Tag Archives: writing links

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for July 24, 2013

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Photo courtesy of Mateusz Stachowski via SXC.

How To Write A Second Draft
Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker and Myths of Innovation, provides a concise battle plan for how he was going to revise his forthcoming book, A Year Without Pants. It’s a great glimpse into one way to integrate line and structural edits with feedback from others. So much ink is given to producing first and final drafts, it was a real treat to see a post about the work that must be done in the middle.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox | Write Articles, Not Blog Postings

I ordinarily wouldn’t post a story from 2007, but much of what’s been written by Nielsen, whom some would call the godfather of web usability, is still highly relevant.
In an era when content marketing is the hot trend, his reasoned assertion that quality rules over quantity is more true than ever:

Blog postings will always be commodity content: there’s a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else’s work. Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they’re definitely easy to write. But they don’t build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you’re searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant.

He goes onto note that it’s not the fault of blogging platforms – it’s the focus on cheap, uninformed “me-too” content that degrades it to commodity status.

How Memoirists Mold The Truth

André Aciman, who teaches comparative literature at the CUNY Graduate Center, writes a dangerous and provocative essay about how memoirists create multiple versions of their past. I say “dangerous” because this piece will mess with you preconceived notions about memoir as a work of nonfiction. Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about …

Writing the past is never a neutral act. Writing always asks the past to justify itself, to give its reasons… provided we can live with the reasons. What we want is a narrative, not a log; a tale, not a trial. This is why most people write memoirs using the conventions not of history, but of fiction. It’s their revenge against facts that won’t go away.

5 Tips For Transmedia Storytelling
Margaret Looney, writing on the PBS MediaShift blog, provides common sense advice for tackling a story that’s going to be deployed across multiple platforms. Each tip comes with several tantalizing examples.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for October 15, 2012

Photo courtesy SXC.

Longform Startups, New York and Beer | The FJP

Michael Cervieri of the Future Journalism Project interviews Noah Rosenberg, founder of Narratively, an innovative online/mobile start-up website that’s devoted to covering New York City in a fresh way. Rosenberg explains what the site is and how it works:

Narratively is a digital platform devoted to original, true, in-depth and untold stories. … Each week Narratively explores a different theme about New York and publishes just one story a day, told in the most appropriate medium for each piece. So, Monday might yield a longform essay, followed by a short documentary film on Tuesday, a photo essay on Wednesday, and an animation on Thursday. Fridays, we run a section called the “Park Bench” where we curate meaningful responses we’ve generated from our audience throughout the week, and we publish behind-the-scenes elements from our stories; the “Park Bench” is all about featuring different perspectives on each week’s theme.

He also explains the relaxed approach to editorial meetings that’s alluded to in the post’s title – and I have to say, this sounds good to me!

We like to refer to our weekly editorial gatherings as more “soiree” and less “meeting.” They’re very informal affairs that are as much about story-generation and feedback as they are about forming bonds within our passionate group of contributors. I’ve always loved bringing new people together and it’s been so rewarding to help foster friendships and connections all in the name of good times and great storytelling. The beer and the bar snacks are just a backdrop to some energizing discussions about important stories that would otherwise remain untold.

How Journalists are Using Soundcloud | Read Write Web

John Paul Titlow explains how radio journalists and many other writers are using Soundcloud, a social media tool that allows anyone with an account to share sounds with other users. Radio producers and podcasters are expanding their audience with Soundcloud; content experts such as Robert Scoble are publishing interviews with thought leaders, and The Huffington Post is using the service to crowdsource coverage of political robo-calls readers are receiving this election season. I am just scratching the surface of what Soundcloud can do, so this story was an inspiring prompt to dig deeper.

Best Book Editors on Twitter – GalleyCat

Jason Boog offers a list of editors, from a variety of genres and specialties, who have a presence on Twitter. It’s a great resource if you’re a writer or editor looking to make friends with social media folks who tweet, and the bios/intros for the editors on the list are instructive in and of themselves, in terms of how to be eye-catching in your introductory statement.

The Millions : Where We Write
The Millions, an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture, asked its readers who are writers to send them photos of where they worked. The photos are both a little astonishing (to me) and reassuring: from the writer who uses a guest bed to create a “writing nest,” to the scribe who created her own improvised standing desk to the gentleman who writes on a Royal manual typewriter and edits and transcribes on a Mac, each set up is quirky, individualized and tells a story about the storyteller.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for September 9, 2012

Photo courtesy of SXC.

How I Write About Science | Wellcome Trust Blog

An interesting blog series that ran earlier this year on the blog for the Wellcome Trust, which funds health research, in which talented science writers (mostly from the United Kingdom) discuss how they report on complex scientific research topics.

When Should You Write Your Memoir? | Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner reflects on her reading of Cheryl Strayed’s recently released memoir “Wild.” She notes that Strayed experienced most of what’s in her book in the 1990s, but did not finish the memoir until years later. Gardner asserts that perspective is important to writing a good autobiographical account:

In order for your story to resonate with deeper truth, you should have enough distance from it that you’ve gained perspective. When you’re still too close to it, you won’t be able to write it well.

Rex Sorgatz: What the New York Times Should Do Next – Membership

Sorgatz, a digital media consultant, provides a detailed proposal for how the Times can survive the post-print, post-advertising business model. Using the NYT’s existing assets, he points out how they could be tweaked to form part of a compelling membership-oriented business.

Here’s what he has to say about how the newspaper could exploit their events division as part of a membership-driven model:

Access to Times events. As part of your membership, you get access to upcoming events with Paul Krugman, Yoko Ono, and Nathan Myhrvold. Did you see that David Carr did a live interview with Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg the other day? Did you know they do these events all the time? Why isn’t this franchise — TimesTalks — as big as TED? NYT has the clout, the curatorial insight, and an awesome physical location, but TimesTalks is treated like a fringe product that isn’t even respected enough to get on the nytimes.com domain. Awareness isn’t even the primary problem — product integration is. It’s so obvious that these events should be bundled with digital memberships to propel overall growth.

Coders Can’t Put Writers Out of a Job Yet, But We’d Better Watch Our Backs | TechCrunch

Klint Finley reports on the wild, weird world of companies trying to develop applications that can find high-interest, low-coverage topics for editors to assign to writers, how “bots” are taking over some basic research duties from cub reporters, and the rise of Narrative Science, a business that is already having computers generate newspaper reports on Little League games and corporate earnings statements. If you didn’t think nonfiction writing could get outsourced to a robot, think again! And read this piece.

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Write this Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 24, 2012

Photo courtesy of SXC. 

Improving your writing by resting | Jeff Goins
Carol Tice, guest posting on Jeff Goins’ blog, presents a convincing case for taking one day off (and she means *completely* off) from writing and engaging via electronic devices each week.

Five Ways That Consistency Matters | Intelligent Editing
Geoff Hart explains why stylistic consistency matters, especially in the case of numbers (two vs. 2), capitalization, and word choice. I love his explanation about capitalization, since my pet peeve as an editor is inappropriate capitalization …

“In Western languages, capitalization indicates the start of a sentence or the presence of a proper noun. Changing from a capitalized form to a lowercase form triggers the reflex to ask whether the author has switched from discussing a named entity to a generic category. Each such hesitation slows reading, impedes comprehension, and increases the risk of an interpretation error.”

This post might come across to some as a little overly technical, but it’s good stuff for writers and the copy editors who serve them.

10 Must-Haves For Your Mobile Reporting Kit
Elana Zak, posting on the 10,000 Words blog, provides a nice summary of the tools that a 21st Century reporter needs to do his or her job. Some are obvious (mobile phone, business cards, a case to carry your gear) but some are not obvious to those who haven’t been out in the field since the rise of the smartphone (extra memory cards, a USB microphone). And her suggestion to bring a mini first-aid kit is just good common sense!

26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts | Social Media Examiner
Social media consultant Debbie Hemley takes readers from A to Z with good advice about writing blog posts that get read and shared. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I learned a ton! Some of my favorite sections are Categories, Descriptions, Original vs. Curated Content, and Valuable Content.

Want to Make Money Online? Here’s What Sells | Online Journalism Review
Online journalism expert Robert Niles discusses five alternatives to paywalls for web content that can generate revenue for journalists. They include advertising, e-books, videos, merchandise and events.

“Write What You Know” Does Not Mean What You Think It Does | Fuel Your Writing
Icy Sedgwick discusses the old saw to write (fiction, especially) from your own experience, and helps readers go beyond the literal implications. Here’s a sample of her advice:

“Don’t take (the directive to write what you know) so literally – I’m pretty sure Tolkien didn’t have to go to Middle Earth, and JK Rowling never went to Hogwarts! The fundamental fact is that what you know is humanity, and how the world works, and human nature is fundamentally the same. While we all have different drives, desire, fears and goals, we have the same basic needs. The setting is just window dressing … characters need to be believable, even if they aren’t based in our reality.”

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for January 31, 2012

Photo courtesy SXC. 

10 tips for recording a better interview

UK journalist Adam Westbrook links to a short presentation he did to help his video journalism students record better interviews by focusing on storytelling.

His tip #1 is worth a visit to the post in the first place: “Know your character and story before you start filming” puts an emphasis on pre-interview research and rapport-building that is often lacking in quick media-gathering sessions.

10 ways journalists can use Twitter before, during and after reporting a story | Poynter

Mallary Jean Tenore, writing on Poynter.org, provides 10 solid suggestions for journalists who want to get more out of Twitter as a work tool.

A good example of how she uses the new medium’s strengths while avoiding its challenges to good reporting is reflected in her tip on building credibility.

“Misinformation can spread quickly on Twitter, especially during breaking news situations. …

“As a journalist, you can show your credibility by debunking incorrect information and only tweeting information you’ve verified. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tweet during breaking news situations. You can phrase your tweets by saying something along the lines of, ‘X is reporting Y, but we haven’t been able to confirm this information yet.’ Or send a couple of tweets saying: ‘We are working on this story and will tweet updates as soon as we have them.’ … ‘Here’s what we do know …’

“This enables you to get your voice in the mix, while letting your audience know that you’re on top of the story and care about getting it right.”

NPR’s Infinite Player: It’s like a public radio station that only plays the kinds of pieces you like, forever

Andrew Phelps, writing on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog, reports on the unveiling of National Public Radio’s Infinite Player, which functions as a Pandora-like web app for audio segments from public radio stories.

Of particular interest to me is the fact that the app came about as part of NPR’s “rapid iteration” culture:

“Infinite Player is a product of NPR’s culture of rapid iteration and a peek into the future of radio. The project came together in one-and-a-half development cycles — that is, about two weeks plus a few extra days to squash bugs.

“And it’s not a product release in the traditional sense, said Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s general manager of digital media. ‘It’s not nearly as baked as something we would launch even as a beta project. But it’s a way to do some rapid innovation and see if we’re even close to the mark and how people react to it.’”

Are You Too Scared to Write? Stop Thinking and Just Do It

Lifehack contributor Marya Zainab offers simple steps for reducing the amount of overanalyzing that often precedes writing sessions and increasing the amount of time spent actually writing.

The benefits of brainstorming for freelance writers | Helium

Contributing blogger Natalia Jones discusses several ways in which engaging in classical brainstorming techniques can kick-start a freelancer’s idea-generation process and boost their productivity.

AP Stylebook’s New Tool Automatically Proofreads Your Writing

A Mashable.com article that notes that the Associated Press will be releasing a Microsoft Word plug-in, AP StyleGuard, which provides guidance on writing copy that conforms to the AP’s standards for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for January 15, 2012


Photo courtesy of SXC.

5 Things Journalists Need to Know About Tablets | Mashable
Mashable publishes an interesting post from the International Journalists’ Network that describes trends and developments in content for digital tablets like the iPad. There is both bad news (no one has figured out how to make money on tablet content yet – at least not journalists) and good news (U.S. consumers are predicted to purchase more tablets than computers by 2015).

Making news pay: a pressing issue | Microtask.com
Ville Miettinen, CEO of Microtask, discusses the funding structure of journalism and mentions crowdsourcing as one non-paywall-related solution to the thorny issue of how to provide money for investigative reporting projects. He also proposes microtasking, in which citizens perform tiny assignments for reporters in return for access to the news, as another solution. Odd, but interesting, ideas here.

Doing it Anyway: How I Overcame My Fears about Writing | Meryl.net
Melissa Ann Goodwin guest posts on “content maven” Meryl Evans’ blog about how to deal with writing-related anxiety.

One of her best suggestions relates to NOT thinking too much while writing:

“The idea of writing without thinking might sound strange at first, but in my experience, it definitely works! After calming yourself with quiet breathing, open your eyes and start writing whatever comes to mind, without even thinking about it. Keep writing fast, without stopping or thinking, for as long as you can.  If you slow down and get stuck, write, ‘I don’t know what to write this is really stupid I can’t believe she told us to do this and I can’t believe I’m doing it.’ Good! Keep going. The next thing you know you’ll be writing something coherent and unexpected and surprising.  You’ll be amazed by what comes out of you that you had no idea was hiding inside there.”

Writer’s Block: More of a “Spaghetti Snarl” | Hillary Rettig
Excellent, detailed post excerpted from Rettig’s book “The Seven Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism and Writer’s Block” that proposes on a new metaphor for getting stalled on a writing project, and gives instructions for how to overcome such a problem.

Rettig asserts that writers should stop looking at such challenges as impenetrable “blocks” and start seeing them as tangles that can be resolved and conquered:

“Your block isn’t a monolith; it’s a giant spaghetti snarl with at least a dozen (or, more likely, two dozen) “strands,” each representing a particular obstacle or trigger. Some strands are probably immense hawsers, while others are tiny shoelaces or dental floss.
“The strands are all snarled together, and that’s your block.
“The fact that your block is really a snarl is great news because a snarl can be untangled far more easily than a monolith scaled or chiseled. And that’s exactly what you need to do – identify the strands so you can start coping with (and, ultimately, eliminating) them.”

Overall, a wise post that both recognizes that emotional issues and troubled relationships can interfere with productive writing, and offers clear strategies for dealing with this situation.

10 Writing Tips for Happy Readers
Quinn McDonald, a creativity coach who also works as a writer and trainer, provides priceless tips for nonfiction writing that is supposed to explain something or evaluate something. This post is a perfect blend of instructional design and service journalism!

Here’s a sample of what Quinn’s talking about:

If you are writing a how-to article, include the details of how to. My biggest crazy-maker of 2011–how-to articles that don’t  give instructions, directions, steps, or assumptions. Just a few nights ago I heard a financial expert tell us that if we haven’t saved enough for retirement to ‘find a job and even if you have to move out of state, stay in that job for at least 10 more years.’ No tips on how to find a job (locally, much less out of state), move from one state to another without a substantial savings account, or keep a job for 10 years without getting let go.”

All I can say to a paragraph like that is AMEN!

Infographic: The most-annoying writing mistakes | PRDaily
If you are aggravated by the writing mistakes of others, you will likely find your pet peeves illustrated on this useful infographic. All the biggies are there: using cliches, homophone misuse (accept v. except, anyone?) and punctuation abuse.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for October 18, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer | The 99 Percent
Jocelyn K. Glei has compiled a great list of insightful snippets from 25 famous authors, from P.D. James and Kurt Vonnegut to Margaret Atwood and Annie Dillard.

Here’s a sample of the quotable wisdom provided, from Cory Doctorow, author of “For The Win”:

Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.

The 5 Step Process That Solves Painful Writing Problems
Copyblogger contributor Brian Clark presents a simple regimen for avoiding writer’s block, bloated copy and do-nothing endings. The most surprising part of the system he recommends? Headlines and subheads should be developed before the rest of the body copy – which is rarely the order in which they are developed for magazine articles.

Spend Some Time Living Before You Start Writing | Advice to Writers
Jon Winokur quotes novelist Annie Proulx, who confronts the old saw “write what you know” head-on, saying, “It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. ”

Game Changer | Fast Company
Do games have any place in the training of future journalists? Adam L. Penenberg, a journalism professor at NYU, reports on the improvement in learning retention in his graduate classes after he layered in game mechanics (prizes, walking tour treasure hunts, social media leader boards) to his business and economics course. An intriguing article and interesting reading for anyone following the emerging trend of schools employing simulations and games to stimulate learning.

If “He Said, She Said” Journalism Is Irretrievably Lame, What’s Better?
Jay Rosen, journalism educator and author of Press Think blog, discusses his criticism of a recent NPR investigative series on security at the Mall of America and shares examples of paradigm-busting online publications that insist on fairness but do not hide behind “objectivity” as a way of coming to a well-researched and well-reported conclusion about the facts as a reporter has discovered them.

How to feed your journalism cow
UK journalist Adam Westbrook suggests a number of idea-sparking sources for writers of nonfiction and those in associated genres (filmmaking, photography, design). I’m most interested in exploring Adam’s own Video.fu film library, which focuses on nonfiction films that tackle their topics in a story-based way, and using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter as a source of ideas that their owners are trying to make viable.

Bonus!

Forget the candy, give books for treats this Halloween
Book editor Barbara McNichol shares a link related to the Books for Treats campaign, which aims to replace the candy-begging ritual in American neighborhoods at Halloween with adults giving out books to kids instead of candy. What a great idea!!!

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for September 6, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

Memoir’s truthy obligations: a handy how-to guide | Nieman Storyboard

English Professor Ben Yagoda and Dan DeLorenzo, a journalist, address the sticky question of accuracy in memoir writing and offer a rating system for “truthiness” and charts evaluating the honesty and readability of a number of modern and classic memoirs – everyone from St. Augustine to the reviled James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces.”

Quote and Comment | Realities and appearances, arguments and facts: Scheme for better political news.

Jay Rosen of NYU provides a handy way for reporters to sort out political news and commentary. Starting with honest-to-goodness facts and ending with phony arguments, the chart cuts through invective and is a superb head-clearer for anyone involved in covering politics.

Brainstorming strategies to combat writer’s block | PR Daily

A guest post from Mark Nichol of DailyWritingTips blog, which provides several great time-tested ways to get started or moving on writing assignments, including cubing, freewriting, listing and mapping.

Podcast Interview — Latest changes to the Associated Press Stylebook | Copyediting Blog

Grant Barrett, contributing editor for Copyediting blog (and newsletter) had a conversation with Associated Press contributing editor Darrell Christian about all the changes to the 2011 AP Stylebook. Here’s your chance to catch up on the finer points of style without getting your hands dirty!

Secrets to a Successful Fake Twitter Character | Fast Company

Adam Penenberg interviews the anonymous satirists behind @TheBillWalton, @FakeAPStylebook, and @NotBurtReynolds to find out how they have managed to garner a quarter-million followers between the three accounts.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for July 8, 2011

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Lee Gutkind, Almost Human: Making Robots Think | AT&T Tech Channel

Author and editor Lee Gutkind, dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” discusses his new book. To research “Almost Human: Making Robots Think,” Gutkind immersed himself in the world of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where students, researchers, scientists and engineers are attempting to create robots that can react autonomously to changing circumstances.

Twitter Announces Twitter For Newsrooms, A Best Practices Guide For Journalists | 10,000 Words

Jessica Roy posts about a new Twitter initiative, Twitter for Newsrooms (#TfN), a compelling resource akin to Facebook for Journalists, that will help optimize the platform’s reporting potential. The guide contains four sections, #report, #engage, #publish and #extra, each with a variety of best practices geared towards streamlining Twitter reporting and making Twitter a more efficient journalism tool.

The end of ‘television’ | Adam Westbrook

Online/entrepreneurial journalism expert Adam Westbrook discusses some of the currents moving in the world formerly known as “television” (and secondarily “film”) and exhorts those interested in making inroads in this world in the future to stop competing for training slots in the “old” paradigm channels and pick up a camera and start creating content NOW.

8 painless steps to make time to write a book | WordCount

Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” presents an awesome guest post that gets right to the heart of what keeps most writers from completing a book-length manuscript – time issues – and offers great suggestions for surmounting those challenges.

7 reasons journalists make good entrepreneurs | Poynter

Matylda Czarnecka provides some solid and inspiring thoughts about why journalists can and do succeed as entrepreneurs in a for-profit business (whether news-related or not). Some of my favorites from her reason list: journalists are good researchers and connectors, journalists know how to ask open-ended questions and journalists are used to negative feedback.

Periodic Table of Storytelling by *ComputerSherpa on deviantART

Wild, complex, amazing visual based upon the “Tropes of Legend” from the TV Tropes Wiki that outlines basic storytelling structures using the periodic table of the elements as a frame. Aimed at fiction works, but the examples of how the “elements” can be combined (at the bottom of the post) could be a useful cross-pollinating reference for nonfiction writers.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for April 10, 2011

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Finding a Story in the Facts: Greg Bottoms « BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog
Greg Bottoms discusses how to shape a compelling story from nothing but old newspaper articles and dry facts. His current writing project is a series of biographical/documentary essays on dead, self-taught religious artists in the United States.

10 useful resources about data visualization | Teaching Online Journalism
Mindy McAdams, online journalism teacher, provides a great set of resources related to data visualization, which is the bedrock of building visual information pieces that go beyond simple information graphics.

‘Journalists on Facebook’: Need-to-know info on the newly launched page | Ragan’s PR Daily
How to use the new Journalists on Facebook page for reporting and learning best practices!

Writer Unboxed | 7 R’s of Positivity for the Unpublished Novelist
Lydia Sharp posts an uplifting (yet not sappy!) roundup of words that can serve as mood boosters for fiction writers who have not yet been published. My favorites from the list include: rejoice, redirect, and redefine. A great list for any type of writer!

Revenue streams for your news business: part 1
UK online video journalist Adam Westbrook presents five ideas for monetizing written content in the first of a two-part series. He presumes journalism type writing in this post, but much is applicable to other types of nonfiction content. (Here is part 2 if you liked the previous link.)

Want More Writing Jobs? 5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart as a Writer
Vancouver based publication coach Daphne Gray-Grant, guest posting on the Quips and Tips for Successful Writers blog, offers five sage bits of advice for getting more writing work. My favorites: specialize in one niche, self-publish your books or e-books, and write faster – be a more efficient writer.

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