Camouflaged incitement

Everyone fights, or are prepared to say they do. As I noted in my last post, Fighting words, a major charge against Trump was that he exhorted his followers to “fight like hell.” His defence lawyers countered with a lengthy sound montage instancing peace-loving politicians (I think all Democrats) invoking the word “fight” in their…More

Place is the code

In cryptographic communication, a sender has a message in mind then converts that into a coded signal. The sender dispatches the signal through a communication channel and it is picked up by a recipient who decodes the message. The coding and decoding algorithms at either end of the channel select from an array of alternative…More

Write me a city

I’m interested in cryptography and the city, as a way of thinking about the supposed smart city. The graphic part of cryptographic might make us think of drawing, but it has most to do with writing. Etymonoline.com describes the common abstract noun ending -graphy as a “word-forming element meaning ‘process of writing or recording’ or…More

Weaponise!

I remember when the Internet was innocent — it put strangers with common interests in touch, supported grass roots activism, encouraged self-help groups to form, and enabled free expression and innovation. Now it’s a weapon. Think of how good and bad human agents and their hirelings, surrogates, mercenaries and robots deploy tweets and other social…More

You can fool all the people some of the time

The theories about metaphor of the American cognitive linguist George Lakoff have long informed my understanding of language and of design. Lakoff also weighs in on US politics (to use a sporting metaphor). His recent interview on a podcast and his opinion piece in the Guardian are of the moment. I’ll quote a passage about…More

Automatic writing

Automatic translation is now mainstream. It’s simple enough to have text on a web site or in a text field translated between languages. The Google translate app on a smartphone combines (AR) “augmented reality” and translation algorithms to create a screen image that substitutes what’s in front of the camera with something like the same text in your…More

What do maps do?

Maps come in many forms, including their online versions: Google maps, Ordnance survey maps, historical overlays (Walking through time), crowd sourced maps (Open Streetmaps), with GPS features, alerts, spoken directions, and provision for selling and sociability (Foursquare). Maps show us where we are, help us to get where we want to be, and they represent something. This much…More

Synesthesia anesthesia

What colour is cool? Synesthesia is a hot topic amongst artists, and on the Internet. There it is. I’ve just used words from the vocabulary of touch sensation (cool and hot) applied to something visual (colour) and something abstract (a topic). The painter and theorist Wassily Kandinsky went further in describing in terms of heat…More

Exaggeration

I’ve been reading the latest book by eminent neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran and trying to get my head into the way of thinking of brain researchers. It’s a pop-science book. So it contains nothing technically or biochemically challenging. A large section of the book is dedicated to why we like art, and particular works of art.…More

This is not a hideout

After matching the aerial view of the compound published in Tuesday’s Guardian against Google Maps I soon discovered that the site was already labelled helpfully “Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound.” Presumably, this is a recent annotation.More