Friday, January 25, 2013

Write More to Write Less

Yup. We get it. This is a post about how "to be a better tweeter you should be writing more than 140 characters at a time" - right? And as you are imposing these prejudgments on this post... well... yeah that's exactly what it is. But hang with me for a second.

As the the social media coordinator for a tier 1 research institution, I am constantly focusing heavy content into two one line of a photo caption, or along side a retweet to a prospective student. So I don't always get the chance to write long, drawn-out copy. However, once a year I write once piece that is about the highlights of the past year.

This year, I had to add an historical introduction. And as anyone that writes copy for image-based publications, don't waste the space with words that you can fill with images - sorry writers, it's just the way our culture is now. I won't spend the time explaining, as I've posted it below. I did however have to keep the intro under 100 words and somehow cover some intense subject material. I am totally confident that I wouldn't have been able to create the condensed-effective copy, had I not written the longer version first.

Old Main Hill, Logan Utah, 1900s
Image for cover of publication. My designer is amazing! Check
out her blog:

First draft:

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln quietly signed a piece of legislation that would forever change the way Americans thought about education. President Lincoln understood how important education would be to heal his young country that was currently hemorrhaging. July 1st ended the Seven Days Battles, in which General Lee and his Confederate forces repeatedly attacked Union forces into retreat down the Virginia Peninsula. The culminating result of the seven-day barrage was calculated at a number of 36,058 casualties and losses between both armies. President Lincoln's ability to see through the horror of war and recognize a chance for progress in the Land-Grant Act, stands as a testament to the wisdom of the Great Emancipator.
Prior to the Morrill Act, higher education in the United States was still heavily influenced by the educational rhetoric of the Old World. Very few state institutions of higher learning had been established, and dominate pedagogical practice was similar to the practices more than 200 years prior when the first university was established in the colonies. Curriculum at the time was heavily based in the classics, philosophy, and theology, fields of study that distinctly separated socio-economical classes. Additionally, the cost of attending such an institution was such, that most families couldn't make the necessary sacrifices for members to attend. The Morrill Land-Grant Act called for equality in higher education. Education that could include both the rhetoric and theology from the old world and contemporary, applicable curriculum based in agriculture and engineering:

Without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.

The Act gave states federal land where these institutions could be established or could be funded through the sale of the land. This drastically reduced the cost of education and allowed for non-tradition demographics to obtain professional skills and higher income. The Act eventually changed the face of the nation's economy and culture. All of this was possible because a great man was able to see past the veil of blood that is war, and see a better future.

Second draft:

On July 2, 1862, just one day after our nation suffered the combined losses and casualties of 36,058 men in the Seven Days Battle, President Abraham Lincoln quietly signed a piece of legislation that would forever change the way Americans thought about education. The Morrill Land-Grant Act called for socio-economic equality in higher education. Through the sale and use of federal lands, institutions of higher education that were affordable and had a solid base in applicable practicum were established, and President Lincoln enabled a wounded nation to heal herself through hard work and education.

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