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140 Character Stories

Twitter is such an interesting device. I use it, mainly, to follow friends and favorite authors of mine. Among them is Maureen Johnson, YA author and resident silly-person. She actively fights for gender equality and basic human rights, as well as posting silly pictures of her puppy, Zelda.

She’s one of the main reasons I stay and visit Twitter often.

And when I had to contact a professional in the field, I figured it should be her. So I did!

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I haven’t heard back. But I’m still hopeful!

Tweets to/from Literary Agents

On February 15, 2014, I tweeted at 15 different Literary Agents/Agencies, asking “What is the best background to have if I want to become a literary agent?” 13 ignored me. The two who responded to me, Jessica Faust from Book Ends and Red Sofa Literary, were helpful and also short.

Jessica Faust answered my question point blank with the advice to get an internship at a publishing company. When I asked where Book Ends was located she just said New Jersey. Book Ends‘ website also only lists “New Jersey” but does not say where.

Red Sofa Literary, however, tweeted back many times and eventually gave me the website bookjobs.com, where I could find not only jobs in publishing but also internships.

Evolution of writing: from paper to digital

Throughout my class: the future of writing in technology, I have learned many valuable pieces of information about not only writing itself but being a writer. By learning about the history of writing and how it’s been shared, I have learned about the impact writing really has on people. I have also learned about what a writer means and how it has changed over time. What I’ve learned and my opinion on the future of writing and writers can be found in my prezi that I’ve created.

RE: Happy Birthday Colin!

In Arielle’s blog about the recent craze over Colin’s birthday she commented on the benefits of social media.

I have to agree and disagree: social media is not bad for our social habits-it is changing them. No one ever welcomes change with open arms so when events like this where parents used social media to rally a bunch of well-wishers for their, the message is beneficial. But this isn’t the only mass media trend that’s been happening, especially from the parental side of the equation.
Have you heard of shaming? It’s not just embarrassing the kid locally-it’s a national scale. Here, Smosh list 19 of the funniest Kid Shaming images they could find. While some Kid Shaming (and even Pet Shaming) is absolutely adorable, like the young girl to the left who dumped glue and glitter on her younger brother and dog, some parents are using it to shame their older children who do anything ranging from posting inappropriate pictures of themselves on social media to pretending to sell drugs to bullying their peers.

Personally, I think that’s awesome. We are in an age we what we do in say online and in real life can now be preserved. I think it’s a valuable lesson, not in applicable social behavior in person but also being smart online.

Whose Roles Is It Anyway? RE: Redefining Gender Roles

My fellow Blogateer, Arielle, posted about a photographer who decided to play with gender roles in his work. (Arielle’s Article, Original Article). The photographer uses only one model to portray both genders in the photo.

I think the images only work on the more androgynous faces. In the first photo presented, I had to spend some time realizing that both figures in the image were the same model. That time is needed for the message of re-evaluation to come across.  The audience needs to spend time with the picture and not simply glance over the piece if they are to fully comprehend the challenge of “Whose Role Is It Anyway?”

The photos with models who have less androgynous faces make me think more of sexuality and less of gender roles. 

Guys Not wanting women/people of color to write Science Fiction

I got this article from one of my classmates Amanda Yacovelli via Twitter from Zite! This particular article was written by Aja Romano titled, “Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction” found on The Daily Dot.

It came up as a conversation on a science-fiction forum. That forum revealed a section of a community that’s teaming with indignation about recent attempts to make the genre more progressive. Towards the end of the debate a group of “highly influential writers” spent a couple days lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities in their community.  Apparently it was told the guys who said these things forgot that what they wrote is public. Tumblr

is one of the social networks that is displaying the conversation, which turned out to be more sexest than about the topic itself.

The article states:

“Among the participants who are displeased at the recent influx of diversity in their community is award-winning author Raymond Feist, who eyerolled at “fugheads determined to use the organization to further their own agenda.”

Another participant, Sean P. Fodera, ranted about writer Mary Robinette Kowal, painting her feminism as hypocrisy. Why? Because she sometimes takes full-body photographs and wears dresses with low necklines, apparently.”

convo 1

The article states that last year the editor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) newsletter resigned over widespread allegations of sexism. From a systemic lack of diversity to major uphill battles of women and writers of color as a representation of the sci-fi publishing industry. After reading this I must say I’m applaud. How much longer do people of color or women have to put up with stuff like this? Do they not know how it makes them feel?

Kowal claimed some members from the SFWA had harassed her while she was vice president and secretary of organization. They didn’t think she was good for the job because she was a women even with her years of experience.  The 1,800 members of the SFWA are responsible for nominating the Nebula, a major science-fiction award.

It’s sad to say we are still fighting battles similar to this and that is not acceptable, to me!

The Silent 17%

It’s 1947. Hollywood, California is thriving–WITH CRIME! Lots and lots of crime. You are Cole Phelps, recently returned home from WWII and new member of the LAPD. You and your fellow male officers solve traffic, homicide, vice, and arson cases. There are no women on the force because it is 1947 and they all went peacefully back to the kitchen after working in the factories while you were away fighting for your country.

Wait a moment.

According to Cara Ellison in her article on Past Magazine, the first woman police officer in the US, Alice Stebbins, was appointed in 1910 in the LAPD. According to Ellison, women take up only 17% of the roles we see on stage and screen. She cited a report from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California that said only 28% of last year’s speaking roles in movies we female. Ellison references an NPR interview with Geena Davis explaining that media vastly under represents females.  Davis quoted a study that found “if there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50. And if there’s 33 percent women, the men percieve that as there being more more in the room than men.”

I’ve played LA Noire, the main game which Ellison’s article analyzes. LA Noire was not devoid of female parts. Well–actually–looking back–there weren’t a lot of speaking female roles. There were some witnesses–who I was usually done talking to within a minute or two. I have racked my brain trying to think of all the main female characters. There was Elsa Lichtman–but she’s a morphine addict, sex symbol, mistress, and doesn’t have many lines outside of shaking her hips. I recalled other names like Jessica Hamilton, a 15 year old rape victim, who, in terms of the total dialogue for the case–doesn’t say much; Deirdre Moller, who is dead when you meet her so not much talking there either; Julia Randall, dead; Evelyn Summers, dead; Candy Edwards, eventually dead.

Emma Boyes, in her article on IGN, says that as a woman, playing LA Noire is like “walking into a bar and realizing you’re the sole female in the establishment” and now that I think back on the game I have to agree. Boyes also points out that the main female role is that of the often mutilated corpse and that “breathing women aren’t absent from the game completely, but they’re under represented to say the least.” She also notes that not a single female character has any power, nor are they truly essential to the story.

It’s odd. The game is centered in a time period which was essential for the end of gender inequality, as Boyes points out. Boyes points out that “it’s interesting that films and games now choosing to re-create that era also choose to marginalize women more than those made at that time.” (The emphasis is mine and not the authors)

In the same article, Boyes explains that “LA Noire’s touchstone LA Confidential… set in the 50s, the women are… relegated to the roles of prostitutes, victims of domestic violence and corpses” and cites the fact that the staff who work on such games are predominantly male as the reason that these games sexualize women.

Writing Techne

In Bolter’s article “Writing as Technology” he cites the differences in cultural literacy. Our backgrounds with reading and writing contributes to our understanding “… that language can have a visual as well as an aural dimension, that words can be recorded and shown to others who are not present…” People who read often or who come from highly literate cultures reveal their literacy level when they are reading or writing. Illiterate people “are denied access to language” as educated people speak in combination of colloquial and literary terms.

Bolter’s also comments on the technologies related to writing, such as the pen, paper, parchment, quill, printing press, and computer and our relationship as writers to technology. If we were to distance ourselves from the computer we would still be connected to technology through the manufacturing process of the pen. He states that technologies do not invade the mind, technologies “are natural in the sense that they are constituted by the interaction of physical materials and human practices.” No computer can function as a writing space without a writer; computers are not generative beings, they required outside input.

Advancement in Writing Technologies

A response to J.D. Bolter‘s ‘Introduction: Writing in the late age of print’ and ‘Writing as technology’.

In our university, there is an Introduction to Writing Arts class, a class designed for Writing Arts majors with an interesting twist to it. The class is divided into three “modules”, where three separate professors teach three separate topics to three different groups of students within the class, on a rotation basis. Mildly confusing, but interesting. Currently, we’re in our first module, “Technologies and the Future of Writing”, which as you might have guessed, deals with writing on the internet and how writing is changed and is changing because of it. For our first assignment, our professor instructed to read two articles by J.D. Bolter, titled “Introduction: Writing in the late age of print” and “Writing as technology”. Bolter is a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he is the Wesley Chair of New Media, and he also is the Director of the Wesley New Media Center.

Writing has always been a malleable entity, though it never changed without a fair amount of fighting within the community; there are always the cries of how ebooks will destroy printed books, or how print books will destroy the chalk slate, and on and on for centuries back to when writing was first invented and threatened to destroy the oral culture. But, as Bolter states in “Introduction: Writing in the late age of print”, “Because of the tension between print and digital forms, the idea of the book is changing. For most of us today, the printed book remains the embodiment of text…we still regard books and journals as the place to locate our most prestigious texts.” (pg. 3) We, as writers and readers, will love the text more than the package it comes in.

Bolter also states in his “Writing as technology” paper that, “Our technical relationship to the writing space is always with us as readers and writers. Literacy is, among other things, the realization that language can have a visual as well as an aural dimension…” (pg. 16). He goes on to mention how as literate people, we know that what we say can be written down and continue to live there, even though what we have said is long over. Words will always be eternal, especially if written. Technologies of writing go beyond just the computer; it encompasses modern day pen and paper, medieval parchment and quills, and all the way back to ancient papyrus and reed pens. But it doesn’t stop there: it goes on to include the lips and tongue. As Bolter mentions, again in “Writing as technology”, “…however, oral poetry is no more natural than writing, just as writing with pen and paper is no more natural, no less technological, than writing on a computer screen….It is not the complexity of the devices that matters so much as the technical or literate frame of mind”.

As long as we have stories to share, writing will never become obsolete, even if the technologies to do so change. A good story will always be adaptable, and so it will always be eternal.

The Longevity of Literacy

In Bolter’s article he states that “Literacy is, among other things, realization that language can have a visual as well as an aural dimension, that one’s words can be recorded and shown to others who are not present, perhaps not even alive, at the time of the recording.” I loved this quote because it really is true. If you think about it, literacy and language have been around for far more many years than we, of the modern day, have, yet we use it every day. Life would be impossible without language. Every day language and literacy are somehow used. Whether it’s reading or sending a text, reading an advertisement, reading a street sign, writing your name, etc. there are endless ways that we use literacy every day. Thinking about how many years between the beginning of language creation and today may seem unfathomable  but what is even more unfathomable is that some of the language we use today is the same if not extremely similar to the language that was used then. Because of many ways of documentation, we are able to see that. From the very beginnings of literature ,there have been ways of recording it to share with others. Some works have been so well kept that we, people of today can still have the opportunity to read them long after their authors passed. That is the incredible thing about literacy and language. Each passing time period has it’s own progression in the documentation of literacy, but each new progression makes it easier and easier for the future generations to share the knowledge and writings of their ancestors. To me that is absolutely incredible, and one of the most exciting things about literacy and developments in technology. I also liked when he said “ No technology, not even the apparently autonomous computer, can ever function as a writing space in the absence of human writers and readers.” I completely agree with this statement. Throughout the time of literacy many advances in technology have been made, but no matter how advanced the technology may become, nothing will replace the human writer. The computer is an amazing piece of technology, but without the human, it would not be able to produce quality writing. The computer and other technologies are merely tools to aid the writing and reading process. The computer is just an advanced technology making it easier to permanently document thoughts. I agree that these writing and reading tools will never be able to replace the human writer and reader.