Author Archives: Klaava

About Klaava

The editor of klaava.com

A community built for writers needs a platform strategy

2018-06-21

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg once said that online communities can’t be created. Communities exist both in the real world and online, and all you can do is to provide tools and services that attract community members to your platform. Writing Cooperative is a community for writers, but the story how it was born is quite exciting.
writers with laptops around coffee table, photo by rawpixelPhoto by rawpixel.

Two complete strangers Jessica Jungton and Sand Farina met on the brand-new blogging service The Medium when it was just launched. They realized they both wanted to have something that would help them and everyone else write better. Since Medium provided some rudimentary tools for editing, they started from there.

In 2014, the founders of the Writing Cooperative opened it for business. Writers quickly discovered the community, and the founders asked a few people to help them run the business.

Everything seemed to be going well until Medium changed the features it provided to its users. Since the Writing Cooperative relied completely on Medium, it was a major problem for the business. After some tweaks, things worked until Medium changed its functionality again.

Recently, Medium started charging visitors for reading articles. Accidental visitors can read three articles for free, and after that they have to purchase a monthly subscription. This new policy is bound to have a huge impact on the number of visitors who would like to read the Writing Cooperative every once in a while.

Today, the Writing Cooperative doesn’t rely on Medium alone anymore, but uses messaging service Slack for communication as well.

You can read the story with the founders’ remarks at ProWritingAid.

I am surprised that a fairly large community like the Writing Cooperative has stayed on Medium. The changes the platform does will never end. The community will encounter problems in the future as well. Writing Cooperative admits that they don’t know how their revenue from Medium is made up.

10 years ago, I was one of the founders of a network of small businesses. We needed online presence and tools. We settled on a platform (it doesn’t exist anymore) that was perfect to our needs because it was intended for small businesses. We started building on the platform, but pretty soon, we realized that we couldn’t rely on constant technical and business model changes the platform was having.

We created our own site. Fortunately we had graphic designers, programmers and writers in our network who could share the work. It required more initial work and money, but we were happy after it was done and live on the internet.

The nonfiction books recommended by Bill Gates for vacation period 2018

2018-05-22

For busy people, vacations are the best time to really concentrate on reading books. It doesn’t matter if it is a beach destination, mountains or a city holiday, because during the journey and in the destination, there should be plenty of time to enjoy a good read. Our experienced travel writers recommend packing ebooks only, because it is possible to carry a large library along without adding extra weight to a travel bag.
Bill Gates recommends non-fiction books
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, who has retired from the company but manages a non-profit organization with his wife has always made sure he has time to read. Now, he has a list of five nonfiction books that he recommends for the summer 2018 (summer in northern hemisphere, that is).

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund. Gates says this is one of the best books he has ever read. The book talks about a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world—how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve.

Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. The biography explores Leonardo’s life and focuses on what made him so exceptional.

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. This is a novel that blends historical facts from the Civil War with ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son.

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian. A book about humanity’s place in the universe.

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler. A cancer patient’s funny memoir about faith.

If you are planning a holiday in the sun in south Europe, for instance, in Portugal, take a look at the travel guide to Algarve, Southern Portugal. If you are planning a vacation in the Arctic, a guidebook to Lapland in Scandinavia covers the destination.

Via Fast Company.

Here is video clip where Bill Gates talks about the books he recommends for summer 2018.

Top 5 places to visit in Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast

2018-05-14

Gothenburg is a lively city on Sweden’s West Coast that has a long and colorful history from the Middle Ages. Today, it is one of the major cities of Scandinavia where business and multiple cultures meet. The location of the city on the west coast (the second most popular vacation destination of Swedes) makes Gothenburg a wonderful holiday destination for all travelers.

The travel guide Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast covers all the essential destinations, sights, attractions, activities and places in the region. Here is an edited extraction from the guidebook: the top 5 places to visit.

Old Town, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden. A canal in the old town, city center.
The old city center of Gothenburg is known as Inom Vallgraven among local people (literally, Inside the Moat). The region is also known as Innerstaden (Inner City). The old town is surrounded by man-made canals. Gothenburg is not far from the North Sea, but the principal source of water for the canals is the Göta river, which flows from the north through the city to the sea.

In 1621, Gothenburg was granted city rights. The city center was fortified in order to protect the community from outside attacks. The canals were built, as well as protective walls (that don’t exist anymore).

Inom Vallgraven is best explored by foot. It is not a huge area. The maximum dimensions are about 1 kilometer / 0.6 miles and 500 meters / 0.3 miles. Walking along the narrow streets of this lively and busy place (especially during the weekends) is something that both locals and visitors love to do.

Haga, Gothenburg

Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden. A major city in Scandinavia.
Haga is a pretty neighborhood in Gothenburg that looks like a place for artists and hipsters, but in fact, ordinary families live in the area. It is located south of the city center.

From a tourist perspective, the main street of Haga is Nygatan. A stroll along Nygatan is like walking on the main street of a small town a few hundred years ago. Wooden buildings, streets made of stone, workspaces of craftsmen, bakeries, cafes and small shops create an idyllic atmosphere.

In the 17th century, Gothenburg expanded outside the city walls. One of the first suburbs was Haga. It was a neighborhood where the working class (such as people working in the harbor) used to live.

Slottsskogen, Gothenburg

A semi-wild deer in Slottskogen, Gothenburg, Sweden. One of Europe's best parks.
Slottsskogen (Castle Forest) is a large green recreation area about 2.5 kilometers / 1.5 miles away from the city center. It is a park, but there is also plenty of forest, a small zoo, a playground for children, a popular picnic destination and a place to see wildlife.

Slottsskogen was established in the middle ages, when the land belonged to the Älvsborg castle. The land was used for deer hunting and grazing. In 1874, the county governor opened Slottsskogen to the public. From the beginning, lawns, ponds, and paths through the woods and the zoo were the key elements of the park.

The trees and the plants in the park are mostly of local origins, but some additional species have also been planted. For example, Azaleadalen (Azalea Valley) is a beautiful display of different types of azaleas. There is a forest of linden, beech, oak and maple trees where it is possible to spot a wild deer or two.

It may sound funny, but the park is so large that it is quite easy to get lost in Slottsskogen. There are signs at crossroads, but first time visitors may want to take a map along or use a GPS navigator on the phone just in case.

Marstrand and Carlstens Fästning

Marstrand and Carlsten Fortress on the West Coast archipelago in Sweden.
Marstrand is a tidy and lovely village about a 40-minute drive northwest of Gothenburg. Carlstens Fästning (Carlsten’s Fortress) is an ancient fortress that has provided protection for the Swedish fleet and for villagers.

The construction of Carlstens fortress began in the mid-17th century. The fortress protected the Swedish fleet that was stationed in Marstrand, and also the village’s busy commercial activities. The fortress has had its current structure since 1860, which means it was under construction for 200 years. In addition to soldiers, prisoners have lived in the fortress.

It is possible to drive to Marstrand village, but the island where the fortress stands is only accessible by ferry. Part of the village, hotels and restaurants are located on the island.

The fortress web page provides information on the hours when it is open.

Bohus Fästning, Kungälv

Bohus Fortress, Gothenburg, Kungälv, Sweden.
Bohus Fästning is a fortress where many battles have been won and lost during its 700-year existence. It is located on a hill in the Göta river valley at a point where the river splits into two separate streams. Bohus is 20 kilometers / 12 miles north from Gothenburg.

Visitors have to walk up to the top of the hill to explore the fortress, but the exercise is worth every step. The views to the valley where the river flows are magnificent.

During the Medieval times, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes used to fight over the region, and the fortress changed hands (from Norway to Sweden to Denmark and back again) many times during a period of 500 years.

The fortress web page has information on hours when it is open.

The travel guide to Gothenburg and the west coast region of Sweden is available, for instance, at these bookstores:
Apple iBooks – layout designed for the iPad.
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de
Barnes&Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo

A toolkit for writers for better manuscripts using an open review

2018-05-07

Experienced authors want the best editors and reviewers to work on their manuscripts. The work of these professionals is valuable for improving the content. How does an independent author who may work alone, and doesn’t have a big budget get help like established authors? An author has created an online feedback toolkit that he already has used for his own book.
Open Review Toolkit screen shot by Salganik
Matthew J. Salganik, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, started writing a book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age when he realized he should actually do what he was writing about. The book is about new possibilities the digital world opens for researchers.

He created a web site where he posted his manuscript that he was working on for anyone to see. Not only that, he also integrated a tool, hypothes.is, that allowed anyone to annotate his manuscript. All visitors could see both the manuscript and the annotations.

When Salganik believed he had enough public feedback and closed the comments, he had received 495 annotations from 31 people. That’s pretty good, and probably means that he has spread the word to his contacts that they should visit his review site and contribute their feedback.

Salganik regards the annotations extremely helpful that allowed him to improve his manuscript. The author sees the annotations as complementary elements to his work, which is different to results of an average peer review. He says the feedback was focused on helping him write the book that he wanted to write, and didn’t lead to major changes. The annotations were often focused on improving specific sentences.

In addition to the feedback itself, Salganik’s web site collected statistics that reveal interesting things about the process.

Most feedback was given by a handful of reviewers. Although the author managed to get comments from a good number of people, most of them left a comment only.
The reviewers were most active early in the process, right after the author opened the manuscript for review.
The review process motivated the author to carry on writing the book.
The author could collect an email address list of people who visited the review site.
After the review was closed, the author realized he should have integrated an automatic page visit analysis to the system. He would have been able to get statistics on the sections that were the most and least read.

Salganik has published the toolkit he used for his review process as an open source software package at Open Review Toolkit. Technical skills are required to setup a working online review system for a manuscript.

Other systems, often based on Wiki software have also been used for developing a manuscript in public, and accepting feedback during the process. Not all people find Wiki-based systems user-friendly, so perhaps a dedicated toolkit for reviews can help authors.

Download free ebook with travel tips to Scandinavia

2018-04-09

Nordic countries are far-away, exotic destinations to many travelers. The northernmost region of Europe has plenty of space, vast wilderness areas, relatively few people, and neatly organized societies. Because of distances, it is a good idea to plan ahead a trip to Scandinavia, and learn a little about the culture as well.

Traveling in Scandinavia ebook is filled with tips to Finland, Norway and Sweden. The book is free to download right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

Saltstraumen, Norway. Lapland.
The book has plenty of tips for destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Customs and etiquette in Nordic countries are different from the rest of Europe, and behaving in sauna is easy after adopting a few key lessons from the book.

Klaava Travel Guides that have been published earlier and cultural guides provide the essential information for the book, and select chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. In any case, the book provides an overview on Scandinavia from many perspectives.

Many travelers prefer summer and sun, whereas others like snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway and Sweden. A typical summer day is warm but not too warm for outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, or whatever your favorite outdoor exercise happens to be. During winter, skiing is the number one outdoor activity, but snowmobile rides are increasingly popular as well.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton celebrated the 100th million book her program has donated to children

2018-03-05

Great artists can do great things also outside their primary careers. Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton recently celebrated in the Library of Congress, Washington the 100th book that was donated to a child in the U.S. She is the founder of the Imagination Library program that has already been in operation for 20 years. Every month, the program mails books to children.
Dolly Parton reading a book at the Library of Congress, Washington
Dolly Parton started the program in 1995 with her father, who also was the inspiration for the initiative. Her father missed school, and couldn’t read or write. The Partons wanted to help children in their home region Sevier County, but later the program expanded to cover the nation.

The Imagination Library is financed and run with participating organizations, like libraries and other non-profit organizations. A panel of educators and experts choose the books that are mailed to children under five years of age. Since the children are not expected to be able to read by themselves, it is the parents’ responsibility to take care that the quality time with books happens.

Dolly Parton is proud of her title ‘Book Lady’ that children have given to her.

View a video recorded in the Library of Congress where Dolly Parton tells about the program and her voracious reading habits.

You can view photos from the event in the Library of Congress at the Washingtonian web page.

Author walked 500 miles across Scotland for finding true love stories for a book

2018-02-22

Writers spend most of their time thinking of their work and tapping a keyboard, but that is not all they do. Many writers are more than happy to venture out to the big world for research trips and to talk to people who perhaps know something that is required to complete a planned book manuscript. An author decided to hike 800 kilometers / 500 miles across Scotland in order to discover real life love stories for his book.

Scotland scenery, a castle on a small island
Matt Hopwood hiked five weeks along Scotland’s west coast and on the islands along the coast. His route went through the Borders, along the Central Belt to Oban, across the Western Isles from Barra to the Isle of Lewis. He was on a mission to collect true stories for his manuscript that was published as a book in early 2018 A Human Love Story: Journeys To The Heart. The Sunday Post has published samples of short stories extracted from the book.

Walking as a way of finding inspiration or discovering people who can provide information for a book is an old and tried method.

In the early 19th century, a young doctor Elias Lönnrot decided that he wanted to collect ancient stories from the border district of Finland and Russia. He walked from village to village for years, and managed to put together an epic saga, Kalevala. You may have never heard of it, but J.R.R. Tolkien did, and got inspiration for his saga the Lord of the Rings.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was known for his long walks in the woods near Vienna. He took inspiration from those moments. The sixth symphony has so many elements related to nature, life on a farm, and countryside villages that he must have been affected by the walks.

Then, there are artists who write or make films about walking. Keith Foskett, who likes to do long hiking trips, has written many books about those adventures. Also film makers have recently documented long walks. For instance, As It Happens is a true story of two hikers who trekked the entire Pacific Crest Trail. Do More with Less is a film with interviews of people who like to make long hikes.

In Tokyo, book lovers can sleep in a hostel that is designed like a library

2018-02-15

Boutique hotels with design interiors and unique rooms are becoming popular, perhaps as an alternative to global hotel chains. An example is a hotel in Portugal with a vast selection of books, and now, even hostels are adopting the trend. In Tokyo, Japan, a hostel lets you sleep on a bookshelf – literally.

Book and Bed hostel in Tokyo, Japan
Book and Bed hostel in Tokyo opened in 2015. The concept is simple: a massive bookshelf accommodates both the available books and the beds where guests sleep. Sofas and coffee tables in an open space invite people who may want to socialize with fellow book readers.
hostel for book lovers in Tokyo
There are no rooms for guests, but they sleep in capsules located in the bookshelf. A bed, safe, electrical outlet and a reading lamp help travelers to rest in their wooden pods. Two sizes of capsules are available: 120cm x 200cm, and 80cm × 200cm. Claustrophobic tourists will stay away from these beds, but travelers who love books and want to stay a night in a cozy, low-priced hostel in expensive Tokyo, Book and Bed is a choice worth considering.

The concept has already been so successful that owners are opening their fifth hostel in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo in the mid-2018.
hostel where guests sleep in a bookshelf, Tokyo, Japan
The price for a night is about $50. The book selection consists of 5000 titles with a few English books as well. If you want to buy a book for a souvenir, you have to find Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers bookstore, because the hostel doesn’t sell them. The bookstore curates the book selection for Book and Bed hostels.

Free Wi-Fi, showers, bathrooms, basic toiletries, and rentable towels are available for guests as well.

All the photographs by Book and Bed. They have been taken in more than one location.

Book and Bed hostel in Tokyo, sleeping pod
Book and Bed hostel, Tokyo, sofas and coffee tables
sleeping in a capsule in a bookshelf in Tokyo hostel

Despite their strange working habits, these authors became successful

2018-02-12

Writers can have strange habits when they work. Perhaps it is because they often work alone in a room dedicated for writing, or because they really are weird. Who cares, if the results are as amazing as books by Dan Brown, Kafka, or Woolf. Here are the strangest habits (that we know about) of successful authors.
writing during night, cartoon character
I bet that the vast majority of writers are sitting by a desk, tapping a keyboard, and sipping coffee or tea. I can’t remember hearing of any odd habits from colleagues or writing groups, but of course it is possible that someone likes to write naked and another one eats carrots with his or her pet rabbit when working.

Let’s stop guessing and view an infographic produced by Custom Writing about the strangest working habits a number of famous writers have admitted they have.

strange habits of authors infographic by Custom Writing
I wonder how and why the authors have admitted their strange ways. Well, some of Franz Kafka’s stories are pretty weird, but Agatha Christie? Anyway, the authors mentioned in the infographic are:

Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac, Dan Brown, Anthony Burgess, Truman Capote, Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Friedrich Schiller, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf.

My favorites from these oddities are Dan Brown who claims his cure for a lack of inspiration is to hang head down (probably a tongue-in-cheek tip). Virginia Woolf wrote 3.5 hours standing which many writers today are doing as well to avoid painful neck and back problems.

A library in Turkey established of books rescued from trash

2018-02-05

It is amazing what people throw away into trash cans, although in some countries, throwing things away only means that the owner wants to get rid of those things quickly and easily. Recycling starts from the trash can. In Ankara, Turkey, municipal garbage collectors realized that all the books thrown away could make up a library. So they created one.

Ankara, Turkey, library of books discovered from trash
The sanitation workers in the Çankaya district of Ankara started collecting books they rescued from trash bins and shared them with their colleagues. It proved to be popular, and as the collection increased, the city decided to sponsor facilities for the initiative.

A library made up of books discovered from trash was established in an empty brick factory building in September 2017. The collection quickly grew to 6000 books, and more titles are coming all the time because residents are bringing their old books into the library as well.

“Before, I wished that I had a library in my house. Now we have a library here and it’s good. I want to read all the books,” 32 year-old sanitation worker Serhat Baytemur said.
Ankara, Turkey, library of books rescued from garbage
The library has hired a full time librarian to manage the operation. As the word has spread in Ankara, schools and educational programs request books from the library as well.

Every new book is checked before it is added to the library. Books have to be clean, and all the pages in them have to be intact.

A video report by TRT World shows the library and the men behind the initiative.

Via Daily Sabah.

The travel destinations and activities that are trending in 2018 according to social media

2018-01-29

In 2017, the travel destination that continuously showed up as a trendy place to go was Portugal. It won so many travel awards that everyone is convinced it really is an exciting destination (if Portugal is a new destination for you, download a travel guide to Algarve, Portugal’s south coast here). The hot travel destinations of 2018 that are trending in social media are located in Europe, America, and in other locations around the world.

river cruise boat in Budapest, photo by Viking River Cruise
Pinterest is a popular social media service for sharing images in albums that may include memories, ideas, plans, wish lists, or product catalogues. Pinterest members save and share tagged photographs on their accounts.

If we search photos on Pinterest that have been saved with a specific tag, for instance, Iceland or Portugal, we get an indication of the destination’s attractiveness. The more photos tagged with Iceland, the more people are paying attention to Iceland. By pinning a photo, Pinterest users are thinking of that particular destination for one reason or another.

According to data listed by Coveteur, the following destinations have seen the biggest increase in photo saves on Pinterest, indicating growing interest for the places and activities.

1. River cruises.
When most tourists think about cruises, they tend to think about the Mediterranean or the Caribbean Sea, but a river cruise along the Nile in Egypt, Rhein in Germany, or perhaps a canal cruise in the Netherlands is certainly a new experience for most travelers.

2. Deserts.
A large number of people are showing interest in visiting a desert, because photo saves have considerably increased for destinations like Morocco, Dubai, Atacama Desert, and Joshua Tree in the US.
Sahara desert. Photo by James Byrum.

3. Mediterranean islands.
The famous islands in the Mediterranean Sea, like Mallorca, Crete, Malta, Sicily and Rhodos are one of the pioneers of mass tourism. Tourists have been flocking to these islands for decades, and still do. The reason is simple, they are still very nice places to spend a vacation. The trending islands in the Mediterranean are, however, the Croatian islands and Mykonos in Greece.
Mykonos island in Greece. Photo by byus.

4. Mexico City.
It is the only city destination that has seen strong growth of interest among Pinterest members.

Mexico City. Photo by Paul Sableman

Via Travel User Guide.

Take the book about movie stunts along on your mobile phone wherever you shoot action scenes

2018-01-22

The book Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts was originally published for the Apple iPad only. The reason was that it was the only ebook system that allowed video clips inside a book at the time. Well, times have changed since the original edition was published, and so has the book, which is now available for smartphones, tablets and computers.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety, book content pagesBook pages on a smartphone.
The concept for the book had been brewing in H-P Virkki’s head, who is an experienced professional stuntman, for a long time. When the iPad started the tablet revolution and Apple introduced the iBooks Author multimedia ebook design software, he knew his vision could be turned into reality. And so we did.

The one thing with Apple is that no matter how great its products and tools are, everything tends to work on Apple devices alone. Since many movie fans and aspiring stuntmen kept asking for the book to be made available for smartphones, Android tablets and PCs, we created a mobile edition of the book that works on practically all mobile devices.

In addition to the iBooks edition, Stunts, Scenes and Safety is also available as an EPUB and Kindle book. It means that exactly the same content can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet or computer, only the layout is different.
Stunts, Sccenes and Safety, book layout on a tabletBook layout on a tablet.
The book is available in all major online bookstores that sell ebooks, for instance:

Amazon.com
Apple iBooks (the iBooks edition comes with embedded video clips – be patient with the download)
Barnes & Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo

If you get your book from the Amazon Kindle Store, download the Kindle reading application from the app store. If you download your book from the Apple store, make sure you have iBooks app on your mobile device. Other bookstores let you read ebooks in a variety of apps. For instance, FBReader, Aldiko, Kobo and Google Books are popular reading apps.

The author of the book, stuntman and stunt coordinator H-P Virkki, has performed in many movies and he has trained actors, athletes and stuntmen at dedicated courses, universities and theaters.

More about the book here.

Below a couple of samples from the iPad edition of the book.
stunts, scenes and safety book on ipad
stunts, scenes and safety - ipad screen shot