Posted by: Liz Massey | October 20, 2008

Surf’s Up: Creativity Links for October 20, 2008

Photo courtesy SXC.

How your freelancing can save the world, how to set up your freelance art-making so you can save yourself, and a celebration of the birth of the modern-day concert hall, plus a look at some very high-tech paper airplanes, are this week’s contribution to the ongoing creative link love-fest that is Surf’s Up!

1. Last week, Freelance Switch blog joined scads of other bloggers in celebrating Blog Action Day by posting on how freelancers are saving the world from poverty with their talents. The post also mentions BeadforLife and Ethos Water, two examples of that new breed of non-profit pioneers known as social entrepreneurs, who use entrepreneurial techniques to further a social cause.

The blog post also links to, a micro-finance initiative that allows individual investors/donors to contribute to relatively modest amounts of money to a single entrepreneur in a developing country, which often allows that person to lift themselves and their family out of poverty. Some of the micro-credit applicants are intending to make a living through selling their arts and crafts, so this may be a very personal way for artists to be a part of the solution to poverty, by supporting the development of the business of a fellow crafter, painter, or bead-maker on the other side of the world!

2. Closer to home, the Writing Journey blog recently had an important post discussing the proper educational background for a freelance writing career. Blog author Bob asserts that a lack of business savvy doomed several previous businesses he started before taking up freelance writing:

“I dabbled, around the turn of the millennium, with my own computer business. It failed miserably, within a year of opening. There were a variety of factors that went into that failure. Some of them I could have prevented. For example, I had very little understanding of marketing, and even less understanding of how to do some basic business tasks such as keeping an inventory of commonly sold items. And don’t even get me started on the accounting nightmare.

“Some of these things, in retrospect, I could have learned in school. A course on marketing, one on business management, and one on accounting would probably have really helped shore up my business skills at the time.”

I’ve come to agree with Bob that young artists serious about plying their craft full-time should consider marketing and business management classes. Later in the post, he also points out that it is possible now to learn some of these things, as well as the finer points of new in-demand skills such as writing for search engine optimization, by taking advantage of e-books, instructional blogs, helpful how-to websites, and networking with people who know more than you do about a particular skill related to your art.

All in all, Bob brings up some important points about preparing yourself for working as a freelance writer. I wish I had had some of that knowledge when I was starting out 25 years ago—I know things would have moved along more quickly (and profitably) if I had!

3. Finally, last week celebrated the 108th anniversary of the birth of the modern-day acoustic concert hall. On Oct. 15, 1900, Boston’s Symphony Hall held its initial concert. Unlike most American concert halls, which tend to favor a wider, fan-shaped configuration, Symphony Hall was built along European lines — deep, narrow and high.

The architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White hired Wallace Clement Sabine, a young assistant physics professor from nearby Harvard, to act as acoustical consultant. For the first time ever, scientifically proven acoustical principles were applied to concert-hall design. On the basis of Sabine’s work, the hall was built using brick, steel and plaster, with wooden flooring the only soft material used.
Here’s to an American masterpiece of design and function!

Recently the World Hum blog posted a link to a video about NASA preparing to approve an experiment on the International Space Station involving a Japanese fleet of origami space shuttles made from chemically-treated sugar cane fiber paper. These tiny works of art are designed to fly from space to the Earth, and the experiment, which may take place next year, could offer insight into the next generation of spacecraft design.

More information on the planes is available at

Here’s a video that shows the origami planes in action (in the lab, of course). This is definitely one example of art with a global impact!



  1. Well, I must say this was an interesting post. Thanks for the information.

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