The Meeting of the Minds Blog
The MeetingoftheMinds.org blog is a place to continue the discussion and momentum of Meeting of the Minds events with an expanded and knowledgeable online audience.
Guest bloggers are selected much like our event speakers are selected – we look for innovative leaders who are working on urban projects that spotlight the main themes of Meeting of the Minds: sustainability, connectivity, smart cities, innovation, technology, energy, mobility, and the important interplay between all of them.
Recent Blog Posts
The concept of Smart Cities offers the promise of urban hubs leveraging connected technologies to become increasingly prosperous, safe, healthy, resilient, and clean. What may not be obvious in achieving these objectives is that many already-existing utility assets can serve as the foundation for a Smart City transition. The following is a broad discussion on the areas of overlap between utilities and smart cities, highlighting working knowledge from experience at PG&E.
When the idea of smart cities was born, some ten to fifteen years ago, engineers, including me, saw it primarily as a control system problem with the goal of improving efficiency, specifically the sustainability of the city. Indeed, the source of much of the early technology was the process industry, which was a pioneer in applying intelligent control to chemical plants, oil refineries, and power stations. Such plants superficially resemble cities: spatial scales from meters to kilometers, temporal scales from seconds to days, similar scales of energy and material inputs, and thousands of sensing and control points.
So it seemed quite natural to extend such sophisticated control systems to the management of cities. The ability to collect vast amounts of data – even in those pre-smart phone days – about what goes on in cities and to apply analytics to past, present, and future states of the city seemed to offer significant opportunities for improving efficiency and resilience. Moreover, unlike tightly-integrated process plants, cities seemed to decompose naturally into relatively independent sub-systems: transportation, building management, water supply, electricity supply, waste management, and so forth. Smart meters for electricity, gas, and water were being installed. GPS devices were being imbedded in vehicles and mobile telephones. Building controls were gaining intelligence. Cities were a major source for Big Data. With all this information available, what could go wrong?
If you want a healthier community, you don’t just treat illness. You prevent it. And you don’t prevent it by telling people to quit smoking, eat right and exercise. You help them find jobs and places to live and engaging schools so they can pass all that good on, so they can build solid futures and healthy neighborhoods and communities filled with hope.
Why Write for the Meeting of the Minds Blog?
Our blog is exclusively written by busy professionals working in a fast-paced industry. We know that you have a lot on your calendar, and that committing to write for the Meeting of the Minds Blog is a big ask.
So why should you spend time on this?
Reach Influential Decision Makers
Our audience is a lot like you — working professionals interested in wonky, detailed descriptions of ideas and projects happening in the urban sustainability and smart cities industry. They are executive and senior level leaders interested in staying up-to-date with the newest innovations in the industry, and looking for the “big picture.”
In fact, a recent survey of our website audience showed that 71% of our readers are either executive level, senior level, or CEOs at their organizations. And the majority of them – 51% – stated that their preferred method of engagement with Meeting of the Minds was reading the blog. You can see more results of that survey at this link.
Meeting of the Minds is an independent, non-profit knowledge-sharing platform partnered with trailblazing organizations in the public, private, academic, non-profit and philanthropic sectors. Our mission is to connect people and ideas working at the leading edge of urban sustainability, in order to catalyze positive change in cities worldwide.
There is a community of people looking to us to find and spotlight the trends and innovations happening in this space, and our blog is your opportunity to present your thoughts to this community — backed by the validation of our platform.
When you sit down to write for the Meeting of the Minds Blog, the question you should be asking yourself is this: “What knowledge do I possess that can help advance the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of cities? What do I know that others don’t?”
The progress of environmental sustainability in cities is accelerated by the flow of information between people. And when you want to communicate this information to our audience, you are not alone. We have dedicated staff – especially our Managing Editor, Hannah Greinetz – to help you craft your message. From basic things, like fixing typos, to larger issues of tone and substance, we are here to help.
Your article will be emailed to the 25,000+ people on our email list. It will be deployed on all of our social media channels, and re-deployed on our social media feeds at regular intervals for the next two years. Your article will be archived on all of the major search engines, and may even rank on the first page of search queries related to your topic.
We’ll take care of all of this promotion for you, and you’ll never have to manage it. (That said — if you are able to help us with promotion by sharing it on your own social media feeds and in our own newsletters, your articles are likely to receive even more views.)
Writing guidelines for the Meeting of the Minds Blog
“The Six Rules”
- Submissions must be greater than 800 words, but less than 2,000.
- Absolutely no advertising copy or press-releases.
- Blog posts should be exclusive to MeetingoftheMinds.org and not previously published online.
- Blog posts should be written in a non-academic, conversational tone.
- Include, whenever possible, bullet-point lists, short paragraphs, and the judicious use of bold and italics.
- Images, videos and hyperlinks are encouraged.
Please also include a short, one (1) sentence biography with your blog post. Your bio will be published with your blog post.
The Meeting of the Minds audience is a smart and busy group of people. In order to get their attention the content you write has to be readable, valuable, and compelling.
What’s the best way to grab the attention of our audience? Here are some general tips.
Write a good headline
This is something our editing team will help you with, but you should think about it, too. We share our content through social media, newsletters, RSS feeds, and any other way we can. Most of the people that we’re able to reach in this way only see the headline, then click to read more. That means we need to come up with a very compelling headline.
Note: please keep headlines to 60 characters or less.
Give away secrets
Not proprietary information, of course, but you have to give the audience something of value. They are giving you their time, and they hope to be rewarded with information they haven’t heard before and can’t get anywhere else. So tell them a secret. Give them an insight that only you know. Break a paradigm. Challenge their thinking.
Write for screens, not for paper
Studies have shown that people’s reading habits are different when they read from a screen than when they read from a piece of paper. We can expect that no one will print out your blog post to read it, so we can expect that your audience will see your content on a screen. You should, then, tailor your writing to what works best on a screen.
There was a great article in Slate magazine years ago that explains this in more detail, but here is the gist of it:
- Write smaller paragraphs – on a screen, even 1 sentence can be a paragraph. Eye-tracking tests show that most people skip over large blocks of text when reading on screens.
- Use bullet-point lists – we’re doing it right now. Doesn’t this make it easier to read?
- Use bold, links and italics to emphasize content – of course you don’t want people to skim your guest blog…but they inevitably will. Help them find the important parts by emphasizing them with formatting and links.
- Break your article up with explanatory subheaders – Sectionalize your article with subheaders that explain what each section is about.
- Write less – as we said above, you should keep your articles over 600 words, but under 2,000. Studies show that readers start to get restless after 1,000 words or so.
That will get your started. Remember that you’re not on your own with this, our editing team will help you shape your guest blog to fit our audience and our guidelines. We’ll work together to make sure your voice is heard in the Meeting of the Minds community.