In the Times on Saturday (that's the Times as in Britain, not the New York Times or other) there was an article called "Y txtng cn b v gd 4 improving linguitic ability of children". I don't know whether you, dear reader, know of my personal opinion on text speak, but it is as follows: I find it visually repulsive, overly patronising, incomprehensible and lazy. Whilst I can understand it, I can only do so if I put in considerable effort to do so and generally what I read does not justify the effort spent on decyphering it.

I personally touch-type, meaning I do not really have to think about the mechanics of typing, I just think of what I want to say and then let my fingers do the rest. If anything, typing in txt spk would take me longer than typing things out in full!

This article raised an interesting point which was as follows:

A study of the spelling and punctuation of 11-year-olds who regularly use mobile text messaging found no difference between their attainment and the average achievement levels of non-texting pupils of the same age and educational level.
-The Times, Saturday September 9 2006

This is rather nice to hear and suggests that there is hope for the English language yet. However, it does not necessarily change my stance. I won't force people to stop using txt spk in general, but I do expect them to have the courtesy not to use it around me. This is especially true of online forums.
I do not see any legitimate reason for txt spk to be used on a forum.
A full keyboard is used for input, so it's not like it's difficult to use all the letters.
There's no time limit and messages are not charged per character.

I can understand people using txt spk on a crowded IRC channel, although I still would appreciate it if they didn't!
Additionally, I can understand people using txt spk for in-game chat.

However, there is quite clearly a time and a place for these things and it does appear that a great many young people do not learn the correct time and place for things, as reflected in my last blog post.
Ignorance is one thing, but blatent apathy is quite another.

I have found many forum users abject lack of effort to produce meaningful sentences in their native language quite appalling. It insults me that they cannot even be bothered to spend the extra fraction of a second required to type "for", rather than "4". If they cannot be bothered to be considerate of the social circumstances, why should I bother to answer their questions?

If they proceed to politely apologise when informed of their social faux pax, all is forgiven and extra courtesy is granted towards them for apologising (why do people not APOLOGISE any more?!). However, a great many have replied "dis iznt skool so hu cares???". Quite. I care. It matters to me how people speak. Eloquence will get you much further than you think and will do much to grease the gears of social interaction.

I just hope that people can be taught when it is acceptable to speak casually and when more formal English is required, just as I would expect them to learn as they grow up when it is appropriate to wear jeans and a tshirt and when it would be more apt to wear a shirt and tie.

Mmm wirelessness

08 September 2006

Well, I've got hold of a new wireless card from ebay. Again, one selected from the list due to the fact that it works “out of the box” with Linux. There's something wonderful about plugging in the card only to find it will work straight away, with no drivers or other such nonsense!

So, well, yes, I have a laptop with wireless capabilities that is tiny and secondly, I passed my driving test! w00t!

Life is good.

Yesterday, whilst walking through my local town, I heard a few young people jokingly shouting at each other.

Two of them were walking down the street and were being heckled by some friends who happened to be coming out of an adjacent shop at the time.

This in itself didn't strike me as overly unusual, but the words they were using and in the context struck me as extremely poor judgement and made me wonder who did (or apparently didn't) teach these kids how to behave.

They were around fifteen, sixteen, perhaps seventeen, but not much older. Not adults, but easily old enough to know better.

Is it considered socially acceptable these days to shout profanities at each other at midday in the middle of a busy shopping street?

To me it is not only very rude, but shows a distinct apathy towards society.

I'm not personally offended by the words used. I've called my friends similar things in jest and worse, however, I did not do it loudly whilst surrounded by shoppers of all ages.

It interests me what sort of background these kids came from along with what sort of training they've had. It seems both old-fashioned, prejudiced and cold, but hear me out.

By background, I don't mean race, religion or economic, I merely mean whether their parents raised them, or whether they left them to mostly fend for themselves, so to speak, feeding and clothing them but little more.

I was raised mostly around adults. It probably shows.

I don't just mean people who are old enough to be categorised as adults, no. I mean people who understand that they must generally be responsible, think about their decisions and act appropriately. Too many young people seem to be becoming adults and having no idea regarding what this entails. They are surprised when they are expected to make important decisions, deal with difficult issues and be part of society at large. They seem to think that being an adult is just about working and then spending time in the pub (don't forget watching the latest reality TV on the box or whatever Premier League match happens to be on). That isn't being an adult. That's just being a big kid with a salary.

It is quite difficult to explain the concepts that I'm talking about as the differences are in the fine details. I think it can partly be expressed as abject apathy with regards to anything but their own short-term interests. "I want this. Now."

I was raised to know that when in public, it is not acceptable form to shout obscenities at each other. It is not okay. If you want to do that, do it somewhere where you have a modicum of privacy, such as in the park or at home. In the streets when they're full of people ain't acceptable.

Similarly, it wouldn't be appropriate to come to a job interview (in the majority of cases) in ripped jeans and a tshirt. It may be what you're comfortable with, but what you want to wear and what is expected of you are not always the same thing. Remember that.

There are certain expectations that it is quite acceptable to not necessarily meet, but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

People will be a lot more willing to be civil, helpful and positive if you act properly and at least satisfy the social expectations. Their personal expectations are a different matter entirely, so let's not confuse the two!

For example, if they see a photo of you attached to your CV, they might expect you to be rather lazy and uncommunicative, that would, however, be a personal expectation.

However, as it was an interview, you would be expected to treat the interviewer with respect, rather than being totally informal. That is a social expectation.

In my view, it is a social expectation for young people to behave a little better than they did. Boys will be boys, certainly, but there are limits to this sort of thing!

Parkour and Perception

03 September 2006

A recent insight I had into human perception was caused by the introduction of parkour into my way of thinking. I've not actually taken up parkour, but nonetheless, I have started to think of things in the parkour way.

The perception of ourselves and the outside world is regulated by the way we think. The world changes when we observe it.

For example, I am interested in graffiti and tagging - when I see a blank, urban surface, I do not see a concrete wall, as others might. No, I see a drawing board. Similarly, in the parkour way of thinking, a railing is not just a railing. It is an obstacle to both overcome and explored.

A skater might see a potential grinding place. How we think affects what we see.

This is true of ourselves too. Whilst I may look in the mirror at my long, golden hair and think "my hair looks good", someone else might see it as effeminate.

It's interesting to be able to see things that others cannot, I cannot deny it. Others see obstacle where I see opportunity. Difficulty where I see challenge.

An extension of this is how we deal with each other and those around us. A shy person sees a party as a threat, an outgoing person sees it as a chance to make new friends.

In our increasingly urbanised landscape, I think parkour will flourish. It strikes me as not a revolutionary way of thinking, but certainly as evolutionary. It builds on many other philosophical disciplines, taking advantage of our modern environment, rather than seeing the urbanisation of our world as detriment to physical activity.