September 2019: Book events in Toronto and Seattle, XOXO in Portland, and New York Times Op-Ed From the Future

I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (my first time writing there instead of being quoted!), from the perspective of 200 years in the future when people have nostalgia for the good old days of quaint emoji. Here’s one part that I liked (longer excerpt here).

The early 21st century was also a golden era for linguistic innovation related to using indirect constructed dialogue to convey actions and mental states. In speech, this era saw the rise of “be like” and in writing, the “me:” and *does something* conventions. (And I’m like, how did people even communicate their internal monologues without these?? also me: *shakes head* yeah I have no idea.)

We now take these linguistic resources for granted, but at the time they represented a significant advancement in modeling complex emotions and other internal conditions on behalf of oneself and other people. Imagine being limited to the previous generation of dialogue tags, which attempted to slice everything into sharp distinctions between “said,” “felt” and “thought.”

I was very proud that this op-ed got me no fewer than five (5!) entries in New New York Times, a twitter account that tracks words that appear in the New York Times for the first time. (Also, which unhyphenated compound word from the early 23rd century are you?)

I also did quite a lot of travel!

Torontobook event in conversation with Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), featuring a packed house with many old friends at The Ossington with Flying Booksn.

PortlandXOXO fest where I held a language meetup for the second time, introducing people to the excellent word game called Contact, left some signed copies at Powells, and gave many Because Internet stickers to people!

Seattle – two talks about the book, one internally for Textio in the afternoon, and one in the evening for the public with the Seattle Review of Books and Elliott Bay Books.

The third Language Files video in my recent collaboration with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl went up, this time about the language sounds that could exist, but don’t (the forbidden grey boxes of the International Phonetic Alphabet).

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was a bilingual video episode interviewing linguist Dr Lynn Hou about her research on signed languages in natural contexts, including ASL on youtube and Chatino Sign Language, in ASL and English. The bonus episode was a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process for Because Internet. Watch the video episode here:

My keynote talk about internet linguistics at the CoEDL Summer School in Canberra, Australia last year went online. I also switched this monthly newsletter from Mailchimp to Substack (existing subscribers were already migrated, and you can still view it online at gretchenmcculloch.com/news, but if you’d like to get an email when I write a new post like this, you can sign up here).

I spent a week at a friend’s cottage by a lake for a much-needed respite, where I wasn’t on the internet much but did enjoy JY Yang’s Tensorate series :)

Long list of media from this month:

Radio/TV:

National Print/Top Online:

Newsletters & Blogs:

Podcasts:

Local Print/Online:

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

Here’s a photo of me and Ryan North just before our event in Toronto, featuring the really excellent sign based on Because Internet that The Ossington made for us!

because internet event ossington toronto gretchen mcculloch ryan north.jpg

June 2019: First finished copy of Because Internet, plus fandom tags on Wired

Because Internet was reviewed in Science Magazine, Real SimpleBooklist, and Library Journal, in addition to last month’s reviews. Here’s what Science Magazine says about it:

A compelling narrative rich with examples from her own online activities, a healthy dose of humor, and plenty of cat memes… the breadth of topics covered—from conversation analysis to meme culture to the development of texting as we now know it—makes this book useful, engaging, and enjoyable.

I did book-related threads about expanding the linguistics bookshelf and the public lending right and how you can order a book you’re excited about from your local public or academic library.

Because Internet is out on July 23rd! That’s just over a week away! Preorders all count towards a book’s first week sales, and the first week is the best chance that a book has of getting on any kind of bestseller list, so if you’re planning on getting it, I’d greatly appreciate if you got it now!

I’m also having a book launch party in Montreal on July 31 — if you’re in the Montreal area, I hope to see you there! You can get free tickets here via Eventbrite.

My latest article for Wired was about the Archive of Our Own and how fans are better than tech at organizing information online. (Plus: a delightful coda.) Excerpt:

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling.

Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you.

This month’s main episode of Lingthusiasm was about why spelling is hard — but also hard to change (with a great tweet about the French circonflexe accent and English) and the bonus episode was North, left, or towards the sea — direction words with Alice Gaby (plus a thread about direction words).

I read the first two Murderbot Diaries novellas and livetweeted my linguistic thoughts about them. I also read This Is How You Lose The Time War, which I was not able to livetweet yet since it was still an advance copy, but it was excellent and I strongly recommend it.

I’m featured in Lauren Gawne’s Linguistics Jobs series at Superlinguo, talking about how I became an internet linguist.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image is the first finished copy of Because Internet, which was sent to me in the mail! It looks like a real book! (Just hanging out on one of our Lingthusiasm esoteric symbols scarves, which matches it perfectly.) Front and back photos, because I can’t resist.