The Wick End of Candles at the Close of a Long Night

The Wick End of Candles at the Close of a Long Night was published in the h2g2 Post on the 21st of September 2006. It’s a rather beautiful story by ianhimself. It’s set in Northern Ireland, and manages to be raw and true while absolutely not being a polemic. Also, it’s not at all about what you might at first imagine it to be about.

In Toastmasters, I’ve given thirteen speeches. I did the ten from the first manual, so I’m now a “Competent Communicator”. In fact, I finished them at the end of our last Toastmaster year (that is, the beginning of the summer: our last meeting before the summer break was my last speech from that manual), but I’ve only just officially registered for the CC award on Thursday night. To get the CC award, you need to do ten speeches, each focussing on different skills: gestures and body language, vocal variety, visual aids, persuasive speaking, inspirational speaking, and suchlike. I found those last two the hardest: my default type of speech is the informational: here’s this cool thing I found out about, let me tell you all about it.

That final speech from the CC manual was actually my eleventh speech, as I’d also  given one in a competition. It is possible to count competition speeches toward an award, if you get someone to evaluate them, but I hadn’t bothered. Besides, it was a recycled, polished up and improved version of a speech I’d given before.

In this Toastmasters year I’ve so far given two speeches. The first was from the Entertaining Speaker manual, I think. I don’t actually have that manual, and am unlikely to try it any time soon, but there’s a speech in the back of the CC manual as a taster, and I had a funny story to tell, so I told it. (It was actually about my visit to Reims for a h2g2 meet at the beginning of the summer. That’s a story I must write up for h2g2 one of these days.) I got that speech evaluated, of course, but it won’t count toward an award.

My next speaking award will be the Bronze. The task is to do two complete manuals. Each of these manuals has five speeches. (That’s why I can’t count my entertaining story: I’m not doing that manual now, and if I eventually do, I’ll start it again from the beginning.)

And, at the last meeting, I made my start on the Interpretive Reading manual, reading a story. Namely, The Wick End of Candles at the Close of a Long Night. It went down very well, I must say. (I did get some constructive feedback, focussing mainly on vocal projection, so that’s something I’ll have to work on.)

I don’t think I want to do too many readings in a row, so my next speech will have to be from another manual. Probably Speaking to Inform. As I said, that’s what suits me. If I do a reading as every third speech, which is what I think I’ll try for, it’ll mean I’ll have two and a half manuals done before I get the Bronze. Nevermind. That would mean I could then jump quickly to the Silver.

TRiG.

Anne Bonny and Mary Read: Piracy, Sex, and suchlike matters

In the early 18th century, Anne Bonny and Mary Reed were, along with Calico Jack Rackham, among the most-feared pirates on the Spanish Main. Their lives were hard, fascinating, and quite unlike the stories which may have been told.

Disenfranchised outsiders, victims of institutionalised exploitation, sexual minorities – everyone found a haven in lawless pirate ports such as New Providence in the Bahamas, where they not only raised merry hell with the shipping, but also founded shipboard democracies that were centuries ahead of their time in tolerance and respect for personal diversity.

TRiG.

Making Money with User-Generated Content

Very many sites (including the ones I spend most time on), have content which is mainly or entirely generated by the users of the site, not the owners. Does this user-generated content have monetary value? Or any other kind of value?

Nick Reynolds, who used to moderate h2g2 when it was owned by the BBC, offers two interesting essays on the values such content has:

Facebook, for example, is in a very different market, financially, to both h2g2 and Stack Exchange. And Wikimedia isn’t interested in financial considerations at all.


Incidentally, over on h2g2, Mr606 points out that the financial figures Nick mentions for Twitter are lower than reality: they have been massaged so that Twitter can declare its profits in Ireland instead of in the UK.

TRiG.

Male/Female/Other/What?

Gender boxes on social networking sites can be complicated. From a “simple” question such as, What should the default gender be?, we can move to far more complicated questions, such as What is gender anyway?, and then onto How can we avoid alienating people with less common genders?, and Should gender be private?

I come from h2g2, a place which simply doesn’t ask a lot of the standard questions.

Most communities have a profile for you to fill in. Facebook asks about your sex and sexuality, your religion, your political affiliation, and your work and employment history.

h2g2 gives you two fields to fill in: a username, and an open Personal Space, where you can write whatever you like. You’re free to define yourself in terms of your hair colour, your shoe size, and a description of the last tree you climbed. This, I think, contributes to the creative anarchy of the place.

TRiG.