[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

. “Thus, we do not ask whether the State has an interest in preventing voter fraud — it does — or whether a photo ID requirement constitutes one way to serve that interest — it may — but whether the legislature would have enacted SL 2013-381’s photo ID requirement if it had no disproportionate impact on African American voters. The record evidence establishes that it would not have.” In any case, the Court makes the point I have made in The Voting Wars and many others have made. If you want to stop fraud, you don’t use ID, which targets virtually non-existent voter impersonation fraud. You go after absentee balloting, where fraud actually does occur. But that’s not what this law did. The law also excluded the types of ids likely held by African-Americans for no discernible anti-fraud purpose.

via Breaking and Analysis: Partially Divided 4th Circuit Strikes NC Strict Voting Law, Finds Discriminatory Intent | Election Law Blog

A victory for voting rights in my view. I’ve actually been wondering why we haven’t seen more measures about absentee voting, since there are no id controls beyond a ballot being sent from a given address. Although I haven’t heard much about absentee voter fraud either.

Are you registered to vote in November? Find out now and register if you aren’t.


Filed under: civics, politics
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Posted by meredithdoviak

From political campaigns to conventions, from constitutional amendments to landmark documents, the holdings of the National Archives document the history of American democracy in action.

To share some of these historic moments, we are pleased to participate in Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, contributing thirteen interactive online exhibits that tell the story of presidential elections in the United States. These specially curated exhibits feature historic photos, documents, videos, and stories related to the history and evolution of elections, how we amend the Constitution, political cartoons and campaign memorabilia.

landing page for the American Democracy Google Cultural Institute exhibit

Some highlights in this exhibit collection include a document proposing a Constitutional amendment to elect the President with a lot system, the story of how LBJ championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as presidents on the campaign trail, including some never-before-seen pictures of President Richard Nixon addressing the crowd at the Republican National Convention of 1972, photographed by renowned photographer Ollie Atkins and the White House Photo Office.

Richard Nixon standing at podium during campaign, 1972

Richard Nixon Standing at RNC Podium Over Delegates, Campaign 1972

View all of the U.S. National Archives online exhibits in the American Democracy Collection and on Google Cultural Institute.

This project is part of the Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, which brings together over 70 exhibits and 2500+ artifacts from 44 institutions dedicated to the preservation of U.S. political history and the practice of American democracy.

"Housewives for Truman" in New York, 1948

“Housewives for Truman” in New York, 1948

Can’t get enough campaign memorabilia? Be sure to follow our#ElectionCollection Instagram challenge to see more quirky, cool and surprising historic memorabilia!

[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
A couple of weeks ago Thea talked about Unexpected Superheroes, and I have been thinking about it for a while. I’ve been reading a lot of comics too and I am slightly stunned with the amount of awesome, unexpected superheroines I’ve found lately. So here is my own list of unusual comics and heroines with a difference.
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

Today, our Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) released online its Report to the President for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. This annual report covers government agencies’ security classification activities, shares cost estimates for these activities, and provides an update on the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program. This annual report was mandated by Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information.

ISOO 2015 Annual Report








Declassification highlights from this FY 2015 report include:

  • A 14 percent increase in original classification activity, for a 2015 total of 53,425 decisions.
  • A 32 percent decrease in derivative classification action, down to 52,778,354 decisions.
  • Under automatic, systematic, and discretionary declassification review, agencies reviewed 87,192,858 pages and declassified 36,779,589 pages of historically valuable records. This was a 35 percent increase in the number of pages reviewed and 32 percent increase in the number of pages declassified.
  • Agencies reviewed 391,103 pages under mandatory declassification review and declassified 240,717 pages in their entirety, declassified 109,349 pages in part, and retained classification of 41,037 pages in their entirety.


ISOO continues to monitor agencies’ self-assessments of their classified information programs. While many agency reports show improvement, others are lacking. ISOO will continue to help agencies with these assessments to ensure compliance.

Controlled Unclassified Information program:

  • ISOO continued to advance its policy development strategy, as its submitted proposed Federal CUI rule (the future 32 Code of Federal Regulations part 2002) underwent extensive agency and, after its publication in the Federal Register, public comment.
  • ISOO continued its CUI Program appraisal process to assist executive branch agencies in preparing for implementation by providing agency planners with a baseline.
  • ISOO also coordinated a timeline for phased implementation of the CUI Program for the executive branch, which will be provided to agencies at the time of the regulation’s issuance.

Industrial Security:

  • The National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) developed procedures for implementing an insider threat program, and continued to advance the government-industry partnership.
  • ISOO contributed significant support to the administration’s cyber security information sharing initiatives, guiding NISP partner agencies through the creation of novel risk management processes made effective as part of E. O. 13691 “Promoting Private Sector Cyber Security Information Sharing.”
  • The NISPPAC also focused on the challenges concerning the personnel security clearance vetting process and the methodology for authorizing information systems to process, store and transmit classified information.

The Information Security Oversight Office, established in 1978, is responsible to the President for overseeing the Government-wide security classification program, and receives policy and program guidance from the National Security Council. ISOO has been part of the National Archives and Records Administration since 1995.

I am very proud of the work of our ISOO staff in ensuring that the Government protects and provides proper access to information to advance the national and public interest.

Designing the Hyperloop with Slack

Jul. 29th, 2016 05:42 pm
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Posted by Slack

How 140 strangers came together to imagine the transportation system of the future

Photos courtesy of rLoop team

“Every engineer dreams of being the next Wright brother,” says Tom Lambot, lead engineer at rLoop — an international team of aerospace enthusiasts and engineers recently named finalists in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition. “Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to change the future of transportation?”

To answer that question, one needn’t look much further than the 70,000-member SpaceX subreddit thread where ideas like the hyperloop — Musk’s theory for a type of rapid transportation where civilians travel in pods through projectile tubes — often dominate discussion threads. In 2014, conversations kicked up when SpaceX announced a competition where teams could enter to design, build and test the first real hyperloop pod prototypes. An opportunity that was, to Lambot’s point, the stuff of engineers’ dreams.

It didn’t take long before over 140 subreddit members agreed to form a team, after which they migrated to their own subreddit thread to begin planning (hence the name rLoop — a riff on the “/r” subdomain that characterizes subreddit threads). The first phase of the competition was a design proposal. But how would these strangers even begin to put such a complex document together? The rLoop team kicked off the way most group projects would: with a meeting.

An open office anywhere

“The beginning, our first call, was really a mess,” says Lambot, “We had fifty people from a whole bunch of countries with all kinds of accents trying to talk at the same time about different subjects.”

Unable to make progress over conference call, the project leads went back to basics and created an org chart and a list of the areas of expertise and sub-teams needed to design and build their prototype.

“We decided that Slack would be our office on the internet where all the operations would happen,” says Lambot.

With the team picture coming together, Tom and his fellow lead project managers experimented with Slack, organizing channels by each sub-team (#aerospace, #electric, #manufacturing), then inviting team members to join the channels relevant to them.

Designing, debating and deciding as a team

Putting together a design proposal is a complicated process for even the smallest teams, imagine trying to compile one with 139 other people who expect equal say. The first major point of friction came when the team had to decide between two design approaches.

“I think very early, the philosophy we took was that everybody would have the opportunity to be heard, but that the team would then rally behind the best solution,” says Brent Lessard, a project manager and one of the founders of rLoop based in Toronto. “A lot of the team wanted to stick with the purity of Elon’s initial [Alpha Papers] proposal and then there were others looking at the numbers saying it’s not going to work. So we put the ideas to a vote on Slack.”

The rLoop team built a bot called “Jarvis” that would allow team members on Slack to submit their vote via a slash command (for example, typing /1 to vote for air bearings or /2 for an alternate solution), then Jarvis would automatically tally the votes.

Lambot recalls Slack being especially useful as the deadline for the design proposal approached. With so many people contributing to a single document, communications around what information to include in the report soon grew unwieldy.

“I locked it down to view-only and started to move conversations from comments in the document to group direct messages and channels in Slack,” explained Lambot. “That way I had a direct line to the people I needed to get answers from while maintaining order in the document.”

Keeping in the loop

With competition deadlines constantly looming, and new information surfacing all the time, staying up to speed becomes a skill in its own right. Brent, Tom and the rest of the engineers at rLoop have found a few more creative ways to turn Slack into a hyper-efficient virtual lab:

  • New team members are given a strong start by being added to the #intro channel where a project leader welcomes them and refers them to the Slack channels relevant to their interests and expertise.
  • To cut down on time spent searching for information, rLoop engineers configured Slackbot and slash commands to act as a shortcut for surfacing important project documents. Now when someone types /system design documentation, for example, Slackbot will return a message containing a link to that document.
  • Sponsors and board members are invited into the rLoop Slack team so they can get frequent updates on project progress and get a realistic view of how their investments are being used.
  • To accommodate the schedules of a global team, rLoop hold most of their meetings in Slack or, at the very least, fastidiously summarize meeting outcomes in a Slack channel to document decisions and keep conversations open and accessible to all team members for their input.

Six months after rLoop first formed, a group of the project’s leaders found themselves in Texas to officially present the team’s design proposal.

“We had never met in person at that point, never been in the same room or even looked at the same white board,” says Ilyas Vali, an assistant project manager based in the UK. “All that work happened on Slack. But when we did meet for the first time, everything seemed so natural. We’d already spent so much time on Slack talking, sharing and working with each other.”

rLoop officially passed the design phase of the competition in 2015, beating out hundreds of teams and moving on to the build phase. Once their pod prototype is constructed, they’ll head down to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California to test their creation on a hyperloop track. While the majority of the team’s work still happens in Slack, several members have congregated at a facility in Menlo Park, California to work on the pod’s construction.

“The best thing about the rLoop team is having a hundred eyes looking at the same problem and working on it together,” says Lambot, waxing philosophical on the value of open source principles. “Someone might spot something wrong over here, or someone might actually have the solution to your problem, and having a single place where all these people can voice their opinions — despite whether they’re naturally shy or have a strong personality in person — is really in the spirit of what we’re trying to do. Slack has given us a format that allows us to work the way we want to work.”

Lima Al-Azzeh hopes the hyperloop will come to fruition in her lifetime. But no pressure.

Designing the Hyperloop with Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Girl's Best Friend

Jul. 29th, 2016 04:45 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Author-illustrator Randy Cecil has written and/or illustrated nearly 25 (if I’m counting correctly) picture books in his career thus far, and I always like to see what he’s up to. (2008’s Duck never fails to put a serious lump in my throat.) His newest book, Lucy (on shelves in early August), defies categorization in some ways. Let’s just say it defies, as the Kirkus reviewer notes, simple categorization. That is, it’s a picture book, to be sure, but it’s a 144-page one.

How to share files in Slack

Jul. 28th, 2016 05:00 pm
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Posted by Slack

Manage docs and projects without a mess of email

Anyone who has worked with other people on a file knows how disorganized the process can often be. You have multiple versions, times when you need to hand off the work to others, and times when work grinds to a halt while everyone waits for sign-off from a manager. Then throw in a dizzying array of apps, services, and hundreds of emails back and forth.

Sharing files in Slack is a lot easier. We’ve produced a short video explaining how to upload and share files, get feedback on them, and get your work done in a faster and more organized way. We’ve also covered some highlights below.

Basics of file sharing

Sharing files in Slack is as easy as dragging a file into your Slack app window. Or you can hit the + menu on the message input and choose the Upload a File option. File uploads have a limit of up to 1Gb in size.

Dragging a file into the Slack app to share

Working with native and outside service files

Slack works with native uploaded files as well as those shared from popular services like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. The titles and contents of files are indexed by search, and continuously updated as files are edited in other apps. Sharing rights carry over from other file services as well, so if only a subset of team members have access to a file on Dropbox, that won’t change when pasted into Slack.

Searching for files in Slack

Tips for sharing files

Files in Slack can have direct replies, so all conversation about a file can be linked to it. This makes it easy for anyone to find discussions associated with a file and see how decisions were made. You can also use emoji reactions in a variety of ways. Often at Slack, we share mockups or drafts and ask for review and comments. Other team members will put an :eyes: emoji on file to show they are looking at it, and a :white_check_box: to indicate when they’re done with their review. The :thumbs_up: emoji is often used to approve and sign-off on completed project files.

Conversation threads in replies to files

Sharing files in Slack cuts through the clutter of email, unifies your existing cloud storage, and makes search, discovery, and discussion of files as straightforward as possible. For more information, our Help Center has a bit more background on the subject.

Matt Haughey has shared 1,815 files on Slack’s own team, only a small subset were related to the musical Hamilton.

How to share files in Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Book Club 2016: The Halfway Point

Jul. 28th, 2016 05:15 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
As my bio says below, I run a library in rural Maine. And by, “run a library in rural Maine,” I mean that I’m the only full-time employee, responsible for ordering materials and cataloging them and running the circulation desk and troubleshooting tech issues and answering reference questions AND planning and running programming for all ages.

Sonya Mukherjee

Jul. 28th, 2016 05:15 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Conjoined twins are one of the rarest human mutations, occurring in roughly 1 in 200,000 babies, most of whom either die soon thereafter or are surgically separated. With just a handful of attached twins alive today, they’ve taken on almost mythical status, especially in fiction. In her debut novel, Gemini, Sonya Mukherjee takes a very different approach to the story of pygopagus twins Clara and Hailey, exploring their otherwise very ordinary lives as high school seniors in rural California. Clara is smart and shy, fascinated by astronomy but afraid to leave their small-town home, even for a day. Pink-haired Hailey, on the other hand, is desperate to experience the world but can’t bear to upset the careful balance of her family.

Out of the mouths of babes

Jul. 26th, 2016 05:05 pm
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Posted by Slack

Radical Candor author Kim Scott on how to nurture the constructive honesty we lose as adults

“I don’t really like that idea, can we try something else?”

If someone said that to you during a meeting, you might be taken aback by their bluntness. But when we interviewed a group of kids on the Slack Variety Pack podcast for pointers on how to handle the challenges of teamwork, those were the words one boy directed to his teammate.

Another kid, when asked if he liked working with other people, said, “A little. Sometimes they yap at each other and I’m just left out doing nothing.”

We start out so direct and honest, but it gets a lot harder to speak our minds as we get older. Why does this happen? And what would happen if we brought our true voices into the workplace?

We’ve been following the work of Kim Scott, author of the forthcoming book Radical Candor, and wondered if she’d have any insights into these questions. Radical candor, a term Scott coined, is being direct in a way that shows someone that you care at the same time as you challenge them.

Or, as Scott puts it, “Radical candor is at the intersection of giving a damn about people and being willing to piss them off at the same time.”

We’re socialized to hold back

In childhood, we all start out so honest, sometimes brutally so. We’re taught that our words can hurt people’s feelings. Hence the popular adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” This early lesson is reinforced in social settings later on when we experience offending someone when we didn’t mean to.

“We stop saying what we really think because it feels too risky,” explains Scott. “All of a sudden you become a manager and it’s your job to say it. You’ve built up an instinct for repressing what you really think since you’ve learned to talk. Undoing your instincts is really hard.”

An example of radical candor that Scott likes to share took place years back after she had given a presentation to the founders of Google. Scott had recently joined the company and her boss at the time, Sheryl Sandberg, pulled her aside afterwards and praised certain aspects of her presentation before pointing out that Scott said “um” a lot. At first Scott ignored this point, but then Sandberg was more direct and told her that the many “ums” made her sound stupid.

We can all imagine situations where something seemed too small to comment on, so you held back. In Scott’s case, Sandberg’s frank comments helped her see a minor detail—a common nervous tick for many presenters—that undermined her own intelligence. Scott worked hard to eliminate those pesky little “ums”, improving her public speaking style in a big way.

Radical candor goes both ways

Creating a culture of candid feedback is important in the workplace because it’s essential to team building and to establishing trust.

The best way for managers to begin creating this culture of guidance, as Scott calls it, is by soliciting feedback from their employees and demonstrating the kind of humility needed to hear it.

This sounds great in theory, but how can employees speak the truth to their bosses without worrying about losing their jobs?

When it comes to being radically candid with your boss, she advises, make sure you take a humble approach. Don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, ask for context rather than assume ill intent. “Remember that bosses are people too,” she says.

Shape, don’t squash, early honesty

As she wraps up her book, which will be published next year, Scott is facing a personal challenge of putting her learnings into practice. As the mother of 7-year-old twins who say direct and often harsh things, she thinks a lot about ways to teach them how to be sensitive to others’ feelings and still be true to themselves. “I spend a lot of time saying, ‘I hear what you think but can you think of a way that shows me you have some respect and care about me as a person,’” she says. Sometimes she gets eye rolls. And sometimes they get it. Ultimately, even if it stings sometimes, she wants to hear their honesty.

“I don’t want to break them out of it,” she says.

Emily Brady tells it like it is.

Out of the mouths of babes was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Records Management Self-Assessment

Jul. 26th, 2016 05:58 pm
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

I am pleased to announce that the 2015 Records Management-Self Assessment (RMSA) report is now available.

Laurence Brewer, Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government, said, “This is our seventh RMSA, and we are very pleased to see real progress being made by agencies. We expect this improvement to continue, especially as agencies continue to work towards achieving the goals in the Managing Government Records Directive.”

Some highlights from the 2015 data include:

  • There continues to be gradual improvement in overall scores.
  • RMSA findings and recommendations are consistent with the goals and requirements of the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18). We believe improvement will continue as the requirements of M-12-18 are implemented and as our records management oversight activities persist.
  • The majority of agencies indicated their records management staff have oversight over records created at the highest levels of their agency (i.e., those of the agency head and appropriate advisors and executive staff).
  • Agencies have policies and procedures in place for email. However, there is little or no auditing for compliance.
  • A majority of agencies are planning to implement the Capstone approach for managing their email.
  • Fewer than half of agencies report having records management staff participating in the design, development, and implementation of new electronic information systems. Of those who participate, only a quarter have approval authority.
building survey

Surveying the records management landscape across the Federal Government.
“Building Survey,” National Archives Identifier 32200321

We use this annual self-assessment to determine whether Federal agencies are compliant with statutory and regulatory records management requirements as well as to identify trends and areas where further guidance may be necessary.

Federal agencies use the annual self-assessment to identify strong and weak areas of their records management programs and to determine the impact of changes they have made since the previous self-assessment.

As a whole, the data in this report is used to improve records management practices within the Federal Government. Records management is the backbone of open government; effective records management by all Federal agencies ensures the preservation and access of the permanently valuable records of the Federal Government.

If you have any questions regarding the RMSA, please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or send an email to rmselfassessment@nara.gov.

Extraordinary Creations

Jul. 25th, 2016 05:57 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
You know those Today in History lists? I love them, and I look at them almost every day. More often than not, they send me down some internet rabbithole about some historical event, figure, or oddity; sometimes they prompt me to start poking around, looking for fiction about the subject.

Vote – It’s Important

Jul. 25th, 2016 02:38 pm
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

I’ve heard some people tell me that voting doesn’t make a difference. It does, at least to the Republican Party. They think voting is important enough that they called for extra hoops for people to jump through, at least that’s how I interpret this phrasing from page 7 of their 2016 Platform:

We are concerned, however, that some voting procedures may be open to abuse. For this reason, we support legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting. We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.

If voting was meaningless, why would Republicans want to make it harder to vote (know where YOUR birth certificate or passport are? Those of all your family members?) AND make it harder for voters to challenge such restrictions.

Make a difference in the next election. Vote. All the way down the ballot.


If the PDF file doesn’t come up, you should be able to find the platform at https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/

Filed under: politics
[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by usnationalarchives

This post comes from Jon Voss at Historypin, our partners in the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences.

Two weeks ago we introduced the user-centered approach NARA is taking to engage existing and new audiences with our Wartime Films holdings. This week we look at how research and analysis has helped us narrow our focus on particular audiences and a subset of relevant content.

Of course, one of the major challenges at a cultural heritage institution with the size and scale of the National Archives is narrowing the scope of a project like this so that it’s not completely overwhelming. Because we were in the middle of the 100-year commemoration of World War I (from 2014-2018), and had enough lead time to be prepared for the United States entering the War in 1917, we felt that the 2017 anniversary was a natural kickoff for our engagement efforts. In addition to the films, about 100,000 rarely seen WWI images are being digitized and cataloged, all amounting to a lot of new metadata that can be combed for new data analysis.

Grid charting engagement and impact levels for all audiences

From the nine target audiences we identified earlier, we narrowed it down to three different audiences that we thought we could either effectively reach or could develop a deeper level of engagement with. We settled on: educators, museums, and digital humanist/coders. NARA has an amazing education team who works with teachers in regional locations and online through DocsTeach, and can help guide development of teaching aids and curriculum using this newly available content. For the museum partner segment, we are taking full advantage of the fact that all of the content being released for this project is in the public domain. We hope to get the digitized films and photos into the hands of regional and local community museums,helping them to find ways to reuse content in their own exhibits and community events. The NARA exhibits unit has started to lend their expertise toward that end, as well as to make available a WWI-themed traveling exhibit. Finally, we intend to reach out to digital humanists and coders that will have an interest in the metadata about the photos and films for their own uses and scholarly research. For instance, we are exploring how this audience might help parse out names of U.S. training camps and locations mentioned, or whether it’s possible to break out films by scene and compare them with newly-digitized shot lists that provide detailed metadata about each shot.

The three groups we chose to focus on represent the biggest potential for helping NARA reach new audiences and amplify local community efforts.

Persona summary for teachersEducators: This group includes teachers and teacher trainers working at the
K-12 level. Currently, NARA provides strong support to this group through our Education Department and a network of Education Specialists across our regional branches, the
DocsTeach program, and educational publications. There is poten
tial for heavy engagement with this group by collaborating with education staff to complement their programs and getting the wartime film archives into teaching materials.


Museums: This group includes history museums nationwide of varying sizes. There is potential to grow engagement with this group, some of whom, have previously searched for NARA content to utilize in exhibits or in their own programming. We can increase museum engagement by tapping
into existing networks and promoting the wartime films as a seed to open up local collections and personal connections in diverse communities around the country.

Personas-CodersDigital Humanists/Coders (originally called History Enthusiasts):  This group currently has limited interaction with NARA and represents a challenge for us to reach. However, close collaboration with NARA’s Innovation Hub offers the potential for high-return results.



You can read in-depth personas for each groups’ primary needs, behaviors, and ultimate goals for sharing NARA content in this report.

In the next post in this series, we’ll explore the specific goals and outcomes identified for this pilot.

How to manage your Slack channels

Jul. 22nd, 2016 05:03 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Ideas for organizing all your team’s information

Every Slack team starts with a #general and a #random channel, and most grow from there. Figuring out how to organize all of a company’s information around channels can be challenging, but with a bit of forethought and planning, you can keep everyone up to date and on the same page.

To help, we made a short video on everything you need to know about using channels in Slack. We’ll hit on some high points below as well.

Channel basics

Public and private channels, as well as direct messages, are listed in the left sidebar.

Channels in the sidebar

Keep as much discussion as possible in public channels, so everyone can see how and why decisions are made — like when a new logo is decided by the #design-team, everyone in #sales can review the process if they like. Public channels can be searched by anyone at a later date, which grows increasingly important the longer your team uses Slack. New hires can also quickly get up to speed thanks to scrolling up through history to read any channel applicable to their new position. Private channels can only be seen by invited members and are best limited to discussions of sensitive or confidential matters.

Organizing channels

It’s a good idea to start small in new teams, limiting conversations to a handful of channels covering broad topics. If you ever feel discussions are moving too quickly or covering too many disparate subjects, that might be the time to siphon off activity into new, more specific channels.

Channels organized by teams with more specific topics beneath

You’ll likely first want to add channels that correspond to teams inside a company. For example, #sales, #marketing, #engineering, and #design channels. Then as those get busy, you can add sub-topics like #engineering-ios, #engineering-desktop, and #engineering-android channels for people working on specific projects. This helps ensure that no one is distracted by discussions that they don’t need to be a part of.

Naming conventions are great for helping your team find everything they need. The key to a good channel naming policy is making things predictable for employees looking for information later on. So that might mean all project channels start with #proj- followed by the title of the project, and channels that grow from general groups maintain the name of the original, like a #sales-survey channel discussing customer survey results is clearly part of the sales team’s work. For additional ideas, we have an article in our help center dedicated to naming conventions.

Tips for reducing noise and staying focused

Everyone is automatically part of the #general channel, so you might want to limit it to just important company announcements that everyone needs to see. You may also want to establish a default common chat area like #random as the place for informal discussions among your team.

It’s good to keep work channels focused on the work. You can always ask that people move chatter into #random or point out more appropriate channels if their posts are off-topic or out of place.

A great way to track your most important channels, especially in busy teams, is to use the star feature. Star your favorite channels and they’ll rise to the top of the left sidebar, making it easy to stay up to date on discussions.

Leaving channels is easy

And it’s quite alright to leave channels you don’t need to be in. Remember you can always search for things in channels you’re not in, while keeping your channel list limited to your most important discussions.

Matt Haughey probably follows 200 out of the 1729 channels at Slack.

How to manage your Slack channels was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Head Spaces

Jul. 22nd, 2016 07:18 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Getting into the heads of children and creating stories that reflect their ways of thinking isn’t an easy thing to do. Some picture books do this quite well, really standing out on bookshelves. I’ve got two new ones on the mind today.
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Lima Al-Azzeh

Teamwork en pointe

Ballet BC dancers in their finest socks.

Ballet BC is not your average ballet company. There are no prima ballerinas, no dancers hungrily vying for the spotlight. Instead, it’s a place where dancers are given license to create and inform choreography and where, during rehearsals, they can frequently be found willingly lending each other advice on form and technique. It’s the truest definition of an ensemble.

“Most traditional ballet companies operate like a high court: you have the ‘King’ and the ‘Queen’ type figures presiding and everyone else is siloed based on hierarchies; that’s not the type of company we wanted to create,” says Executive Director Branislav Henselmann, speaking of the work he’s been doing for the Vancouver-based company alongside his partner, Artistic Director Emily Molnar, over the last six years. This year, they’re embarking on their most ambitious season yet as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ballet BC.

Left: Executive Director Branislav Henselmann. Right: Artistic Director Emily Molnar

Henselmann and Molnar have an ease about them that makes it clear they’ve been working together a long time. As Executive Director, Henselmann oversees the administrative and production side of things, while Molnar’s duties as Artistic Director have her working with choreographers, running rehearsals, and managing tours and productions.

“There is a very sophisticated machine that we need to build around the performance itself”, says Henselmann, “Something Emily and I talked a lot about is that we wanted to make sure all the work produced backstage is a reflection of what you seen on stage — every word written for a brochure, a website has to be on par with every single combination and movement you see on stage.”

Dancers: Brandon Lee Alley, Emily Chessa, Scott Fowler, and Cristoph Von Riedemann. Photo credit: Michael Slobodian

Their first step was to start having more, and more candid, communication: “We really go in there, we research ideas, we question things, we take that very seriously,” Molnar explains, “We go across a lot of the different areas together and talk about stuff as a team. But when we come to final decisions, we make sure to give everyone — dancers, staff members — a lot more information about how and why we made those decisions. That way there’s no room to invent a storyline about it.”

But how do you get such a versatile team consistently moving in the same direction? Molnar lends some insights here, too:

I think a lot of ballet companies are interested in excellence. And I think it becomes a question of leadership, as in: Do you achieve that through a fear-based situation or do you achieve that through motivation and empowerment?
That sounds very simplistic, but it’s incredibly difficult to achieve. Mostly because not everybody actually wants that. Some people really respond to hierarchy because maybe they like to know they’re proving something, they know exactly where they fit.
But it’s interesting to see how you can create a very equal situation where people are motivating themselves to fulfill their potential. It’s not about things being easy, it’s more about creating an environment where you’re not relying on someone else to push you or create fear in order for you to achieve. You’re doing it from your own desire.
Dancers Gilbert Small and Brett Perry. Photo credit: Michael Slobodian

The duo describe their team as curious and open minded, always thinking of and contributing new ideas. Last year, a pair of dancers asked to take over the company’s social media; they wanted to share their art with their supporters and bring them into their world. To Henselmann, it was a good sign their model is working.

This season’s program is stunning, fresh and contemporary. They work with some of the world’s most esteemed choreographers. They sell out often. Yet, according to industry standards, they’re known to be on the smaller side. A fact that doesn’t seem to phase Molnar.

“There are companies that have way bigger budgets than we do. It goes back to the strength of culture. If your integrity and your premise of why you make — why you’re doing something — is sound and from the heart (or however you want to describe it) that will attract people. And money becomes — obviously, we all have to make a living — but it’s secondary to a greater desire to create change and create meaning.”
Artistic Director Emily Molnar with dancer Derren Devaney. Photo credit: Michael Slobodian

This anniversary is especially meaningful. Molnar likens it to a person turning 30 years old: “What does it mean to be thirty?”, she says, “You have a bit of history behind you, you have some weight, but also this urge to go forward. It’s a really beautiful moment. It’s a turning point.”

If you find yourself lucky enough to be in Vancouver, B.C. this spring, consider catching one of Ballet BC’s beautiful performances. You can learn more about their program here.

What a ballet company can teach you about leadership was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

The Winter Keeper

Jul. 22nd, 2016 01:28 am
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Lima Al-Azzeh

Dispatches from the frontiers of a job on the brink.

This is Steven Fuller. For 9 months of the year—every year, since 1973—he’s worked all alone as the sole Winter Keeper (or caretaker) for Yellowstone National Park. And this may just be his very last season.

Here, he shares a few of his favorite snapshots from life in the majestic winter wonderland he’s called home for over two decades. Enjoy this rare peek and be sure to listen to his full story below.

Fuller writes, “Waiting for breakfast. Her eyes are closed, her audio senses are focused, her ground-probing ears are fully deployed listening for sounds at the bottom of the snowpack…”
“Up! She hears a sound in the underworld, squeaking or rustling a couple of feet below in the open lattice work of frost crystals at the interface between the snow pack and the earth where rodents are active throughout the winter. What she hears sounds like breakfast.”
“Target acquired. Launch! She is zeroed in on where exactly the vole is, unaware, below the snowpack.”
“Gravity’s rainbow. Maximum ballistic velocity for deep snow penetration.”
“Piercing the snow roof (from her perspective), through the ceiling (from the rodent’s perspective), to snare her quarry. Throughout the winter, voles live under the snow in cosy, dry grass ball nests and move about to visit their seed caches. Any small sound will give them away if a predator is sitting overhead. What a startle for the vole when the ceiling of his world implodes and he is clamped inside needle-toothed jaws!”
“The misfortune of one sustains the other.”
“I am Steven Fuller. I am 69 years old. I have lived and worked in the center of Yellowstone National Park, at Canyon Village, for 42 winters now…”

The Winter Keeper was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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