By Philipp Funk, online-manager at the school for health professions, at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW.
The day starts early at 8 am at the swissnex office with a hands-on-workshop entitled “Writing Short.”
The workshop is held by David Harris, a former physicist, communication officer at Stanford University, writer for magazines such as Wired and now student of fine arts and freelance communication consultant. He seems to be a very interesting and competent person. I like his Australian accent.
Why care about microtext?
According to David microtext is essential to engage the reader.
I fall in love with the word “concise” and look it up how to translate it into German. It’s neither short nor precise, it’s concise! And that’s how good texts are like. And then the texting! What still resonates in my microtext-brain is a quote he tells us: “I would have sent you a short message but I didn’t have enough time.”
Yes, microtexting is quite a bit of work, wether it’s for a title, a headline or a tweet. The tip I take from David is really very simple and useful:
Add what is needed and subtract what is not.
From Zurich to Silicon Valley
After that we transfer to the Twitter building up Market Street.
We get there by very old-school San Francisco tramway: Small windows, no AC, slow, crowded and bumpy: a welcome contrast to the digital world, where everything is fast, easy, smooth, clean and awesome. Love it!
At Twitter’s HQ we meet ETH Alumnus Gabor Cselle, who shows us the incredible cafeteria and rooftop terrace for Twitter employees. In this context he points out with a smile that at Google the desserts are better but all the rest is better here at Twitter.
Gabor tells us a bit about his personal story and how he landed as a product manager at Twitter.
It goes like this: after graduation at ETH in Zurich he decides to work at Google in Zurich. His path takes him through one or two more stints at Google and interesting startups.
It turns out that Gabor is the perfect example of successful entrepreneur/engineer in Silicon Valley. The career path can be boiled down to this: You work at an innovative company such as Google, you learn a lot and then apply all that knowledge to come up with your own project, which is then so valuable that it is acquired by another innovative and successful company. A virtuous cycle indeed!
Gabor’s latest startup, Namomedia, focusing on providing best user experience for mobile advertising was acquired by Twitter earlier in 2014, which makes Gabor a Twitter employee.
During our discussion, I learn about real time bidding system (RTS) to sell ad space in the web and mobiles to companies. A interesting concept, still in its infancy in Europe, but already the standard here in the US.
The day ends at swissnex San Francisco where we share our impressions of an intense week and plan how to soften our landing back in Switzerland.
Our shared experience here in San Francisco will surely help us keep sharing and learning.