ANSWER YOUR EMAIL!

I’ve  given up email. Well, almost. At the weekend I set up one of those auto-reply  messages, informing my correspondents that I would no longer be checking my  emails, and that instead they might like to call or write, as we used to in the  olden days. (Tom Hodgkinson)

I hope that this title speaks for itself, but just in case it doesn’t: this post is about the most important etiquette involved in emails–ANSWERING THEM!

We’re busy; we have so many accounts and alerts; we’re always plugged in. I understand this. I’m busy, too. I have memorized a plethora of passwords for social media accounts as well as three different email addresses.

email rant pic

This is no excuse for not answering emails from friends, family, and colleagues. You don’t have to answer them right away (although, within 24 hours is polite), but you should at least acknowledge them. Even just quick reply stating you received the email and will take the time to reply when it is convenient. I also know a few people who list the times of day they are likely to reply to emails in their signatures. Any kind of acknowledgement is acceptable.

This seems more like a rant than a real post, but I do think that this is really important for keeping your email relationships healthy. I always wonder if people receive my emails and, after a day, I usually send a follow-up. I’m not trying to be annoying, but I do need a response. At the very least I need to know that my email was received by the right person. I don’t want to bug the people I’m emailing, I don’t, but when I email a teacher or colleague, there is usually an important reason. Otherwise, I would wait and talk to them the next time I see him or her.

My mom always says (I sound like Forest Gump, right?) that you wouldn’t leave your snail mail unopened so why would you leave you email unopened (or unanswered)? The comparison is pretty eye-opening. Email is communication. Communication is not a one-way street. Don’t disrespect your emailers (not a word, I know) by leaving them to communicate by themselves; that’s just rude.

Sorry to be disjointed, but this is a real pet peeve of mine.

As always, I encourage you to comment with your pet peeves–I’ll even blog about it!

Stay classy (and answer your emails),

Kassieboo

Works Cited:

Picture from inchoo.net. (I came across it in a Google search)

A Story Through Media

This week, my assignment is to tell a story through various types of media. However, I decided that I would tell a story in a different way. I’m an English major so it is kind of my goal in life to confuse people about stories and how they are told. I thought it would be fun to see another type of story-telling.

Often, a story may take the form of a feeling evoked from a piece of music or a picture or even a smell. I wish that I could make your computer smell like freshly-baked bread and vanilla, but I can’t do that. Instead, I am going to give you a picture (a famous one). I will also give you two pieces of music. I’d like you to look at the picture while listening to one song and then do the same while listening to the other song. If you’re like me, there will be a story or even music video playing in your head complete with a plot, setting, and maybe famous actors to play each part.

See if the story evoked by the picture changes with the different types of music. I know that I’m making you do the work, but I think that feeling is story, too.

VJ-Day-Kiss-famous-kisses-2799413-600-897

Song 1

Song 2

What did you think? Did your story change? Was there a story at all or were you just staring at the picture for five or ten minutes?

Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Thanks,

Kassieboo (Kathryn)

Works Cited:

Clearly, these songs and this picture are not mine. I’m just linking to them for the sake of art!

“Please”

“Which way did they go, Peeves?” Filch was saying. “Quick, tell me.”
“Say ‘please.'”
“Don’t mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?”
“Shan’t say nothing if you don’t say please,” said Peeves in his annoying singsong voice.
“All right- PLEASE.”
“NOTHING! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn’t say nothing if you didn’t say please! Ha ha! Haaaaaa!” And they heard the sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch cursing in rage.”  (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone)

“Please”

I’d like to keep this short because it should be just a refresher for everybody.

When you ask somebody to do something for you (whether he or she is paid to do that thing or not), you say “please”.

End of story.

That’s all, folks.

Image

But really, this is supposed to be a natural inclination. I was raised to say please when I asked for things or ordered food or needed something done for me. In fact, if I didn’t say it, my family (including my older brothers) would tell me I needed to say “the magic words” or they just wouldn’t do it until I remembered to say please. It wasn’t a matter of only doing this in public. I had to do it at home, too. Saying please, for me, is a natural part of asking a question or ordering foods or services. I’m not suggesting that I’m perfect, but I certainly know that you say please!

I find it incredibly rude when I am out with a few friends who don’t say please and thank you to their servers in restaurants or even the person from whom they are buying pants!

To me, not saying please suggests that it is your right to expect something to be done; that you believe you are better than the person serving you. And that is never true. Every single person is equal, from the Queen of England to your server at McDonalds. And each person deserves the same level of respect. That level of respect includes saying please.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include much about “thank you” in this post, but that is because I reblogged this post by Greg Morton in the last month and I think that he does a good job of explaining its use.

Stay tuned for more!

Stay classy,

Kassieboo

Work Cited

The image is 100% my own (shotty) work.

The Harry Potter quotation was taken from this site because I didn’t think to look for it in my own copy of the novel. The passage belongs to JK Rowling, I am just quoting it.

A Random Act of Kindness

A Random Act of Kindness

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. (Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip)

While riding on the WCEx (a commuter train which delivers people from suburbs of Vancouver to the downtown area) this morning, I witnessed a random act of kindness. A middle-aged woman had dropped her phone on the platform while she was waiting for the train and the the screen was completely smashed; she literally cut her finger on it when she tried to unlock it. After she got onto the train and found a seat beside one of her work colleagues, she explained the story to her co-worker. This woman was pretty upset about her phone and was speaking a little louder than what is usual on an early(ish)-morning train.

A young man across the aisle evidently was listening. When the woman had finished explaining to her co-worker what had happened, he leaned toward her and gave her the name of a really good iPhone repair place. The business, he explained, was in the train station where we were heading and would be able to have her phone fixed in couple hours. He also explained that all of the IT guys with whom he worked absolutely raved about how the work at this repair shop was such high-quality and somewhat inexpensive. But the young man was not done with just suggesting the place to go. He had also written down the number, hours, and cost of fixing the woman’s phone and then passed the piece of paper with the information to the woman.

The woman, who I assume was incredibly surprised by the man’s thoughtfulness, didn’t really reply. She took the paper and put it in her purse. The young man still had a smile on his face when he hopped off the train.

 

Some people are just nice. When they see a problem which they are able to fix, they jump into action. That is what the young man did today. It didn’t appear to matter to him that the woman showed little gratitude for his kindness; he was just please to have been able to help. I think that this is pretty beautiful.

Random acts of kindness are always great to witness and they’re even better to take part in. There is something really cool about being able to help someone or brighten his or her day. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment that is different from what you get when you finish an essay or finally get around to cleaning out the back of the fridge. It is (hopefully) completely outside of yourself.

I was lucky enough to participate in a few different groups which had a few days/weeks every year when the goal was to perform random acts of kindness. In one group, we walked around our high school on Valentine’s day and gave flowers to people who were eating lunch alone. With another group, we brought a keyboard, a guitar, and a few drums to a seniors’ home and instead of just singing to them, we learned a number of classics and standards and encouraged them to sing with us.

My own experiences were more organized than the act I was privileged enough to see this morning, but there are so many ways in which we can be kind to one another. My sister-in-law works as a care aid in a facility which looks after seniors who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s and the like. She does a lot of things that she doesn’t have to, just to brighten the days of her patients. When she married my brother this past August, she took a few extra minutes before going to the ceremony to stop at her work and celebrate the wedding with the people she looks after–they were ecstatic to see her dressed in her wedding gown. She also does things day-to-day, like helping some of the women put on a little lipstick or perfume in the morning. I doubt that these things are in her job description, but she does them anyways. They are no longer random (because she has been doing them for a few years), but they are certainly kind.

Not every act has to be huge and public. Sharing a smile with a sad-looking stranger on the street is enough. Holding the door is enough. Whatever you can do is enough.

If you’re interested in learning more about random acts of kindness, there is actually a foundation. You can check it out here.

If you have any stories about your own experiences with random acts of kindness, I encourage you to share them in the comments. Remember: part of what inspires random acts is seeing others perform them first. This is a fad that I hope you will follow!

Stay classy,

Kassieboo

The Journey to the World of Digital Publication: Not Every Stop is the Destination

Essay 1:

The Journey to the World of Digital Publication: Not Every Stop is the Destination

            Publishing is an ever-changing form of sharing information and ideas with wide audiences. There are numerous new ways for authors and creators to publish their content and get it to the public, but this sense of the word “publish” may not be the same as that of the word used in connection to hard-copy books, novels, magazines, and newspapers. The shift that is occurring which takes the population from print literacy to digital is opening up the way in which writers publish their content, but this publishing is not necessarily the same as publication.

Publication

            It is difficult to discuss the idea of publication without an understanding of what it currently means and refers to. The definition moves and changes with the creation and innovation of new mediums and ways of sharing information. However, the most apt description might also be the most abstract:

Publication is not the sale of books, per se; it’s not the pursuit of beauty or the creation of a record or an archive. It’s not simply a tool for transmitting information; publication is a political strategy, the creation of a public. (Stadler, 2010)

In the above quotation, Matthew Stadler describes publication as “the creation of a public” rather than the assumed creation or sale of a book. This comment is a direct result of the shift from print literacy to digital literacy which is still taking place. Publication, to many, no longer conforms to the tight box in which it has stayed for the past half of a millennium.  A new definition, such as the above, is needed to encapsulate all of the new facets of publishing and publication. Stadler also states that “digital distribution and affordable print-on-demand technologies are now a fact of publishing” (2010). There is no room for anachronism in publication; those wishing to give and share information must accept that digital is quickly becoming the prevailing media. Novel releases which once focused on cover art and book tours have grown to include e-books, author blogs, YouTube videos, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. Perhaps growth is not the correct word for the changes which are taking place in publishing because digital distribution is past being added to hard-copies; it has begun replacing them. The public being created with each block of content—be it story, textbook, memoir, etc.—is much larger and more global than the publics of the past and marketing forms must keep up. The idea of the physical book is dimming as even the language it once lent to internet is being revoked: “The next step is clear: to drop the pretense of creating ‘pages’ of content at all and start making semantically structured chunks of (mostly) text that can be assembled, taken apart, and reassembled as needed” (Kissane, 2012). As the above quotation states, the pretense of mimicking books is growing irrelevant for the creators and managers of internet content. Publication is no longer restricted to all things book.

Self-Publication

            It is challenging to determine where the various platforms for content-creation—creative writing, personal journaling, reporting news, etc.—fit into the idea of publication. Stadler suggests that “[publication] should be cheap, non-exclusive, and easy to do” (2010). Blogging fits this description nicely. Websites like Tumblr, BlogSpot, WordPress, etc. exist for those who would like to have a free space for writing; sites such as these exemplify “cheap, non-exclusive, and easy to do”. Anyone with an email address, the information to share, and time to do it can be a blogger.

            E-books, too, are somewhat simple to publish, judging by the number of self-published novels available through Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca. “The rise of desk-top publishing software and the internet in the late twentieth century, and widespread ebook [sic] publishing in the twenty-first, has enabled an explosion of self-publishing” (Murray & Squires, 2012). This platform allows authors and writers to bypass the publishing houses and ensure their books make it to the public. Some retailers, such as Amazon, have stepped into the publishing business in order to catch these self-publishing authors and, first, help them publish and, second, give them a place to sell their stories and content (Murray & Squires, 2012).

            These two platforms for expression, blogs and e-books, are the focus, here, as both are less and less like the platforms of the past. E-books may keep up the pretense of being a book, but with ability to connect to comments and notes made by other readers, search specific words or phrases, and jump chapters, the gap between e-books and their paper predecessor is growing.

Discussion

            The question, then, is how are blogging and e-book self-publishing publication?  If “[authors] no longer require a publisher to produce books”, then are they still publishing (Murray & Squires, 2012)? Some would say no, these platforms do not constitute publishing (or they do not, at the very least, constitute authorship): “The world has been used to bludgeon you into dumb shit. To put great stories on the shelf to build slideshows. To give up on quality and focus on quantity” (Madrigal, 2013). The worry that the content is suffering at the hands of the presentation is a considerable concern to those who have observed a number of industries give up quality for quantity. The following comment from the digital editor of The Atlantic magazine sums up the apprehension of the people creating the content: “while the best stuff tends to do far, far better than average, it is not always the best stuff that hits virally” (Madrigal, 2013). Popularity does not always follow good writing; it may, unfortunately, follow a song called “Friday” by a less-than-talented young woman.

The real problem may be in the assumption that quality must be a part of publication. There are publishing houses with teams of educated people working together to make already-good books great; the idea is that there is something elite or special about authors who are published. However, with the complete lack of exclusivity inherent to blogs and self-published e-books (and the internet, as a whole), the standard to which hard-copy books were held for so long may not be so important to the new forms of publication “[and] while the value of ‘content’ bottoms out, it’s clear where capital sees the real value in digital media — in the ownership of the platform” (Lamb, 2013). It would appear that with many sites, this last statement is definitely true: writing is exposure, but hosting is money.

It is one thing, though, to determine that blogging is publication, but the readers, the ones for whom all of this is done, may feel differently about the actual experience of reading a book versus reading a published work:

…we do lose…the legacy that comes with the artifact. That is, the inheritance of items that bear the evidence of the human hand and the inspiration that comes from such encounters. My comments on a blog post will not fade, but they do not carry the emotion of my father’s scribbles and wobbly underlines in the copies from his college library. (Nadel, 2011)

In the above excerpt, Ryan Nadel states that there is a variance between comments on a blog and comments in a book. So, for him, blogging may not be publishing in the same way that books are. This sentiment illustrates where he is in his shift from print literacy to digital literacy and it is likely the same place as many people who were born before digital literacy was really a thing. It is too early to determine how people like Nadel view e-books in comparison to their offline counterparts, but it is clear that human connection is a criterion of publication for many readers.

Conclusions and Questions Moving Forward

            The next five to ten years will be interesting for those observing the shift from print to digital literacy. The physical book may become what Nadel calls it, an artifact. In the meantime, the thing on which to focus will be how blogs and e-books fair in the industry of publication. The estimation that e-books will flourish and blogs will become even more commonplace—like an extension of a Facebook status—could be very true or completely wrong. Publication is on the cusp of change; in some ways, it is already rambling forward, trying to find balance, but, in other ways, it is hanging on by its teeth, fighting the inevitable shift.

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Kissane, E. (2012, July 25). “Contents may have shifted”. Contents, (4).

Lamb, B. (2013, March 07). “The bucket has a whole in it, let’s plug it”. Abject Learning.

Madrigal, A. (2013, March 06). “A day in the life of a digital editor, 2013.” The Atlantic.

Murray, P. R., & Squires, C. (2012). “The Digital Communications Circuit.” University of Stirling Research/Infographics

Nadel, R. (2011, January 20). “The book as artifact”. The Mark

Stadler, M. (2010). “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010.

Changing the World with a Simple “Thank You”

I have yet to write about the use of “Thank You”, but this post from a fellow blogger sums it up perfectly!

Morton Design Works

thank you

I’m a big believer in good manners.

I’m not sure who invented the concept, though I can say with some certainty it probably wasn’t cave men, whacking each other over the head with the bones of a snaggletoothed lizard or something like that.  No, I’m not sure who invented the concept, but that person is a silent genius.  The amount of expression and respect one can give in the smallest of gestures is nearly unfathomable.  Some of greatest hits of good manners include;

Holding the door

Saying “God bless you” to a sneeze

Picking up a dropped item for someone

Walking diligently across the street when a car allows you to cross

These are some of my favorites, anyway.  But the mother of all good manners is an adjunct reaction to all of these already good deeds, and it almost serves as an after-thought.  It is the pinnacle of politeness…

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