Literary fashion icons

My boyfriend was thinking about taking part in NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) again this year and because The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was meant to have grown from Morgenstern’s writing from a previous NaNoWriMo I decided to give it a read.

The descriptions of the surroundings and clothes are absolutely beautiful and I can almost feel the fabrics. Reading it reminded me of a post I read last week on the telegraph about literary fashion icons. The first three on my list below I share with the article, but thinking about the clothes characters wear made me realise I pay more attention than I thought I did to characters’ appearances even when I can’t ‘see’ their clothes.

Elizabeth Bennet‘s practical attitude to her appearance is something I love. I walk a lot and have many a time gotten my shoes muddy because of a desire to take the scenic route though a park rather than catch a bus.

Bertie Wooster‘s dapper, yet slightly un-conservative fashion sense is a humorous point in Wodehouse’s books and I love his style.

Mildred Hubble‘s unkempt hair and long skirts were very much me growing up (and these were stories I loved!)

Hercule Poirot‘s neatness reflects his logical mind and I love his attentiveness to his appearance even if I don’t share the same attitude.

Orlando in Virginia Woolf’s book, made me think about how people often judge someone’s gender on their clothing.

Hermione Granger‘s frizzy hair always made me feel better about my own hair growing up. At school I was (and am) the girl who always did the homework and it was quite nice to share Hermione’s frizziness along with her intelligence!

Before films and TV, I imagine people were perhaps more likely to be inspired by literary characters’ fashions? It was nice to give it some thought.


Hand lettering

I’m mesmerised by this video on Colossal of a pinstriper, Glen Weisgerber, producing some beautiful roundhand lettering.

This might not be language related exactly, but the delivery of words, whether visual or auditory is important to their interpretation. Plus I just couldn’t help sharing this video!

My mum bought me a book on calligraphy – something I did a bit of at school – and I’m looking forward to working through it at some point. My every day writing is quick and messy, so it’d be nice to learn a beautiful, controlled technique.

Using LCD touch-screens to gather words

Now it’s the new university year I’m beginning to get requests on social media to fill in surveys for people’s university research projects. I don’t mind filling in a survey if it’s about something I’m interested in and I have some time to kill. So when I saw this article on the New Scientist page about the use of large LCD touch-screens placed on busy streets for gathering data, I thought it was a great idea! People can kill time by interacting with the screens and giving useful data. Online I’m not going to search for surveys to fill in, but if I was waiting on a bus stop I probably would.

The main use that interested me is the possibility of using the screens to gather words and people’s emotions about the location. These could then be used to select relevant content for the screens. This article reminds me of a link I posted about a few weeks ago about the use of tweets to map emotions in New York. We can then properly connect a place with people’s information. While online crowdsourcing can gather keywords about a general area, I think that the use of the screens actually on that location might give more precise keywords and allow us to gather words about how people see the area then, rather than how they remember it.

I was recently on a train with interactive screens that had breaking news stories across the top. One of these news stories was about a huge train crash. Not really something I want to be reminded of when I’m on a train! Because it’s so important to match content to the environment it’s being displayed, I think these touch-screens could be fantastic in giving more precise information about the place and the people who frequent it.


I’m rethinking charity spending

If you’ve ever complained about how much a charity’s CEO earns or how much a charity spends on advertising instead of ‘doing’ then watch this Ted talk by Dan Pallotta:

There is definitely a balance to be gained here and I don’t agree entirely with everything he says but overall I think he makes a really great point that how we think about charities’ spending might be wrong.

The charity I volunteer for tries to have very low costs: we fold our newsletters to cut down on postage, use up our leaflets and t-shirts with old logos instead of just using the new ones so we don’t waste resources, print as much as we can in black and white instead of having pretty colours, etc. and I whole heartedly agree with this as it means that people’s donations can go as far as possible. However we also don’t spend very much money on marketing the charity either and after watching this I think that could be a mistake.

It’s a difficult balance as I know that I would probably want my money to go directly to a cause instead of just funding a campaign so that they can get the ‘real’ donations from a corporation but if that’s the best way to help the cause then maybe that would be for the best?

Everything donated, however small, really means a lot to the charity I volunteer for and because of the work it does we focus on raising awareness of its services instead of just funds. Should they perhaps be putting more money into bigger campaigns? Maybe. This talk has definitely given me something to think about. It must be added that I also don’t think you can purely measure a charity on the money involved, but that there’s also that whole hard-to-quantify area of ‘goodness’ it does too, but that might be a pondering for another day.