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Canadians are more polite on Twitter, Americans more negative — study looked at 40M tweets

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It seems the stereotype that Canadians tend to be more positive and polite than Americans is true — at least when it comes to language use on Twitter. Sorry! 

A new study published by McMaster University researchers Wednesday analyzed nearly 40 million tweets from both countries including some from Donald Trump around the time of his campaign to become the Republican nominee for president.

While the team found the vast majority (99.66 per cent) of words, emojis and emoticons were not drastically different, a list of words which were typed out most disproportionately by Twitter users in Canada and our neighbours to the south shows a distinct difference in tone.

After compiling lists of those words the linguistics experts had study participants evaluate the words and determine what they think the personality of the person who used them would be.

Maybe … being Canadian is something we do and one way we do it is through our language choices.– Bryor Snefjella , linguistics expert

The result? National stereotypes seem to be connected — at least in part— to the words people use online. Researchers found Canadians tend to be nice, while Americans are more negative and assertive.

“What you get back out of that is a really, really accurate recreation of the national character stereotypes,” explained Bryor Snefjella, a PhD candidate in the school’s department of linguistics and languages and lead author of the study.

“Canadians say ‘great,’ ‘amazing,’ ‘good,’ he explained. “There are lots of things about sports, ‘team,’ ‘game,’ ‘awesome’ … ‘Leafs’ gets in there, ‘Habs’ does too.”

The researchers created word clouds of their findings to highlight some of the words, emoticons and emojis Canadians use more than Americans. (Bryor Snefjella and Daniel Schmidtke)

But across the U.S. border, the words used take a turn.

“You’re talking about words like ‘hate,’ lots of slang, ‘bro,’ ‘brah’ and net-speak. ‘Hurt’ comes out as an American word, lots of negative, bad stuff and lots of words you wouldn’t want to say in front of your grandma.”

The study also revealed some interesting points when it comes to emojis and emoticons.

Snefjella said Americans tend to use more emojis — tops picks including the face crying tears of joy, skull and face with hearts for eyes — while Canadians tend to spell out their smiley faces using punctuation :).

Meanwhile, the emojis Canadians do use are also overwhelmingly positive and include the heart, party horn and maple leaf.

A ‘tiny fraction’ of Trump

The work follows a similar study Snefjella and his co-author Daniel Schmidtke completed in 2016, which looked at three million tweets from both countries.

This time around the tweets the team analyzed were all posted between February 2015 and February 2016. The country of origin for each post was confirmed using GPS coordinates.

In recent years, Twitter has become one of the most popular social media platforms and a tool for politicians and members of the public to interact.

U.S. President Donald Trump is among the most prolific and high-profile Twitter users today and it seems not even the study could escape his influence, even though he wasn’t yet elected when the data was being collected.

“Interestingly he is one of the only celebrities who didn’t turn the GPS feature on his phone off,” said Snefjella who explained Trump’s account popped up while researchers were reviewing some of the most retweeted posts in their data.

“He’s in there, a tiny fraction of the 40 million.”

Constructing an identity

Snefjella said he and his fellow researchers, Schmidtke and Victor Kuperman, didn’t set out to examine national stereotypes.

He noted social psychology studies surveying large numbers of Canadians and Americans have consistently shown national stereotypes are not accurate and have not provided any hard evidence the average citizen of either country has different personality traits than the other.

“The Twitter behaviour we observe doesn’t actually reflect the real underlying personality profile of an average American or Canadian,” said Schmidtke.

The word cloud for American Twitter users includes far more emojis and blanked out words Snefjella says you wouldn’t want to use in front of your grandmother. (Bryor Snefjella, Daniel Schmidtke)

Instead, the team believes their work indicates that when Canadians and Americans take to Twitter they’re essentially creating their national characters through the words they type.

“Maybe it says being Canadian is something we do and one way we do it is through our language choices,” said Snefjella.

“Don’t just look at study and say ‘Ah, of course, Canadians talk nice because they’re nice and Americans talk rudely because they’re rude.’ We’re saying exactly not that. What we’re arguing for is the possibility of an identity construction strategy through language.”

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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