‘Talk About Innovation Without Resorting to Cliches,’ and 5 Stories You Should Read This Week

Here’s what you missed while you spent the week preparing for the Super Bowl (please don’t sue us, NFL)…

Harvard Business ReviewYou Can Talk About Innovation Without Resorting to Clichés

Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor

Ken Gordon reminds us why—as innovators in the tech industry—clichés leave a meaningless residue between brand and audience. His advice? “You want to invest in words that retain their value.” In a (tech) bubble infested with buzzwords, it’s sometimes hard to find the balance between cliche and originality, with industry jargon somehow occupying all parts of the spectrum. The goal, Gordon suggests, is to do as Orwell advised: Don’t use a figure of speech that exists everywhere, and don’t try to sound more clever than you are. When writing in plain English, do just that. And call upon literature, not advertisements, as your muse.

The New York Times Magazine: Roger Goodell’s Unstoppable Football Machine

Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager

I’m excited for the Super Bowl for three reasons: chicken wings, commercials, and the end of football season! I know, such a cliché, a woman sick of her boyfriend watching so much damn football.

So while I was initially surprised to see The New York Times‘s Mark Leibovich—whom I usually associate with politics—writing a feature on the controversial NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, I was even more surprised when I was captivated by a great story about how football lovers and haters choose to mourn or celebrate the end of the season.

The Awl: Vagabond Express

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

I normally try to keep my selection on-topic, but I’m going off-script this week. I can only select a story about Facebook taking over the Internet so many times.

“Vagabond Express” is an excellent example of my favorite kind of structure for longform journalism: history and journalism interweaved with creative musings on the topic, which, in this case, is the complicated place of bus travel (Greyhound, specifically) in the American experience.

Even if you’ve never traveled by bus, Cullingham’s descriptions of travel’s reflective nature will make you want to buy a ticket and hit the road.

Wired: How a 3-D Printer May Have Changed the Outcome of Super Bowl 50

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

After suffering a broken arm just a few weeks ago, linebacker Thomas Davis has a shot at playing in the Super Bowl. It’s an amazing recovery, and he gives a lot of credit to a custom brace printed by Whiteclouds, a 3D printing firm. The brace was created based on a rough sketch of Davis’s arm, and he’s said it was the best fit of any he tested.

I don’t doubt that this will be a pre-game bit come Sunday, which might be the widest exposure yet for the exciting technology of 3D printing . Of course, casts and braces probably won’t set the fashion world on fire, but a 3D printed custom-fit accessory opens the imagination to plenty of future possibilities.

Full disclosure: This is coming from a company that just had two 3D printed tap handles installed on our office kegerator. The more you know.

Motherboard: Spotify’s Spam War Could Change How We Listen To Music

Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern

To protect itself against click fraud bots, Spotify had to expose the unfair payouts it gives artists, giving critics more ammunition to claim that it’s ruining the music industry. Of course, if Spotify removes songs that have experienced click-fraud, the company would be censoring the music supply since streaming is rapidly replacing personal music collections. Overall, it’s yet another look at what can happen when a tech platform controls a huge portion of an industry.

The Wall Street Journal: Noncompete Agreements Hobble Junior Employees

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Starting a new job is supposed to bring euphoria, excitement, and relief. But then there’s this awkward part in the beginning when someone slides you a contract full of legalese. Even if you understand what it all means, you don’t have much negotiating power to change the fine print. So if you’re like most people, you sign the deal and hope nothing bad happens.

My selection for this week is about when something bad happens. The article profiles a twenty-something reporter who was forced to leave a new job at Reuters after her old employer, Law360, invoked a noncompete agreement she had unknowingly signed two years ago.

The incident gives us a glimpse into a harsh reality that professionals face today regardless of industry. In the past, noncompete clauses were typically used to protect intellectual property. Now, anyone can be vulnerable, including reporters who already have to deal with low pay and widespread layoffs. Unnecessary institutional BS shouldn’t be added to that list. The legal ethics here are very murky, and after reading this, you’ll probably want to go over your contact again.

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