Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

428. The Cheese Plate is a Technology: Because Internet with Gretchen McCulloch

Because Internet
A | BN | K | AB
Today Amanda and I are talking with Gretchen McCulloch, author of Because Internet and host of the podcast “Lingthusiasm.” If you like listening to a really smart person with intricate knowledge of what’s going on beneath the mundane, this is an episode for you. We start by fangirling about Courtney Milan and creative use of language in some of her favorite novels, and then we talk about internet language. We also talk about how the use of language as a tool for socializing is something we’re all redefining. The words we use, and the spaces in which the words, happen are changing rapidly, and now are even more different.

This is a longer episode because we talk about So Many Things. Amanda and I both read and really enjoyed Because Internet, and it was a treat to talk to the author about her book, and about how language and socializing are evolving.


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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find Gretchen McCulloch at her website,, and her podcast “Lingthusiasm” is on her site as well.

She also mentioned:

  •, a platform for virtual gatherings
  • WisCon, a feminist sci fi and fantasy conference

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This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

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  1. FashionablyEvil says:

    Ack, super excited to listen to this! I loved Because Internet but I didn’t know McCulloch was also a romance fan! Also, I was very much reminded of the evolution of the internet when I read the “in her ass, saving her life” review discussed in last week’s episode—it’s from 2008 and uses the phrase “teh buttsecks” and I was like, “oh, how quaint.”

  2. Regina P. says:

    Ah! This was lovely and exactly what I needed after a long week (+ a presidential debate). So many cool things have I learned about! Thanks especially to Gretchen McCullough for recommending the Maria Dahvana Headley translation of “Beowulf” <3

  3. Stefanie Magura says:


    This could be because I’m blind and I didn’t discover emojis until a few years ago, but I didn’t know emojis could be written with a space. I’m going to see if my screen reading technology picks this up. : ) If it does, then my argument that screen readers pick up emojis without spaces better is invalid. I won’t know until this comment is posted though.

    I will tell you all that in my generation blind people not discovering the internet until high school wasn’t uncommon. That’s because sometimes we were taught computers and the technology we could use to use them later.

  4. Stefanie Magura says:

    Yeah. Screen reading technologies for the blind will only recognize emojis without the spaces.

  5. Stefanie Magura says:

    For reference I’m 32.

  6. Amanda says:

    @Stefanie: Thanks so much for the experiment! For screen reading purposes, I’ll fight against my urge to put a nose space for emojis.

  7. Stefanie Magura says:


    LOL thank you ;). If we do ever end up texting I’ll do my best to not add periods at the end of texts. I only learned about that a couple months ago. I tell ya, I feel like a younger person who uses the internet like someone older than my age. Trying to figure out the internet when it becomes increasingly more visual at a rate faster than screen reading technologies can catch up is quite an experience. This is why I was hesitant to use sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. Similarly, I don’t really engage with memes although, I am finding out about spaces where they are more accessible for those like me. Being totally blind from birth and not having much experience taking pictures could have something to do with that as well.

    Back on topic, I think the reasons that emojis with no spaces are what screen reader programs accept is that by the time these programs had the ability to read emojis, the no spaces rule had been in place by consensus. I don’t know if all programs have this, but in the Windows screen reader I use you can go into a menu and pick from a list of emojis. It’s similar to the emoji keyboard on the iPhone.

  8. Stefanie Magura says:

    Also, Windows has an emoji panel which is helpful because some of them are hard to type using the keyboard.

  9. Kareni says:

    What a fascinating interview, says the person who received a few telegrams when she married. Thank you, Sarah, Amanda, and Gretchen.

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