Andre sociale medier – 1

Det allervigtigste når man tænker på sociale medier i forhold til børn og unge er, at man ikke tænker på dem enkeltvis og isoleret. Selvom Facebook er altdominerende, er det dels ikke det eneste sted, de unge færdes, dels er hele feltet i konstant udvikling, og der kommer et nyt socialt medie ca. en gang om måneden. Selvfølgelig er det ikke dem alle, der slår an, men mange gør – ikke mindst i subkulturer.

Denne hurtige gennemgang kan ikke blive andet end mangelfuld. Men hvis du ikke ved ret meget om det, så læs alligevel kapitlet, for din forståelse for, hvordan de forskellige medier virker, er afgørende for din forståelse af dit barns virkelighed. Og så er det faktisk lige meget, om det sociale medie hedder det ene eller det andet.

[statistik fra Medierådets teen-undersøgelse om so-me brug blandt dk teens – de grønne tal afspejler, hvor forældrene tror, deres børn har en konto, de blå tal hvor børnene rent faktisk har en konto]

Medierådets hjemmeside er i øvrigt et godt sted for information om børn og alt det digitale.

  • Twitter – Det virker, som om de danske unge, der bruger Twitter, har særlige interesser. Der forekommer ikke at være en egentlig ungdomskultur på Twitter, som det ses i USA, selvom antallet af danske teenagers på Twitter er i kraftig stigning. Twitter er asynkront og adskiller sig derfor væsentligt fra Facebook. Der er fx mange unge piger, der følger Justin Bieber – og sikkert også danske idoler, det ved jeg meget lidt om – men han følger dem ikke nødvendigvis tilbage. Det samme gælder de fleste andre idoler, såsom Caroline Wozniacki. På Twitter kan man, på samme måde som på Facebook, lulle sig ind i den tro, at man befinder sig i et privat rum. Det gør man selvfølgelig ikke. Twitter har en ret stejl læringskurve, men er derefter meget givende, hvis man selv er parat til at dele ud af sin viden – derfor velegnet til unge med specielle fritidsinteresser.

  • Blogs – En blog er en digital udgave af en logbog. Det er sådan en, en kaptajn eller styrmand fører ombord på et skib, hvor alle begivenheder registreres. Det “lange” navn for blog er weblog. I mange år var det de færreste, der vidste, hvad sådan en var, endsige læste dem eller selv havde en. Nu findes de overalt, og alle dagblade, magasiner og store virksomheder har en eller flere. Mange private har dem også, og der er simpelthen blogs om alt. Du læser jo netop dette på en blog. Blogs kan handle om hvad som helst:  mad, skønhed, politik, hundeopdræt eller skak. Intet emne er for lille, fordi man – hvis man skriver på engelsk eller holder sig til billeder – har et næsten globalt publikum. Man kunne udmærket opfordre sit barn til at starte en blog, hvis de har noget på hjerte, tager mange billeder eller laver noget andet, der kan have interesse for andre. Det er en måde at slutte sig til producenterne i stedet for blot at være passiv forbruger. Som på alle andre sociale medier, skal børn hjælpes med at komme i gang, og man skal sørge for at sætte sikkerheden sådan, at alle kommentarer skal godkendes, før de bliver synlige på bloggen.

I morgen fortsættes gennemgangen af sociale medier. Første afsnit af denne serie artikler om børn på nettet findes her.

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Når netiquette bliver must-have og ikke bare nice-to-have

"Det ser ud som om de sover, måske skal vi ringe på?" "For sidste gang, vi er MONSTRE, vi ringer ikke på!" Lånt på toonsup.de
“Det ser ud som om de sover, måske skal vi ringe på?”
“For sidste gang, vi er MONSTRE, vi ringer ikke på!”
Lånt på toonsup.de/

Jeg er for nylig begyndt at følge en blogger fra den amerikanske teleindustri på LinkedIn. Han beskæftiger sig meget med det samme hjørne af internettet, som jeg selv er optaget af, nemlig netiquette.

Med udgangspunkt i en dom ved Floridas højesteret, hvor en dommer blev erklæret inhabil, fordi han var på Facebook med anklageren, diskuterer han de nye etiske udfordringer, de sociale medier stiller os over for. Ville det også ske i Danmark? Eller hvad hvis det var LinkedIn? Han stiller spørgsmålet, om dommeren også var blevet disset, hvis de havde tilhørt den samme golfklub? Eller hvad med samme VL gruppe?

Skal vi være på Facebook med vores kolleger? Skal man åbent følge sine konkurrenter på Twitter? Er det dårlig stil at sende en LinkedIn-anmodning til sin chef? Sin tidligere chef? Der findes ingen “rigtige” svar på disse spørgsmål, da svaret hver gang må bero på en individuel vurdering. Det handler i høj grad om social fingerspidsfornemmelse og om forståelse for individuelle virksomhedskulturer.

En anden moderne faldgrube, som Don P beskæftiger sig med, er det, han kalder Det Tredje Spor. Det handler om konflikten mellem det kommercielle og det sociale. De senere år har vi set utallige eksempler på virksomheder, der tramper bevidstløst frem og tilbage mellem de to spor (i det tredje spor) og ikke ænser, at de gør folk sure og skaber dårlig stemning.

Et tænkt eksempel: Et forlag opretter en fanside på Facebook til en populær bog. Masser af fans liker med glæde, fordi de her får lejlighed til at vise deres venner noget (fordelagtigt) om sig selv. De er fuldstændig ligeglade med forlaget bag. Benytter forlaget sig så af adgangen til disse fans ved at forsøge at markedsføre andre af forlagets bøger, bliver fans’ne sure, for hvis det var det, de havde ønsket, ville de have liket forlaget og ikke bogen. Gør man dét mere end en enkelt gang, kan man risikere at miste en masse likes og måske endda have skabt så meget badwill, at fans’ne ikke igen vil like en bog fra forlaget. Scroll selv op og ned på din Facebook for at finde flere eksempler!

Endelig siger Don P noget klogt om, hvordan man som virksomhed griber det an, når man gerne vil i dialog med indflydelsesrige journalister og bloggere inden for ens område. Disse gode råd er der også mange, der med fordel kan tage til sig. Jeg hører ofte især mad-bloggere, men også tech-bloggere fortælle om de latterlige henvendelser de får fra folk, der skamløst beder dem promovere et eller andet produkt på deres blog. Disse sælgertyper opnår kun én ting – badwill. Endda en badwill, der let spreder sig i blogosfæren, hvilket kan vise sig meget problematisk. For selvom bloggere inden for hvert enkelt felt naturligvis konkurrerer med hinanden, så samarbejdes der også på kryds og tværs.

Don P anbefaler virksomhederne at tænke på disse fire nøgleord, når de beslutter sig for at søge indflydelse blandt journalister og bloggere:

  • Anerkendelse
  • Anbefaling
  • Information
  • Adgang

Anerkendelse – start med at anerkende deres tilstedeværelse og betydning. Abonner på deres blog, skriv evt. kommentarer (UDEN salgssnak), følg dem på Twitter, etc.

Anbefaling – vis dem, at du synes, de virkelig har noget at byde på. Nævn dem over for andre, RT deres bedste tweets (nej, IKKE dem alle sammen), sæt link til deres artikler på jeres egen hjemmeside.

Information – tilbyd dem mere end der er umiddelbart tilgængeligt på hjemmesiden og via andre offentligt tilgængelige kilder. Der findes masser af insights i hver eneste virksomhedsom ikke nødvendigvis er insiderviden.

Adgang – tillad journalisten/bloggeren direkte adgang til de personer i organisationen, der har de spidskompetencer, den pågældende er særligt interesseret i.

Tilstedeværelse i de sociale medier byder på en hel del snubletråde. Og det har endnu ikke vist sig muligt at demonstrere konkret ROI af indsatsen. Alligevel vil jeg påstå, at den moderne virksomhed er nødt til at kaste sig ud i det.

Hvo Intet Vover, Intet Vinder.*

* Citatet stammer angiveligt fra de islandske sagaer.

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Corporate blogging – skal/skal ikke

Forleden drak jeg kaffe med en ven, der arbejder for en konsulentvirksomhed. Han brokkede sig over, at det var en del af hans KPI, at han skulle blogge. Mage til tidsspilde!!! Vi diskuterede længe, men jeg fik ham ikke overbevist. Blandt andet fordi jeg ikke havde læst netop hans firmas blog, og derfor ikke rigtigt kunne sætte mig i hans sted. For der er da ingen tvivl om, at masser af virksomheder har en blog, som ikke på nogen måde er værdiskabende.

Jeg har nu læst de sidste 5-6 poster på den pågældende blog, som, skønt de er velskrevne, alligevel ikke tilfører nogen værdi til virksomheden. For selvom de har udgangspunkt i noget personligt, så forsøger de at sælge virksomhedens ydelser snarere end at forklare dem. (Og nej, jeg vil ikke hænge en konkret virksomhed ud).

Skal ledere og medarbejdere blogge i en virksomhed, så skal det naturligvis være for at tilføre værdi. En værdi, der ikke i første omgang kan måles på Joakim von And-måden, men helst skal kunne det på sigt.

Blogging kan skabe værdi for

  • kunderne
  • medarbejderne
  • stakeholders generelt

For virksomheder, der har brug for høj troværdighed eller at være “gode venner” med pressen, er en blog en oplagt måde at kommunikere lavmælt og uanmassende med de journalister, der har interesse for feltet. Men det kræver, at de, der blogger, kan lægge sælgerkappen på hylden og tale om virksomhedens position i markedet, produktovervejelser, konkurrencen, krisens indflydelse, etc. etc., sådan som man typisk ser det i interviews med erhvervsledere i fredags-Børsen.

BtoC blogging er svært. De eneste, jeg kan komme i tanker om, der kan skabe værdi den vej, er selvstændige som jeg selv, teknologivirksomheder, hvor blogging er en del af DNA, og producenter af spil og andre ting til halvstore børn og unge voksne. Og mange af dem glemmer endda, at hvis de ikke giver noget til læserne, så går der ikke længe, før der ingen læsere er. Her er et eksempel på en, der virker.

Hvis medlemmer af ledelsen er i stand til at blogge engageret og vedkommende, kan det også skabe værdi hos medarbejderne, der føler, de kommer tættere på ledelsen og får bedre forståelse af virksomhedens vision og mission. Hvis altså disse er mere end tomme floskler.

Dette kræver hyppige, men korte blogindlæg. Alle skal jo helst have tid til at læse dem – i arbejdstiden.

Først når man ved, hvem det er, man primært ønsker at nå med sin blog, kan man sætte i gang. For målgruppen er afgørende for, hvem det er, der skal føre pennen. Og det skal i reglen ikke være “de oplagte” – dem i marketingafdelingen eller kommunikationsafdelingen.

Vælger man at sætte medarbejdere i kommunikationsafdelingen til at gøre det, så er det næsten garanteret, at den ingen effekt får. Ikke fordi folk i kommunikationsafdelinger ikke er dygtige til at skrive – for det er de i reglen – men fordi en ofte tung godkendelsesproces udvander og forsinker budskabet.

Min holdning er, at der hellere må ryge en finke af panden, end at firmaets blog (og øvrige eksterne kommunikation) skal emme af korrekthed. Der er en grund til, at flawsome er blevet sådan et plusord på det seneste.

 

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Stealing sons’o’bitches

I saw this tweet earlier today and was reminded of how often I get that feeling.

One thing is that some people have the time, the energy and the wherewithal to transform a tweetet link into a blogpost or FB-status update at the time when I tweet it into my timeline. Good for them and sad for me that I didn’t sit down and do it right there and then. Another thing all together is when people don’t acknowledging their sources.

When I read something directly on a website, I’ll tweet the link with a comment or my own angle on the story. If the link comes from Twitter, I’ll tweet it as an RT or with a via-reference. Generally, and I believe that people who know Twitter well will agree with me, you know whether something interesting has been tweetet *from a stream near you* earlier that day or not. A few times a month I *know* that I was first with something – if not the link, then the angle. And then I get REALLY annoyed when other tweeps pass it on as their own in tweets, blogposts, newsletters, etc. Why can’t they just mention, in passing, where they saw it first?

Am I being over-sensitive, I wonder?

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Hung out to dry

There’ll be nothing about politics in this post, I swear. Lacking that, however, I’ll encourage you to check this great fashion report from Vanity Fair, inviting you to have a good laugh at a dictator’s expense.

A British twitter-friend, who’s also a civil servant directed my attention to a media horror story from the UK, which I haven’t heard mentioned in Denmark. A female civil servant (not known to me) is an eager blogger and tweeter and generally very active on the web. She blogs and tweets about her life, as most of us do, and she hasn’t made a big secret of either her name or her place of work. She doesn’t work with sensitive material and she doesn’t mention specifics anyway. What she did do though, was mention how hard it is for every civil servant to face the enormous cuts into the heart of every public service in the UK and how nervous many people in public employment now are to lose their jobs. She would also tweet about it when she’d occasionally had a drink too many at the pub, but nothing gory, just stuff like “Oh my, I’m afraid this will lead to a hang-over tomorrow”.

One of British press’ most dreadful papers, the Daily Mail, employs some really mean-spirited people. One of them must have been bored out of his mind, because he started to follow politicians’ followers to see if he could catch on to something. And through a Labour politician’s wife he found our civil servant. And decided that she was a Most Irresponsible and Despicable Human Being Not Worthy of Consideration, which is why he decided to publish her full name, picture and some very selective quotes in the paper together with a lot of filth about what a horrid person she was and that she was undeserving of being publicly employed.

As you can imagine, this all but ruined the woman. Thank God that she has such a cool-headed boss because she has NOT been fired, but her life has been absolute hell ever since with hundreds and hundreds of letters, phone calls, e-mails, blog comments and tweets saying every kind of horrible thing imaginable to her.

This has of course led to a discussion across platforms about our right to privacy in a digital age. Some people have argued that she has to live with the consequences of being open-mouthed in open fora. Others that she shouldn’t have been exposed like that because she simply isn’t “newsworthy”. I agree with both, actually. Because you must stand by everything you say on the web except for private (really private) forums and in e-mails. On the other hand, if you say a lot, it’s a bit like with the monkey which will eventually write the collected works of Shakespeare. Pieced together you can always create filth. But the fact that you can piece together anybody’s words in “new and interesting ways” doesn’t make them newsworthy.

In my opinion, the most balanced comment on the whole thing is here. Her own comments and reflections can be found by clicking the link to her blog above where she also links to the dreadful article.

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Egypt, the entertainment industry and tea towels

It’s hard to think of much beside or above the events in Egypt. If it’s not at the forefront of your mind, take a moment, close your eyes and imagine this huge country, smack in the centre of the Middle East, with a democratically elected government! If you, like me, believed all the propaganda you’ve heard about the Muslim Brotherhood, take a moment to read about them here, here and here. I can’t say that I agree with them in many of their view points, but they certainly aren’t what many rightwing politicians have so successfully tried to tell us, Al Qaidaish madmen who wish to take Egypt back to the Middle Ages. So – even if they win an election, there’s little risk that Egypt will be another Iran. Imagine the whole of the Right without their eternal argument that Israel must be supported in every way because it’s the only democracy in the Middle East. If you wish to REALLY follow the development in Egypt, some media are a lot better than others! Huffington Post (now sold to AOL?!?!) covers it well, as does Al Jazeera. Several of the correspondents from international newspapers currently in Cairo, tweet. By far the best method to follow the development as it unfolds is to find one of these and follow him or her on Twitter.

OK, there are other things happening in the world, most of which seem to pass me by at the moment. I’m going on holiday and feel most deserving of leisure and luxury. My husband’s company is hosting a corporate event in Dubai – as you do – and spouses are invited. I picture myself poolside with a book and half an eye on junior, playing in the pool. Let’s see what it’s really going to be like. After the corporate event we go on to Abu Dhabi to visit a dear friend who has lived there the past few years. I lost a Twitter-follower because I tweeted that many of the Westerners who choose to go and work there do it for money. I know a few people who have gone there or contemplated going because they got fabulous job offers (an architect, a doctor, a consultant), which they for various reasons couldn’t turn down. But I know and know of many more people who go there because there’s NO tax and super-cheap domestic help and giant golf courses. It isn’t quite the same as going to New York, Maputo or Bruxelles, is it?

Besides the really important stuff like politics and holidays there are few things that will enrage me as the entertainment industry and all the barriers they put up around their precious content. Not to mention their whining. Ugh. The other people here at my office know the range of swear-words I’ll fire off when I come across some content that I can’t move from one device to another because of all these stupid barriers or when I want to buy something and am told that “this content isn’t available in your territory”. Argh. The music industry has had more than 20 years to figure out what to do about the digitisation of content and they STILL haven’t figured it out. They spend all their money on lawyers and precious little on developing new ways to make money, but foremost an easy and fair way to pay for content. I believe that most people are ready to pay for content if it’s easy (EASY!) to access, easy to pay and easy and fair to handle once you “own” it.

On FTM (FollowTheMedia) I’ve read an article (and paid for it!!) on the latest developments. Something very interesting is under way from the Pirate Bay people. Stay tuned!

Before I fly off to the Arabic desert I’ll leave you with a few sweet tit-bits. Here’s a company that says We Are What We Do and try to help us with that. Making charity more palatable for us spoiled first-worlders. Check this tweet-towel. Oh, what a must-have for Tweeters. There must be some sort of cross-over you can do with a charity? Speaking of Twitter, here’s why you should probably have a Twitter account even if you don’t have time to tweet.

This is digitally created. I don't own this wonderful thing.

See you pool-side. *takes cover*

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*OMMMM*

I market myself as a kind of social media strategist. Anyone who knows about these things also knows that all good things come to an end. And one day there won’t be a need for services like mine. This article is about my next career move ;-)

In my last post I wrote about the Arizona shooting. Since then I’ve read this incredibly interesting analysis on Politico. It’s about twisting words till they are devoid of meaning and getting away with it. It says for instance:

in the past week, the question of whether a carefully planned assassination attempt on a member of the United States Congress might have had anything to do with politics has been mocked into oblivion. Well, let’s see. The dominant theme of Loughner’s ravings was suspicion of the government. He apparently didn’t believe in paper money and thought only gold has value. He believed the government was responsible for Sept. 11. And so on. This is not a random collection of nutty opinions. There is a theme to it, and it is not simply that the guy was crazy.

It’s a bit like the discussions about political correctness. Once an opinion has been successfully deemed politically correct by the right, it can’t be uttered in the public debate anymore. I often wonder why the liberals don’t reclaim the term. I mean, at the moment it seems that the most politically correct statements are that “we must cut public spending to get the country back on its feet” or “we need to cut taxes so we can get the wheels spinning again”.

Sometimes the kind Internet will direct you to sources you’d normally never think of consulting. And just as we think that we here in Denmark have brilliant minds who deserve to be heard outside our small country, regional papers in e.g. the US also have brilliant writers, who are rarely heard outside their own territory. This article is from a Chicagoan paper, it’s about blogging, expectations and “what’s in it for me”. Very good and true. Posted on twitter by @KrisWager.

Here’s another news source that you wouldn’t normally come across, The Boston Globe. When we travelled the US, this was a paper that I learned to like and respect. Now I’m just happy that people on the web sometimes remind me of that. Here’s a very thorough article about the consequences of the legalisation of drug possession in Portugal. Well researched and unbiased.

I’ve tidied up my Twitter favourites and found a few gems that I’d forgotten about, re. my last post about reading lots and forgetting most. This article is a very well researched piece on why women are needed in tech companies. I’m sure that @Elektronista will agree with the article’s author and with me.

Never a blog post without at least one thing about Twitter. This is a column from The Guardian by Margaret Atwood. She’s not a young woman anymore, but she’s still managed to fall in love with Twitter, head over heals. Read about it here and follow her on Twitter @margaretatwood.

Twitter isn’t all gooey and lovely. It’s also used to spread completely unfounded rumours by people who forget to think before they write. Let this collection of tweets serve as a warning. Verify, verify, verify! Note that some of the tweets have been removed. Some very embarrassed people have deleted their tweets.

Sometimes you need to jump off the grid for a while and pretend to have a life. @sheamus has written a short, humorous post about it.

From Gizmodo

Now for some gadget news. Must haves, nice to haves. Here’s a lovely charger for all your stuff, smart and practical.

And what about this one – a sun charger for the Iphone. One that works. Apparently.

We’ve been talking for ages about using our phones to pay for stuff. And already we can buy bus/train tickets with them. Which is great. Next up is lattes at Starbucks.

Guardian is trying the free/paid option that Danish paper Politiken is also trying. Free news online, but paid app. So far I feel uninspired to buy the Politiken app (especially since I subscribe to the paper version, but haven’t been offered the app for free, grump), but the Guardian app seems to be great value, 4£ for a YEAR, that’s one pence per day.

On BBC News I’ve read this suggestion to Facebook: That they mimic Apple and vet the applications that we allow access via Facebook. This is a really good idea. I’m slightly paranoid when it comes to Facebook applications and have allowed almost none. But especially young people don’t understand what they are doing when they allow various games apps access to their Facebook accounts.

Not a gadget, not even an app, but did you know that bit.ly doesn’t only help you shorten URLs but also helps you create quick lists of links? Very practical for a birthday wish list or a shared reading list.

Do you sometimes need some Zen-time to focus on something you’re writing? But you’re constantly disturbed by incoming mails or tweets or Facebook posts and are too weak-minded to turn the whole thing off (like someone I know)? Ommwriter is for you then. Great little programme you download and write in. When you open it, everything else on you desktop magically disappears and some lovely yoga-style music is added to the blank-but-not-white screen. Peace.

I was recently given Patti Smith‘s autobiography and was in fact going to exchange it for something else, as I’m neither a a big fan of biographies, nor a huge fan of Patti’s. Strangely, a few days later, with the book on my desk beside me, somebody posted this interview with Patti Smith. After watching only a bit of it, I grabbed the book and started reading. Am halfway through it now. She’s a gifted writer (why do some people get all the talent?) as well as musician and the intertwined stories of her own and Robert Mapplethorpe‘s lives are gripping. Warmly recommended.

The rest of the links today are on the silly side. This is a video of an in-air proposal. Awww. And here’s a young man who seriously doesn’t want to be disturbed while reading his book.

This has been a week of loads and loads of math homework for Dane. I’m not exactly a math wizard and the family wizard (David) is not around most days. One day I had to post a photograph of Dane’s assignment on Twitter for help. Help was around five minutes away.

The same day, and possibly as a comment to this, someone posted the quote below on Twitter. When son gets around to equations (am bracing myself for the day), he will wholeheartedly agree.

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End of a Year

Hasn’t it been a strange year? It has for me. Started at a low, but ended well. Lots of ups and downs along the way. In a broader perspective I don’t know what to think! Obama is totally unpopular because he’s turned out to be only human and to constantly work for the consensus he’s always said he’d work for. This should be really strange, but isn’t, at least not in politics. Here’s a clip where he ads his five cents to the It Gets Better campaign. In the UK we got out in the nick of time – Oh me, can’t believe how Nick Clegg can sleep at night? Am told from people who move in the upper echelons of the British society that the only people NOT suffering from this deep crisis are exactly them, the VERY rich. The middle class is also feeling the pain, but it’s the working poor and the undeserving (that’s people who don’t work, no matter why) who are really feeling the axe. In Harrods, it’s business as usual.

In Denmark we have a conservative/nationalist government, which is luckily worn very thin. An election next year will bring some form of change, but I will not try to guess what it’ll be like. Hard, however, to imagine anything worse than what we’re experiencing now. The concept of “undeserving” as mentioned above is also very prominent here in Denmark. A very clever and passionate charity worker calls Denmark a “post-solidary society“. He’s right, but isn’t it sad?   I work for the Danish Refugee Council occasionally and that’s just so depressing. To get into the country is almost impossible with the Dublin regulation firmly in place and rigorously enforced, even though for instance Greece is totally incapable of receiving all these refugees and process their applications. Many countries in Europe have stopped returning refugees to Greece, but not Denmark. Obviously. Then to have your application granted is even harder. It’s like the bl**dy camel in the bible.

At my dad’s nursing home I regularly hear the old people abuse the immigrants who work there. And the management says that they can only admonish the staff, not the inhabitants. Imagine going to work every day, at the lowest possible pay, wiping people’s bottoms and then ON TOP listening to abuse for your skin colour and/or your (perceived) religion. I want to slap some of them. But you can’t, can you?

And then there are the wars. Everywhere there’s a war and in many places people who actually work actively to start one. Here, in my little segment of the privileged world it is totally and utterly incomprehensible. People get killed for no apparent reason and the dead are either totally innocent civilians or soldiers, recruited from the lower rungs of their society, more often than not without a clue what they’re getting into. That is clear from the books and stories we hear from soldiers coming home with their bodies but not their minds in one piece.

Our civil rights are threatened everywhere. And most people seem not to worry or care at all! Read here how the democracy United States of America is treating the 22 year old private Bradley Manning (allegedly behind the latest batch of  Wikileaks leaks). He has not yet been convicted of or even charged with a crime – nevertheless he’s treated like a convicted serial killer.

In many European countries you can now have your phone tapped or other measures taken against you without a court order. A great thing, however, is that the Danish court recently said NO, you cannot detain people because you THINK they are going to behave violently at a demonstration. Several hundred people were “administratively detained” before the COP15 summit in Copenhagen last year. But this is perhaps the only cheerful story among all the sad ones about how the “war against terrorism” is undermining the very society it’s supposed to protect.

In the midst of all the misery, there are still people who come up with amazing ideas and who are incredibly creative. I went to the TedXCph, which was a great event and there I heard some great speakers. The one that sat with me the longest was the most crazy and unlikely of them all. Had I been a smoker I might have missed it because the blurb was like “we want to build a mountain in Copenhagen”. You WHAT? Seriously. But I’m not a smoker and I did hear it. I suggest you hear it too. You must hang on till the second guy starts talking. He’s the kind of person who could sell sand in Sahara!

***

Christmas is the time of year where absent friends and family are most prominently on our minds. The ones I miss the most are the ones who are still alive, but who choose to not be around. On that account, I wish for a better 2011 and hope to understand my failings better.

I wish you all and our dear Earth a peaceful 2011.

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I spent a day in the company of geeks

Jennie & Mary, tweeting.

I learned cool stuff about WordPress (this blog is made with WordPress software) – some of which I think I have to refresh if I can convince lovely Lisa to spend a couple of hours getting it to stick in my brain. During the day I learned bits and pieces about technology, just picked up here and there and difficult to quantify. There was a so-called unconference covering a wide variety of subjects, the more interesting (to me) were the one about how to go about writing a book (more geeky than you might think), the one about boosting your self confidence and the one about handling conflicts. Particularly the last one resonated deeply with me. Averse to conflict as I am.

I met some pretty gorgeous people, such as Camilla Ley Valentin from the wildly interesting start-up Queue-IT, the sweet & lovely journalist, blogger and author Dorte Chakravarty, the adorable stylist Judi Lund Finderup, the charming self-anointed Wellness Junkie Anne-Grete Belmadani, the mega inspiring coach Maria Gustavsson and the sexy journalist Ronnie Ritterland. And there were some recent acquaintances from Twitter, the funny and charming Jennie and the mischievous Mary. And many others who no doubt deserve to be mentioned, but whose names Néné, the scatterbrain, has forgotten or who don’t have a website known to me. Sorry!

There was a clothes swap, where you got a token for each piece of clothing you brought in and several little workshops where you could learn jewellery-making and alternative stuff to do with plastic pearls and t-shirts. A good deal of the geeks had brought knitting and some were even spotted embroidering. The food was lovely and the sweets golden in more senses than one.

The best licorice I've ever tasted. Seriously. www.lakrids.nu Photo by @risager

I suspect that I’ll meet several of these fabulous people again and that it won’t be the last time I go to geeky get-togethers.

Did I mention that we were only women?

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Am I a geek?

Some would say yes, others would say no. The yes-sayers are members of my family and some of my friends who find my rather intimate relationship with my laptop and my phone unnerving and unnatural. The no-sayers would be fellow bloggers and tweeters who routinely build own websites and say things about XHTML that I don’t understand…

When I saw Geek Girl Meet-Up (link in Danish) announced on Twitter I was attracted to it, but also very much in doubt as to whether I belong there or not. I still am, to be honest, although I am now officially a participant. I have been asked by a true geek (and this, in my book, is VERY positive), my friend Lisa (link in Danish), to describe what geeky stuff I can contribute with. Hm.

I just don’t think I’m geeky enough to contribute in a setting like that. At least not with traditionally geeky stuff. But there’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And that is Danish/international companies’ use of English as corporate language.

I like it. I like it if we can emerge from our self-sufficient little island and become part of the world out there – being colleagues at work with people from all over the world and let ourselves be enriched. And English is the obvious choice in our part of the world, where the German, French and Spanish we learn at school are far from sufficient to get us through much more than ordering a meal at a restaurant.

As you all know, I love the English language in all its richness and complexity. I even make a living, more or less, from my love of this language. I love Danish too and would probably love every language I learned well enough. When I read a really beautiful sentence I go all soft and “aahhh”. Guess that’s pretty geeky in a way…

I don’t claim to speak or write it perfectly – don’t think I ever will. But I feel much better about this after my years in England, where I found that most English people don’t either…

What I’m trying to get to is this: Corporate-Speak is NOT English. The language non-English people speak amongst themselves is of course English. It’s just not, well, you know, English. (And it’s not American either). Each time you enter a big international company or go to a conference and listen to people speak, you hear a new, slightly different, version of Corporate-Speak. Then, when you start working with them on their texts, you get into the strangest discussions about language. Like, can we use “difficult” words when not everybody understands them? My claim is, yes, absolutely. You cannot and should not lower the level to some sort of 10.000-words lingo that everybody understands. That would be terrible. We would never do that if we wrote ads, articles, etc. in our own language!

The reverse is also a problem. A kind of imagined “over-familiarity” with the English language. We’ve discussed this on Twitter lately and all the English/American and bi-lingual totally agree. When Danes speak English, they adapt a tone that’s even more blunt than the “original” Danish. Read an article (in Danish) about that here. The f… word, which I could never write, is overused in Denmark, because Danes don’t grasp just how nasty a word it actually is. The fact that it can be heard on television a lot (although in the UK and US it’s usually beeped out) and that rap-artists believe it’s the most common word in the English language, does NOT make it acceptable in book titles, conference blurbs and adverts. It just doesn’t. Some people will think that I’m just an old hag who disapproves of swearing and “modernity”. But it is not so. I wish I was less prone to swearing, but I do swear more than I like to admit. I just don’t say the f… word, unless… There should be a wide gap between what you write in the public sphere and what you say when you stub your toe on the table-leg.

So, what I am is a language-geek. I don’t want to be a custodian, watching over a language spoken in bygone times, but I want us to maintain a rich and easily understandable language, be it Danish or English or any other. Easily understandable in the sense that sentences are complete, punctuated in such a way that they make sense when you read them, and in the sense that “difficult” words are used where they are necessary and not to show off.

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Here she goes again…

Warning: The below is best described as ramblings rather than a coherent defense of feminism. Now you know, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Today I’ve read two articles about feminism. One because I was alighted to it on Twitter, the other because the first article is based on it…

I’m already doing a really good job at being clear and understandable, eh?

You know these lines, spoken by women:

I’m a feminist, but…

I’m not a feminist, because…

I would be a feminist if…

How often do you hear someone say I’M A FEMINIST. Not too often I’m afraid! Well, this (young) woman dares to say it and she shouts it out loud and argues it well. Good for you, girl!

Let us just, for once, leave glass ceilings, pay- and pension gaps and domestic squabbles behind and take a good long look at The Rest of The World.

In some parts of Africa men believe that they can be cured of AIDS if they “sleep with” (what a horrible euphemism that is, in this case!) a virgin. The number of rapes and sad new cases of AIDS is untold. But imagine!

All over Africa and parts of Asia, women bear the brunt of the sufferings of war, conflict, corruption and bad governance – all more or less executed by men. They are often the ones trying to scrape a living during and after conflicts, providing for both the children and the elderly while the men are either dead, off to war or just plain gone. All the aid organisations say the same thing and the micro loan organisations often recommend lending to women as they are more hardworking and more realistic than the men.

And then there are the endless stream of horror stories about women that flow to us from the Middle East. At the moment this story is highest on the list, but there are new ones all the time. In a world that is not in UPROAR because women risk ANY KIND OF PUNISHMENT for so-called adultery or other “crimes” related to sexuality, how can anyone claim that feminism is redundant?

I find politicians’ obsession with veil/no veil ridiculous. Who cares whether a woman covers her hair and we all know – don’t we??? – that the current dramatic rise in the number of women who wear a veil is a question of threatened identity much more than it’s a question of religion or suppression of individual women. However, it’s a whole different ballgame with the burqa. A woman who is made to cover her face is not a free woman in any sense and I simply refuse to believe that a single woman wears it entirely of her own free will. Recently, I’ve noticed that there are many women wearing these hideous garments in the Knightsbridge area and in central Geneva where rich Arabs gather. These women often wear Louboutins or similar madly expensive and VERY SEXY shoes, have polished and lacquered nails, glittering rings and – not least – lots of shopping bags from Gucci, Chanel, Vuitton, Prada, etc. I’ve definitely seen more burqas in one summer afternoon in Harrods than on all my visits to Nørrebro (Copenhagen’s largest concentration of Muslims live here).

These rich Arab countries are ardently supported by almost all Western governments and while Western politicians are all signing petitions to save an Iranian woman’s life, because we all hate the priests in Iran, don’t we? they are much less light-footed when it comes to condemn the sick policies of countries like Saudi Arabia.

I can now hear voices arguing that these wives of very rich men are lucky. Well, yes, they don’t live in poverty and they can wear Louboutin shoes in public and Gucci dresses in the privacy of their homes. But. If they try to leave the home, they can bring none of this luxury with them. And more importantly, they’ll have to leave their children behind. And we don’t know how they are treated behind those palace walls, do we? Because they don’t have a voice, these women.

So, men. While I don’t want to stop discussing inequalities here in the Western world – it livens up dinner conversations quite marvelously – I want to direct your focus towards the women who can’t blog and don’t have a dinner table to discuss around. Support them in all you say and do (and when you vote) and then we’ll talk about whether feminism has outlived itself.

While we, the women, shouldn’t stop thinking and talking about glass ceilings, etc., we should also focus more on our unfortunate sisters. We can focus with our money and with our votes. And we can keep writing about them too.

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Back in the Native Land

Better known as Denmark. Denmark is the kind of country where one of the most publicised points in the new Plan to Save the Country from Economic Ruin is to cut child allowances for families with many children. As any idiot in this country knows, a Family with Many Children is a Brown or a Black family. To further alienate brown and black families, interpretation in hospitals and social services has now been cut to an absolute minimum. And, last but not least, Denmark’s development aid has also been cut.

I’m thinking that I have a copy of Dale Carnegie‘s How to Win Friends and Influence People in the original Danish translation. I could send it to the party leader of the Danish People’s Party (yes, that’s their name, directly translated. Yukk) in the hope she would understand that making friends is much better than getting enemies and alienating people. Or maybe not.

People ask me “What’s great about being back in Denmark?” and “What do you miss about the UK?”. Ah, well… I could say the weather:


But I would be lying. The weather hasn’t been better in the UK than here.

I could say the lovely people. That would be true for both coming back and leaving. I missed my friends a lot more than I’d thought I would – always imagining that we’d talk on FB, on the phone, on Skype and send lots of e-mails. This, however, hasn’t happened. Well, it has, with a few, but with the majority I’ve more or less lost contact except when I came to Copenhagen on visits. All rather strange in these modern times!

The lovely crowd of twitter-friends that I’m leaving behind will be much missed, as quite a few of them grew into so much more than “just” twitter-friends. Some of them are actually coming to visit me over the summer and I’m sooo thrilled! However, given the nature of how I met them, we’re in frequent contact – via FB, Skype and Twitter. I can’t say how much that pleases me!

I could say that I desperately miss British telly, radio and media and that would be absolutely true! If it weren’t for the brilliant phenomenon of podcasts (have I mentioned this before? Oh, I have? Really?), I think I would despair at the loss of R4, which has given me endless hours of pleasurable learning. Now I listen to DR’s (Danish public broadcaster) P1 which is not at all bad, but has recently been very severely hit by the government’s race for privatisation. You know how experience shows that privatisation leads to much better public service, entertainment, train services, hospitals, etc. You don’t know? Well, in all honestly, I can’t say I’ve noticed it either. But right wing governments seem to have this as a mantra. The small matter of missing data/research to support the claim is brushed under the ideological carpet.

On a lighter note, all the series that are my guilty pleasures, 24, Lost, The Good Wife, etc., are months behind here, so I’m not missing anything (and avoided Twitter when season finals were on). Which is good since I’ve had almost no time to watch telly in the month that I’ve been back.

Luck has had it that I’ve hit the ground running here as far as work is concerned. That has been a bit surprising, but surprising in such a nice way…

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Waving the feminist flag again

Knowing how it upsets quite a few of my male readers I just can’t help myself. It’s Ada Lovelace day today, so we’re celebrating women who have excelled in technology.

I’ve chosen not to celebrate any woman in particular but instead to muse over why so many women still shy away from technology.

Ada Lovelace embraced technology although it hadn’t even been invented when she was around. She was guided by her curiosity combined with a brilliant brain and the financial circumstances to allow it.

I think that there’s a number of reasons why women don’t tend to embrace technology the way men do.

*disclaimer*
Please note that I use GENERALISATIONS in this post. I KNOW that not all men embrace technology or are good at it, I KNOW that there are women who excel in hardcore programming, etc. etc. But I’m sure you’ll agree that MORE women than men shy away from technology and that MORE men than women enjoy discussing Megabits of this and Gigabytes of that.
*end of disclaimer*

One of these reasons is the rather dull and unsurprising that technology has always been a male thing ever since the invention of the first technologies when women were still mostly “housewives” and dumbed down by themselves, their mothers, their fathers, their teachers, their brothers, their husbands and society in general. When computers started to be household items, everything to do with them was communicated in a special language, almost exclusive to people who worked with computers and completely unintelligible to anybody outside. But most men had to either pretend to understand or buy some copies of PC World and get an understanding quickly if they didn’t want to be out of the loop.

For women it was enough to learn the weird code language that was WordPerfect. Learning that was not at all considered a computer skill and nobody ever told any secretary that she could take her advanced WordPerfect coding skills and transfer them to other forms of computer coding – that the principles were the same even if the codes were different. So a large group of people – women – who could have become programmers and learned HTML as easy as one-two-three was completely lost. Because when Apple came with their What You See Is What You Get word processing technology and Microsoft came right at their heels and delivered Word to the world, everybody forgot all about WordPerfect and the skillset required to work it.

The language surrounding computers and other daily life technologies has certainly become a lot more accessible with the acceptance and knowledge that the target group has exploded and now includes everybody. But techno speak is still rife and you do need to learn some basics if you want to purchase some new technology and actually know what you’re buying. It’s also very helpful to know basic computer lingo when you make the inevitable call to the dreaded call centre for help. But I still think it would be really helpful if the ad said: This phone has 8GB memory. That equals x number of songs or x podcasts or x movie length films. I mean, who cares whether it’s 8 or 16GB? What you care about is whether there’s room for your entire Itunes library.

So when I talk to other women about technology and they get defensive about learning a bit of computer lingo I challenge them. Every time we enter a new chapter of our lives, we learn the language belonging to this particular subgroup without giving it much thought. You start studying law and after a year or so you’ve adopted a whole new set of words which you use effortlessly, inside and outside university. When you start cooking you learn the difference between tsp and tbsp and after the first mistake you know what “separate the eggs” means. When you first get pregnant (or your girl does) you learn a whole new set of words and phrases and suddenly know exactly what is considered a “normal” birth weight and what isn’t whereas previously you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if somebody had told you that their baby weighed 12 kilos at birth.

I therefore challenge women to sit down and learn the basics about computers, so they can understand enough to make sane purchases, avoid viruses, guide their children and do what they want to do on their computers and smartphones. Whining that it’s “too complicated” just doesn’t cut any slack with me.

And now for the second reason why I think women are lagging behind when it comes to technology. I think they lack curiosity. Or rather, they lack the inclination to pursue their curiosity. And I think that’s with us from childhood. The further we go back in time the less women are likely to have been encouraged to act on their curiosity as children. And if you go to a toy store or a book store’s children’s department you’ll see how that’s still so very much the case. I should underline that this is a lot worse here in the UK than it is in Denmark. Can’t speak for the rest of the world. The wonderful Science Museum here in the UK has developed the most amazing series of exploratory toys and, happily, they’re on sale all over the world. However, in many a toy store or department store these toys are displayed in the boys’ section and not in the girls’. And where, unfortunately, it’s a general trend that children’s toys today don’t encourage them to think “out of the box” (Now, who is responsible for ruining that phrase? come here and I’ll spank you!) as much as previous generations’ toys, it’s much more true for girls’ toys. If you don’t believe me, go take a look. And don’t tell me that I can just avoid them. I only have boys. But then, I’m not talking about me. Keeping in mind the size of the toy departments and the amount of money spent on advertising toys every year, there CLEARLY are people who buy it, right!

I blame the mothers, particularly the ones who ought to know better, for giving in to this. Just heard this morning that some girls at son’s school were invited to a birthday party with a “Makeover” theme. That makes me want to be sick in somebody’s designer handbag.

In the teetering stack of books next to my bed is a book called Curious? by the psychologist Todd Kashdan (@toddkashdan on Twitter). I haven’t read it yet, but I bought it based on his op-eds in The Huffington Post and an article in the Guardian. I’m very curious myself and have often been told that I’m too curious for my own good. Imagine how pleased I was to read that curiosity is actually good for you and leads to much more “life satisfaction” if such a thing can be quantified. The curious are seldom bored, there’s always an avenue to explore. So what I know now, in the midst of the huge sea of things I don’t know, is that at least I’m not going to die of boredom.

***

So, what I meant to say on Ada Lovelace day, was this: Yes, ladies, there’s a historic precedence for women to not be curious and to be cr*p at technology. But that’s all it is. There are no excuses anymore. And if you can’t be bothered for yourself, then do it for your children. They deserve that you make the effort to understand the world they live in.

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Contentedness

As regular readers will know I read and think (and subsequently write) a great deal about happiness. Quite often I’ve discussed the word happiness with people and tend to agree that the word itself stands in the way of our experience of it. Happiness has become synonymous with big white weddings, having beautiful perfect babies, going on marvelous vacations with your larger-than-life family. Which then leads to people saying that they don’t need happiness, they’ll just settle back and accept some sort of equilibrium and satisfaction with being un-unhappy…

However, I maintain that the above mentioned Big Occasions are not what constitutes happiness and want to reclaim the word. What I really mean with the word is more the contentedness from the title, but there are two downsides to that word. One is the word in itself – it’s a dreadful word, just look at it! The other is that if you say you’re content you’re almost also saying that you are happy where you are and don’t want to change anything.

That’s not how I see happiness. I consider myself an above-average happy person. It’s not that I’m ♫ Always Looking at the Bright Side of Life ♫ and turning the blind eye to the darker side, but I do try to because I find many people’s dwelling on even minor miseries really irksome and I don’t want to moan whinge moan like they do. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I do whinge occasionally, but I try to keep it at a minimum and also try to be constructive about it. Our family’s life situation at present is cr*p with too many uncertainties for anybody’s liking. What I’m trying to do is to find the balance between realizing the seriousness of the situation and dealing with it accordingly and sitting back and feeling sorry for myself. I certainly allow myself to feel self pity over finding myself in this situation, but on the other hand, I like to think back and see how often something surprisingly good has come of situations not unlike this one. I believe in luck, but I also believe that you – to a large extent – can create your own luck by “paving the way for it”, so to speak.

Watch me, on my knees, removing all the weeds and obstacles on luck’s path!

Yesterday I watched a new speech on TED. It’s with Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, the “behavioural economist” about the substantial difference between the “remembering self” and the “experiencing self”. It goes a long way to describe how we perceive our past and why we often make such bad decisions based on that. I’m glad I saw it before the major decisions awaiting us ahead!

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Pink

I’ve been reading some Danish blogs’n’stuff lately since I was in Denmark and was alerted to a friend’s new blog and reminded of an old favourite. If you don’t read Danish, don’t click these two links.

This woman writes about pink technology and how it’s a total turnoff for most women. So true, so true. I cannot think of anything  more dreadful than a pink mobile phone with little sparkly thingies dangling from it.

She has also written an e-book about women and technology and divides us into Electronistas, Electroneutrals and Electronots. Well, as no surprise to any of my readers, I’m an Electronista. Trouble is, however, that I’m in reality far too old to be an Electronista, they are supposed to be younger than 35! Apparently, when you weren’t born into the tech age, you can’t be a true geek?

I’m the geekiest woman I know, maybe save one. In our home I do all things that have to do with technology, including opening envelopes from LoveFilm… I’m unafraid of technology but make no attempt to understand how it works and get annoyed when a tech product tries to tell me what to do and to prevent me from doing things it thinks I shouldn’t be doing (Windows) and when products are totally un-intuitive like my husband’s work Blackberry. When you’re used to an Iphone and prior to that to Nokia, the Blackberry seems devoid of logic. My Iphone is my best baby and I break out in cold sweat by the thought of losing it. It’s already a dinosaur, 1st generation, no 3G, 2 years old. But I adore it and use it for any thinkable and probably also some unthinkable purposes (no, you twat, not THAT unthinkable!!!).

My other best baby is my new Macbook Pro. I’m supposed to be able to make do with something much smaller and less powerful and that’s probably true. But my last MacBaby was exactly the same as this one and we had a loving relationship for 3+ years. So why change horses? (By the way, it still works and young son now uses it).

On my previous computer I had Microsoft Office installed. On this one I’ve avoided it so far, using the excellent Apple office package IWork and, mostly, Google Documents.

As you’ve guessed, because you’re so clever, I love all things Mac. I really can’t help it. When the Iphone first came out I tried to not like it, I tried to brush it off as yummy-tech for the Really Smart People. But I couldn’t. The thing about the Iphone has been that I have loved it more and more the longer I’ve owned it. There’s no grass that’s greener on the other side. Of course I’m now eying the IPad. I’m quite sure that I don’t want the first version. Mostly because I would like it as an E-Reader and it doesn’t have its bookstore ready for Europe yet. But also because I’d like to have Flash (rumour has it that the next version will sidestep Flash and use HTML 5. I honestly don’t know what that means, so I’ll just wait and see). And apparently you can’t use a USB stick on it but need Apple’s own special memory thingummies – I’m not sure I like that. But knowing Apple, all these things will be resolved in one of the next versions. That’s what happened with the Iphone; all the little things that irritated at first have been mended since. In the meantime, another rumour has it that Amazon will start giving away Kindles to all their Prime customers. Now THAT would be nice. Because I’m drowning in books and would very much like to stop buying pulped trees and start downloading.

Back to the pink. I so don’t understand why women will sink themselves and particularly their daughters into the Pink Pit. When I go shopping, both on the Interwebby (thanks Lulu) and IRL (in real life) I’m appalled at the amount of pink and glittery stuff offered to women and their daughters. It’s not that I can’t abide pink at all, I have a pink scarf somewhere and I used to have a pink t-shirt. In my bathroom I even have a line-up of pink coloured perfume bottles… What’s probably even more appalling is that it’s not just pink and glittery on the outside, very often it’s pink and glittery on the inside as well – understood in the sense that it speaks to women and girls as if they were morons and 2nd rate people.

As you may or may not have noticed, it was recently Valentine’s Day. Pink was everywhere. Where there was no pink was on Wired Magazine’s advice on how to win a geeky girl’s heart. Great advice, I would very much like to be at the receiving end of that kind of treatment and to some extent I am, thanks to my Dear Husband. But what so totally puzzles me is why this wouldn’t be a treat for any woman? Why does she have to be geeky (and why are there almost exclusively ads for men in Wired)?

In spite of the fact that I have two sons and a horde of nephews and only one niece, I’ve joined a network here in England called Pink Stinks. Go there and read about it. And, especially if you have daughters, do join!

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