Making Conversation: 59 lively and delightful essays from Teresa Nielsen Hayden
It's been more than 20 years since the publication of Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's collection of essays, mostly drawn from the pre-online days of fanzines and letters columns; this year, in honor of Teresa's stint as Fan Guest of Honor at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, NESFA Press has published a second volume: Making Conversation, a collection of essays drawn from the online world on subjects as varied as moderation and trolling, cooking, hamster-rearing, fanfic, narcolepsy, the engineering marvels of the IBM Selectric, and more.
In all, Making Conversation contains 59 essays, ranging in length from a few paragraphs to several pages. Some started out as posts on Making Light, the rollicking and essential blog that she founded and co-edits with several others (including her husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who was her co-guest of honor at the Worldcon); some were comments on others' posts; some are even old forum posts carefully saved from Genie, the national dial-up BBS where the science fiction industry found one of its most intense conversational homes.
As the title implies, much of Making Conversation is about discourse itself: how people talk and what happens when they do. Some of the sharpest observations concern online moderation (Teresa was a long-serving Boing Boing moderator), but others are more general, about how it comes to pass that some people get on so very poorly in online forums, and what can be done to nurture those who are shouted down in those situations.
But the "conversation" part of the book is at most a third of it -- the rest is a rather glorious miscellanea that highlights Teresa's eclectic interests, lively prose style, and keen observations about social phenomena. Whether she's examining how a convention volunteer's running gag about being "Punch Bowl Czar" can, in the wrong hands, turn into a destructive whirlwind that shatters a close-knit community; or explaining, with hilarious economy, what it's like to trick a hamster that likes to fling itself at the door of its cage by quietly undoing the latch, so that it ends up literally hanging by its teeth as its escape attempt succeeds beyond its wildest, furriest dreams, Teresa is keen-eyed, sharp-witted and thoughtful.
Making Conversation picks up exactly where Making Book left off, like running into a friend you haven't seen in years and finding that you can seamlessly continue the jokes, debates, and weighty conversations that made their friendship such a joy.
Making Conversation [Teresa Nielsen Hayden/NESFA Press]
Janelle Shane trained a recurrent neural network with a data-set of more than 2000 ancient proverbs and asked it to think up its own: “A fox smells it better than a fool’s for a day.”
Jeff writes, “7 years after ‘grassroots mapping’ the BP spill when journalists were denied access, the open source community Public Lab is back with an even more accessible Do-It-Yourself way to take aerial photos: the Mini Balloon and Kite Mapping Kits.”
The Kaonashi No-Face Piggy Bank makes the most out of one of the coolest characters in Studio Ghibli’s storied history — but getting one exported to you from Japan costs an astounding $164. (via Kadrey)
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]
As the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour.” Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most […]
The Bragi Dash Truly Wireless Smart Earphones are far more than your run of the mill Bluetooth earbuds. While the earpiece design makes these earbuds ideal for exercise and activity, and passive noise cancelling is conducive to a more serene listening experience, these buds go well beyond just playing music.First of all, they can actually […]