The link below is to an article that takes a look at seven apps that will help you become a more organised writer.
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The link below is to an article that takes a look at seven apps that will help you become a more organised writer.
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The link below is to an article that takes a look at the history of anti-racist writing.
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In March, when a white man targeted and killed eight women in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian, mainstream media and police initially refused to categorize it as a racially motivated hate crime. But for Asian people, across North America and globally, this tragedy was one more episode in a long history of anti-Asian violence.
Over 150 years ago, white settlers in the United States rounded up Chinese merchants and miners and put them onto burning barges, threw them into railway cars and even lynched them. But this story is not limited to the U.S. — early Chinese immigrants were not welcome in Canada either.
This is documented in the life and works of Chinese-Canadian author and journalist Edith Eaton (1865-1914). While researching Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism, and Travel Writing by Edith Maude Eaton, I discovered numerous accounts of early Canadian anti-Chinese racism in her work.
In Eaton’s memoir Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian, she recalls being called “Chinky, Chinky, Chinaman, yellow-face, pig-tail, rat-eater,” after moving to North America with her family — a white father, Chinese mother and five siblings — in 1872.
Soon after the family’s arrival in Montréal, locals would call out “Chinese!” “Chinoise!” as they walked down the street. Classmates would pull Eaton’s hair, pinch her and refuse to sit beside her.
These taunts and torments were felt deeply by Eaton throughout her life. She wrote:
“I have come from a race on my mother’s side which is said to be the most stolid and insensible to feeling of all races. Yet I look back over the years and see myself so keenly alive to every shade of sorrow and suffering that it is almost a pain to live.”
Eaton published a book of short stories depicting Chinese immigrants’ encounters with racism under the pseudonym “Sui Sin Far” (Cantonese for narcissus). And her advocacy was appreciated by Chinese people in Montréal who erected a memorial beside her grave with the inscription “Yi bu wang hua,” which means “The righteous one does not forget China.”
Since the Atlanta shootings, Asian women have been assaulted and even killed. Asian people have been accused of causing COVID-19, stealing intellectual property and more. What Eaton described in her fiction and memoir continues to happen today.
Eaton also documented anti-Chinese violence and championed the rights of Chinese immigrants in stories published in the Montréal Star and the Montréal Witness throughout the 1890s.
At the time, white men were convinced that Chinese immigrants were taking their jobs away and that Chinese men — many of whom lived alone behind their shops (because of the Head Tax — had an unfair advantage over white men with families.
In the Montréal Star, Eaton published A Plea for the Chinaman, in which she called out politicians for mistreating Chinese men in Canada:
“Every just person must feel his or her sense of justice outraged by the attacks which are being made by public men upon the Chinese who come to this country.… It makes one’s cheeks burn to read about men of high office standing up and abusing a lot of poor foreigners behind their backs and calling them all the bad names their tongues can utter.”
Anti-Chinese violence was so common in 1890s Montréal that Chinese men carried police whistles in their pockets. In an 1895 article, titled Beaten to Death, Eaton noted that even when they blew their whistles, no one would come to Chinese men’s aid. Bystanders often refused to identify their assailants and police told the men who had been assaulted that they should be arrested for bothering them.
The recent reports of a security guard’s refusal to act when a Filipino woman was brutally beaten uncannily recall the anti-Asian violence Eaton documented 125 years ago.
My research leads me to suspect that Eaton published other unsigned articles documenting anti-Chinese racism in Montreal newspapers at this time. She may have written a Gazette article reporting on youth who would gather nightly in Montreal’s Chinatown to throw stones at passing Chinese men and through the plate glass windows of their businesses, or those describing Chinese men being punched, kicked or beaten to death.
Looking at literature and journalism of the past such as Eaton’s can help illuminate the challenges of today. Her observations about people’s motivations — ignorance, jealousy, suspicion, competition — invite us to reflect on the motivations of today’s perpetrators of anti-Asian violence and conclude that not much has changed.
The anti-Asian racism recorded in Eaton’s work and journalism across Montreal persists today. Recent reports of racist violence, hate crimes, verbal harassment, opaque policing and passive bystanders could have been written more than a century ago.
We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to make up for over a century of treating Asian people like they do not belong.
Robots are writing more of what we read on the internet. And artificial intelligence (AI) writing tools are becoming freely available for anyone, including students, to use.
In a period of rapid change, there are enormous ethical implications for post-human authorship — in which humans and machines collaborate. The study of AI ethics needs to be central to education as we increasingly use machine-generated content to communicate with others.
AI robot writers, such as GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) take seconds to create text that seems like it was written by humans. In September, 2020 GPT-3 wrote an entire essay in The Guardian to convince people not to fear artificial intelligence.
AI does this through what’s called natural language processing and generation. This involves converting human language to computer commands and vice versa. To do this, machine algorithms study millions of text samples, words, sentences and paragraphs humans use to gain a general understanding of the context of human language. Then machines use that knowledge to put together text.
For example, the free Zyro content generator provides text for websites. I can select the categories “Health and Living” and “Personal Trainer” (I happen to be one, as well as an academic). In two seconds, the following text appears:
I am experienced with personal training, athletic performance, and nutrition. This includes working with children, pregnant women, older adults, people with disabilities, athletes, and anyone looking to achieve a competitive edge, improve their overall health, and overall performance. I also have an interest in alternative health, including wellness coaching and nutrition counselling. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, the outdoors, and writing.
This sums me up (despite the program knowing nothing about me) and would be fine for my website, if I had one. I have the option to generate more responses, and in two seconds, the program offers:
I am experienced in working with adults and children to improve their overall physical and emotional well-being. I have a strong desire to help you reach your goal […] I love helping others achieve their goals. I love working with others to achieve their goals. I am a mother of two healthy children and a wife to two incredible people.
While this is repetitive and Zyro does not notice the apparent error in the last sentence, these issues would be easy to correct. Text, even for niche purposes, can now be generated in a few clicks.
There are other digital tools such as paraphrasers and rewriters that can generate up to 1,000 articles from a single seed article, each of them substantially unique. Quillbot and WordAI, for instance, can rapidly rewrite text and make it difficult to detect plagiarism. WordAI boasts “unlimited human quality content at your fingertips”.
So what does this mean for education, writing, and society?
Of course, there’s the issue of cheating on essays and other assignments. School and university leaders need to have difficult conversations about what constitutes “authorship” and “editorship” in the post-human age. We are all (already) writing with machines, even just via spelling and grammar checkers.
Tools such as Turnitin — originally developed for detecting plagiarism — are already using more sophisticated means of determining who wrote a text by recognising a human author’s unique “fingerprint”. Part of this involves electronically checking a submitted piece of work against a student’s previous work.
Many student writers are already using AI writing tools. Perhaps, rather than banning or seeking to expose machine collaboration, it should be welcomed as “co-creativity”. Learning to write with machines is an important aspect of the workplace “writing” students will be doing in the future.
AI writers work lightning fast. They can write in multiple languages and can provide images, create metadata, headlines, landing pages, Instagram ads, content ideas, expansions of bullet points and search-engine optimised text, all in seconds. Students need to exploit these machine capabilities, as writers for digital platforms and audiences.
Perhaps assessment should focus more on students’ capacities to use these tools skilfully instead of, or at least in addition to, pursuing “pure” human writing.
Yet the question of fairness remains. Students who can access better AI writers (more “natural”, with more features) will be able to produce and edit better text.
Better AI writers are more expensive and are available on monthly plans or high one-off payments wealthy families can afford. This will exacerbate inequality in schooling, unless schools themselves provide excellent AI writers to all.
We will need protocols for who gets credit for a piece of writing. We will need to know who gets cited. We need to know who is legally liable for content and potential harm it may create. We need transparent systems for identifying, verifying and quantifying human content.
And most importantly of all, we need to ask whether the use of AI writing tools is fair to all students.
For those who are new to the notion of AI writing, it is worthwhile playing and experimenting with the free tools available online, to better understand what “creation” means in our robot future.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at 5 collaborative fiction sites.
The link below is to an article/tutorial on how to write using Medium.
For many, this year’s Valentine’s Day will be like no other. If you are spending the day apart from your loved ones, and don’t fancy the card selection at your local Tesco, writing a poem can be a more personal way to reach out and connect. Indeed, to paraphrase John Donne, “more than kisses, [poems] mingle souls”.
Here are some poems to take inspiration from, as well as some prompts to help you get that first line on the page.
In her sonnet, How Do I Love Thee, Elizabeth Barrett Browning demonstrates the effectiveness of staying power when it comes to writing romance. After setting out to count the ways, the poem sticks determinedly to its opening concept – how do I love thee – answering the question from every possible angle, reaching to “the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach”.
Poems for long distant loves in lockdown
How do I love thee demonstrates how incorporating a list within a poem can make for a persuasive and intimate piece of writing. We see this again, in an altogether sillier way, in Ways of Making Love, by Hera Lindsay Bird. In her poem, Bird unfolds a surprising and decidedly unsexy list of similes to “answer” the instructional title of the poem:
Like a metal detector detecting another metal detector.
Like two lonely scholars in the dark clefts of the Cyrillic alphabet.
Like an ancient star slowly getting sucked into a black hole.
Whether it’s heartfelt or more lighthearted, a list poem is an opportunity to remember the quirks that make up a relationship. Half prayer, half receipt, it can quantify the seemingly unquantifiable, as the need to find the next answer to the opening question forces you to think creatively and explore beyond the obvious.
Why not begin with a title like “Each Thing You Do”, and challenge yourself to at least forty lines. Or perhaps you might want to answer Barrett Browning’s original question in light of our 2021 reality:
I love you further than two metres;
I love you beyond the limits of my daily walk.
Ways of Making Love might not live up to the eroticism of its title, but Selima Hill’s Desire’s a Desire certainly delivers:
It taunts me
like the muzzle of a gun;
it sinks into my soul like chilled honey
packed into the depths of treacherous wounds;
In this variation of the list poem, Hill takes longing as her starting point and recounts its effects in sensual, almost painful detail. Similarly, in Kim Addionzo’s For Desire, the poet celebrates what it is to want without restraint or guilt, whether that’s “the strongest cheese”, the “good wine”, or “the lover who yanks open the door / of his house and presses me to the wall”. In Fucking in Cornwall, Ella Frears embraces the less-than-glamorous realities of sex and desire:
The rain is thick and there’s half a rainbow
over the damp beach; just put your hand up my top.
It may not be the stuff of the big-budget period drama, but it’s joyful in its nostalgia for the awkward fumbling of first love, as well as of the rainy delights of the English seaside.
Each of these poems celebrates the power of declaring longing and need; of articulating the body and what it wants.
Perhaps you’ll notice something familiar about the opening lines of Harryette Mullen’s Dim Lady:
My honeybunch’s peepers are nothing like neon. Today’s special at Red Lobster is redder than her kisser. If Liquid Paper is white, her racks are institutional beige. If her mop were Slinkys, dishwater Slinkys would grow on her noggin.
In this fast-paced ode, Mullen takes Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”) — itself a parody — and effectively scribbles all over it. While she maintains the style of the original, she substitutes almost every word with a contemporary reference to mass consumer culture, rendering the whole declaration — and the love industry — joyfully ridiculous.
Dim Lady demonstrates the power of the re-write and celebrates the fact that poetry – like love – can be a playful and adaptable collaboration. Like the Zoom pub quiz and online escape room, Mullen’s word substitution is a game that can be played at whatever distance.
Why not each take Sonnet 130 and come up with your own versions using a different frame of reference. Types of plant? TV programmes? Biscuit brands? Then swap and compare results.
And remember, whatever style you decide to try this Valentine’s Day, keep in mind the poet Les Murray’s sage advice:
The best love poems are known
as such to the lovers alone.
When it comes to writing your own verse, remember, it’s the thought that counts.
The link below is to an article that looks at writing tips from Margaret Atwood.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at 9 writing tools.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at WriteSmoke Grammar Checker, a tool for writers.