This week’s Power User is Aram Zucker-Scharff of George Mason University and HackText. Aram has blogged about a wide range of topics in his lifetime and is a guaranteed interesting read, Happy readings!
Who are you?
My name is Aram Zucker-Scharff. I’m currently a new media consultant and freelance web developer. I’m also a journalist who has covered a variety of topics, mostly politics, video games and economics. I grew up in New York City and I’m living in the DC Metro area. I just finished a term working for George Mason University, also where I got bachelor’s degrees in English and Information Technology. While I was there I got to work with the groups within the Office of Student Media, student-run news outlets, journals and media groups. I had a lot of fun helping students learn about all sorts of great online tools, like Zemanta, and how best to use them. Now I’m really enjoying building new tools and sites to use them on.
What do you blog about?
My personal blog, HackText is all about narrative design, transmedia storytelling and the tools to do both. I’m fascinated by the different ways we can use technology to tell stories. The other place I do most of my writing is at Nightmare Mode, a site I helped develop that publishes critical conversations about video games.
When did you start using Zemanta?
Sometime around late 2008. I was doing political blogging for a site I had helped start up and then later for United Press International around that time. I was always looking for related content to help build context for my articles and related images that I could freely use. Zemanta happened to do both of those things. I picked it up because I was using Windows Live Writer at the time and I had stumbled across it in a list of plugins for that program. I no longer use Windows Live Writer, but I never stopped using Zemanta.
How does Zemanta help you blog better?
When I spoke to classes about the best way to blog, one of the things I would always emphasize was the importance of including an image with every post. I’d always tell students that the best thing to do was, if you didn’t have your own graphics, to find one that could be used under creative commons and I always point to Zemanta as the best tool out there to find related images on deadline. That’s one of the main ways I use it. It’s also great for rapidly adding links into the body of an article to reference important relevant sites, like reviews, home pages and Wikipedia entries.
Power User Tip:
When doing journalistic work I often find additional sources, ways to enhance an article or leads for a new article by looking in the related content links. That area of Zemanta has always been hugely helpful to me. In addition, I just found out that I can use the WordPress Zemanta plugin to assign featured images for posts, which is going to be a huge time-saver in the future.