The Hipster Effect » globalization Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gone Babel fishin’ /2011/10/11/gone-babel-fishin/ /2011/10/11/gone-babel-fishin/#comments Tue, 11 Oct 2011 02:03:44 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=234 more]]> What if you could understand anything? Not in an omniscient, faith-challenging kind of way, but in a Douglas Adams, stick-this-fish-in-your-ear-and-you’ll-understand-any-language kind of way? In other words: what if you could easily translate anything?

A couple of decades ago, your exposure to other languages was limited to the scope of your world travel and the multiculturalism of the neighborhood you lived in. You weren’t routinely exposed to the cultural output of another country – much less of many other countries – and there was no need to engage in dialogue with people on the other side of the world. Not until the internet brought down geographic barriers and brought us all online, that is. Now, we’re regularly exposed to information from other cultures and conversations in other languages but, despite the availability of text-based online translators, we remain in the dark to most of what occurs in languages we do not speak. So while the internet was awesome in introducing me to the amazing Swedish electro-swing/hip-hop band Movits!…



…it gave me no indication as to what was being said (indeed, one of the video’s top comments is “Thumbs up if you like this song, even if you don’t understand a word”), nor am I privy to what’s being discussed in the Swedish-language comments left underneath the video. Leave it to Facebook to try and solve the problem of the confusingly multilingual conversation.


A recent post on Mashable points to a newly released weapon in the Facebook arsenal: seamless, built-in translation. This particular tool one-ups others like Google Translate by allowing bilingual users to enter their own translation, which other users can then vote up or down based on accuracy. With a service like this, not only could I understand the comments taking place about my favorite Swedish band, I’d also be able to participate in the conversation, no matter what language I spoke. I’m reminded of a real-life example of this when, at a dinner in Berlin, I had an hour-long conversation with somebody who was speaking German while I spoke English. Each of us had enough knowledge of the other’s language to understand what was being said, but neither was skilled enough to respond in it. Similarly, allowing on-the-fly translations in an online conversation would allow each person to contribute in their language of choice, while still understanding all of the others. And while we’ve not yet progressed to the level of technology where putting something in your ear automatically allows you to understand other languages, surely this is the next best thing.

The internet has already opened up conversations to any and all languages. The next logical step is to open up communication across the linguistic divide. Instead of having an English-language forum here, a German-language forum there, and a Swedish-language forum there, now we can have a single forum where understanding the other participants is as easy as clicking the translate button. There will, of course, be cultural barriers to understanding, but with the ability to understand one another’s words will come the ability to explain and understand one another’s views. Allowing open conversations to take place across cultural divides promises to expose us to new ways of thinking and to further widen our already expanded worldviews.

Now pardon me while I go look up the Swedish translation of “f*** yeah.”


Screenshot credit: Mashable

/2011/10/11/gone-babel-fishin/feed/ 0
Work at home, home at work /2011/09/30/work-at-home-home-at-work/ /2011/09/30/work-at-home-home-at-work/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 18:36:17 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=151 more]]> The first time I was ever given a corporate BlackBerry, I took it as a mark of pride. There I was, important enough to warrant being reached during my off-hours, and here was this shiny, function-filled device to supplement my own meager flip phone. Fast forward to today and I, like most, would turn down a work phone if presented with the offer. I’m used to my iPhone and want my work to complement, not overtake, the mobile experience, and I definitely don’t want to carry around two devices. A panel at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference this week pointed out that both companies and employees are benefiting from this recent change of heart – employees get to use their own devices and companies don’t have to pay for new ones.

On the other side of the mobile spectrum, recent data from Google Mobile shows that smartphones are being used throughout the day. And just what are they being used for? Well, considering that 350 million Facebook users typically access the site from their mobile devices, 26 photos are added to Instagram every second, and 103 million tweets are sent through these devices every day, chances are, our smartphone activity at work doesn’t always have to do with work. Curiously enough, while our smartphones help us keep up with our personal lives at work, they flip to the opposite function when we get home. A survey by Harris Interactive showed that 72% of people admit to checking work email during non-business hours, yet another sign that the line between life and work is becoming increasingly blurred.

These recent trends have at their heart a key fact of the internet experience: we want to be connected and stay in touch at all times in all places. While at work, our physical presence keeps us in touch with our colleagues, and we use our virtual presence on the internet to keep in touch with our friends and family. Outside of the office, our personal lives are at the physical forefront and we rely on the virtual to keep in touch with new developments at work. With both the workplace and our social connections becoming increasingly globalized, the stream of information never stops. It would be absurd to walk outside to check your mailbox at 3am, but check your email at that hour and you may find something from that business partner in Tokyo or from that friend that’s vacationing in Sydney. The clock never stops. The communication never stops. All that changes is where we’re physically located and who we can speak with face-to-face. Everybody else – be they our work colleagues at night or our friends during work hours – we now carry in our pockets.


/2011/09/30/work-at-home-home-at-work/feed/ 0