An Apple a day

As today is a very special day for all us Apple-geeks, I’ll use some of the horrible hours of waiting to present to you a bit of nerdy news. We’re talking everything from strictly business to strictly silly.

There’s always new stuff to enhance your work/pleasure time in front of the screen. @4nd3rs from Danish Radio’s brilliant tech-programme Harddisken recommends this extra security for G-mail. Given the latest scare with G-mail accounts that disappeared (not really, they are all restored by now), this might be a good idea. Another very practical thingummy is Amplify, an add-on for Firefox and Chrome, which will let you clip and save anything on the page you’re on for instant mailing, blogging, tweeting, FB’ing or whatever. Really smart!

Do you listen to audio books? I do, occasionally, when all the brilliant podcasts aren’t filling up my time. Audiobooks, however, are often quite expensive, so there’s a natural limit to how many you’ll listen to. Funzafunza, also from the above mentioned Harddisken, mentioned Librivox, a truly original concept where you can find public domain books read by “normal people”. I’ve downloaded Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a book I’ve wanted to read for ages. Next plane-ride, I’ll listen to it. The reader of this particular novel, a woman, doesn’t have the most pleasing voice on the planet, but I’m sure I’ll get used to her as I listen along. And, there may be other books there, read by more pleasant-sounding people. Anyway, I think it’s a brilliant concept! Do you have a pleasant voice, do you like reading to others and do you love an old book, why not give it a chance and contribute? I will, as soon as I have half a day to spend…

The eternal discussion of whether social media and the web in general is distracting us from true immersion in work, reading, etc. and making us into flimsy flutterers goes on and on. I’m biased, so I’ll only link to people who agree with me. *smirks*. Here’s the honourable Jeff Jarvis on the subject. He links back to the weightiest of previous articles in American media. It was @Elnif who pointed to that one.

And then there’s that there Twitter. Here’s what I’ve read lately on that subject. This in the Guardian, helping the positively curious to make heads and tails of it. This is a funny but not untrue infographic about the process of getting into Twitter.

Lately, I’ve been adding my bit to posterity, in this case Danish Wikipedia. Working with Wikipedia is not easy, it’s not at all like blogging, but as I’m incredibly stubborn I just keep at it. Also, I get help from kind Wikipedians (and also some pointing with a very big stick from less kind Wikipedians). So this well researched article about why women don’t contribute more (13%) to Wikipedia really hit home.

Where would you like to work if you could choose? Fast Company has picked the 50 most innovative companies. Together with Fortune’s Top 100 over the best companies to work for, we have a good starting point. That said, I’m totally happy working for myself. I’m such a nice boss, really, even though the salary s*cks.

Finally, we need something about language (from @stensamler), books and books (from @bogtyven).

Oh, and more books. (Would have loved to have embedded this charming, artistic and funny video. But since, apparently, they use a tune that Sony owns the copyright to, it can only be watched directly on Youtube. Bah!)

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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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