Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why not? Because it's freaking me out! + some Downtonomics

Sooo, I just wanted to share a quick film clip that I enjoyed. Brings back lovely memories of my modern geometry course...

And here is a link to the economics of Downton Abbey.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Why Self-Censorship?

When I write, I write about things that interest's me and what is on my mind at the moment.
Lately I have had my mind full of work and some pretty awesome development that is going on there. The problem is that when I signed my contract of employment it stated, in short, that I am not allowed to reveal company secrets.

What are and what are not company secrets can be discussed but the main issue here is that there is now another filter that I subconsciously think about when I write. And this brought up another subject that interests me - self-censorship.

Self-censorship on Facebook

A few weeks ago while I was browsing, I stumbled across a research paper concerning self-censorship on Facebook. The focus in this paper was on last-minute self-censorship. That is to say when you start writing in the status bar on Facebook, but then decide not to post it. It was published by Facebook themselves (a list of their publications can be found here) and is, as they mention themselves, an exploratory work where the focus is mainly demographic and evaluating basic assumptions. But there is one of the results that I found was especially interesting:

Snapshot from the results section in "Self-Censorship on Facebook"
This correlation between diverse friends and self-censorship was not fully in-line with the original hypothesis that the researchers had. It is not clear which ones causes the other - Do people who self-censor less have a higher tendency of befriending diverse friends or do people who have a diverse friend-base, self-censor less? Either way it is an interesting correlation that I hope more research will be done on.

Personal self-censorship

I am a person that uses social media avidly, maybe because of sheer relief. It is not that I do not know the dangers of gossip and social media. I grew up in an environment where the police would circle our apartment block weekly to check up on the area. It was always assumed that whatever we said to our neighbours it would always find it's way to the police. Once while I was out walking our dog I was brought in to the police station by a friendly policeman and questioned by two-three policemen about my family and life and my parent's work. I was twelve.
My parents were always clear to both my sister and I that it was important to think through what we said. We were always asked to think about how it would be perceived by people who don't go to church, haven't lived in another country or gone to school.

Artwork by Askin Ayrancioglu, faced a lawsuit because the art was objectionable.

This type of lifestyle bred self-censorship like nothing else ever could. Once I got my fingers on blogging and social media it was a  relief to me. I could write down my thoughts first and be able to view them afterwards and censor at will before it was visible to everyone. I could take time thinking about what I wanted to share instead of not being able to share anything due to the time-constraint.

Self-censorship at the workplace

In my own experience self-censorship is most prominent in the work environment. I hadn't realised how much I subconsciously self-censor until I had a longer period where my main social interaction had been with my colleagues. The relief of being "myself" when I was with my friends surprised me because I had not been aware that I had been doing anything differently. It made me think back to the different work places I have been at and the level of work-related self-censorship that is noticeable.

Why do we self-censor at work? Apart from the usual reasons to self-censoring it seems we have more to lose making it more important to be careful.

George Orwell's essay on "Politics and the English Language" written in 1946 touches on one of the reasons to self-censorships at the workplace when he writes:
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity."
Each individual at a workplace have their own incentives and goals. These do not always align 100% with the goals of a company, even though good company management will do their best to build a company structure that aligns them as much as possible. It is therefore important for the individual to be careful of what they say as saying the wrong thing may disrupt the individual's goal.

The second reason I think has to do with communication. When it comes to language and culture, the workplace is a very static place, compared to "the real world" of friends and social media. It is harder for companies to adapt to new cultural and language innuendos usually because change is expensive for a company.

 Due to this static state there will arise differences to how people communicate with each other at work compared with how they communicate outside. 

A simple example of this difference is just the way communication has moved from email to other systems. Using email is a rare occurrence with my friends as I will use tools such as chat, Dropbox and document sharing programs which I would find more efficient. This switch means that my communication would be more about updates. 
I will write a short chat update saying "Filled in the document" and as everyone has access to the same document and are able to see what changes I have done, writing anything else in the chat would be in excess and seen as a nuisance as people get the chat message straight away and just want an update so they know what's happening.
Compare this to an email where it would be important to introduce the reason to writing, to whom it concerns, state the changes that have been made and specify on how to proceed and where the latest document has been saved. It is more important here to get a summary of everything than when receiving a chat message.

This difference in communication ways make you unsure of what will be understood in the correct way. The uncertainty of whether everyone has watched the latest funny video on Youtube makes you careful with making a reference to it. Not being sure if the boss understands the latest modern word, you will go with wording it in a more traditional fashion.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

January's highlights

Well, I've managed to keep my New Year's resolution so far!

One month with plenty of things happening.Some highlights:
  • Started writing articles for - can be found here.
  • At work we have started working with the agile framework SCRUM. I've been reading up about this and I find it is a great way to work when it comes to development. The best source that I found that explained things clearly was CollabNet's  free e-learning courses.
  • Been reading loads of books on my e-bookreader. I am so glad that I finally got one! It is so easy to use and carry. No more paper books for me. I can even use it for education books. The ebookreader has not only a dictionary function to look up words you don't understand, but also wikipedia search! All you do is press on the word you want to know more about and up pops a message box wit hthe dictionary definition and wikipedia summary.
  • Playing Minecraft mods like crazy - Yes, I have spent plenty of hours playing Minecraft but what has been the focus of my attention lately has been mods like Yogbox, Hexxit and Tekkit. My favourite is YogBox but it is unfortunately a bit buggy and they have stopped developing it :(
  • Finally had dinner at B's place. Haven't seen his place since we helped him move and it is really looking nice. Am awaiting the moving in party
  • Went to Södertälje and visited one of Matte's colleague. I really enjoyed that, meeting the family and just talking!
I laughed way too much at this SMBC comic:

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year in the woods

No access to a computer so posting from my phone in the middle of the woods. New Year's resolution - I will not move this year!
Happy New Year!
New Year's Eve Dinner

Role Playing

Fire! It's so cosy!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas is over...

I've had a lovely Christmas, celebrating Christmas Eve with my husband's family and Christmas Day with mine.

The Christmas Day dinner turned out great with everyone chipping in, sister decorating the apartment and table, dad making sure there was space in the kitchen, husband making the starter, me making the turkey, mum making the Yorkshire puddings and gravy and Kiara making us all laugh with her obsession over her new "Poppy". As I'm not one who takes pictures of food... or pictures at all for that matter, here is a picture of Kiara taken by my mum.


Sooo...I've ordered an e-book reader! I am going to pick it up tomorrow... and then. Then. The whole world of literature will be at my fingertips!

I will never need to ask myself, "Do I have enough space for this book?" Never wonder if I've brought along enough books to the holiday trip nor lie just exactly right so that the bedside lamp will light up the page so I can see the text. Now why didn't I get this sooner?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Lost in Translation

In a work place with 11 different nationalities we are all very aware of the misunderstandings and invisible barriers that crop up due to not having a common first tongue. But it is not at my work place where I have experienced most of my language issues.

From my new favourite comic series, Wasted Talent

Recently, I was down in Småland visiting my parents. My sister and her boyfriend was also there and while we were all (but one) gathered, we decided to drop by Farmor, my grandmother. My dad gives her a call to warn her of our coming and says something in the style of "Ts fästman är också med".
This, which was overheard by the rest of us, created an uproar as the translation means "T's fiancé is also with us" My dad was attacked by all of us of how he could say something that wasn't true to Farmor and why he had to go and do that for.
He tried his best to defend himself,
"It doesn't mean fiancé! It means boyfriend!"
This to no avail as we could quickly prove that it did in fact mean fiancé, Wikipedia, says so. Dad remained quiet the rest of the journey. Once at Farmor's place and comfortably settled, it was felt that we had to explain the misinformation that had been given to Farmor. As the explanation that T had her boyfriend with her and not fiancé was accounted to Farmor, Farmor looked baffled. Dad proceeded to ask her what does "fästman" mean?
"Well, it means a steady boyfriend, of course!"

When growing up, I learned most of my Turkish "on the street" so to speak. This meant that I adopted words and meanings in accordance to where I heard them used. This is usually a good way of learning a language as you get the feel of the language directly. I did experience some slight problems though. How words are used do not always reflect their meaning, especially when it is kids speaking. For most kids this will be corrected, if not at school, then at home. Both these correcting institutes did not come to my aid because a) I spoke Swedish or English with my parents, not Turkish, and b) I was only in Turkish school part time for 5 years.

This interesting way of learning Turkish gave me some problems later on. I remember being shown something really impressive and exclaiming "Oha!", having naturally learnt that this is what to exclaim when something surprises me. The shock on the person's face when I said this! The person lost no time in explaining that this is absolutely not something that should be said by a civilised person. I later looked it up in a dictionary and the translation that came up was "Woah!" or "Stop". This did not seem so bad, so I disregarded the person's warning, assuming that the person was just being a prude. It was not until much later that the true meaning of the word was understood by me.
The word is used for herding animals, usually cows. As with most words that have to do with animals in the Turkish language, the daily use becomes vulgar and a more accurate translation of the word would be "Oh S***!"

Moral of both these stories, don't trust the dictionary.

Comic by Gruhn

Friday, 20 December 2013

Wheel(s) I want

For those who don't know, I own a unicycle. I can ride it (badly) and I enjoy it whenever I do have the possibility of taking it out on a wobbly spin.

There is one problem with a unicycle though - it is slow. Why choose a unicycle when a bike is faster and less wearisome? Well, this problem has been solved. RYNO Motors has finally released their newly developed, awesomely designed, motorised unicycle.

And I feel as excited about this as I did when I was looking for my first moped! It is still only available in the US, but come a year or two and it will hopefully be available in Sweden as well. It will also give me time to save up for it :)