Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Slangish


In the January issue of The Rotarian magazine, author Frank Bures shared his insight into the growing distance between words and their meanings.
I shared my opinion on his article, which got published in this month's edition of the magazine (with the same title as this blog post). Read on:

Frank Bures' article on "Frankenwords" {January) and how they're affecting our culture resonated with me. 

It brought to mind another aspect of word creation that is taking Social media (specifically instant messaging) to a whole new level -- the creation of shorthand.

As a social media enthusiast, I find myself in a number of online groups where issues of interest are discussed on a daily basis. The WhatsApp platform is one where I'm in almost 20 groups.
I come across a lot of shorthand that either annoys me or does not make sense at all. Because of this, I often have to seek clarification before getting the importance of the message. 
Nowadays,  apparently, it's normal to see "girls" spelled "gels", "boys" spelled "bois",  "you" is "yu" (which conventionally, should at least be "u"), "all right" is now "ayt", and some other crazy and confusing ones like "naa" for "no" (note that Naa is a name for a Ga girl in Ghana).
Most of these are created on the spur of the moment by the individual sending the  message.
This irks me a lot, especially when letters of the new shorthand are equal to or even longer than those in the actual word.

In the case of the shorthand, not only is meaning distorted, it actually has a negative effect on the writing skill of its creators and users. As an educator, I've come across some of these while grading students' papers, and it really gets me down. It's a personal assignment I've given myself now, to prompt people to use full words when chatting and occasionally use conventional shorthand.

I will like to hear your thoughts on this phenomenon as well, via the comments section. Thanks

Monday, February 1, 2016

TOURISM: Duasidan Monkey Sanctuary

Trying out a selfie. Didn't work out well. :-)
Duasidan is a community in the Dormaa District of the Brong Ahafo Region in Ghana. It is approximately 10Km along the western end of the Dormaa-Gonokrom Road. Do keep an eye out for the Customs check point. The road to the community is immediately after it (on the left).
The sanctuary, which is a small forest preserved as an ancestral grove, has three species of monkeys:
  • Campell’s monkey (Kwakuo in Akan)
  • Spot-nosed monkey (Ahenhema in Akan) and
  • Olive Colobus monkey (Asibe in Akan)

The monkeys were discovered by the ancestors of the community, over a century ago. They are considered sacred and therefore are not to be harmed, or killed by anybody. To paraphrase the words of a guide at the sanctuary, “If you plan to kill, or harm any of the monkeys, you won’t live to execute that plan.”
Female Campell feeding her young
I've got my eyes on you, tourists!

The community has a number of objectives which personally I think would go a long way to develop the community, while placing the sanctuary (launched in 2007) at par with its sister sanctuary at Buabeng-Fiema. These include:
  • Building a guest house to accommodate and entertain tourists
  • Seek financial help from NGOs and the District Assembly
  • Solicit technical assistance from the Wildlife Division and Government.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What is my GROW Model?

Credit: Coaching Journey

Yesterday, Barcamp CapeCoast had a discussion on the theme, “Equipping the Youth to plan their Future Today”.
It was a successful, insightful programme – as ALL Barcamps in Ghana are.
The main speaker at the event, adviced barcampers to find out who they are, and what they want to be while in school. I suggested further, that attendees do a stakeholder mapping, by asking family and friends to tell them the qualities they see in attendees. This will help attendees understand how they are wired, thus pursing stuff they are passionate about.


In this post I share how we can apply the GROW model to achieving our visions/plans.

So, let’s say I want to be a Data Scientist, what do I do?

Goal - How SMART is my goal? How would I know I’ve succeeded in achieving my goal?
I want to be a Data Scientist by December, 2015. I would know I’ve succeeded when I’m able to perform data analysis, and create visualisations that contribute to development (in health, education, and other sectors of interest).
Also, being useful to organisations, either as a freelance data scientist, or in-house data analyst will indicate my achievement of my goal.

RealityWhat is currently happening in my life (work/school/home)? Have I already taken any step towards my goal? Does this conflict any other goal that I have?
My job gives me enough time to pursue this goal if I want to. As a student, you’d have enough time too. This goal fits perfectly into my career development plans, so no conflicts there. I’ve got basic statistics, mathematics, and programming skills. Currently, there are a number of books and online courses I could use to help me achieve my goal. However, I’m not doing that because I spend a LOT of time on social media, instant messaging, and watching TV Series. I am yet to take any step to achieve my goal.

Options - What else can I do, differently? Any constraints with this option(s)?
Based on my current reality, I can reduce the time I spend watching TV Series and movies. I will take online Data Science courses available on Udacity, edx, and Coursera, while reading books and blogs on the subject.
I will find datasets, or create my own, and use them in personal projects, thus creating a portfolio.
I will also join Data Science groups, forums online, and contribute to them.
A constraint would be the availability of reliable internet connectivity, and constantly motivating myself when progress is slow.

WillWhat do I need to do now, and when? How can I keep myself motivated? When do I review my progress?
I look forward to dedicating 4-6 hours a week, to study Data Science (including the R and Python programming languages). While studying, I will also use the Pomodoro Technique to help me be focused on my studies.(This app switches off internet data while you use it).
I will do well to contribute to Data Science groups I will join, frequently. I will review my success weekly. I am sure my plan of action will yield 90-100% success rate.

It is my hope this helps someone out there as it has helped me – and still does.

Do share your thoughts via the comment section. Thanks