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How I learn by Helen Bullock.

How I learn

How I learn is a collection that was put together by Cork woman/Limerick resident teacher, Helen Bullock. The cover is illustrated by Thurles woman, Rachael Cooke.

We learn something new everyday, or so the saying goes, but this new collection of personal stories proves that old adage to be true. A broad range of people inside and outside of Ireland have come together to explain what they learn and how they do it, and how we can learn from their experiences.

#HowIlearn is a crowd sourced book featuring work from teachers, pupils and life long learners. #HowIlearn looks at different learning styles and personal experiences.

Contributors include Rick O’Shea from 2fm, Catherine Cronin, lecturer in NUIG, Pam O’Brien and Bernard Goldbach lecturers in LIT Thurles and regular users of ICT and technology in learning and many more.

Proceeds from How I learn will be donated to Barnardos, a charity which all contributors felt would benefit hugely from this project. Barnardos helps and supports children and families who are most at risk. Barnardos focuses on the increased emotional well-being of the child and family as well as improving learning and development. How I learn felt that Bernardos was the ideal fit and are delighted to be able to support them in all the work that they do.

“We all learn differently and the work Helen Bullock has done in How I learn brings that to the forefront of education, How I learn is a vital reminder to educators, parents and learners alike, to find their unique learning style and embrace it.” Ciaran Cannot TD, Minister of State, Department of Education and Skills.

“How I learn is one of those brilliant and passionately put together ideas that should be recommended to everyone” Rick O’Shea, presenter 2fm.

“I think How I learn is a great initiative – showing that, with regard to education, one size does not fit all.” Hazel Larkin, Dublin, Mother of two.

“Teachers can forget their students might learn differently to themselves. This book is a collection of the varied learning styles that might surface in a classroom, and which need to be met.” Caroline Carswell of Irish Deaf Kids.

Contact: hb.bullock@gmail.com

Twitter: HowIlearn

Website: http://www.anseo-a-mhuinteoir.com

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The 10 best words the internet has given English

From hashtags to LOLs to Cupertinos and Scunthorpe problems, Tom Chatfield picks the most interesting neologisms drawn from the digital world

(Reblogged in full from The Guardian)

My book Netymology: A Linguistic Celebration of the Digital World is about the stories behind new words. I’ve been an etymology addict since I was a teenager, and especially love unpicking technological words.

It’s a great reminder of how messily human the stories behind even our sleekest creations are – not to mention delightful curiosities in their own right.

1. Avatars

This word for our digital incarnations has a marvellously mystical origin, beginning with the Sanskrit term avatara, describing the descent of a god from the heavens into earthly form. Arriving in English in the late 18th century, via Hindi, the term largely preserved its mystical meaning until Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash first popularised it in a technological sense.

Fusing notions of virtual world-building and incarnation, it’s the perfect emblem of computers as a portal to a new species of experience.

2. Hashtags

In 1920s America, the # sign served as a shorthand for weight in pounds (and they still call it the pound sign). It was first brought to a wider public thanks to its adoption by telephone engineers at Bell Labs in the 1960s as the generic function symbol on their new touch-tone phones – and if you’re looking to sound clever, you could call it an “octothorpe“, the tongue-in-cheek term coined at Bell to describe it. It’s on Twitter, though, that hashtags have really come into their own, serving as a kind of function code for social interaction #ifyoulikethatkindofthing.

3. Scunthorpe problems

Computing can be as much combat as collaboration between people and machines, and the Scunthorpe problem is a perfect example. Entirely innocent words can fall victim to machine filth-filters thanks to unfortunate sequences of letters within them – and, in Scunthrope’s case, it’s the second to fifth letters that create the difficulty. The effect was labelled in honour of the town in 1996, when AOL temporarily prevented any Scunthorpe residents from creating user accounts; but those who live in Penistone, South Yorkshire – or people with surnames like Cockburn – may be equally familiar with algorithms’ censorious tendencies.

4. Trolling

Although the archetypical emblem of an online troll is of a grinning bogeyman, the word can be traced back to the Old French verb troller, meaning to wander around while hunting. “Trolling” entered English around 1600 as a description of fishing by trailing bait around a body of water, and it was this idea of baiting the unwitting that led to the idea of online “trolling”, where experienced net users would simulate naivety in order ensnare the naive. The noun “troll”, meanwhile, does refer to a wide class of monstrous Nordic creatures: a sense that has dovetailed neatly with the increasingly viciously art of trolling.

5. Memes

Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as a shortening of the Ancient Greek term mimeme (“an imitated thing”). He designed his new word to sound like “gene”, signifying a unit of cultural transmission. Little did he know that his term would become one of the most iconic of online phenomena, embodying the capacity of the internet to itself act as a kind of gene-pool for thoughts and beliefs – and for infectious, endlessly ingenious slices of time-wasting.

6. Spam

The most enduring gift of British comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus may prove to be a digital one: the term “spam”. The key episode, first broadcast in 1970, featured a sketch called “SPAM“: the brand name used since 1937 by the Hormel Foods Corporation as a contraction of the phrase spiced ham. Set in a cafe where almost every single item on the menu featured spam, the sketch culminated in a chorus of Viking warriors drowning everyone else’s voices out by chanting the word “spam”.  A satirical indictment of British culinary monotony, it took on a second life during the early 1980s, when those who wished to derail early online discussions copied out the same words repeatedly in order to clog up a debate. Inspired by Python, the word spam proved a popular way of doing this. “Spamming” came to describe any process of drowning out “real” content – and the rest is repetitive history.

7. LOLs

If you type “LOL” or “lol”, you’re not literally “laughing out loud”. You’re offering a kind of stage direction: dramatizing the process of typing. It sounds simple, but this is part of a radical change in language. For the first time in history, we’re conducting conversations through written words (or, more precisely, through typing onto screens). And in the process we’re expending immense effort on making words and symbols express the emotional range of face-to-face interactions. Yet it’s all, also, performance; a careful crafting of appearances that can bear little resemblance to reality.

8. Meh

There’s a special place in my heart for the supremely useful three letters of “meh”, which express an almost infinitely flexible contemporary species of indifference. In its basic exclamatory form, it suggests something along the lines of “OK, whatever”. As an adjective, it takes on a more ineffable flavour: “it was all very meh”. You can even use it as a noun: “I stand by my meh.” Apparently first recorded in a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, some theories trace meh back to the disdainful Yiddish term mnyeh. Its ascent towards canonical status, though, embodies a thoroughly digital breed of boredom.

9. Cupertinos

Also known as “auto-correct errors”, a Cupertino error occurs when your computer thinks it knows what you’re trying to say better than you do. The name comes from an early spell checker program, which knew the word Cupertino – the Californian city where Apple has its headquarters – but not the word “cooperation”. All the cooperations in a document might thus be automatically “corrected” into Cupertinos. Courtesy of smartphones, Cupertinos today are a richer field than ever – a personal favourite being my last phone’s determination to transform “Facebook” into “ravenous”.

10. Geeks

“Geek” arrived in English from Low German, in which a geck denoted a crazy person; in travelling circuses, the geek show traditionally involved a performer biting off the heads of live chickens. By 1952, the sense of a freakishly adept technology enthusiast had appeared in science fiction maestro Robert Heinlein’s short story “The Year of the Jackpot” (“the poor geek!” being the phrase) – and by the 1980s it had become a common label for socially awkward children obsessed with new technological devices. As this generation of tech-savvy youngsters provided the first generation of internet millionaires, and then billionaires, the unthinkable happened: geeks became cool (not to mention chic) – and ready to inherit the earth.

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Don’t judge The Bell Jar by its cover

Faber’s new cover for The Bell Jar may be garish, but if it finds a new audience for Sylvia Plath’s novel then who cares?


This post is reblogged in full from The Guardian website and is written by Sam Jordison.

It may have first come out 50 years ago, but The Bell Jar still causes controversy. The anniversary has seen all the old arguments and enmities boiling over again, but this book strikes such a nerve that even a new cover can start a row.

Writing on the LRB blog, Fatema Ahmed pours scorn on Faber’s “silly” 50th anniversary edition, calling it a woefully inappropriate attempt to rebrand the book as chick lit. She quotes the always reliable Twitter feed from Melville House asking: “How is this cover anything but a ‘fuck you’ to women everywhere?” and Andy Pressman, a graphic designer, who derided the new cover as “awesomelycomicallyhistorically inapprop” and said: “And by ‘historically’ I mean ‘incorrect on a scale of which we have few historical precedents’, not ‘That typeface didn’t exist in that era’.”

There is a strong argument against the new design. Ahmed says:

 

“The anniversary edition fits into the depressing trend for treating fiction by women as a genre, which no man could be expected to read and which women will only know is meant for them if they can see a woman on the cover.”

 

I can see where she’s coming from. That is indeed a depressing trend. And the cover does indeed look a bit like those other garish covers that supposedly only appeal to women. While I’m notching up the negatives, there’s also the simple fact that the original cover by Shirley Tucker is a thing of great beauty: a timeless classic that is to the new cover as a single-malt is to tar water.

But, here’s the thing. This latest edition has sold truckloads. The official figures aren’t out yet, but Faber have assured me it’s doing the business. There’s no evidence that this cover has ostracised a potential part of its audience, but there is already some that it has helped the book reach a new generation of readers.

Okay, this is an inexact science, and perhaps those sales should be attributed as much to the 50th anniversary publicity and renewed interest in the author as they are to that garish red cover. But the fact remains that the book is selling – and quite possibly reaching a new audience, as Faber claim is their exact intention. Hannah Griffiths, publisher of paperbacks at Faber, says they were aiming for a more “welcoming package” in the belief that “there is a reader for this novel who could enjoy its brilliance without knowing anything about the poetry, or the broader context of Plath’s work”.

Of course, as soon as anyone picks it up, breaks the spine and reads that first sentence they’ll know they’re in for something different. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” Hardly Sophie Kinsella, is it? I even quite like the idea of someone mistaking the book for a sexy summer beach read and falling headlong into Esther Greenwood’s cruel world.

What’s more, those actually reading the novel – rather than judging the cover – may even see something in that blood red, in the queasy glamour of the 50s model checking her makeup, in the serious face in the mirror. It certainly conjures up a time and place, a sense of nausea and introspection. The novel’s Esther Greenwood would probably mock the new design mercilessly, but that too seems appropriate. Perhaps it’s right that she is at odds with the world in which she finds herself and the way she is presented? Perhaps this new cover isn’t quite so silly after all?

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Sock-puppet reviews condemned by authors everywhere

Last Thursday, on our Facebook page, we posted a link from GalleyCat explaining fake Amazon review charts and how to spot them.

The whole debate began when the New York Times wrote an article on August 25th this year exposing the ‘book reviewers for hire’ industry. How do authors get away this? Essentially, “The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews.”

Just two days ago, the Bookseller reported that writers including crime writer RJ Ellory, John Locke and Stephen Leather all admitted to giving their own work 5-star reviews and slamming rival authors on Amazon — a practice damningly referred to as ‘sock puppetry’. The Guardian reported the practice in more detail.

The entire controversy was heightened after Ellory was exposed by rival penman Jeremy Duns on Twitter. Ellory’s publisher, Orion, declined to comment.

On its website, the Crime Writers Association states: “The CWA feels [sock puppetry] is unfair to authors and also to the readers who are so supportive of the crime genre. […] At present we don’t know how widespread the practice is. However we will be taking steps to set up a membership code of ethics, and considering if other steps may be necessary from us as an authors’ organisation.”

The Guardian and The Bookseller described the denunciation of sock-puppetry from other authors, of which a large group (see below) have signed up to a group statement condemning the practice.

The group statement from the authors states:

“These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended on-line, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers. But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large. […] Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving,  can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalized to the point of irrelevance. No single author,  however devious,  can compete with the whole community. Will you use your voice to help us clean up this mess?”

The signatories are: Linwood Barclay, Tom Bale, Mark Billingham, Declan Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Tania Carver, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, N J Cooper, David Corbett, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stella Duffy, Jeremy Duns, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, Meg Gardiner, Adèle Geras, Joanne Harris, Mo Hayder, David Hewson, Charlie Higson, Peter James, Graham Joyce, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Roger McGough, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby, Stuart Neville, Jo Nesbo, Ayo Onatade, S J Parris, Tony Parsons, Sarah Pinborough, Ian Rankin, Shoo Rayner, John Rickards, Stav Sherez, Karin Slaughter, Andrew Taylor, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Martyn Waites, Neil White and Laura Wilson.

These authors warn that Ellory, Stephen Leather and John Locke have all made use of “sock-puppet” or paid for reviews. They state: “These are just three cases of abuse we know about. Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well. We the undersigned unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics.”

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Style Vs. Content at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Ali Smith, writing for the Guardian on Saturday, relayed some of her thoughts on style vs. content as discussed in her talk for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She argues that it is the duty of both readers and writers to “be as open as a book, and alive to the life in language”:

The late Gore Vidal said, characteristically: “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” So is there something that risks being damned, in style? Something about bravado, defiance, the defiance that rings of individuality?
Is there a sense, too, in which some writers use style as a marker of existence? A proof we’re here? But good working style is powerful whether it’s bullish or showy or quiet. Style’s existence is a matter of verbal precision, nothing else.

Style is not something that can be severed from content: “How something is told […] makes what’s being told. A story is its style. […] This is because words themselves when put together produce style, never lack style of one sort or another. Otherwise we could junk, say, one of the most recent translators of Madame Bovary, Lydia Davis (who went back and looked at Flaubert’s edits and took into account for her translation his removal, from draft to draft, of metaphoric or lyrical elements in the language of the novel), and just run Madame Bovary through Google Translate.”

Smith goes on to use T.S. Eliot and Jane Austen as examples of style, but it is her closing analysis of the style vs. content argument that most concisely sums up her argument:

A world, in a novel, in a tweet, in a grain of sand. In that newsworthy fistfight, that lively discussion the delegates had here 50 years ago in the shadow of the H-bomb and still in those long shadows of the second world war, Rebecca West talked at one point about Austen’s style and the wildly opposing universes it unites: “She said it like a lady, but the intention was strictly revolutionary.” The novel as a form, West said, would never die. She cited Salinger’s characters, “people who are dealing with eternal problems, ancient problems, and they simply cannot use a phrase that was made more than twenty-five years ago … fighting, fighting, fighting into a means of self-expression.”
Fight, fight, fight. Language is never not up for it. It’s a fight to the life. All we need to do, reader or writer, from first line to final page, is be as open as a book, and be alive to the life in language – on all its levels. Then style, as usual, will do what it does best. Then you, and I, and all of us (all seven billion of us here now in the world, not forgetting all the people in the future, and the past) with all our individualities, all our struggles, all our means of expression, will find ourselves, one way and another, when it comes to the novel, content.

The Guardian is offering daily updates on the Edinburgh Book Festival — have a look at them all here.

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Twitter launches new publishing platform: Medium

Since the internet first appeared just two decades ago, some things haven’t evolved as much as we would have expected.

Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, seeing that the internet has more potential that is yet unexplored, have launched a new publishing platform called Medium.

“Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced” say the co-founders, “While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others. And in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what our smart devices and our networks that connect most of the planet might enable.

“Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into ‘collections’, which are defined by a theme and a template.

“Our philosophy is that quality begets quality, so we will grow Medium smartly, ensuring that our platform is valuable to everyone in this increasingly mobile, connected, and noisy world.”

To join Medium you must have a Twitter account and allow Medium to update your profile and post Tweets for you.

GalleyCat has compiled all the information you need to know about Medium:

1. Follow this link to sign up–you will need a Twitter account.

2. You can read posts, but you can’t create new posts yet. Here’s more: “Posting is limited to a small invited list of friends and family, which we’ll be expanding rapidly—soon, to those who have registered, so if you are interested please do so.”

3. Explore The Writer’s Room, a collection created by journalist and author Steven Johnson to share “Tools And Strategies For A Writing Life.”

4. Twitter co-creator Biz Stone created a collection writing about different projects that his company has helped support.

5. Follow Medium on Twitter to watch the network evolve.

 

Meanwhile, here are a few Medium collections you can check out:

Been There. Loved That.

Look What I Made

The Writer’s Room

The Obvious Collection

Follow @medium on Twitter for more updates and reply there with your feedback.

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Independent Author makes Top Ten Bestsellers on Amazon UK

 

Smashwords author Nick Spalding is selling his novel Love…from Both Sides for £1.59 on Kindle, the description for which reads: “Based on real-life tales of dating disaster and relationship blunders, Love… From Both Sides is a warts-and-all romantic comedy for everyone who knows how tricky (and occasionally ridiculous) the quest for love can be. ”

The book is currently #22 in the Amazon UK Top 100 Bestsellers, where it has featured for four months. According to an article in the Bookseller, Spalding has sold over 245,000 units on Kindle.

On his website, one of Spalding’s fans asked, “Considering some of the rubbish that has made it onto the book shelves, I dont understand why an agent/publisher hasn’t snapped you up yet. It can only be a matter of time. Presumably, given your success, you would suggest this aspiring author takes the self-publish route to get started too?”

Spalding’s reply is revealing: “I’d honestly say do both: self publish and go for the traditional route as well. The two are no longer mutually exclusive, thanks to how the self-pubbing route is starting to mature and become more credible. I have had some interest from agencies, so the stigma is thankfully disappearing. Do everything you can to get your name and your work out there.”

This stigma is something that Smashwords founder Mark Coker has also spoken about — click here for more information.

Things are looking up for independent authors!

 

(If you’re interested, these are the links to Nick Spalding’s Twitter and Blog.)

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