{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Archive for August, 2010

Open Letter: The Importance of Capitalization

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Dear People of the Internet:

I know it’s hip and cool right now to use all lowercase letters in your brand names, menus and whatnot. Heck, I do it too — just look up at my header and you’ll note a lack of proper case.

But!

This does not mean you should completely abandon reason in your quest to appear youthful and edgy. Capitalization serves a legitimate purpose in the English language: it helps us decipher proper nouns and names from other words, especially when a word could be either. On the internet correct case performs an even more important task: proper use of capital letters helps us scan content quickly. Capitalization often indicates important keywords like place and name. It also helps us quickly identify and digest those clever informational chunks known as “sentences”. Without capital letters, periods get easily lost and sentences blur together visually, making it difficult and frustrating to read quickly.

Blog post titles and any website body content that is longer than six or seven words should always use proper case. At least, they always should if you’d actually like people to read the stuff you’ve written. Branding is great, but when it gets in the way of what you’re trying to say you’re probably doing it wrong.

Missing those capital letters,

Chelle

Comments Off on Open Letter: The Importance of Capitalization

Photoshopping & Body Image on SheThought.com

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

SheThought Banner

SheThought, a blog for, by and about women and critical thinking, is fast becoming one of my most favourite places on the Internet. The contributors include a variety of people from different backgrounds from science to arts and varying exposure to the online or offline feminist movement. The one thing they all share is a desire to think rationally, to be thoughtful about issues and ideas, and to embrace open discussion and civil, constructive conversation.

Recently, contributor Ben Radford had some thoughts on the reactions to a poll on girls and what they think about Photoshop and fashion photography. I had time to participate and ask questions in comments — which is not something I usually do — and though I haven’t had the opportunity yet to look up some of the studies he pointed me to, it’s on my To-Do list.

The idea that being surrounded by images of unrealistic female bodies has impacted the female gender’s collective cultural body image is one of those things that everybody “knows” in the same way that everybody “knows” images — especially fashion and celebrity photos — are heavily altered and Photoshopped, but where did these ideas come from? Is there valid data to support these “known” facts? This is a legitimate question I hadn’t spent much time thinking about: I assumed somewhere, someone had done the legwork and filed it away as fact before disseminating it to the masses. As I become increasingly interested in the skeptical movement I’m discovering this isn’t always true. I’m still learning what differentiates a good, scientific study from a less solid one so I can be better equipped to spot faulty methodologies that lead to incorrect assumptions. The last thing women need is to put our efforts into fighting the wrong battles, and if this is potentially one of them I think it’s valid to look critically at.

Having said that, I still think there is value for everyone in our culture in seeing a broader representation of body type and beauty in all media, from fashion magazine to movies to television. I have no studies of my own to back up that thought, only the anecdotal knowledge that TV characters like Criminal Minds’ Penelope Garcia who illustrate happiness in life and love isn’t dependant on your waist size can be important cultural role models that we can use more of. And while I’ve always thought the fashion industry gets too much blame when it comes to body image issues, I also believe there’s no downside in people of all shapes, sizes and colours seeing themselves represented there more often. If fashion is art, then the bodies that wear it are canvases, so why stick to a one-size mentality? Wall art comes in sizes that vary from hand-held to house-sized, so why can’t haute couture?

I definitely recommend adding SheThought to your reading list: there hasn’t been a post yet I haven’t found interesting, and while I have focused here on a feminism-related article, I love that this is a place for women to speak and be heard on topics that aren’t necessarily “women’s issues”. It’s a place for and about women, but it’s not all “about women”. Women think and have opinions about everything from science to politics to comedy, and not all of our online spaces have to be about the experience of being a woman all the time.

Comments Off on Photoshopping & Body Image on SheThought.com

Linkspam: Feminism, Privilege & Menswear Squee

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I am officially switching linkspam day from Monday to Tuesday. I hardly have time to eat on Mondays never mind blog, so I’m not sure what I was thinking when I picked that day. So, technically, that means I’m not actually late. *wink*

Feminism & Women
  • Feministe asks why, when asked to cover Reshma Saujani’s New York Congressional campaign, the reporter chose to write, not about issues, but about shoes. This is a long-standing debate about the way things should be and the way things are, and how and when females do or should respond in which way. A female Congressional candidate shouldn’t have to worry about the message her shoes are sending any more than a male Congressional candidate worries about his. The reality, however, is that women in politics will be judged on their appearance and fashion choices in the current cultural climate and have to deal with it and all its maddening mixed messages if they want their opinions heard. Fair is not always synonymous with reality is the point I think Susan Dominus was trying to make in the origina New York Times article, though in a roundabout, meandering sort of way. In the end, the article seemed to be more about the shoes than it was about anything else, which is probably a pretty good example of exactly what we’re talking about here.
  • On Livejournal, Karnythia talks about the challenges of being pretty. Society does privilege attractive people, but as a woman and a person of colour the intersections of misogyny still cause problems, some of which can be exacerbated by being pretty. More opportunity, but also more grabbie hands (and sometimes actual hands, because being female means your body is public property to some people).
  • In news about women being just as bad as men when it comes to sexism, Caster Semenya’s competitors are still flailing about her gender. Outstanding talent and ability in athletes — male and female — should be praised, not vilified. Regardless of whether or not this issue should have ever even been an issue (much less a public one) it has been officially settled. Calling her a “man” at this point is a cheap shot. How can women ever expect men to treat us better if we don’t treat each other better?

 

Privilege
  • This post is called The Myth of White Male Geek Rationality but it’s valid reading for everyone. This is about the realities of implicit bias, of unconscious -isms, of invisible discrimination and na├»vety. The tricky thing about -isms is how subconscious they are, how they set into our brains without our knowing it and create rules we don’t consciously know about. Think you’re “colourblind”? Think you don’t treat women differently than men? You’re not and you do. This isn’t something we should feel guilty about, but it is something we must awknowledge in order to change. We are all biased: no one is exempt. Some people are just more aware of our biases than others, and actively try to catch and correct them.

 

Clothing & Costuming
  • A fantastic primer on menswear, with special emphasis on suit styles and cuts. I cannot begin to express my glee at this. I love menswear, and wish more of my male friends would let me go clothing shopping with them. As much as I didn’t enjoy the cut-through culture of working at Tip Top Tailors years ago, I do miss the deep satisfaction of matching men with just the right suit, shirt and tie. This tutorial may appear to the uninformed to be comprehensive, but menswear lovers will know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Comments Off on Linkspam: Feminism, Privilege & Menswear Squee

Linkspam: Feminism, Science & Usability

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Even during crazy weeks when I’m up to my eyeballs in work, Fringe shows and social appointments, I still manage to read piles of stuff on the Internet. Here is a sampling of the most interesting things I’ve stumbled upon this week.

Feminism & Women

 

Science & Technology

 

Politics

 

Usability
Leave a Comment (4) »

Linkspam: Women, Skepticism and SEO

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I read and get linked to a ton of interesting blog posts every week, and as much as I would like to post commentary about most of them there just isn’t enough time in the day. I often share some of these links on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m going to start posting a list of my most interesting recent reads here on Mondays as a way of sharing online articles with a little more context.

Feminism & Women:

 

Science & Skepticism:
  • Coca-Cola is being sued because their vitamin water products make unwarranted health claims, but the best bit is their defense, which is to say that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitamin water was a healthy beverage”. Basically their defense boils down to “yes we said it was healthy, but everyone knows that’s not true so we’re fine”. Um… *headdesk*
  • Myths about the “love hormone” oxytocin and the way conservatives are twisting slective bits of science to shore up abstinence-only sex education, slut shaming, monogamy and a lack of family planning. This is a link-rich resource that I have read through but haven’t clicked-through yet. It seems well-researched and comprehensive, and the article itself is very interesting.

 

SEO:
Comments Off on Linkspam: Women, Skepticism and SEO