Writing by Design

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Mashable’s history of social media (infographic)

Pedantic, I know, to point out “social media” didn’t begin with email. That quibble aside, check out an elegant history-of-social-media at a glance from Mashable.com


Old Tomorrow: Sir John A. online

Library and Archives Canada has launched a new online exhibit devoted to the life and career Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald:

“As well as presenting an exhibition of photographs, documentary art and other unique records held at Library and Archives Canada, this Web project introduces tens of thousands of pages from Macdonald’s political papers and correspondence that will be made available online for the first time in 2008, enabling all Canadians to learn about Macdonald’s life, career and legacy.”

Weekend treat: Decadent Rome

“The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace”. So reads page one of The Histories by the Roman historian Tacitus and it doesn’t disappoint.

Tacitus’ Rome is a hotbed of sex and violence, of excessive wealth and senatorial corruption. His work is a pungent study in tyranny and decline that has influenced depictions of Rome, from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall to Robert Graves’ I, Claudius.

From BBC Radio 4’s superb series, In Our Time, the last program of the current season: Tacitus and The Decadence of Rome.

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O Canada weekend treat: Wordle

According to the blurb, Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

I tried it out with the text of Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent; not many surprises there thematically, but I didn’t expect to see “money” feature in the word cloud.

Tennyson’s In Memoriam yielded lots of Thou, Thee, Thy, and predictably “death,””love,” and “dark.”

And just because tomorrow’s Canada Day, a Wordle version of the original lyrics of O Canada.

Not your average Facebook: social networking for humanists

Remmel Nunn, vice president for new product development at Readex, is
interested the potential for researchers to help one
another through a form of social networking. In “Crossroads: A New
Paradigm for Electronically Researching Primary Source Documents,”
explores how a new tool and a new collection might establish a new
paradigm for presenting, searching, annotating, and sharing material.

And from the Institute for the Future of the Book, a real-life experiment with social reading online.

In mid-October 3-5 readers will begin reading The Golden Notebook and carry out a conversation in the margins. The site will be open and the rest of us will be able to follow their reading and participate in a related public forum.

Who do you think should be the readers? The book is perhaps best known for its role in the beginning of the women’s liberation movements of the 1970s but it also confronts complex issues of race and the political fall-out from the ideological collapse of the soviet union. The original idea was to invite women from different generations, but we’re open to other ideas.

Please, tell us who you would like to see as the designated readers. We’re interested in general categories but also in specific recommendations. You can even nominate yourself. [The Arts Council grant includes a generous honorarium for each of the readers.]

Podcasts of the week

If I were a better person, I’d be able to do the vacuuming, weed the garden, walk the same 3 miles to work each day, content to relish the eternal Now.

While I’m waiting for goodness to strike, I listen to podcasts.

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Social media 101

From the ReadWriteWeb blog, university courses introducing students to social media–Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Del.icio.us, and the rest.

Social media. Web 2.0. You know what these things are and you take advantage of them every day on the net. Whether you’re socializing on Facebook, updating Twitter, or just adding a new bookmark to Ma.gnolia, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s something that everyone innately understands or knows how to use – especially when it comes to using it for marketing, PR, or other business-related purposes. That’s why many of today’s colleges and universities are now offering “social media” classes as an option for their students.

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