Unclear thinking

It came upon a midnight clear. Clarity and its converse unclarity are in the air this season: as people seek clarity on what they can and cannot do during this phase of the pandemic. Clarity is about optics. Something is clear if the perception of it is unobstructed by darkness, fog, blur, glare, distortion or…More

Secret norms

“Normal” is an architectural term, according to the OED derived from the Latin noun norma which was a square of wood used by carpenters and masons for creating right angles. As known to any student of geometry, a line (or wall) is normal to another if it meets it at right angles. The term has…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

Permeable portals

The satirical fantasy The Good Place is ostensibly about the afterlife, and features different mechanisms for moving between the Good Place, the Bad Place, the Medium Place and Earth via magical doors, a hot air balloon, a train, a snap of the fingers, pneumatic chutes and giant round doors that clamp shut like the iris…More

Parallel worlds

He’s making few public appearances but “the pixels of his Twitter feed continued to live in a world of alternative reality,” echoed the Washington Post this week about Trump. Meanwhile, His Dark Materials that also taps into a multiverse of realities is back on the BBC. A helpful entry in Wikipedia under multiverse lists several…More

Hidden dimensions

Cryptography hides messages from the senses, observation and interpretation. It belongs within an array of practices that fit comfortably within the field of semiotics. I’m content to think that cryptographic practices extend C.S. Peirce’s semiological pragmatism. After all, messages hidden in code are signs. On the subject of messaging, I’m also interested in hiddenness as…More

How to fail at populism

Twitter replaced some of Trump’s recent tweets about the US election with the message: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process” — followed by a link to Twitter’s Civic Integrity Policy. As votes for Joe Biden (D) secured the…More

High energy superstition

My online searches into the mathematical techniques of Hidden Markov Models (HMM) led me to this diagram, known as a numogram. I have redrawn it here from the numerous instances on websites and books connected with the short-lived CCRU (Cybernetic Culture Research Uni) at the University of Warwick, and its legacies. At face, it’s a…More

Counting letters

A substitution cipher is one of the simplest methods for encrypting a message. A unique symbol stands in place of every letter in the hidden message. The symbol set can be just about anything, as long as each symbol maps uniquely to the letters of whatever alphabet you are using for the message you wish…More

Speech to text

A city that’s legible is easy to understand and to navigate, i.e. to read. You can read a city’s people, moods, signs, and what it denotes and connotes. In a previous post I explored the prospect that you might write a city, as well as read it. According to this theory, a city participates in…More