All posts by Ruta Kruliauskaite

Can Google Chrome extension “train” you to talk differently?

I was so fascinated by the language topic in the class, that for the final I decided to keep working on the textual analysis.

I have noticed that while organizing an event (or any other big project) and with the deadline approaching, I become very pragmatic. While to me it might seem as an awesome time (less talking, shorter emails, more doing), it might not be that fun for people who have to work with me. It is obvious that emails and conversations become much shorter, but I was also wondering if I could see if the language that I’m using changes, too. And if yes, and if I don’t like some of the words, could I trigger my unconsciousness to change it for the better? My idea for the project consisted of 4 steps:

  1. Analyzing my Gmail accounts (the one I’m using most frequently) and the most used words in general and over all time
  2. Analyzing my Gmail accounts 1 month before key projects I was working on and seeing if there are any patterns
  3. Identifying key “dangerous” words that might signal that it’s “a pragmatic time” or that I might be becoming rude and should be more conscious of how I speak
  4. Building a Google Chrome extension that would alert me each time specific word is being used (a tricky part)

I began looking at one of my most frequently used Gmail account. Over the past 9 years that I’ve been using it, I have sent 16,286 emails. The words I used look like this:

general

For a deeper analysis I chose 5 of the most recent projects I’ve been working on. The number of sent emails per each project looks like this:

project number

I have sent 3389 emails during those 5 months, which makes 20% of emails sent from my most frequently used Gmail account. It’s kind of shocking. The average number of sent emails during this busy period is 677 a month, and I had the busiest month while working on Forum One 2013 — 1136 sent emails.

I could distinguish these key patterns of words that I use:

  • content words, related to the project I’m working on: e.g. talk, presentation, video, speakers, soundcheck, stage, and so on.
  • speaker names: this happens when you curate the content
  • small / function words: these will also be dangerous words
  • usual words in email communication: e.g. hi, dear, thanks, regards, etc.

Here you can see every project in more detail, for the sake of time I’ll jump right into extensions (more detailed post to follow after the class).

While looking at the words I used I noticed that the top 4 function words always stay the same, only the order changes: the, and, you, we. I also identified few “dangerous” words that could signal that I’m becoming rude or too pushy. The words are: no, ne (Lithuanian “no”), now, have, please.

As I mentioned above, I was really curious to see if there could be a way to change language I use while sending emails. And especially, when writing the “dangerous” words. Both “word replacer” and “alert” extension seemed pretty useless, because it would get annoying quite fast to turn it off. However, what if I kept the alert on and it kept on popping up every time I typed “no” or “have”, and so on — at the end, would it make me skip using those words all together just to avoid the alert?

Below are two videos showing how the extension could work. Honestly, it was really hard to get inside Gmail — in fact, when I upload my extension, it’s still not doing anything, so I just pasted the code to JavaScript console to show how it could work.

Replacer

This one replaces my “dangerous” words with the opposite or more positive ones.

Alert

The second one is essentially  the same, only that before replacing a word, it gives me an alert, if I want to keep the word I just typed, or replace it with a different one from the word dictionary in the code.

If I kept working on this idea, both versions should be modified a lot: for example, I cannot really type “now” because the code takes it as “no” and replaces before I even finish the word. Or, if I accept use of a word once, the alert is no longer there.

It’s amazing how much information is actually there and how little we really know. This class was a pretty awesome way to sneak peek at some of those things.

Exposing The Rest of You

This was a hard one to tackle. I wanted to use Google Chrome’s Replacer extension on something but wasn’t sure what. Then one conversation came to my mind: last week when I had a visit to doctor’s office, he asked me what I was studying and when I told him about ITP, he asked me what did I think of Apple’s response to the government. When I told him that I would be curious to hear what Americans think and that I’m supporting Apple, his response was: “oh you all technology people, of course, they should open it up. Law is law and you have to listen to the government.” The discussion ended then and there.

The same week I had similar conversation with Christina Goodness (teacher of Data in Conflict), we talked a lot why it’s important for people to stay anonymous, especially in the conflict zones, and when I asked her about Apple’s case, her response was that law is a living thing and that the government should adapt over time.

There is also this article that to me makes a lot of sense.

After reflecting on that a bit I decided to run the Google Chrome Word Replacer extension on Tim Cook’s letter that he sent to Apple’s customers on February 16th, and see how / if my position changes and how.

Here is the original version: http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

I created two versions of extension, built on DanO’s code:

Extension 1

  1. “Government” was replaced by “terrorists”
  2. “United States” and “U.S.” were removed all together.

Extension 2

  1. “Government” was replaced by “people”
  2. “FBI” –> “people”
  3. “terrorists”, “customers”, “users” –> “government”
  4. “threaten” –> “celebrate”

And then I read both versions.

“Terrorists” version

It was very weird to read this version as it gives you a feeling like Apple is working with terrorists. And that the company was supporting terrorists until they made this outrageous request to get access to iPhone data. Basically, the situation didn’t change as Apple was supporting the government, too, but it’s much creepier to read this kind of letter version.

“People” version

The people has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which celebrates the safety of our government.

When you read this first sentence: everybody makes perfect sense. In the democracy that is this country, people demanded a company to do something to celebrate the safety of the government. It’s strange that people would support the government, but it’s probably a one good government.

And then in the following sentence Apple declines to follow people’s request. That’s weird.

When Tim Cook talks about supporting people’s effort during the act of terrorism in San Bernardino and that the company doesn’t have any sympathy for the government, it gives you a feeling as if government was responsible for the act of terrorism.

The people is asking Apple to hack our own government and undermine decades of safety advancements that protect our government…

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its government to a greater risk of attack.

So even though Apple was supporting people during the terrible act, it’s still in favor of the government as in a big picture it would protect the country.

Reading both versions gives you a weird feeling as what the hell is going on, but the “people” version is a bit more logical, because thinking that the terrorists would go that far to ask for personal data is generally very hard to grasp.

Here you can read both versions of the letter: terrorists, people.

Below you can also see top 12 words used in the letter. All of them are small words that could go unnoticed but they shape tone of the letter.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 00.06.55

Words like “we”, “our”, “have” and “would” gives a feeling Apple still is subordinate to the government but has a reasoning why the government might be wrong. And what imposing something like this would have bad implications.

Also, as we’re talking about the extensions, this new one might be worth checking out. 🙂

What can the words you use tell about you?

I’ve never been too conscious of the words I use (I mostly trust myself that things that will come out of my mouth won’t embarrass me). So I had this idea to analyze these two things (to do the word count and inverse frequency):

  • my Facebook timeline and messages
  • my 3 Gmail accounts (I was wondering if the language I use differs in each of them since they are being used for different purposes)

I had this idea… and then technology failed me (I usually have a very specific curse word for situations like these but since this class is about language use, I’ll avoid it…).  Here’s what happened: data from each of my Gmail accounts weight around 8GB, which makes it impossible to work with and after all the attempts I haven’t managed to make the API work either.

Facebook messages file weights 16mb and it makes my browser crash each time I try running it. So even with all the good intentions, I had only one good thing left for now: Facebook timeline. I’ve been on Facebook since late 2008, even though it is my personal profile, I mostly use it to promote projects I’m working on and post interesting articles / talks rather than very personal stuff. I was curious if my words would reflect that.

To do the textual analysis I used Dan Shiffman’s basic word counting code:

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.05.40

top words times used comment
I 607  I often share my personal view on things, that’s why “I” is so common.
You 490  A lot of of my posts are towards other people (especially sharing talks, events, etc.); Even when I write about myself, I sometimes use “you” instead of “I”.
Germany 229  I apparently have a lot of posts related to Germany. The newest posts were from FIFA World Cup in 2014, the other are from 2008 and 2009 when I spent a lot of time there.
TEDxVilnius 183  A LOT of posts are about TEDxVilnius. The word count also covered “TEDx” as well as some “Vilnius” mentions.
Vilnius 175  I write a lot about Vilnius and Lithuania in general. Usually it includes inviting people to visit or some business related articles about things happening here.
Juste 170  Juste is my best friend’s name. The count covers a lot of TEDxVilnius stuff, picture tags, comments.
Lithuania 123  See the “Vilnius” comment.
Part 119  The context of this one is communicating being part of something or participating (projects, events, etc.).
Brussels 117  I lived in Brussels for awhile, so this mention covers a lot of picture tags, TEDxBrussels.
We 105  I use “we” when I write in the name of the project I’m working on or organization I’m part of.
Amazing 83  Apparently I use “amazing” a lot when describing things.
Forum 79  Forum One is the name of one project I was working on for several years.
Awesome 76  As well as “amazing”.
Scorpions 75  I went nuts with this one back in 2008 and 2009. It’s a lot of picture tags from shows.

It’s interesting how some things that are no longer that big part of your life can bring memories when you look at words you used to use.

I find this topic fascinating and I would still be curious to compare my Gmail accounts as one of them is very TEDx and personal related and other two are for my work matters. And even do a cross-check with the words I use in my emails and on my Facebook timeline which is more unofficial medium of communication. Will give another try on the code once there’s a bit more time.

Talking to the rest of you

I’ve tried few Implicit tests, but I guess, most people will try it, too, as well as subliminal priming, so I wanted to talk to the rest of me through something else. Laughter.

Laughter is a physical reaction in humans and some other species of primate, consisting typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. — Wikipedia

It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli.

Laughter:

  • increases blood pressure
  • increases heart rate
  • changes breathing
  • provides a boost to the immune system

No secret that laughter is connected to certain emotions like joy and happiness among many other and if it can influence so many autonomic responses (listed above), there must be several ways to trigger people into laughing.

I happened to write down one of DanO’s quotes from last class, which resonates to this post’s context a lot:

You are not laughing because it’s funny, it’s funny because you’re laughing.

I also remembered about this amazing Sophie Scott’s TED Talk that she gave last year on why people laugh:

In her talk Sophie mentions that 30% more laughter happens when we’re together with someone than when we’re alone. The laughter is also more common when that someone we’re with is someone we know rather than a stranger.

It lead me to an idea: how hard it would be to make a group of people laugh within the next 10min?

I remembered playing one game around 8 years ago, where a group of people had to finish an exercise without laughing.

It goes like this:

A group of around 10 people (it’s more difficult with the smaller number) lays on the floor. They have to lay in a line and put their heads on a person’s, who’s laying behind them, belly.

2016-02-17 11.01.56

When everybody is ready, first person has to say “ha”, then the second person has to say “ha ha”, third “ha ha ha”, forth “ha ha ha ha” and so on until everybody does their turn. If there are 10 people playing, the last person would have to say “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”. The goal is to finish the game without people laughing. If somebody starts laughing, entire group has to start all over again.

The thing is: somebody will start laughing. And when they will, the laughter will become super contagious and it will be even harder to start again. And again. And again.

It will feel like somebody is tickling you because there’s vibration going on from the belly to you head and by the end the game, everyone will be shaking from laughter.

I wanted to try that at ITP. We should fit to all criteria: we’re a group of people and we know each other to a certain level. I gathered a group of people and told them about my idea. Some of them were laughing without even having to start the game 🙂

Here’s our first try: people made it but started laughing right after Osama finished saying his “ha”:

Here’s our second try. There’s always someone in the group who triggers most of the laughing, Osama happened to be that person this time. We also decided to do the circle twice as 7 people appeared to not be enough to run the experiment. So when the first circle ended, Ian had to go again with 8 of “ha”:

And here’s the last one:

My iPhone memory was low, so the quality of the last video is really bad but the video proves the point. The laughter is contagious and once you want to laugh, there’s nothing you can do to stop it (at least it never works for me).

I talked to people after the game and they mentioned that they were feeling much better after playing. There were more positive emotions in the room than it was before starting a game.

I also tried to see if my heart rate increases by watching a funny video (I’m sure heart rate increased for everyone in the room when playing a game, too):

My average heart rate was around 75 BPM but around 1:30 and 2:10 you can see it slightly increasing to 80+ BPM as I giggled 2 times.

Exposing ROY

As mentioned in my earlier post, I am going to track my heart rate during all the classes I’m taking this week.

First thing I had to do was to edit the code, so I could log my heart rate every second. I merged the existing pulse sensor code with the one Dan shared with us for appending a file. Here it is together with Arduino code as well. It was interesting as I’ve never worked with Processing before, so I quite enjoyed it.

I’ve managed to track my BPM during three situations so far:

If you click on the links above, you’ll access Google Drive files, where I’ve logged my BPM every second.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 23.24.25 Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 23.24.37 Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 23.24.49

Even though I made pulse sensor work, it was constantly going on and off, so a lot of high BPM results are because of that. I’ve also got sick, so if it’s not because of sensor flickering, then it’s my coughing.

In general, if you draw a line to see the average BPM, the highest (87) is during doing Live Web homework. It’s funny how you can see my BPM increasing towards the end of tracking: that’s where I started looking into other people’ blogs (it always gets me a bit freaked out).

The lowest average BMP over all the period is during Future of New Media class: 77.4. You can see it slightly increasing when I started talking (especially towards the end when the discussion started), but in general it was a very quiet class and I did not do much.

Average BPM while working on TEDx stuff is 77.6: I expected it to be higher as I was putting on few fires and was kind of stressed.

I cannot make any conclusions until I see data from other classes, but quite honestly, I don’t really imagine what could those final conclusions be. It’s super hard to become unaware of technology connected to you, so it’s always influencing data. Plus, I have to keep making notes on what happened during the class, so I could then make it relevant to the graph.

Update: more classes:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 17.03.46 Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 17.03.58 Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 17.04.08

Average BPMs in the new classes above are:

If you click on the classes titles above, you can also reach the files I put on Google Drive.

When I first looked at ROY graph I was like wooah, could my heart rate be so high when I was talking at the beginning of the class? I doubted that. Apparently the pulse sensor went off between 15:23 and 15:38, so it’s a big gap and my heart rate wasn’t increasing as the graph shows. That what’s happened during all the remaining classes: the pulse sensor connections weren’t as good, so there’s a lot of noise in the data.

Live Web class was the most intense last week, because as I’m still pretty new to coding, learning JavaScript requires my most concentration, I believe it influences higher heat rate.

If I had to do it all over again, I would track shorter periods of time and ask someone else to log what I’m doing at certain time (person or camera).

Thoughts on positive psychology and more heart rate testing

Off topic first: I had to re-watch few parts of Martin Seligman’s talk because I couldn’t get rid of one thought in my head: how messy and terrible the stage set up is! And how unbelievably a lot the conference itself grew to the highest quality production over the part 10 years (that’s the unconsciously conscious or consciously unconscious me-conference producer talking).

Anyway, after watching a talk I remembered few more that are also around the happiness topic:

There’s also entire happiness topic section on TED.com.

The other thing I did after watching the talk was taking a couple of tests from Authentic Happiness website — something I haven’t done since I was maybe 15.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 10.38.13 Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.03.56 Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.07.21

I guess I expected something a bit more sophisticated , not just a standard test that puts you in some sort of a boxed answer. It didn’t really define me who I am (apart from that I really love my work and am grateful for many things that have happened so far in my life). It would take a much deeper research  / tests to open up who I and the rest of me is.

While doing tests in most cases you also suddenly become super aware of what your responses could be and which ones could lead you to your “best self”. I felt similarly while doing heart rate testing earlier today.

It’s really weird to track yourself because as we talked during last class, it pushes you to that infinite loop of being constantly aware of what you’re doing and trying to hack things for the better.

I did two tests: first one was an hour after I came back from running and did some stretching exercises. The pulse was jumping quite a lot, not sure why.

The second was late in the evening when I was working on my Codecademy JS course. I recorded full hour of it, camera included (as we talked that it would be interesting to see facial reactions depending on the heart rate–not how exactly I would do it, but good for the start).

The latter one was especially challenging because of the camera: I constantly kept looking to the screen and it was hard to concentrate on the task as I normally would. Also knowing that it will be uploaded for later watch, made it even weirder.

I believe I’ll avoid camera for the later tracking and only keep pulse sensor visualizer open in the back of other windows, so there’s as little consciousness to be tracked as possible.

What can your heart rate tell you?

We’re very good into tricking ourselves to believe in something, to like and enjoy something (at least I am). It’s very easy to find logical arguments (I call it self motivation) why we should take and enjoy this class and why we should avoid another.

We’re also very good in putting our “poker” faces on during the situations that we don’t really enjoy or would like to avoid (think about someone talking complete nonsense to you face and you cannot really say what you really think about it). How does our body feel during such situations? What our heart says during classes we tricked ourselves to like?

Internet says we could split our heart rate into these sections:

  • 60-100 bpm: normal heart rate
  • <60bpm: low heart rate
  • >100 bpm: high heart rate

Increased heart rate might signal anger, fear, stress, anxiety, being depressed as well as enthusiasm and excitement.

Decreased heart rate might signal happiness, relaxation, resting, sleeping, being calm or bored.

I used iOS heart rate app to see what my heart rate was twice today: when I was calm doing my homework and just recently when I was already rushing to leave and a bit stressed that I will be late for my meeting. The results were as follow:

  • calm, doing homework: 64bpm
  • rushing and kind of stressed: 65bpm (ok, maybe the rushing and stress apparently is only in my head)

Anyway, I would like to track my heart rate during different situations of my daily life (most likely different classes at ITP, because, oh well, there’s no really other life at this moment) and see how different my heart rate and emotional cues are each time (and if they are sending different message that my head just did).

Maybe I’ll be lucky to find something unusual and surprising.

Situations I might track

  • Different classes
  • Different settings: studying / reading at home, talking to family, etc.

Sensors to use

For the beginning I tried using pulse sensor. I connected it to Arduino and made it work, even though it was quite flickery (maybe it’s a connection problem). I still have polar band on the list to try.

2016-02-02 16.06.50

… but in some ways we are each more like a committee whose members have been thrown together to do a job, but who often find themselves working at cross purposes. — Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis)

Recently I had to make a tough decision that was in benefit for my team (at least the majority of people thought so) even though my gut feeling told me that choosing another option would be better. That was the first time when after logically laying out all the arguments my inner self still wasn’t happy and was strongly protesting against the decision I was making. How often do we make — feels to be right decisions — without noticing our body to be against it or sending us certain signals?

What if there were computer programs to signal us every time it seems that our one “self” is splitting into a committee of members that Jonathan Haidt is writing about in his book?

Few examples worth mentioning: company creating a “doctor in your pocket”, so you could know the primary diagnosis before even stepping into the doctor’s office OR our own ITP’er creating a Tinder analogue machine that chooses the person you like based on how sweaty your hands get (I bet some choices would be the ones you would never choose if you had to swipe yourself).

Just imagine if your mobile phone / computer had all of these sensors and you could get more information about yourself within one click of a button:

  • accelerometer
  • stretch sensor
  • heart rate monitor
  • pulse sensor
  • temperature sensor
  • proximity sensor
  • biochemical sensors
  • among many other

Your phone would be like your personal data center that would know how you feel and could spot the signs of various events (like cold, getting stressed or excited) much ahead of time. It could also help you make better judgements and better decisions by signalling what your body thinks about it.

At least trying that out would give yourself more chances to get the more holistic view of yourself and understand ALL f the “committee members” better, not only those that speak the loudest.

Also intro post to my project.