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]
Visual Disturbances: what eye-tracking and 187 unlicensed clips reveal about change blindness and our perception of films
My most recent essay film, Visual Disturbances, premiered in the open access journal [in]Transition yesterday. This open access journal features peer reviewed academic video essays and showcases a wide variety of film and media analysis. Visual Disturbances uses some cutting-edge eye tracking visualizations to explore how film audiences both perceive and mis-perceive movies.
Electronic Grenade's "'Computer' Mouse" project fits a fully functional computer into a fully functional, 3D printed mouse; the computer is a Raspberry Pi Zero W, with a teeeny leeetle flip out keyboard and a tiny little itsy bitsy flip-out screen. (via Motherboard)
Swedes! Poles! Germans! Luxembourgers! The world is depending on you to save the internet from the EU!
The European Parliament is meeting this week, and the committee that will decide the future of the controversial new Copyright Directive will meet next, and depending on what they do, it might be the end of the road for the internet as we know it.
Looking for a career in music behind the boards, either as a music producer or DJ? It’s a good bet that you’re going to be working with Ableton Live. Each new iteration of this powerful workstation gives the user more tools to create, and it’s just as well suited for the task of meticulous track […]
The graveyard of failed startups is littered with concepts that just got lost in translation. At its core, that’s what great front-end design is about: Making an app or website usable, translating its best ideas smoothly to the user. It’s a skill so broad there might be no one book or course that covers it […]
Robotics: It’s a field that used to exist only as science fiction. Now it’s science fact, and it’s not just a playground for MIT prodigies. Thanks to the ROS (Robot Operating System) framework, anyone willing to learn robotics can practice robotics. And the easiest way to learn ROS? The Complete Robotics eBook Bundle. Combined, the […]