FreakyFriday – Weird of the Day: Long Live the Royal Molecatcher

By iCopy blogger Alex Dalenberg

We live in an age of disruption. Trends come and go. Companies rise and fall. Groupon surged out of the gate to be hailed as the next big thing, but it now seems to be declining just as quickly, with its shares tumbling. The New York Times, the closest thing there is to a bastion of old media, announced this week that it will be offering buyouts for 30 newsroom positions.

But there are some jobs and industries that stubbornly endure. Enter the royal molecatcher of Versailles.

Yes, according to the Associated Press, an official molecatcher has been gainfully employed at the French court since the 1600s, surviving the monarchy itself, multiple revolutions and two world wars. Today the job is held by Frenchman Jerome Dormion, who even signs his text messages, molecatcher to the king.

Versailles it seems, isn’t just a pleasure garden for the human set, but also moles. The population has been booming since its natural predators – wildcats and weasels – have declined in the wild. The job is still much the same. Even the tools haven’t changed. Dormion is charged with keeping the roughly 2,000 acres of grounds – an iconic symbol of France – mole free.

Not to uh, make mountains out of molehills, but I actually see a few smart business lessons buried here.

1. Dormion fills an important niche: a single mole can make up to 30 molehills per day, so even a handful of moles can completely deface a country estate.

2. He’s unlikely to be replaced until engineers invent an efficient mole-catching robot, probably not a major concern for robotics experts.

3. He’s an expert. Most amateur gardeners struggle to capture wily moles, which are exceptionally intelligent.

What does your business do that will stand the test of time? Do you have a “royal molecatcher” position?

Photo credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

Freaky Friday: Weird of the Day – #drunknatesilver Ruins Freaky Friday, Debunks its Freakiness

By: Alex Dalenberg, iCopywriter Blogger

“Statistically speaking, Friday isn’t freakier than any other day of the week.”

OK, New York Times über stats geek Nate Silver didn’t actually say that, but we imagine that he might, especially after putting back a few. Welcome to our favorite Election Week meme, #drunknatesilver. Twitter is having statistically unprecedented amounts of fun (unprecedented except to Nate Silver) imagining the math man carousing about the town to celebrate his dead-on prediction in the presidential election.

This isn’t that surprising. Silver was more or less dead on predicting the 2008 presidential election, missing just one state. And while some see Silver as a wizard, he uses a fairly straightforward forecasting model that averages the results of numerous polls and gives more weight to the ones with a better track record of picking the eventual winner. The idea is that, this way, outliers have less of an effect on the prediction.

A few of the best #drunknatesilver tweets.

@davelevitan: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, screaming out what time each driver will get home. #DrunkNateSilver

@kelkulus: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through the streets, shouting obscenities at the future ex-wives that he has yet to meet. #DrunkNateSilver

@copyblogger: Drunk Nate Silver says “Call me maybe? I’ll know it’s you because your number is …” #drunknatesilver

All kidding aside, Nate Silver is a model of viral success for every blogger seeking to create compelling, vital content. He started as a relatively humble contributor at liberal political blog Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com, but because his work focused less on the ideology and more on the numbers, he found a much wider readership.

Silver turned his musings and number-crunching into the smash-hit website FiveThirtyEight.com which was subsequently picked up by The New York Times. According to the executive editor, it’s now one of their biggest traffic generators.

His new book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail, but some don’t” is also worth a read. Not just for political junkies, but any business decision maker who wants to better understand how to sort good information from the bad.

As we see it, here are three lessons to takeaway from sober Nate Silver.

1) Use content to address an unmet need.

Silver saw that most political coverage struggled to rise above the day-to-day minutiae, spin and partisan emotion dominating the news cycle. Silver found a way to let the data speak for itself. Readers looking for a better way to make sense of the political climate flocked to his approach. What need does your content fill?

2) Don’t just aggregate, interpret.

Polling is a mainstay of modern politics, but Silver isn’t a pollster. He’s an aggregator but, more important, an interpreter. The numbers aren’t his, but he explains them. Don’t just retweet and repost. Give readers context.

3) Make your content indispensable. 

Easier said than done, but there’s a reason the bleary-eyed hordes of political junkies keep Silver’s website bookmarked: his take on the polls are can’t-miss content. These days, if Silver isn’t part of your repertoire, love him or hate him, you just don’t follow politics. If only all of us could say that about our industry blogs.

#drunknatesilver says be like him and you’ll have at least a 72.3337492 chance of content success.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: joewcampbell

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Texting While Walking: Top Ten Freaky Mishaps

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

Ok, who are we kidding?  These are more funny than freaky, but we’re in the spirit of Friday the 13th around here.

Earlier this month, as a part-April Fool’s Day prank and part-public service announcement about pedestrian safety in the digital age, Philadelphia installed a lane on a busy downtown street specifically for people who were texting while walking. While the distracted walkers lane stayed only a week, we share the sentiment. So without further delay, we bring you our list:

Top 10 Freaky Texting-While-Walking Mishaps

10. You might not notice a runaway bear, like the man in this video. (It’s ok, we LOL’d too).

9. You might walk into a parade route and be forced to play the tuba in a local marching band.

8. You might fall over on live TV (Uh, yeah, that’s the camera man laughing at her).

7. You might amble through someone’s elaborate marriage proposal.

6. You might walk right into Lake Michigan.

5. You might step in gum, dog poo or worse. (Gross, grosser or grossest).

4. You might end up in a documentary and posted on the New York Times’ website for public mockery. (Take a minute – watch this…you will chuckle).

3. You might fall into a manhole in New York City and land in raw sewage. (A fine piece of news coverage).

2. You might walk right into a fountain at the local mall. (Can’tStopCrying.com).

1. You might get hit by a car and die.

So if you aren’t in the mood for public humiliation, stinky shoes, injury or sudden death by oncoming traffic, we suggest not texting while walking. Seriously.

Have you checked out iCoypwriter.com lately?