Back in early March, I received an e-mail from my graduate school advisor referring me to a call from an online magazine called The Conversation for linguists who can write about language in texting, including emoticons and symbols. Nothing else could have been more in my research wheelhouse than that, so I was excited to take the opportunity to talk about this fascinating area of research for a general audience.
A few e-mails of introduction later, I was working on a draft of an article incorporating years of research into emoticons and symbols — the research on emoticons done by other people, and symbols mostly by myself. Most of this information was gained from my graduate school work on my Master’s Thesis and Dissertation, so it was fairly easy to put it all together. The Conversation had a great interface for doing this kind of work, and I really enjoyed working with my editor, Nick Lehr, who put images and captions to add flair to my article and helped me clean up the language. (Thanks Nick!)
Ultimately, on April 6th, the article was published under a CC-BY-ND license. I was proud of the final product and shared it on social media.
Then, the article started to be picked up. Because of the CC license and its settings, I had already given my consent to have the article re-published in other places as long as it was attributed to me (and it was not changed). That meant that it could be freely republished without my knowledge. The next thing I knew, the article was in Quartz and the New Republic. They all changed the headline slightly, but most of them complied fairly closely with the original.
I guess people all over the world like to read about emoticons, because with my permission (because the ND part of the license does not allow for derivatives), the German website Netzpiloten translated my article into German and republished it too. This is a particularly interesting experience for me because I only know very rudimentary German, having more experience in Dutch, so reading my own article is education for me too. Additionally, I’m getting tweets in German from readers, which I unfortunately cannot always answer because my command of the language is just not very good.
That was not the end of the story about this article, though. It turned out that the spread of the article meant that more people read it, which led to further opportunities for me to talk about this research and have it reach more people.
To my surprise, last week I got a call from KPCC, the Southern California NPR station, mentioning that they had read my article in Quartz and asking if I wanted to appear on their show Air Talk. It was my first time on the radio and I was really nervous (more about that in a separate post), but ultimately I had a great conversation with host Larry Mantle, fellow guest and linguist Tyler Schnoebelen, and several callers about the way English is changing to accommodate technology. You can listen to the recording here. Now I’ve been contacted by another radio station for another appearance — after they read my article in the New Republic! Stay tuned for more information about that one — hopefully I’ll get more information about that later today.
If it hadn’t been originally licensed with a Creative Commons license, it’s unlikely that my article would have spread to those outlets, and then I would never have gotten these radio appearances. Those producers of the radio station saw the re-published articles, not the original, which has made this all possible. This is another real-world example of how the Creative Commons licenses can benefit your work by having it be shareable and republishable in different outlets.