Member 83
49 entries

Xárene Eskandar
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Apr 4, 2007
Uplinks: 0, Generation 1

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    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    A series of rambles by SpaceCollective members sharing sudden insights and moments of clarity. Rambling is a time-proven way of thinking out loud,...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    What happened to nature?
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    Design Media Arts at UCLA
    In the 1970s space colonies were considered to be a viable alternative to a life restricted to planet Earth. The design of cylindrical space...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    I rarely share CNN stuff; they suck in journalism. But this little window into Shishmaref, Alaska is interesting.

    There is a concern of dialects and languages being lost, and as a result, cultures being lost. Of 4000 or so spoken languages, we have about 2500 left, some spoken by as little as one person, and when that person is gone, the language is gone unless it was successfully transmitted.

    However, at the same time that we are losing ancient languages and cultures, we are gaining new ones. This is either happening the way it has happened for centuries, which is by the fragmentation of social and cultural groups that leads to dialects; or in more creative ways such as completely new construction—which also has historical roots—such as Esperanto, Klingon and now Na'vi. Are the linguists and scientists too worried with loss of old languages (and cultures) to realize the new emerging ones? But the concern for loss of language extends to regular people too, speakers of a particular language, not just scientists. Let's take current English as an example. In the comments of the io9 post linked above, one person says "Work on America speaking better English first." And a few comments are exchanged on what is really about the action the limitations of technology have taken on changing our language, primarily SMS and IM by altering our spelling, and now tweets that require new abbreviated grammar, which also incorporates the new spelling, all compounding the transformation of informal written English.

    As both student and teacher, I have always been meticulous of proper spelling and grammar. I am even picky with tweets, SMS and IM and spell everything out (yes, I face space and character limitations too frequently because because is not bcuz). However, after reading and re-reading De Landa's chapter Memes and Norms in A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, I am more convinced of allowing English to be changed through our use of technology. Technology is adding new words (blog) and redefining old words (blackberry). As we are becoming more intertwined with and defined by our technologies, why can they not define new grammar and new spelling? As De Landa puts it, 'the sheer weight of numbers decides its ultimate fate.' He provides Norman French and Roman Latin as examples where though one was the language of English aristocracy, and the other was regulated and forced through the language of law and religion, neither were able to 'take over as the language of the masses', because the masses were speaking their own languages and dialects and they outnumbered the ruling classes. So we can enforce proper spelling and grammar by attaching consequences to it like the Romans did—with grades instead of arm power—or we accept that the growing number of English speakers are adopting new spelling and grammar. This is not a new idea, it's called Spelling and Language Reformation.

    Ed Rondthaler illustrates redundancies of English spelling.

    I think I may have written somewhere on SC, about my anxiety over losing languages; saddened over the switch from blackberry to Blackberry. I still feel sad when I learn of nature words omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary for Children. How can children be taught to care for nature and environment when they do not know or understand the words that define it?

    Omitting words and redefining word spelling are different though. Marcos Novak disagrees; he asserts that 'changing spelling, changes meaning therefore completely changing the language because the connection to the root word is lost'; the original word may as well be omitted from the language. I disagree on the premise that society and humanity are constantly changing and cannot be defined by old words and older meanings. As technologies create more modes of interactions and emotions, our old language will not have enough words for describing and expressing ourselves. In turn we create new words and redefine old words. As we evolve, we advance our language. But if we are adamant about tying everything to proper root words as they were being used in 800AD, 1600 or even 1980, will we not face a problem of inadequate expression? A while back some members of SpaceCollective began brainstorming new word definitions—in a way, reclaiming the language to fit our current needs and modes of expression. (I can't locate the post and it's string of comments. If you do, please create a synapse.) Etymology is vertical and hierarchical, while redefinition is horizontal and mesh-like. The vertical is a slice through strata with diversity across time, while the horizontal stitches together from a larger cultural sample where time is not varied, but common (or has little variety, ie. 15 years, not 150 years). A word which was relevant at one time, is not relevant at another time. Loyalty to the root is therefor not feasible as it slows down emotional and cognitive evolution.

    My title for this post, Language as Virus, is not from William S Burroughs' quote, "Language is a virus from outer space." I have not even been able to locate the context of that quote. (the internet may seem like a good place to look for something, but sometimes it is too big to find what you are looking for.) I came about the title when I began thinking how words are formed and accepted between a group of people, and drew a literal parallel with a virus, an agent that replicates through a host body. This also came about from reading the opening paragraph to the Memes and Norms chapter:

    Human languages are defined by sounds, words, and grammatical constructions that slowly accumulate in a given community over centuries. These cultural materials do not accumulate randomly but rather enter into systematic relationships with one another, as well as with the human beings who serve as their organic support.

    In the case of our ubiquitous technologies, who is the virus: (the) language (of technology) or technology itself? Are we the hosts, or is our language the host? Are we the agents of change through the language or is technology changing us? My mind went wild thinking of the cycle: We create mimetic systems; they take control; we become mimetic systems; we take back control, and the cycle continues—a popular sci-fi plot. However, the "they" are not the machines, the robots, etc. it is the language, the vowels, the consonants, the syllables. Soon we will speak code. The break down and baring of language to shorthand logic for everyday communication and transmission of information is inevitable. We already do that through email and text messaging where all words are reformulated to codes and eventually broken down to two numbers. We are already internally vocalizing the same complex-to-simple shift when reading w/ r u 2day? (Is SMS written or spoken language?)

    Language is communication. Language is culture. Language is poetry. Language is a hand-woven silk rug. Language is a hunting scene painted on the wall of a cave. They all communicate a story about their originating and executing culture. The 'etymology' of these languages are varied; we cannot trace them to a common or single poem, rug, painting, etc. So why should we insist on tracing our spoken and written language to a single common word, an instance in time, so long ago that we cannot even identify with?
    Fri, Dec 18, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: language, code, rant
    Sent to project: The Total Library
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    I am in Tokyo and it is a little past 5am. It's a little past 1pm in Los Angeles.
    Los Angeles -8GMT
    Tokyo +9GMT

    5am in Tokyo is one hour brighter than 5am in Los Angeles at this time of the year. Regardless, we all more or less know what 5am and 1pm feel like, and 1pm in Tokyo can be as miserable as 1pm in Los Angeles. 5pm rush hour looks similar in most places; many children are sent to bed at 8pm; and most days 9am can be an un-godly hour for me to wake up whether in Los Angeles, Tehran or Tokyo. These times are essentially all the same.

    Kinda boring.

    The first place where the Sun rose in this millennium, local time, was on the International Date Line, all of which is in the Pacific Ocean. Even though the line makes some zigzags to the east, the place on the line where the Sun rose first is far south, near the Antarctic Circle, where the line is intersected by the terminator (day/night line). Here, the Sun dips just below the horizon and then rises again almost immediately at midnight local time. The longitude is 180° E exactly, and we take the local time to be 12 hours ahead of UT (atomic time). The southern limit to the terminator was at latitude 66° 3' S on January 1, 2000 and 66° 7' S on January 1, 2001. Both of these locations are in the extreme southern part of the Pacific Ocean with no land nearby.

    "International Date Line, all of which is in the Pacific Ocean.... Both of these locations... with no land nearby."

    Without argument—and because it is a little past 5am and little past my argument making time of day/night—I'll take this as a logical start point for dates. Now why not also start and end time right here and make only one time zone? 5am (05:00hrs) in Tokyo is also 5am in Los Angeles. 1pm (13:00hrs) in Los Angeles is also 1pm in Tokyo. The time for everyone is the same, but the feel is different. Good bye the meaning of time attached to a self-centered numbering system of 1884. Who is to decide that my 5am should be the same as theirs?

    24 hours and 24 different possibilities of rush hour and bed time! Let me tell you, 13:00 in August, in Tokyo is very miserable, but imagine a mild early night at 13:00 in August, in Los Angeles. You don't want to experience a location for seasons only, but for time as well! What is 13:00 like in August in Buenos Aires?! What about 13:00 in January?!

    Hello Time Tourism. We have 288 new reasons to visit other "times".

    Tue, Aug 5, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: jabberwocky, realization
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