Tuesday, 30 July, 2013
Social media has made it ever easier to, whether we like it or not, to keep tabs on former lovers and the like. That has to be telling you something didn’t already know, doesn’t it?
That we can so easily look up someone in this fashion isn’t really the point however… the shameful truth of the matter is, much of the time, we very much want to:
There was also a time, I am told, when staying in touch was difficult. Exes were characters from a foreclosed past, symbols from former and forgone lives. Now they are part of the permanent present. I was a college freshman when Facebook launched. All my exes live online, and so do their exes, and so do their exes, too. I carry the population of a metaphorical Texas in a cell phone on my person at all times. Etiquette can’t keep up with us – not that we would honor it anyway – so ex relationships run on lust and impulse and nosiness and envy alternating with fantasy. It’s a dozen soap operas playing at the same time on a dozen different screens, and you are the star of them all. It’s both as thrilling and as sickening as it sounds.
Nothing has changed of course. In the “old days”, using a phone directory, or electoral roll, you’d track down an ex, and even if they lived interstate, you’d travel to their town, with a friend. Said friend would knock at ex’s door apparently looking for someone they believed was living there.
The ex, being a decent person, would invite the roving friend in, while they tried to “sort out” what became of the seemingly erstwhile resident. This allowed the friend – who was clearly averse to taking a risk or three – to see how ex was living, and if applicable, who with.
Once the requisite information had been obtained, the friend would then make her excuses and leave, staying she’d figure out another way to locate her itinerant pal.
That sort of thing wasn’t quite my style though, finding out the name of the bar an “ex” worked at, and then showing up, apparently at random, was more like it. Did it once, working with only a first name, sans search engines and internet, in a city of eight plus million people, and twelve months after first/last contact.
Turned out there were two bars with the same name in the same neighbourhood, I reached the wrong one first, playing the new kid in town who was, you know, going to be hanging around, you know, a lot. Or at least until a certain person’s shift started. They are working, today, this week, sometime, aren’t they?
What a hoot that was. I’m sorry, but social media just doesn’t match the thrill of doing something like that.
communication, relationships, technology
Thursday, 25 July, 2013
Catholics may be able to reduce the time spent in purgatory, where it is thought believers who die in a state of grace await their ultimate fate, by following the Pope, Francis, on Twitter. Retweeting the Pontiff from time to time probably couldn’t see you going too far wrong either.
Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks – such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate’s house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory. But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence. Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media. “That includes following Twitter,” said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. “But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.”
communication, religion, social media, twitter
Wednesday, 10 July, 2013
If you’re able to convey to friends or family what you are doing, or thinking, by way of sending a photo, rather than a text message, why not. But will a photo eventually go on to supercede all short communication with words?
Photos, once slices of a moment in the past – sunsets, meetings with friends, the family vacation – are fast becoming an entirely new type of dialogue. The cutting-edge crowd is learning that communicating with a simple image, be it a picture of what’s for dinner or a street sign that slyly indicates to a friend, “Hey, I’m waiting for you,” is easier than bothering with words, even in a world of hyper-abbreviated Twitter posts and texts.
communication, photography, technology
Tuesday, 9 July, 2013
Redditors nominate there favourite highbrow jokes… they may not necessarily be clean, but they do lean to the intellectual side:
A physicist, a mathematician and an engineer stay in a hotel. The engineer is awakened by a smell and gets up to check it. He finds a fire in the hallway, sees a nearby fire extinguisher and after extinguishing it, goes back to bed. Later that night, the physicist gets up, again because of the smell of fire. He quickly gets up and sees the fire in the hallway. After calculating air pressure, flame temperature and humidity as well as distance to the fire and projected trajectory, he extinguishes the fire with the least amount of fluid. At last, the mathematician awakes, only again to find a fire in the hallway. He instantly sees the extinguisher and thinks, “A solution exists!”, and heads back into his room.
Via Marginal Revolution.
communication, humour, jokes
Tuesday, 9 July, 2013
Silbo Gomero, a language used on La Gomera, part of the Canary Islands, is a tongue with a difference… speakers, though that’s not quite the right term, whistle so as to converse. Sometimes referred to as “el silbo”, it is a language that made for an effective of way of communicating across the island’s deep and narrow ravines and gullies.
The language was used by the Guanches – the aboriginal people of the Canary Islands – long before Spanish settlement. It is a whistled form of the original Guanche language, which died out around the 17th century. Not much is known about that spoken language of those people save for a few words recorded in the journals of travellers and a few others that were integrated into the Spanish spoken on the Canary Islands. It is believed that spoken Guanche had a simple phonetic pattern that made it easily adaptable to whistling. The language was whistled across the Canary Islands, popular on Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and El Hiero as well as La Gomera.
communication, language, travel
Tuesday, 2 July, 2013
Pencils, as made in the format that we are most familiar with, were devised just over two hundred years ago, in 1795. Their name, however, is much older, and comes from the Old Latin word “pencillus”. Old Latin, that predates the better known Classical Latin, was in use over two thousand years ago:
Pencil is an older word, derived from the Latin “pencillus”, meaning “little tail”, to describe the small ink brushes used for writing in the Middle Ages.
I didn’t really want to talk about Latin though, as fascinating a topic that it be, but rather pencils and their history.
communication, drawing, history, writing
Monday, 1 July, 2013
The US Navy has abandoned the use of CAPS, or upper case letters, as a way of emphasising an important point. Maybe it’s time the rest of us followed suit?
communication, typography, writing
Friday, 28 June, 2013
No surprise here perhaps… often times we only applaud a speaker or performer if a significant number of those in the audience are already doing so.
Applause, it turns out, is a bit like peer pressure. Individuals were more likely to start clapping if a larger percentage of the audience had already started, Mann’s group reports online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. If 50% of the audience was clapping, for example, individuals were 10 times more likely to start clapping than if 5% of the audience was clapping. People stop clapping for the same reason.
So, if we’re all waiting for someone else to start clapping, how do we go about choosing these… cheerleaders?
applause, communication, psychology
Thursday, 27 June, 2013
You’d think these words were written more like last week, but they appeared in volume 71 of The Churchman, that was published in 1895:
The existence of mental and nervous degeneration among a growing class of people, especially in large cities, is an obvious phenomenon … the mania for stimulants … diseases of the mind are almost as numerous as the diseases of the body… This intellectual condition is characterized by a brain incapable of normal working … in a large measure due to the hurry and excitement of modern life, with its facilities for rapid locomotion and almost instantaneous communication between remote points of the globe…
Almost instantaneous communication in the late nineteenth century? Anyone know what the signal-to-noise ratio might have been at that time?
communication, history, humour, technology
Tuesday, 18 June, 2013
There’s who knows how many satellites in Earth orbit right now. There’s who knows how many of these craft that are, in some way, monitoring what we do. There’s also who knows how many of these probes carrying out all sorts of vital functions, many that we mostly take for granted.
So what might happen should all of these vessels somehow fail, or stop working completely? It actually doesn’t bear thinking about…
Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, thousands of passengers watched movies, oblivious to the difficulties on the flight deck as pilots struggled to talk to air traffic control. Without satellite phones, container ships in the Arctic, fishermen in the China Sea and aid workers in the Sahara found themselves isolated from the rest of the world. As people started work in their offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, Moscow, London and New York, they found it difficult to talk to colleagues in other countries. Email worked and the internet seemed okay, but many international phone calls failed. The rapid communications systems that tied the world together were unravelling. Rather than shrinking, it seemed as if the Earth was getting larger.
communication, satellites, technology