Tag Archives: authors

The Hidden Curriculum of Social Media

For those who don’t know, the term “hidden curriculum” refers to the things in everyday social life that are hard for people on the autism spectrum to pick up that others just do unconsciously. From the perspective of a person with autism, these things are “hidden” because they simply don’t see them. It’s not out of willfullness or stubborness, they are social cues that are too subtle for them to read.

While I’m not on the spectrum, I feel like I have had a full run-in with the “hidden curriculum” of social media lately. I’m a casual user of Facebook. I don’t know the ins and out of it. I don’t “poke” people. When I share posts I credit the people I shared them from, because in my mind, that’s the proper thing you do. You give credit to the people you’ve borrowed something from. I remember enough from Pinterest a couple of years ago to know people were up in arms about not giving credit there.

I don’t know how “tagging” works. But, apparently it’s a pretty darn big deal. Enough so that it warrants warnings like this from people: “I have to say this far too often: don’t tag me in any post not specifically related to me and don’t add me to groups. Both acts earn an unfriend and block.” Now, “not specifically related to me,” that seems perfectly fair. And adding to groups? That would be downright rude. “Both acts earn an unfriend and a block.” Wow. That’s wielding power in the Facebook world.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if another author hadn’t PM’d me personally. “Could you please stop tagging me when you share something I’ve liked? If I wanted to share it on my timeline, I would, and tagging makes it show up there anyway unless I go in and manually untag myself.” Now, again, that’s not an unreasonable request–except I had no idea I was “tagging” anyone. I have no idea how that works. But then it comes to the almighty timeline. I replied that I didn’t know how that worked, apologized, said I just wanted to give credit. Now, she was nice about it, but then there’s just that little bit of ambiguity where 70%+ of language is non-verbal so you’re really not sure what the tone is. “FB can be SOOO confusing about what it does sometimes. It ought to come with instructions!” Now, does that mean it does come with instructions and I should have read them? Or that it really is confusing and it should be easier to figure out?

I take things I shouldn’t too personally sometimes, but between that and the other post, my first reaction was just anger. The people I consider my FB friends are mostly authors, and a very nice group of them. But things like this start to show a difference in the fan/author chasm which isn’t usually so wide. In my experience, none of the authors generally act superior or more important than the fans. After all, we buy the books that support them. I consider it, generally, a really nice group of people. But I’m not in the position where I’m posting things that are being reposted. I’m not the popular one. I’m just the fan. No one would care if I posted statements about tagging and unfriending, because I’m just a fan, not an author. So who cares if I unfriend and block someone?

So there is an unequality, a “hidden curriculum.” I’m not as important, even though that isn’t mentioned. Now, I certainly do not mean this to all the authors I know online, but when it really comes down to it, it’s true. Isn’t it? I don’t even know. I just know that when a timeline is more important than a real human being, I think some priorities have gotten a bit askew. And it hurts me to say that. Because it’s blown a hole in my idealized little online Facebook world.

In the meantime, I’m not going to repost anything from individuals, only the organizational group pages. Or my friends. Because gods know I don’t know what I’m doing, and gods forbid I accidentally tag someone. I think The Republican War on Women is not just going to block me and throw away the key on me. I’ve been blocked, without having a chance to explain myself, and it hurts. I have blocked people. People who have bullied me IRL. Not because they tagged me. Put things in perspective, maybe? Or maybe it’s just a hidden curriculum that will continue on. I’m sure there are people who do things deliberately, but then again, there are people like me who do things accidentally because they don’t know what they’re doing. But, off with their heads.

It’s really made me take a closer look at the niche I felt comfortable in, and I realize I don’t feel as comfortable anymore.

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NSA Surveillance is Making Writers Self-Censor

 S-C Protecting you from what?tim-robbins-tim-robbins-i-think-the-enemy-is-self-censorship-in-a

Benjamin Franklin, 1722

Benjamin Franklin, 1722

Re-Blogged from GalleyCat 11/15/2013

NSA Surveillance is Making Writers Self-Censor

pen

Eighty-five percent of writers are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and 73 percent reported that never have they been so worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press, according to a new report from Pen America.

The report found that writers are censoring themselves in order to avoid trouble with the NSA. The report found that 16 percent of writers have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic due to concerns about the NSA.

In addition, the study revealed that 24 percent of writers have purposefully avoided certain topics on the phone or through email. And 28 percent of writers have avoided social media activities.

Here is more from the report:

Part of what makes self-censorship so troubling is the impossibility of knowing precisely what is lost to society because of it. We will never know what books or articles may have been written that would have shaped the world’s thinking on a particular topic if they are not written because potential authors are afraid that their work would invite retribution.

Random Particles and Chance Encounters

Particle Collision

Picture from https://plus.google.com/100033957943902398154

This is a picture of atoms and particles after the atoms who managed to escape the atom smasher (please forgive my oh-so-technical scientific terminology here. I’m an English major, not a miracle worker). The man whose page I borrowed the picture from used it for a different purpose, comparing it to a business model.

I’m looking as it as people, because part of his model coincided with human nature almost perfectly. The straight lines, are, I believe, atoms–if there are any physics people or other science oriented geeks out there who are going to giggle, please just do it quietly. They keep going on their usual paths, not knowing they just escaped being crushed into particles. But their paths are…I won’t say boring, I’ll say comfortable. They have their routine and they stick to it. They are the ones who make the world work. People who work in offices and stores and do all the important jobs that society would fail without.

The ones looking like dizzy little spirals (maybe waving from great heights) are the particles, light enough that they have a hard time following the straight lines, the forward path. These, as Andy Proehl called them, and as I was thinking as well, are the innovators, the thinkers. In the not business world he used as a model, the creative ones–the people who don’t quite fit in. The people who may try but simply can’t stay on the road. We spin off on our own paths of thought. To us, the road is a stifling place where the asphalt sucks ideas out through our feet until we’re stuck in tar and we hope someone comes along to save us. Some of us are quite melodramatic. I can be horrible, and if it’s a sunny day and I’m stuck outside in the asphalt, it very well could be the end of the world. The large white truck that always speeds down the road in front of our house might be my only salvation.

But to exist as a society, we need both kinds of people–well, more than two kinds–this is very much simplified. The ones who keep us going, and the ones who create what to give us to move forward to. But consider this if considering which type of person you’d like to be. Remember in Aladdin, when he tricked Jaffar into the lamp? “Infinite cosmic powers, itty bitty living space,” the Genie said after he’d trapped him. Now, this is absolutely nothing like that, but consider that many people who are the sproingy spinning particles are also that way for another reason entirely. Mental illness. Start looking into it, great poets, authors, artists… severe depression, bi-polar, anxiety-disorders… It’s not just the famous creative people, I have mental illness, enough so that it’s counted a disability. An invisible disability, because no one can tell. That’s why it’s so insidious. I know so many authors with depression, bi-polar… it’s just something we deal with. Not every creative person has this, of course. Just something interesting to think about, along with the which came first, the depression or the creativity? Part of the reason I bring this up is that it’s National Suicide Awareness month. I haven’t really said much about it, which I should have, as I have had two people close to me commit suicide. There are medications, which some people won’t take, or resent so much they won’t take them for that reason. I’ve gotten over being angry at it. Try this med? Sure. We have to live together. I can tell people about it now, which I think is important–they don’t know until I tell them, but I don’t want to go on a slightly manic high then hit a low–that can be distressing for all of us. But often until people have a face to attach to something, it’s hard to put a disorder in context, to relate it to someone they personally know. They realize I don’t carry around a butcher’s knife and even though I’m a writer I don’t type “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over on the word processor (that’s too much work–I’d just use cut and paste–see, even that sounds creepy). I’m sure there’s an easier way to do that but I’m not that good on the word processor. I don’t know what brought that up, but it certainly wasn’t a coincidence, and really doesn’t have anything to do with my working on trying not to be a perfectionist. It must have been two random particles colliding.

But how, you might ask, do these so called random particle people ever connect? I’m sure more do than the two that are the most obvious–the first two from the right that make the figure eight shape. Those two particles found each other. A woman I’ve been working with says there is no such thing as coincidence. We control the things that make us miserable. We disown them as belonging to us, as being someone else’s fault or something else’s fault, but refuse to take responsibility for them ourselves. We dismiss things as coincidence the same way we disown our self-defeating behaviors. Why would we want to keep self-defeating behaviors? We don’t know what to do with out lives if we don’t have them, if we don’t have that level of stress in them. For creative people, it’s a chokehold that I, at least, am putting on myself. I can’t spin freely with the other particles until I have made a good effort to shed what’s holding me down. Every single thing I attributed to coincidence she said, “Not necessarily,” to. Despite the fact I get dizzy quickly, I’d still like to spin for a little bit. Preferably wearing something light and floaty and gauzy in different shades of mauve. It wouldn’t matter if I have the grace of a buffalo, and it would be okay if I ran into another spinning particle. Whoever it was may have kept me from spinning into the street or a revolving door. I heard a comedian the other night: “Have you ever tried to slam a revolving door?”

So while I already contemplate whether some things in my life were chance encounters, random particles bumping into each other in some sterile accelerator–two particles ineffably drawn together who needed each other without knowing it, through fate, whatever name you want to give it, wasn’t something I had been expecting. It was, however, something whose absence I had felt.

 

 

 

Das tut mir leid.

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

Good Things

I was thinking that I normally just have posts about negative references to individuals with disabilities, and I was reading a book (mock me if you will, you know you want to read it, even if you won’t admit it, because they’re fun!) by Tessa Dare and I realized I don’t do the opposite. Probably because I don’t come across them as often. I’ll put the book info at the bottom since I have this ongoing thing with inserting pictures into my posts where the text doesn’t cooperate with the picture, but I copied the message I sent to Ms. Dare:

Dear Ms. Dare,

I just finished reading “Any Duchess Will Do,” which I happened to like quite a lot (especially the peculiar knitted things).

I should back up just a little, though. I worked with individuals with disabilities for eleven years, and when I’m reading a book, if I come across any words that are considered derogatory toward those individuals, I will usually stop reading it, write the author, write a review, post it on my blog, and sometimes even write the publisher. This seems to be happening more often, unfortunately, especially in young adult books.

I realized that I’ve been concentrating on the negative half, and not the positive side, which deserves just as much recognition. I thought your portrayal of Daniela was particularly well done and very accurate. I’ve worked with people similar to her, and I could relate to her as an individual in your book, not just some person stuck in for the sake of the story. I also liked her relationship with Pauline, because I’ve seen brothers and sisters become extremely protective of their siblings with disabilities. Thank you for making Daniela a real character.

I know I’ve read other books by you, but this one is particularly fun, and definitely the first I’ve read where the strong and handsome duke has been kidnapped by his mother. I will definitely be recommending your books to others I know who like to read romance.

Very sincerely,
Wendy Clements

I do mean all of this–I enjoyed reading this book. The heroine, Pauline, is strong and funny, the Duke extremely confused and angsty, and I don’t think I’ve liked a character’s mother more. I highly recommend Any Duchess Will Do. There were many parts that made me laugh out loud.

Speaking of laughing out loud, I also just finished another two books, these in the M/M Romance category, that I read on my kindle but, when I have the money, I am going to buy in paperback simply because I liked them that much. They are extremely well written, the characters are extremely engaging, and the setting is historical–an off-kilter Victorian with a Lovecraftian background (one of the main characters, Whybourne, attended Miskatonic University, and there is a town of Arkham, although it hasn’t entered into the story). It’s just there enough to justify the oddness of what happens and make it creepily real. Oh. The books? The first is Widdershins, and the second is Threshold. The series is Whybourne and Griffin, the two main characters, although one of Whybourne’s wonderfully interesting colleagues is also involved much of the time. The really good news is that the third in the series is coming out December 3rd, 2013. Just to give a brief layout, Whybourne is a shy, retiring man, who has repressed his urges and attraction toward men all of his life. He attended Miskatonic to study Philology (linguistics, in the sense of historical languages, in his case, as well as some modern, and how they relate culturally–he also breaks ciphers). He speaks thirteen languages, but reads more (that’s important). A murder case comes up involving the museum he works at, and an ex-Pinkerton turned detective, Griffin, turns up to ask Whybourne some questions. They are instantly attracted to one another, and it’s fun and interesting to see Whybourne come out of his shell. His friend, Christine, his only real friend, also works at the museum as an archeologist who has just made an extremely important discovery in Egypt of a tomb which has been moved to the museum. If I’ve made it sound boring, it’s not. Really. I’ve added the series to my favorites on Goodreads, and Jordan L. Hawk has become one of my favorite authors. These books really stand out among many of the other M/M Romances, especially if you like the paranormal. And, oddly, it was partially the covers that drew me to them. They are elegant in their simplicity, and–gasp!–there are no half naked men. What can I say, I find Victorian suits a turn-on. One thing I think many cover designers have forgotten is sometimes half the fun is taking things off. It was just a very refreshing change. Not that I mind seeing half-naked men, but say you worked in a chocolate shop and could eat all the chocolate you wanted. Eventually, believe it or not, you would get sick of it. You might want some toffee or a lemon bar. Or cheescake, and that is not meant in any other way. Sometimes cheesecake is just cheesecake.

On that note, I think I’ll just put the covers up here, hopefully with the cover artist’s blessing, since I’ve done it before, and it is more exposure for them (I don’t mean the way in the above paragraph, either). Good grief.

Any Duchess Will Do

Kindle: $4.74

Paperback: $5.39

·  Series: Spindle Cove (#4)

·  Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages

·  Publisher: Avon (May 28, 2013)

·  Language: English

·  ISBN-10: 0062240129

·  ISBN-13: 978-0062240125

Widdershins

Kindle: $4.99

Paperback: $10.09

Audiobook: $17.95

(Prices from Amazon)

·  Series: Whyborne & Griffin (Volume 1)

·  Paperback: 226 pages

·  Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 15, 2013)

·  Language: English

·  ISBN-10: 1482528150

·  ISBN-13: 978-1482528152

Threshold

Kindle: $4.99

Paperback: $10.70

(both prices from Amazon)

·  Series: Whyborne & Griffin (Volume 2)

·  Paperback: 170 pages

·  Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 20, 2013)

·  Language: English

·  ISBN-10: 1490964630

·  ISBN-13: 978-1490964638

 

Addedum to the Jungle, via IGN

IGN, a ‘gaming site aimed at 18-34 year old men, attracts over 40 million unique visitors monthly to their site worldwide’, according to the “About Us” section of their website. 40 million unique visitors. That’s a lot.

They have recently instituted some changes to their forums, which I thought was timely considering my last post. If they can attempt this at a site of their magnitude, there’s no reason it can’t be attempted at Goodreads, or even Amazon, given they have the people to do it, and do it fairly. I think it’s extremely interesting, and something to think about.

Here’s the link the the article at IGN:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/07/12/changing-the-comments-at-ign

Here’s the article, written by IGN’s Head Editor, Steve Butts:

Changing the Comments at IGN

IGN announces new moderation guidelines.

So there’s this problem with IGN. A lot of the comments lately have been terrible.

Horrifying is probably more like it.

While most IGN comments are respectful and productive, we’ve let the abusive comments get to a point where they dominate our discussions. When even just one hostile comment is enough to ruin an entire thread, we’ve got to take our job as curators of our site more seriously. The best way to create an appetite is to feed it and, by letting these abusive comments live on IGN, we’ve been encouraging more of the same. It’s long past time for that to stop.

Some of what we’re dealing with is an extension of the trash-talking that’s part of a competitive gaming culture. Some of it is just the bold lack of empathy that the facelessness of the internet allows. Some of it is just the natural tendency of some people to find happiness in making other people miserable. The excitement over next-gen consoles and the increasing popularity of games in general means that we’re seeing more new users on the site each and every day. When you add all those factors together, it’s clear we need to pay more attention to our interactions with each other.

With that in mind, we’ve revised our community moderation guidelines and brought on several new moderators. As Editor-in-Chief, I’ve also made it clear to the entire content team that moderating comments and positively confronting abuse is a critical part of our jobs. All of us — staff, moderators, and community included — have to lead by example. No longer can we simply throw our hands up and suggest that cleaning up IGN comments is someone else’s responsibility, or worse, pointless to even try.

We’ve written new guidelines for the IGN comment culture and moderation, which are going into effect immediately. They outline what we don’t allow. Take them seriously and hold us all, readers and staff alike, accountable for their enforcement. Positively confront and report abuse where you see it. I promise I’ll be doing the same.

Will that mean we won’t tolerate disagreement or fiery debates? Not at all. We’re an audience of advocates who come to IGN because we feel passionately about certain platforms, products, and philosophies. Being able to express and defend those tastes is part of why we’re here. Articulate disagreements about those tastes are a healthy and necessary part of those interactions. The comment guidelines aren’t meant to stop that.

The problem comes when a disagreement stops being about the merits of the argument and starts being about the people making it. It’s okay for us to disagree with each other, but we won’t tolerate abuse and threats disguised as disagreement. We also won’t tolerate ad hominem attacks, where you insult a person’s character or identity merely because you don’t like that they’re not the same person as you. None of us are perfect, and we all have bad days, of course, but we can’t let a difference of opinion devolve into being nasty to each other.

This change starts today. I’d like to say the change will be instant, but it won’t. It will take time as we discover and encourage new habits in each other. I’d like to say that the change will be absolute, but it won’t be that either. It will take constant attention and thoughtful reinterpretation. What I can say is that the change will be worth the effort.

If you have any questions about any of this or want to know how you can help, please sound off in the comments below, or reach out to me or our Community Manager, Sean Allen.

Steve Butts is IGN’s editor-in-chief. Keep up with him @SteveButts on Twitter or SteveButts on IGN. Do not follow him down the streets of San Francisco.

Welcome to the Jungle (gym)

I’ve been posting some about bullying at the elementary through high school levels. There’s another kind of bullying going on, right now, probably as I write this, that I have to admit I haven’t delved into with the depth and resourcefulness I normally would. Mostly because the topic makes me shake my head in disbelief that people could be so petty, so immature, and so completely amoral. And I’m not talking about children, I’m talking about adults, the people who are supposed to be examples to these children.

I didn’t do a lot of research because I didn’t really think it was needed. I’ve seen the writing spray painted all over the walls of both sides of this repugnant war that’s taking place.

Has anyone read The Pushcart War, a children’s book about a battle between street merchants fought with pea shooters? How about Comfort and Joy, a Bill Forsythe film about rival ice cream companies fighting over a recipe for ice cream that, in the end, end up being members of the same huge family? Those are delightful, because they poke fun at the ridiculousness of how far some people go to win.

So what, then, am I talking about? I had heard and read about this on Goodreads in some of the forums, and was shocked. When Amazon bought Goodreads, I remember there was concern that some of the pathetic, infantile behavior of reviewers on Amazon would make its way over to Goodreads. I had no idea it wasn’t restricted simply to the reviewers, but some of the authors as well. I was on Amazon yesterday, looking at a very long thread of discussion about this, about how dissenting views on books mysteriously disappeared, as did those who didn’t particularly like the book or recommend it. Someone would write a post, recommend it to a friend, and by the time the friend got there to check it out, that short of an amount of time, the post would be gone. They would repost it. That one would disappear as well. What’s going on, Amazon? And Goodreads, I thought it was just sockpuppets and reviewers going through on their mad slap a one star rating on everything in the m/m romance section or against particular authors in that section, or any other author you happened to dislike. I didn’t realize they were pre-planned strategic assaults. And authors. Authors should know better. They should know not to engageIt’s not worth it. Breathe. Count to fifty before even thinking of reaching for that keyboard. When you engage with someone who wants to get involved in nothing but an insult war, you’re sinking to that level. Walk away. Be a duck and let their words just roll off of you. Easier said than done, but be a professional, be the person other authors will respect.

Because right now, anyone who has engaged in this behavior is right back in elementary school, it’s recess, and I have all the clothespins. What the heck? Clothespins? Yeah, that took me a while, too. See, I worked in a classroom that wasn’t fully involved with the rest of the school, and the school had assistants who worked as recess monitors. Kids would come up to me all the time, because I was a grown up, and ask if they could go to the bathroom, George was picking on them, Charlie hit Elizabeth, Arthur called Sandy a bad word, and I had no idea what to do with them. I worked with children who were nonverbal, and this barrage of requests was a shock to me. I finally asked one of the other assistants what they did. “Just tell them you don’t have any clothespins,” he said, “and they’ll go find someone who does.”

So, the ineffable power of the clothespins, and, as I said, I have them, just for this moment.

See, these behaviors, reviewers going after authors,

authors going after reviewers,

reviewers giving books that are a “threat” to “their” authors one star,

reviewers giving books that go against their belief system one star, say, because of sexual orientation,

reviews disappearing because they are unflattering, flagged as abuse by who knows how many of the author’s “allies,” or the authors themselves–I have no idea on this one,

reviewers not actually reading books and giving one star reviews simply for the hell of it, or saying, this really isn’t my type of book, and giving it one star,

writing reviews that are nothing but insults to the author and have nothing to do with the book,

and anything else I may have inadvertently left out, on behalf of either the reviewer or the author.

Look at these things. “Oh, they’re not that bad, they’re just reviewers being reviewers.” That’s what they always say, isn’t it? Excuse me? Did I give you a clothespin? No, you may not leave.

Now look at these things and ask yourself this question: Are these things I would do or say if the person were standing right in front of me?

I don’t want to hear the answers. You have to answer to yourselves. To your own moral codes. Because think about that question and then think about the following issue, that is also being committed by reviewers and some authors online.

In some cases, reviewers and some authors have searched and found data on all their intended “Targets,” including where they live, children’s names, where they work, phone numbers, etcetera. A frightening amount of information, in some cases. Excuse me, NSA? There might be some candidates for jobs for you over here. Because let me tell you something, those of you who have done this? You have gone TOO far. That is stalkerish, restraining order time far. Would you want people to have all that personal information on you? People who don’t like you and who know what they might be planning? Think on that. You are nothing but a terrorist literary group, which is nothing I ever thought I would say. Over what? Ratings on a book. Or a book written by someone whose beliefs you don’t like, which I believes pushes it into the land of a hate crime. If nothing else, this knowledge is intended to be used as a threat. No? Why did you look it up, then? Sending them Harry & David’s at Thanksgiving?

This is nothing more than bullying. Pick any search engine and look up “bullying” and “suicide.” Think about the example adults need to provide. Is this it? The anonymity of the computer that you use as your shield when making these attacks, you think those kids don’t know how to use that technology far more efficiently than you do? How much better is what you’re doing than what they’re doing? Driving children and teens to suicide?

What is wrong that there is such hatred getting thrown around on these book sites? I think part of it must be that people aren’t actually reading, because otherwise they wouldn’t have the time to waste acting in such a manner. So, all it really takes for people to lose their humanity is to stick them behind a computer so no one knows who they are. Boy, then they’re tough. It’s easy to be obscene when you’re unseen.

This won’t cause a drop of difference in the whole debacle. But I’ve had my clothespins for a few minutes. Now each of you take one and report to the Principal’s office.

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