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This tag is associated with 17 posts

Trash talk

Like most urban commuters I have learned to tune out other people’s mobile phone conversations. But when I’m forced to attend to one-sided overloud jibber-jabber the interlocutor may as well be speaking in code. “She said that? … He did it then. … Ask him to give it to me when I’m there.” Deixis Deictic … Continue reading

Everything is code

“He doesn’t give you questions. He doesn’t give you orders. He speaks in a code. I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade” said convicted ex-lawyer Michael Cohen about his ex-boss (Trump) before the US House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what … Continue reading

Translate me

It is well known that Google Translate uses a statistical machine translation method, based on the occurrence of words in a corpus of training documents gathered from the United Nations and the European Parliament. These source documents exist in various languages and are professionally translated, making it possible to generate a table of likely correspondences … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Why cartoons have animals 2

Watching pet owners coach their pets to talk provides one of the more amusing diversions on YouTube. Apparently you can train a dog to say “hello” as a kind of vocalised yawn, or to growl out something like “sausages.” In a post in May 2012 I outlined 9 reasons why cartoons feature animals. Here’s a 10th reason: getting animals to talk. It’s obvious: animals (non-human) … Continue reading

Morphic fields

The kids at Hogwarts learn to move objects about at will without having to touch or grab them. According to philosopher David Ray Griffin, the mechanistic philosophy of Rene Descartes helped counteract the belief that minds can control objects over distances. This insight eventually reduced the persecution of people labelled as witches. For good or evil the … Continue reading

Derrida for stand-ups

It’s easy to get carried away with words, either written or spoken, especially if you’re good at stringing them together. I was reminded of this propensity at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with its programme category “Spoken Word,” indicating entertainments in which amusing writers like David Sedaris stand up and talk, and others sit and listen … Continue reading

Meditation on a blunt instrument

Digital networks presumably influence people’s encounters with social reality: “real life is life online.” But there’s also the argument that reality in general is mediated through the instruments we use, in our social life and in our understanding of the material universe. The physicist Neils Bohr noted that for observations and calculations about sub-atomic particles no sharp … Continue reading

The opposite of architecture

If the universe requires antimatter as well as matter then surely anything is entitled to an opposite. With architecture it’s easy to identify candidates for the role. “Anarchitecture” could be a kind of anarchic practice against orderliness. If architecture is building something then its opposite probably involves pulling it down. If people think architecture produces iconic, … Continue reading

Thought transfer

Creative people need to be given the tools to express themselves, to vent what’s inside to the outside world. They also need to develop communication skills appropriate to their inner talents. We are all creatives in a sense. Thoughts arise in my mind and get communicated to others, to be unpacked in such a way … Continue reading

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