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In honour of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this year, the Jane Austen industry has been working at full capacity delivering tomes of Austenian advice on every conceivable subject but the obvious one: Jane Austen’s Guide to Social Media.
Posted by Shannon

About two years ago, I was trying to explain a humble-brag -- and how to avoid it -- to a friend making her first foray into social media. That's when it dawned on me that Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice was the perfect example. 

We’re both Jane Austen fans, and we’ve often discussed what an astute judge of people she was. Her books are populated with characters we all know. Reading her I’ve often been struck by how technology changes while humanity doesn't. She shows us everything from psychopaths to fools and her comic romps are nothing but snapshots of villages behaving badly. 

So I'm drawing on Austen's insights to teach generations of city dwellers about the etiquette and social skills necessary for getting along in a village. Which is really what social media platforms have done – turned us into a huge village. 

Social media novices often ask how to avoid putting a digital-foot-in-mouth, so now I tell nervous tweeters that before they post they should pause and ask themselves, “What would Jane say to that?”

I expanded the idea into a think piece for Calgary’s Swerve magazine: "Jane Austen’s Guide to Social Media." Which published on time, Thursday, despite the flood. 

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In the Name of the Rose and the Olive

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What’s in a Name?

28 Feb 2013
Posted by Shannon

A Rose by any other name might be just as cute, but she won’t be quite as trendy. 

Last month I looked at the curious baby-naming fads that have led to “Brooklyn” being a Top 10 choice for Alberta parents and North America’s ever-growing enthusiasm for names inspired by 19th century servants. Downstairs names like Abigail, Violet, and of course Rose, are all the rage with a certain sort of Upstairs parent. 

It ran in Calgary’s Swerve magazine, which is one of my favourite outlets because my editor Val Berenyi is less an overseer than a partner-in-crime. On noting that “Mason” was ranked on the boy’s list she wrote a slyly funny hed for the sidebar: “As in the jar or the profession?”

And here’s the full list of Alberta’s chart-toppers. Boys:  Liam, Ethan, Mason, Lucas, Jacob, Alexander, Benjamin, Noah, William, Logan. Girls: Olivia, Sophia, Emma, Emily, Ava, Chloe, Abigail, Lily, Brooklyn, Sophie.

B.C’s list is similar with Nathan and Owen replacing Jacob and Noah for the boys. And on the girl’s list there’s no reference to New York’s hipster borough but Isabella is still a Top-10er. 

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Dust & Lust

30 Apr 2012
Posted by Shannon

dust and lustdust and lustThe annual conspiracy to turn spring into the season of housework shouldn’t go unchallenged, so I gave it my best shot over at Calgary’s Swerve magazine.

Dust & Lust – the erotic aspect of housecleaning – is the ideal justification for merely flirting with a mop instead of employing it. And if you need further resolve on an anti-scrubbing campaign, there’s always inspiration to be had in Mad Men. The season five opener has the new Mrs. Draper cleaning in her scanties…but not for long. 

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