Who gets to invent the future?

by Suw on December 3, 2018

Nike and Boeing Are Paying Sci-Fi Writers to Predict Their Futures, apparently. I have to admit, I was very excited to read this article when I stumbled on it. I’ve done some futurology projects on a couple of occasions, and it is always a huge amount of fun. This kind of work, using sci fi and world building to help companies understand future opportunities and risks is both exciting and smart. We are all narrative creatures and we understand the world through stories, so using stories to imagine different scenarios is a good way to think about the future.
 
But as I read on, I became really disturbed, and then quite cross. Of all the 21 real people named in this piece, precisely zero are women. Of the two fictional people, one was a named man, the other an unnamed woman, “grandmother”. The author was a man. The illustrator was a man.
 
And whilst the author acknowledged the gender bias, ‘the men behind these companies (and yes, they’re largely run by men)’, he did little to mitigate it.
 
He even included a stereotyped and factually wrong scenario posited by DIY store Lowe’s:
 
‘The story prototype follows a couple who try to renovate their house the old-fashioned way but keep running into problems. “The husband thinks he can solve it all, the wife is fed up, and the contractor is going ‘hehehe.’ The client loved it.”’
 
Women actually make more DIY purchase decisions than men. They are 60% more likely to complete a home improvement project than men, and 66% of women pay for DIY out of their personal bank account. Women initiate 80% of home improvement projects, account for 50% of DIY store customers but spend 50% more in store than men do. They are not ‘fed up’ whilst waiting for their husbands to fix things, they are the ones driving the projects.
 
To me, it’s a major problem that women either aren’t involved or aren’t recognised in this kind of future scenarios work. What kind of futures are being dreamt up by these men? Are they futures that include women? That recognise women’s decision making and buying power? Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases. 91% of women feel advertisers don’t understand them.
 
Just look at those numbers.
 
Yet businesses are asking all-male or majority-male teams to try to imagine the future, and I would put good money on those teams seeing things through a skewed male lens that doesn’t recognise or account for the role women play across all areas of life. In futurology work, whether it’s sci-fi based or straight scenarios thinking, diversity of thought is paramount if the results are to be of any use. Heavily male teams do not generally show much in the way of diversity of thought, as amply proven by the tech industry where women’s needs go frequently unmet and their voices unheard. 
 
Which does, on the one hand, mean that there’s an opportunity here for any woman willing to grasp it. And I’m seriously considering a project, once my current one is safely launched. 

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I posted this on Facebook on 10 Nov 18, but Facebook has a habit of making old posts unfindable, so I’m archiving it here. 

Update 3: Great article from Wired that’s worth your time and consideration: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/iceland-advert-banned-christmas Also, yet more links at the bottom

I rather feel the need to have a little word about this Iceland ad about palm oil, because a lot of folks have gotten very enthusiastic about it but unfortunately, the whole subject is just a little bit more complicated than it seems.

Firstly, the ad wasn’t “banned”, that’s just marketing spin from Iceland. Greenpeace produced it a while ago, it clearly didn’t get any traction so they teamed up with Iceland to turn it into a TV ad. Except political ads, which this is because it was made by a political campaigning group, aren’t allowed.

Clearcast, who regulate this stuff, say:

“Clearcast is the body responsible for clearing ads on behalf of the four major UK commercial broadcasters.

“We assess all ads against the rules of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising; Clearcast is not a regulator and we do not ban ads. The Iceland ad submitted to us is a Greenpeace film which has been appearing on the Greenpeace website for a number of months.

“The specific rule Clearcast and the broadcasters have considered is:

“An advertisement contravenes the prohibition on political advertising if it is:

“An advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature.

“Clearcast’s concerns do not extend to the content or message of the ad.”

Iceland advert

So no, it wasn’t “banned”, it just contravened very well known rules, and Iceland are manipulating you to think that they are somehow being silenced. That’s just bullshit.

Secondly, let’s have a little chat about palm oil itself, which is where things get really, really complicated.

High demand for palm oil, we all know, has resulted in the destruction of habitats and biodiversity, displacement of native peoples, and the release of carbon dioxide. Not good. I think we can all agree that that’s actually more than not good, it’s really fucking bad.

At the same time, palm oil is in so many things, it would be very difficult for us to end our dependence on it. But we should still boycott it, right? Because every little helps?

Well, maybe not, actually (see links).

1. What would we replace palm oil with? The oil palm is amazingly productive, and there’s nothing that will produce the same amount of oil using the same level of resources. We’d still need an oil of some sort, but we’d need to use three times the amount of other oil producing crop to replace all the palm oil, which would require three times the land.

2. Oil palms use less in the way of fertiliser and pesticides than similar oil crops. Replacing it with something else will also be worse for the environment because it would require more fertiliser and pesticide over much more land.

3. People farming oil palms would have to make a living growing something else. What? And what impact will that have on the environment?

4. Demand for palm oil is expected to double by 2022, which means that the problems with replacements/alternatives is going to more than double.

5. Palm oil is actually healthier for you than some alternatives, such as partially hydrogenated oils, that are chock full of trans fats. Replacing palm oil with partially hydrogenated oils would result in widespread damage to public health.

6. Why do we even use palm oil? Well, its semisolid at room temp, which means that it’s a vegetarian alternative to animals fats. How do we ask people to eat less meat, and also say no to palm oil?

So what’s the solution?

Don’t try to boycott palm oil, instead, put pressure on companies to use sustainable palm oil. The Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil is a start, though it could and should go further.

If you want to do something, then pressure companies that use palm oil to sign up to RSPO, and to go further in their commitments to create a sustainable industry.

Indignation and outrage-filled videos from Greenpeace are not going to solve this problem. Creating demand for sustainable palm oil will. We have that power. We can create that demand. So I suppose Iceland is right in one way – we can make a change, but it’s not the change they are espousing.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/giving-up-palm-oil-might-actually-be-bad-environment-180958092/

https://www.rspo.org/

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/26/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-sustainable-palm-oil

PS. Don’t forget, Iceland is the company that trademarked a nation’s name and takes companies from Iceland, the actual country, to court if they try to use the word to brand their products. They really aren’t fluffy bunnies.

PPS. The University of Kent says:

“Iceland’s move to ban palm oil products, rather than work with the industry to seek sustainably-sourced solutions, could be viewed as a step backwards. Environmentally-conscious consumers should demand palm oil from certified sources, but avoiding it altogether runs the risk of putting pressure on other crops that are equally to blame for the world’s environmental problems.”

They also say that “Compared to other sources of vegetable oil (e.g. rapeseed and soybean oil), palm oil yields up to five times the oil per unit of land and requires far less pesticide and fertiliser.”

Five times!! Do we want to clear cut five times more land so that we can switch to rapeseed or soy? I don’t think we do.

https://www.kent.ac.uk/dice/news/index.html?view=2553&fbclid=IwAR13_XBiDq07R7VBo2a-zHxhqC20GTSdKAIuoxg-09XfxkTZ2iK1MLZm53M

Also, Iceland is not walking the talk one little bit. Ethical Consumer says Iceland as the “Worst Rating for Palm Oil”. Hypocritical, much?

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/palm-oil-free-list

UPDATE 20 Nov 18: Iceland have removed their ‘worst’ ratings section and replaced it with this explanation:

“Iceland has stated, ‘By the end of 2018, 100% of our own brand food will contain no palm oil. We are the first UK supermarket to commit to removing palm oil from all own brand food.’ When we are sure that this commitment has been implemented we will update Iceland’s rating.”

Here’s a screenshot of that particular section from Google’s page cache.

It seems to me to be somewhat generous of the Ethical Consumer to remove Iceland’s ratings absent any actual evidence that they’ve taken any of RSPO’s recommended actions. As discussed, simply banning palm oil isn’t a good response to the problem, so if that’s what Iceland do, they are not actually helping things, they’re still part of the problem.

Original post resumes:

Iceland is also at the bottom of the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s table, and has “come under renewed criticism after failing to publish details about its compliance in the past 12 months”.

https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/channels/discounters/iceland/iceland-fails-to-publish-gca-code-compliance-data/573614.article

The Groceries Code Adjudicator is “an independent statutory office responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and to regulate the relationship between supermarkets and their direct suppliers within the United Kingdom.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groceries_Code_Adjudicator

Also, for those who are unconvinced by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, you’ll be wanting to look at the work of SEnSOR, Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research programme. SEnSOR is “testing the impact of the Roundtable on Sustainable palm Oil (RSPO): the major certification standard for sustainable palm oil. We are using cutting-edge scientific research to test whether RSPO standards are achieving the aim of improving the sustainability of palm oil production. Our team includes experts from across the environmental and social sciences enabling us to test impact across the full spectrum of issues that contribute to sustainability.”

http://www.sensorproject.net/

WWF on palm oil, from 2015:

“Reading the above, palm oil might seem like an evil crop, but in truth, it is not. The world continues to need vegetable oils and if this doesn’t come from palm oil we could need nine times more land which could mean more deforestation, more habitat conversion and even greater releases of greenhouse gases. Boycotting palm oil is not the answer!

“What we need to do is support the production of sustainable palm oil which can be done by buying from companies who only use palm oil certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or the RSPO. The RSPO enables us to be confident that areas of high conservation value have been preserved, local communities have been supported and palm oil plantation managers are implementing best practices.”

Palm reading: Should we buy or boycott products containing palm oil?

And actually, British companies lead the way in palm oil sustainability, from 2016:

https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/british-companies-leading-way-palm-oil-sustainability

“Much loved British companies such as Marks and Spencer and Boots are ‘leading the way’ on sourcing sustainable palm oil according to 2016 edition of WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard.”

And the scorecard from 2016 (Iceland doesn’t make the list):

http://palmoilscorecard.panda.org/

Video from Kent Online, who talk to a palm oil researcher about whether palm oil should be banned:

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kmtv/video/is-palm-oil-bad-for-the-environment-22966/

New Scientist from May 2018 about how palm oil is ubiquitous:

“Half of all the palm oil imported by Europe is turned into biodiesel and blended into conventional fuel to power cars and trucks. This misguided attempt to “green” fuels is actually tripling carbon emissions, not reducing them.”

and

“Globally, palm oil production hit 65 million tonnes in 2017, nearly 20 per cent of which was used for biofuel, says Sathia Varqa of data firm Palm Oil Analytics.

“Demand for palm oil could shoot up to 140 million tonnes in 2030, with nearly 50 per cent of that being turned into biofuel, according to a report on palm oil for the Rainforest Foundation Norway published in December 2017 (see “Driving higher”). “There’s an enormous risk,” says the author, Chris Malins.”

The article has a lot more to say, and in particular talks about reinstating abandoned farmland in Central Europe to grow rapeseed, which could be used for biofuels instead of palm oil. But “if the EU ends subsidies for palm-oil biodiesel, but keeps its overall biofuel targets, cars will be fuelled with soybean or rapeseed oil instead. This would push up their prices and make food producers switch to palm oil instead.”

What we’d need to do is either ban foodstuff-based biofuels or switch to electric instead.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23831764-400-the-real-palm-oil-problem-its-not-just-in-your-food/

Data on abandoned farmland: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035035

 

 

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Gel nail removal magic trick

by Suw on December 7, 2017

Earlier in the year, I treated myself to a DIY gel nail system, which I have been enjoying ever since. I rather like having nice nails, it makes me feel like an adult. Traditional nail varnish barely lasts 24 hours on my nails, so the UV-cured gel varnishes are a huge improvement as, on a good run, they can last up to two weeks.

The downside is getting the damn stuff off. I bought an electric nail file, in the hope that I could grind away the top layers before soaking off with acetone, but that didn’t really save any time. And getting impatient and scraping the half-softened gel off just damages the natural nail underneath.

A friend of mine has been raving about Barry M nail varnishes, and whilst I was in the UK I thought I’d take a look and see if they were any good. Maybe, I thought, I could alternate, so that I’m not constantly battling to get gel varnish off my nails. Whilst I was looking at the Barry M selection, (I bought a metallic gold colour in the end), I spotted that they do a base coat call Peel Off, which, well, you peel off. Had to be worth a shot, I thought. And wow, was it ever worth a shot!

Two coats of Barry M Peel Off, well dried, underneath a normal application of gel foundation, colour and top coat works like a dream. You genuinely can just peel the whole lot off in a matter of seconds, instead of it taking two hours and using up all the acetone you can lay your hands on. It is fantastic.

However — and there’s always a however — if your nail surface is already damaged, as mine are, then the Peel Off base coat will also peel off more of your nail. There is, however, a however to that however: if you prise up a corner, you can get under there with normal nail varnish remover and a cotton bud, and ease the whole lot off gently. No need to try to soften up the gel because the Barry M base coat will dissolve in the remover and come clean away.

A few other things I’ve learnt:

  • Two coats is far better than one. One coat doesn’t seem to have enough strength to peel off neatly.
  • It peels best off fresh, undamaged nail.
  • If your nails get quite wet, say you do the washing up or have a long bath, it will peel off sooner rather than later.
  • If one nail peels, and comes off in one piece, you can just put another layer of base coat on, and glue the gel back on as if it’s a false nail!
  • If it peels of a couple of nails, you can always use normal nail varnish over the gel and on the now bare nails until you’re ready to redo them.
  • It only lasts a week, tops.

Although the gel varnish is supposed to last up to three weeks, it never did for me. On average, I got about 10 days wear out of them, so if Peel Off only lasts a week, that’s no skin off my nose. In fact, it means I can switch up my colours a bit more often.

I am so delighted with the Barry M Peel Off base coat, I really am. I’m sure there are equivalents in the US, as Barry M is UK-only, but I will be stocking up when I go home.

Oh, and the normal Barry M nail varnish is just as marvellous!

 

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Whatever happened to Creative 17?

by Suw on December 6, 2017

Welp, it’s been a while since my last post about my Creative 2017. When I started the year, I had a feeling that I might run aground in the lead up to Ada Lovelace Day, and sure enough, time to blog became scarce. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t being creative.

Since learning to knit in May, I have become ridiculously addicted. I have been working on a simple ribbed skirt, and have done a pair of wrist-warmers. I had less luck with two hats, one of which was too small, the other too big, and both of which got frogged and are now being turned into a scarf. But it is really lovely to just sit and knit of an evening. Somehow, it’s more soothing than crochet, though I’m not sure why.

There was always an ulterior motive, though, to this whole project, and that was to try to get my authorial juices flowing. In that, the year has been a spectacular success. I started work on my current project in earnest a couple of weeks ago, and am really enjoying myself.

Thanksgiving weekend, we went down to visit friends in Illinois, and on the way stopped off at an antiques mall in Milwaukee to see if a typewriter I’d had my eye on for a while was still there. It was. A Remington Rand Streamliner, well cared for and, along with its case, in beautiful condition. I couldn’t resist.

The serial number tells us that this particular machine was built in May 1941, one of only 21,200 ever made. They were manufactured between February 1941 and May 1942, and cost $49.50. It’s a shame that then didn’t make more, because this is by far and away the most beautiful machine to type on that we own. I now have five typewriters, and Kevin one, and this Streamliner is the easiest and smoothest to use, with the softest action. It’s the most amazing machine to write with, it really is.

I did have to get a new ribbon, which was easily done through Ebay. And I cleaned up the typebars, which were as clogged with ink as you might expect.

The type now is so beautifully crisp and clear. In the photo below, we have example prior to and after cleaning.

Overall, the machine is in great condition, just a little bit of rust on the frame and a bit of dirt underneath that will need removing. I will eventually get the platen recovered, along with the rubber rollers, but it’s ok for now.

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is to work on this machine. It feels much more natural than writing on my laptop. My fingers have to move more deliberately, and my brain is slowed down to a much more thoughtful speed. It’s easy for my fingers to get completely carried away with themselves when I’m using modern equipment, and they tend to run off down cul-de-sacs that they can’t get themselves out of. Using a typewriter gives me the time I need to think ahead, to write in a more considered way.

I’ve also got a much better way of organising my notes than I’ve ever had, which I’ll cover in another post. And I realised that I really, really struggle with the whole consecutive numbering of pages thing, so instead of numbering pages, I am giving each scene a serial number (the date, actually, and maybe an alphabetical signifier if I’m writing more than one scene in a day). This means it’s easier for me to move scenes around without triggering whatever part of my brain it is that loathes interrupting logical number sequences.

The cleaner typebars also mean that Google Docs can do a better job of the OCR, although the first 7,000 words contain a lot of OCR errors that I’ll have to sit and fix soon. But overall, my process is working well, I’m enjoying writing, and I’m in no great hurry to have it all done. Which is a much better result than I had ever anticipated when I started this year!

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Who Ate Jessica Rabbit?

by Suw on December 3, 2017

I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as many rabbits as I have since moving to Sheboygan. Although our garden is surrounded by a 5ft slatted fence, we frequently see young bunnies in our garden, munching down on the American violets (yay) and my flowers (boo). Sometimes we see bigger bunnies too. There was a big ol’ female cottontail, about the size of Grabbity, who pretty much owned the garden. I think she slipped in under the gate, or round the edge of the fence where it fails to meet our neighbour’s house.

Friday, at about 1.15pm, Kevin left for a meeting. He called me on his way, to let me know that there was half a dead rabbit in the garden. It’s not what I was expecting, I must admit, so I went out to check and sure enough, there was the back half of a rabbit I suspect had been the matronly cottontail. The head, shoulders and front legs had been eaten, leaving just the back haunches. It was a pretty neat job, no mess of entrails, just a few vertebrae scattered about.

I find it hard to imagine that this was the work of a domestic cat, and there aren’t many around us anyway. I think I’ve seen a cat outside maybe twice, in the three and a half years I’ve lived here. But whilst I’ve seen cats catching rabbits, this was a sizeable bunny, and I’ve never seen a cat take down a rabbit of this size.

According to the internet, the list of North American predators that won’t start eating a rabbit head first is far shorter than the ones that will. Fox, coyote, cougar, bobcat, coywolf, racoon… I’ve never seen any of those in the middle of Sheboygan, and feel all are rather unlikely candidates for the award of Creature Most Likely To Take A Quick Snack In Our Back Garden.

Also on the list, though, is the Great Horned Owl. We think there might be one living in a pine tree behind our house as we’ve heard it. Now, Kevin found the rabbit at lunchtime, but whilst it looked relatively fresh, there’s no telling when it was killed. I checked on it throughout the afternoon and evening, and it was still there even when we got home from dinner at 9.30pm. By 10.30pm though, the back half had gone.

I really, really wish that I’d some sort of motion-capture camera trained on the garden. I would have loved to have seen which creature decided on rabbit for dinner.

If anyone can identify a Great Horned Owl kill, here’s a photo. Enclicken to enbiggen.

 

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C17: Day 228-252 – Just plodding along

by Suw on September 9, 2017

I haven’t blogged for ages because there’s not been much to say. I’m just embroidering away, trying to get this done before I leave for the UK at the end of the month. I’m not sure if I’ll make it, though the tunic is the bulk of the work so who knows how fast the rest of it will come along. I did have to pick out one bit, because I wasn’t happy with how it came out. Anyway, I’ve been focusing on embroidering rather than blogging!

 

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C17: Day 227 – Two thirds of the vine

by Suw on August 15, 2017

Two thirds of the vine is done, and it’s looking good!

 

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C17: Day 226 – And so we begin

by Suw on August 14, 2017

This line of pale green represents 50 minutes’ work. Hopefully, I’ll get a bit faster as I go along…

 

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C17: Days 222-225 – Ready to rock

by Suw on August 13, 2017

I was busy Thursday and Friday evenings, but it was probably a good thing because yesterday and today I spent 1.5 hours getting the silk ground and backing fabrics prepared, transferring the pattern and then getting it all set up on my Millennium Frame. All of that needs to be done carefully and that means setting aside a block of time rather than trying to do 10-15 mins a day.

I had a bit of a moment when my iron spewed water all over the piece of silk that I wanted to use as the ground, leaving a water stain. I dug out another piece of silk but I couldn’t get the creases out so had a look online to see what I could do about the water mark. It’s apparently caused by minerals in the water precipitating out as the water dries, something which you notice on silk because it’s so sheer, whereas you wouldn’t see it on, say, cotton. The lesson here is to either empty your iron before you iron silk, or to replace the water with fresh so that there are fewer minerals to precipitate out.

One treatment seems to be to rub the silk with a clean piece of white silk, which I happened to have on hand (oddly enough) and which seemed to work. My challenge now will be to keep the ground clean whilst I work, which will mean having a piece of fabric with a hole cut in it to drape over the work whilst I embroider so that I’m not transferring oils from my hand on to the silk. That will come tomorrow. For today, I’m just happy to have it framed up and ready to go.

If you’re wondering, the green painter’s tape is just to prevent fraying on the edges of the silk. I’d have used just normal masking tape, but I don’t have any wide enough to fold around the edge. The edges will be trimmed off prior to the finished piece being laced to a board and framed. Also, if you’re wondering why one corner is a bit wonky, it’s because this is an offcut from my wedding dress! Ultimately that will also be trimmed away when it’s framed. If I was going to be super fussy, I’d lace the left- and right-hand edges to the frame, but the design area is taut enough, I think.

So, tomorrow, we get going!

 

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S4C and Cymraeg 2050

by Suw on August 13, 2017

The Welsh Government recently released a strategy, Cymraeg 2050, to increase the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050.  The strategy focuses predominantly on children’s education, which is sensible and obvious, and on Welsh speakers in Wales, which is also sensible and obvious. But there are two groups that could do with a little bit more love and attention, and S4C is in the perfect position to do that.

The first group are adult learners or near-fluent speakers who, for whatever reason, aren’t in formal Welsh language education and/or who don’t have easy access to Welsh speakers to practice with, but who need a little extra help reaching fluency.

As it happens, I fall into that group. I started learning Welsh about 20 years ago, and I ought to be fluent by now, but a lack of regular access to the Welsh language, whether regular lessons or people to talk to, has really hampered my progress. I’m now stuck in this kind of linguistic no mans land, where I know too much Welsh for things like Duolingo or Memrise to be enjoyable, but not enough to be able to easily understand the spoken language. I’m a bit better with the written language, but again, not quite good enough to be able to just sit and read a book.

Welsh TV is an essential tool for developing comprehension skills, expanding vocabulary and refining understanding of grammar. For my money, there’s nothing better than watching a documentary on S4C with subtitles to help me marry words and sounds together, and to help me learn more words and improve my grammar. Like all learners, I need regular interaction with the language to help me cement what I learn, and TV is by far the easiest and most interesting way to achieve that.

Rightly, S4C’s subtitles focus on assisting the hearing impaired, which is what they were invented to do and it’s a massively important role. Subtitles for the hearing impaired are written to be easily and swiftly read, and to give the gist of what is said rather than a verbatim transcript, and are far too valuable to mess with.

But subtitles are also an important and valuable tool for intermediate learners, and with a little extra work new types of subtitles for learners could be much more effective. In an ideal world, I would like a selection of subtitle options for learners, in addition to subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Learner subtitles should include:

  • English subtitles, as close to a direction translation as possible, to help learners understand what’s happening and marry Welsh sounds with English meanings.
  • Dual language English/Welsh subtitles, with both languages on screen at once. It’s a bit hard going to read both at once and you really do have to focus, but it helps to improve understanding.
  • Welsh language learner’s subtitles, which would be Welsh language with English prompts for difficult words.
  • Welsh-only subtitles, which should be as close to verbatim as possible.

I quite like watching Welsh-language documentaries multiple times, not only because S4C really does make some fabulous ones, but also because I can positively feel my understanding of Welsh improving as I do so.

The problem is that firstly, the most useful subtitle options, the dual language subtitles and the learner’s subtitles, don’t exist. Sometimes there aren’t even any Welsh subtitles, just English ones*. That seems like an omission that should be at the top of the list of things that S4C could do to support the Welsh language.

Now, I know that the argument against providing these services is that they cost money, but that’s a given for the recommendations of the Cymraeg 2050 report. It’s going to cost money to do this stuff, but if the government wants 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050, they are going to have to reach down the back of the sofa and come up with some cash to spend. That said, subtitling is cheap compared to the cost of making the program in the first place, with online freelance subtitlers charging less than £1000 per hour of video.

The second problem is finding the time to watch and rewatch the same program before it falls off S4c’s catch-up service**. That wouldn’t be an issue if I could buy S4C’s shows, but, despite the fact that it’s 2017, it’s still impossible to buy Welsh TV on iTunes or any other digital service. I know that S4C would, at this point, bang on about rights, but good grief, it’s 2017! Rights issues should have been solved by now, and S4C should be selling shows online to anyone who wants to buy them regardless of where they live***.

Which brings me to the second group of Welsh learners/near-fluent speakers that could do with a little respect and support: Those who do not live in Wales. Welsh learners don’t just live in Wales, they also live across the rest of the UK and, indeed, around the world. You might think that those people are irrelevant to the future of the Welsh language in Wales, but that’s very 20th century thinking.

The world is united by the web, and anyone from anywhere can contribute to the health of a language and culture. Indeed, in many cases it is the internet that is saving languages and cultures. No matter where you or I live, we can use the Welsh language in our everyday life, we can create new cultural artefacts in the Welsh language. Were I fluent enough, I would for sure be providing various Ada Lovelace Day materials in Welsh. I would blog in Welsh. I would write books in Welsh. That would be contributing to Welsh language life, even though I’m not in Wales (and even though I’m not Welsh).

If the Welsh Government wants 1 million Welsh speakers, it has to not just teach them Welsh, it needs to give them a reason to use their Welsh, and that’s not just about the Eisteddfod and cynghanedd and calling up the local council in Welsh, it’s about just doing whatever you fancy in Welsh. Science. Chatting to your mates. The latest tech reviews. Music. Reading about women in STEM. Writing comics. Talking to people in a totally different country.

There’s a whole blog post to write about the position of digital in the Cymraeg 2050 strategy, but that’s for another day. The point is that if you want 1 million Welsh people in Wales to use Welsh, help Welsh people outside of Wales to do so too, because often, those people outside of Wales are related to or friends with those people inside Wales and they use the internet to keep in touch. In Welsh.

The web helps the Welsh diaspora and Welsh learners retain and expand their language, and S4C should be a fundamental part of that process.

 

* I am not familiar enough with Welsh language service provision for the hearing impaired to make a judgement on how well S4C does, but logic dictates that more Welsh language subtitles would be a good thing, assuming other provisions remain the same.

** It would also be super helpful if S4C Digidol’s subtitles didn’t routinely stop working when I’m watching online, and if they’d actually work in all browsers. For some reason, S4C’s video player is incompatible with Chrome on my Macs. And in Safari, the subtitles tend to crap out halfway through, so I keep having to reload the page.

*** And whilst I’m at it, S4C needs to do whatever it is required to get rid of geoblocking. Yes, yes, rights, yes, yes. Please explain to me which large secondary Welsh-language market are they holding their rights over for? If I need to buy access to S4C, I will, I’m absolutely happy to pay my way, but the current geoblocking without the option to pay for access is ridiculous. Ultimately, though, if S4C is about supporting the Welsh language and Welsh culture in a web-enabled age, geoblocking makes no sense at all, because they should be supporting Welsh learners and speakers wherever in the world they are. The language is far more important than geographical boundaries.

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C17: Days 219-221 – Sort of back on track

August 9, 2017

The crochetpocalypse is over, as last night was the Women in STEM Amigurumi workshop I’d agreed to do and had been working towards. In the end, we had a fun evening, although most of the attendees were beginners so I spent the time teaching the magic ring and double crochet (single in USian). Mead Library […]

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C17: Bonus bit of jammy creativity!

August 6, 2017

Last year, Kevin and I cleared a parasitic vine off our concord grape, and in August ended up with more grapes than we knew what to do with. So we froze them. Having pruned our vine, this year it’s looking like a bumper crop so I thought we had better take the 2.7kg of grapes […]

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C17: Days 211-218 – More emergency crochet, building computers, finally some embroidery

August 6, 2017

Welp, it’s been another one of those weeks. The emergency crochet continued until I had four reliable patterns ready for Tuesday’s workshop. The third figure is Dr Anandibai Joshi, who is also my favourite: The fourth will be published next month. Interrupting all that was the arrival of parts for my new Hackintosh, which has […]

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C17: Days 204-210 – Emergency crochet week

July 29, 2017

So, I haven’t blogged for nearly a week, primarily because I haven’t embroidered since Sunday last, and then I didn’t finish the particular test I wanted to do, so there was nothing to blog about. I have, however, been creative. Very creative. I’m running a workshop at Mead Public Library here in Sheboygan on 8 […]

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C17: Day 203 – The sword

July 22, 2017

I had three goals for today’s work: Find out of a single strand stem stitch for the edge of the sword works as well as the double strand, and I have to say that I don’t think it does. It just doesn’t really stand out. Find out if I should fill the whole sword. I […]

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