Thursday News: authors & criticism, DM businesses via Twitter, the ellipsis, and story dogs
Criticism’s Sting: The Author Curtis Sittenfeld on Book Reviews – The title of this article makes the interview between Sittenfeld and Jennifer Senior sound much, much more dramatic (“Criticism’s Sting” and authoritative (“The Author Curtis Sittenfeld”) than it actually is. It’s actually a pretty level-headed approach to reading and responding to reviews.
You’ve now written five books. Your feelings toward reviews must have evolved over the years, yes?
I take criticism less personally, and I recognize that sometimes fate smiles on you and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m aware more than I was before I had books published that any review is a bit arbitrary — it’s not really, say, The New York Times that’s authoritatively weighing in on the quality of a book, though it seems this way to the public. It’s actually one reviewer weighing in (maybe a daily reviewer like you, but maybe a random novelist like me who reviews one or two books a year), and all of us as individuals have quirky, subjective taste.
When my first book, “Prep,” was published, I also realized I had to accept that many reviews would contain factual errors, and some would misunderstand the book. Unless you receive a rave, especially in The Times, it’s tempting to write a letter to set the record straight, but I literally don’t think I’ve ever read a letter from a writer complaining about his or her negative review that made the writer look good. You’re better off just biting your tongue. – New York Times
Twitter’s new button lets you accept private messages from your website – So Twitter has been beta testing a feature whereby consumers can actually directly DM businesses. I can see why this would be appealing to companies, especially when they’re trying to field complaints via public tweets. Is it easier and more appealing than an email, especially since it appears that you have to be on a site to use the feature?
[Facebook]recently redesigned its business Pages, which puts a “Message” button at the top of the page, assuming the business in question uses chat. And earlier this year, it announced a suite of tools that made it easier for businesses to connect with customers on Messenger, including things like Messenger links and scannable Messenger codes for initiating chats, business usernames based on Page names, and Messenger greetings.
Twitter, meanwhile, has become known better as a place where consumers go to complain when things go wrong – often posting angry tweets, with the brand’s @username attached. By shipping more tools that let customers take that sentiment to a private chat, the hope is that businesses will continue to use Twitter as part of their marketing, consumer outreach, and support strategies, instead of shifting all their communications to Facebook. – Tech Crunch
The Mysterious History of the Ellipsis, From Medieval Subpuncting to Irrational Numbers – For those of us who enjoy the history of grammar, this piece on the ellipsis and its possible evolution from the act of subpuncting is interesting. Subpuncting occurred in hand-copied texts underneath a word “copied erroneously,” and it appeared earlier than the ellipsis as we know it, with a chunk of a century between the two marks. The ellipsis is hardly a neutral grammatical mark, as it marks the omission of text that could alter the meaning of the remaining text (aka the context).
The word’s origins in the Greek ???????? mean “falling short, defect,” but the ellipsis also becomes associated with omission fairly early in its history. For instance, Quintillian, with the linguistic confidence only a Roman could exude, says that an ellipsis marks “the omission of words that can be recovered verbatim by means of contextual information.” Quintillian envisions the ellipsis more as an abbreviation than a defect. However, the Oxford English Dictionary’s more modern definition highlights the mark’s inherent instability: An ellipsis implies “the omission of one or more words in a sentence, which would be needed to complete the grammatical construction or fully to express the sense.” In this sense, the ellipsis is defective, or falls short, because it inherently brings a gap in meaning.
Both subpuncting and the ellipsis indicate a falling short or a defect in the text, but they do so in slightly different ways. Subpuncting tends to preserve the original erroneous word, similar to how strikethrough works in modern typographical settings. In both medieval manuscripts and on modern computers, deleting the erroneous word is an option; however, subpuncting and strikethrough allow for the word to simultaneously remain and yet be omitted. Grammatically, it allows you to have your cake and omit it too. – Slate
Story Dogs recruit Lollipop helps primary school kids improve their reading skills – I dare you to read this story without a sniffle or a tear.
Story Dogs started in 2009 and has teams working with primary schools all over Australia.
The program focuses on children from grade two and up who need a boost with their confidence and reading skills. . . .
Whereas a child might be scared or embarrassed to make a mistake reading in front of a human, the dog gives them no judgment and just seems pleased to be with their efforts. – ABC News Australia