flwyd: (I *kiss* linguists)
This American Life recently ran a show called Birds & Bees about explaining tricky things to children. The first act focuses on university freshmen attending presentations about sexual consent. The presenters' goal is to get students to internalize that explicit, specific, verbal consent is required before having sex. But the students are perhaps more interested in the subtleties of how to get a "yes" than the need to obtain one.

If we followed the "consent workshop" model literally, it would lead to some really awkward conversations:
MAN AT BAR: Hello.
WOMAN AT BAR: Hello.
MAN: I think you are attractive.
WOMAN: Thank you for the compliment.
MAN: Would you like to engage in sexual intercourse?
WOMAN: Yes, I would like to do that.
Actual consent negotiation is way less direct and more fluid. Importantly, it also builds on a lot of context that is basically impossible to simulate in a room with a whiteboard, a few dozen chairs, and a bunch of curious teenagers.

Since sexual negotiation, not to mention sex itself, is almost always done in private, people don't have a lot of opportunities to learn how to do it by observation. "Can I watch while you obtain consent to have sex with your partner" would be an off-putting question to almost anyone. Media doesn't help much either: movie sex usually looks spontaneous not because Hollywood has an anti-consent bias but because it makes for a more enjoyable story. The hero and heroine don't negotiate the sex they're going to have for the same reason we don't see anyone making exact change or tying their shoes in a movie: it doesn't usually advance the plot or add to the value of a scene.

So if people don't want to demonstrate actual sexual consent in public and it's unlikely to be modeled in popular cinema, what can we do? Let's create our own consent-focused short films. In a one minute YouTube video a few people can easily create a realistic context and have a reasonable conversation about negotiated consent. Rather than a stilted conversation in a classroom it can be set in an actual bar or a bedroom. Instead of an all-verbal skit, actors can show the crucial role that body language plays. And with a lot of videos available, the negotiation can take a lot of different directions: sometimes ending with a "yes," sometimes with a "not now," and sometimes with a "no thank you" and showing folks how to gracefully respond to each answer. People would learn not just that consent is crucial but also how to effectively get consent. People would learn not just "No means no" but how to both give and receive a "no," life skills that a lot of people struggle with even in nonsexual situations.

So let's make this happen. Let's get thousands of people making YouTube videos about how consent works for them. Let's upvote the ones that are impressive or wise or funny. Let's hashtag the pants off this thing and have it go viral like HSV. Let's get videos from straight folks, gay folks, kinky folks, vanilla folks, confident folks, shy folks, polite folks, and blunt folks. Let's get amateurs and professionals. Let's get people talking about how they like to be asked and finding out how they can be better askers. Let's have less rape and more consensual sex.
flwyd: (requiem for a dream eye)
Here's something I've been working on recently at work: captions for videos in Google Docs. In addition to helping deaf and hard of hearing viewers understand your video, automatic translation lets anyone grok your video in their native language. Plus, having captions or a transcript associated with your video makes search easier.

Edit: oh yeah, if you know anyone who's fluent in ASL and interested in helping improve Google+'s Hangout feature, check out this post.
flwyd: (Trevor glowing grad macky auditorium)
Ignite Boulder 14 videos are up! You can watch my talk, Money and Other Useful Myths, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WnmVuglpTQ or you can watch the whole event at http://www.youtube.com/igniteboulder/
(If you're curious why I'm wearing a panda on my head, see the first talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKyhVjxzN3I )

flwyd: (octagonal door and path)
The feature I've been working on for the last several months launched today: Upload and watch videos from anywhere with Google Docs. From family videos to corporate meetings, videos can move from your desktop to the cloud!
flwyd: (Trevor glowing grad macky auditorium)
(Via this Coding Horror blog post):

This video is a fantastic illustration and explanation of motivation and reward. The speaker is Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He says that money is a good motivator for mechanical tasks. If you pay people for each pound of tomatoes they pick, they'll pick more tomatoes than if you pay a flat rate each day. But if the task requires any cognitive skill, people do worse if there's a performance incentive. If you give people the freedom to do something interesting, you'll get much better results than if you offer an innovation bonus and tell them to work on something.[1] Money is a motivator, but to a limited extent: pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

This is a pretty good description of my motivations. My actual salary isn't particularly important to me; I'd probably be happy to do the work I'm doing for half the salary (but not a quarter of the salary, 'cause then I'd have to put a lot more focus into getting by on a tight budget). What motivates me at work is (a) interesting projects, (b) socially beneficial results, and (c) having fun.

Pink concludes that, beyond being profit maximizers, people are purpose maximizers. This jives with something I've thought for a while: economists study things in terms of money because it's easy to measure, but that lens is insufficient to capture a wide spectrum of human activities and motivations. "Purpose" isn't easily transferrable, it's hard to measure, it doesn't seem to follow mathematical rules, but it's how those crazy Homo sapiens sapiens work.

Maybe the problem with the Soviet system is that they wanted a very industrial society, but they applied a system that's suited to post-industrial creative jobs. For all Marx's focus on factories and industrial workers, he described a communist society "where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." [Idealism and Materialism]

[1] Even worse, if you offer huge financial incentives for easily-measured results to smart investment bankers, you can tank the world economy.

flwyd: (1895 USA map)
YouTube videos in honor of the day:
Chocolate City (Parliament-Funkadelic)
One Nation Under A Groove (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Funky President (James Brown)

It's a beautiful day in America.

General Tso Wat?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008 02:56 pm
flwyd: (Taoist goddess Doumu)
Jennifer 8 Lee gives a great talk about Chinese food. Highlights include giving fortune cookies to people in China, comparing Chinese food to Linux, disclosing the origins of General Tso's chicken, and translating Chop Suey. 16 awesome minutes of video.

Om Nom Nom Nom

Monday, October 6th, 2008 05:16 pm
flwyd: (spam lite)
I'd like a paw-long turkey on honey oat.

(heads up: video plays when page loads, so switch to that tab right away)
flwyd: (rose red sky blue)
Two friends sent the free hugs campaign video to me while I was in China. Check it out!
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