a legion of distractions when I am at home. This should be no surprise because home is the place I go every day for the express purpose of being distracted from the outside world. Something that should have taken an hour stretches into three because my cat jumped on the keyboard and demanded to be played with, or my favorite episode of the infomercial channel is on and I need to devote 45 minutes to looking at designer rhinestone-encrusted grocery bags, or so on and so on. The distractions detract from work and the work distracts you from being properly distracted.

The biggest misnomer about working from home is the idea that the ability to work anywhere and at any time will streamline work and give people time back, when in reality the opposite is probably true. When cell phones and email became ubiquitous, it made personal and professional messaging instantaneous and easy. Modern messaging is far easier and quicker than writing letters to individuals or having to meet in person, but this has just caused a massive spike in communication rather than a streamlined version of it. People spend more time than ever keeping up with social media and the various digital forms of communication, and there is no reason to think the same would not happen given the same ease of access to work.
By removing standard working hours and dissolving designated workplaces, we open the floodgates of opportunity to a 24/7 schedule anywhere with Wi-Fi. That supervisor you disdain for constant micromanaging that was confined to the office for a few hours a day now has a personal invitation into your home at all hours with a constant light rain of pedantic issues. There is something I like to keep sacred about my time at home. It is my one bedroom castle that I can take refuge at the end of the day, and I would prefer to keep work responsibilities outside of it.

There are some people and positions that are much better suited for remote and at-home work, but that does not mean we should rush to burn down the office parks now that we have the ability to do so. For many the traditional office offers a place to focus, get out of the house, and keep work separate from the rest of our time.

Connect with Brad Hunt on LinkedIn

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Building your community is what networking is all about, and there’s no better place to start than SXSW. I recently talked with Heather Dopson, Community Builder at GoDaddy, about just this.

You can see the full video here:

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In my month and change of being a research intern for NowSourcing, I have slowly climbed the learning curve from overwhelmed Googler to confident fact-finder. Prior to this job, the only research experience I’d had was combing databases, textbooks, and novels-hundreds upon hundreds of pages- for that single or handful of perfect quotes that would tie my thesis together. Just last fall, I found myself spending so much time researching and reading and annotating, that I had only two days left to write my final paper on outlaws, masculinity, and monstrosity in Robin Hood poetry and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance-the story, not the John Wayne movie. I could hear him saying, “Take it easy, Pilgrim,” the whole time.

My mistake then and throughout my college career was that I forgot or never heard-I’m not sure which at this point- the phrase “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.” I always approached assignments as huge burdens, one massive task that was gonna kill me by the time I finished it. Every so often, a light would go off and I had enough sense to stop, slow down, and break my class-load, essay, or project down into little, manageable bits. Sadly, the emphasis here is on “every so often.” I had lived by the lie that the only way to get things done, as a student and especially as a writer and a researcher, was to let the stress deliver me. The only way I thought a person could achieve anything was to be fretful, rushed, overwhelmed, and under a deadline. This followed me to my first week or so as a research intern.

I got my first assignment, plopped down in my desk, and buckled up. Falling into the same old cycles, I found myself googling like a madman and wondering what I’d gotten myself into. I had twenty or thirty windows open at a time, afraid to close anything and risk losing any viable facts, and putting the strain not only on myself but on my five year old Dell laptop. I did not know the tricks that now save me hours and hours of extra digging. I quickly learned that my methods were not going to work and I was not going to survive if I didn’t change my ways.

Over the past month, I’ve adapted and learned the ropes of real research skills and I’ve had an amazing and supportive team of veterans guide me along the way. As with the drums I’ve played since I was 14, all it takes is practice to hone talent and shed bad habits. I’m not a genius and I don’t claim to have mastered this, but I can say that the art and science of research is one I’m growing to understand more the more I do it.

I start a project knowing that no matter what, I will get it done. Sometimes, you’re researching a topic that you’re completely novice about and you have to decide if you’re going to let that scare you. If you lighten up, you might find yourself, I don’t know, talking about cryptocurrency to all of your friends who two weeks ago you would have considered experts and now might be asking you for market or security advice. Sometimes, you find the perfect statistic and want oh so bad for it to be legitimate and not from some sketchy blog or research group that will release their groundbreaking study for an easy payment of $9.99. Sometimes, you’ll dig a hole and get lost trying to find some report that will only serve a tangential point that will probably end up getting cut in the grand scheme of things anyway.

While I read as much as I used to when writing those last minute literature papers, I am now a far more intentional reader and writer, and I’ve learned how to hit these hurdles at full speed and keep moving. I’ve learned to trade every last bit of maybe-useful filler for the gleaned, lean details that will bring home the point of my infographic. I’ve learned to not worry too much about organization and making it look pretty until I have all the pieces of the puzzle. Then, I just make those pieces fit together and flow. I search the world over but I’m not afraid to leave something and come back later. I’ve learned the hard way to save every source as I go, the ones that seem crucial and ones I may not use, and to know the difference, or at least be ready to trim something I really want to be important. I’ve learned that if you let yourself get bogged down gathering the facts and writing them, the reader is going to be bogged down reading it. The greatest thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid to learn something new. It seems obvious, but as a researcher, this is the number one rule and something I will take with me the rest of my life, or at least until I know everything there is to know. Thankfully, I can rest assured that’ll never happen.

Sean Mortberg is a Research Specialist at NowSourcing.

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Chad Parizman has been going to SXSW since long before he joined the team at Pfizer. They’re going to be doing some interesting things this year at the trade show. Chad and I talked about how to get through the show, where to go, what to do, and more!

See the full video below.

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How do you combat hate? It’s often a slippery slope from fear into full blown hatred, and sometimes a little bit of understanding can go a long way. Christian Picciolini left a Neo-Nazi group at the age of 22 and now speaks to people about preventing hatred. He will have a panel at SXSW this year. Here’s our recent talk:

See the full video here:

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If you want to be successful this year at SXSW, it’s all about planning ahead. The next guests in our series are Tim Salau. Tim and I chatted about planning and squeezing the most out of the week. There’s going to be a LinkedIn Local event you’re going to want to check out. Also, party bus!

Here’s the full video on Facebook:

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