Global Language Networks

Recent research on global language networks has interesting relations to big history, complexity economics, and current politics.

Yesterday I ran across this nice little video explaining some recent research on global language networks. It’s not only interesting in its own right, but is a fantastic example of science communication as well.

I’m interested in some of the information theoretic aspects of this as well as the relation of this to the area of corpus linguistics. I’m also curious if one could build worthwhile datasets like this for the ancient world (cross reference some of the sources I touch on in relation to the Dickinson College Commentaries within Latin Pedagogy and the Digital Humanities) to see what influences different language cultures have had on each other. Perhaps the historical record could help to validate some of the predictions made in relation to the future?

The paper “Global distribution and drivers of language extinction risk” indicates that of all the variables tested, economic growth was most strongly linked to language loss.

This research also has some interesting relation to the concept of “Collective Learning” within the realm of a Big History framework via David Christian, Fred Spier, et al.  I’m curious to revisit my hypothesis: Collective learning has potentially been growing at the expense of a shrinking body of diverse language some of which was informed by the work of Jared Diamond.

Some of the discussion in the video is reminiscent to me of some of the work Stuart Kauffman lays out in At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (Oxford, 1995). Particularly in chapter 3 in which Kauffman discusses the networks of life.  The analogy of this to the networks of language here indicate to me that some of Cesar Hidalgo’s recent work in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies (MIT Press, 2015) is even more interesting in helping to show the true value of links between people and firms (information sources which he measures as personbytes and firmbytes) within economies.

Finally, I can also only think about how this research may help to temper some of the xenophobic discussion that occurs in American political life with respect to fears relating to Mexican immigration issues as well as the position of China in the world economy.

Those intrigued by the video may find the website set up by the researchers very interesting. It contains links to the full paper as well as visualizations and links to the data used.

Abstract

Languages vary enormously in global importance because of historical, demographic, political, and technological forces. However, beyond simple measures of population and economic power, there has been no rigorous quantitative way to define the global influence of languages. Here we use the structure of the networks connecting multilingual speakers and translated texts, as expressed in book translations, multiple language editions of Wikipedia, and Twitter, to provide a concept of language importance that goes beyond simple economic or demographic measures. We find that the structure of these three global language networks (GLNs) is centered on English as a global hub and around a handful of intermediate hub languages, which include Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, and Chinese. We validate the measure of a language’s centrality in the three GLNs by showing that it exhibits a strong correlation with two independent measures of the number of famous people born in the countries associated with that language. These results suggest that the position of a language in the GLN contributes to the visibility of its speakers and the global popularity of the cultural content they produce.

Citation: Ronen S, Goncalves B, Hu KZ, Vespignani A, Pinker S, Hidalgo CA
Links that speak: the global language network and its association with global fame, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (2014), 10.1073/pnas.1410931111

Related posts:

“A language like Dutch — spoken by 27 million people — can be a disproportionately large conduit, compared with a language like Arabic, which has a whopping 530 million native and second-language speakers,” Science reports. “This is because the Dutch are very multilingual and very online.”

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New Look for Boffo Socko

Boffo Socko has a whole new look...

For a while I’ve been contemplating a change in the look of the site, particularly given the changes in the internet for the past several years.

I generally wanted something that has the following attributes:

I’m sure there will be some hiccups and problems in the transition, but I hope to get these ironed out shortly. If you notice something bothersome, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note.

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Two Types of Hipsters

César A. Hidalgo (1979- ), Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and the director of the Macro Connections group at The MIT Media Lab
in Cesar Hidalgo on economic complexity: Why information grows | Economist.com on June 15, 2015

 

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What is Information? by Christoph Adami

What is Information? [1601.06176] by Christoph Adami (arxiv.org)
Information is a precise concept that can be defined mathematically, but its relationship to what we call "knowledge" is not always made clear. Furthermore, the concepts "entropy" and "information", while deeply related, are distinct and must be used with care, something that is not always achieved in the literature. In this elementary introduction, the concepts of entropy and information are laid out one by one, explained intuitively, but defined rigorously. I argue that a proper understanding of information in terms of prediction is key to a number of disciplines beyond engineering, such as physics and biology.

A proper understanding of information in terms of prediction is key to a number of disciplines beyond engineering, such as physics and biology.

Comments: 19 pages, 2 figures. To appear in Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society A
Subjects: Adaptation and Self-Organizing Systems (nlin.AO); Information Theory (cs.IT); Biological Physics (physics.bio-ph); Quantitative Methods (q-bio.QM)
Cite as:arXiv:1601.06176 [nlin.AO] (or arXiv:1601.06176v1 [nlin.AO] for this version)

From: Christoph Adami
[v1] Fri, 22 Jan 2016 21:35:44 GMT (151kb,D) [.pdf]

Source: Christoph Adami [1601.06176] What is Information? on arXiv

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Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88 | The New York Times

Professor Minsky laid the foundation for the field by demonstrating the possibilities of imparting common-sense reasoning to computers.

Source: Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88 – The New York Times

A Small Gift: Tapping the Source

A nice gift of fiction from @henryjameskorn when we met yesterday at @chevaliersbooks.
 

A nice gift of fiction from @henryjameskorn when we met yesterday @chevaliersbooks.

Instagram filter used: Normal

Photo taken at: Chevalier’s Books

Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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Forthcoming ITBio-related book from Sean Carroll: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself”

Physicist Sean Carroll has a forthcoming book entitled The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, May 10, 2016) that will be of interest to many of our readers.

In catching up on blogs/reading from the holidays, I’ve noticed that physicist Sean Carroll has a forthcoming book entitled The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, May 10, 2016) that will be of interest to many of our readers. One can already pre-order the book via Amazon.

Prior to the holidays Sean wrote a blogpost that contains a full overview table of contents, which will give everyone a stronger idea of its contents. For convenience I’ll excerpt it below.

I’ll post a review as soon as a copy arrives, but it looks like a strong new entry in the category of popular science books on information theory, biology and complexity as well as potentially the areas of evolution, the origin of life, and physics in general.

As a side bonus, for those reading this today (1/15/16), I’ll note that Carroll’s 12 part lecture series from The Great Courses The Higgs Boson and Beyond (The Learning Company, February 2015) is 80% off.

The Big Picture

 

THE BIG PICTURE: ON THE ORIGINS OF LIFE, MEANING, AND THE UNIVERSE ITSELF

0. Prologue

* Part One: Cosmos

  • 1. The Fundamental Nature of Reality
  • 2. Poetic Naturalism
  • 3. The World Moves By Itself
  • 4. What Determines What Will Happen Next?
  • 5. Reasons Why
  • 6. Our Universe
  • 7. Time’s Arrow
  • 8. Memories and Causes

* Part Two: Understanding

  • 9. Learning About the World
  • 10. Updating Our Knowledge
  • 11. Is It Okay to Doubt Everything?
  • 12. Reality Emerges
  • 13. What Exists, and What Is Illusion?
  • 14. Planets of Belief
  • 15. Accepting Uncertainty
  • 16. What Can We Know About the Universe Without Looking at It?
  • 17. Who Am I?
  • 18. Abducting God

* Part Three: Essence

  • 19. How Much We Know
  • 20. The Quantum Realm
  • 21. Interpreting Quantum Mechanics
  • 22. The Core Theory
  • 23. The Stuff of Which We Are Made
  • 24. The Effective Theory of the Everyday World
  • 25. Why Does the Universe Exist?
  • 26. Body and Soul
  • 27. Death Is the End

* Part Four: Complexity

  • 28. The Universe in a Cup of Coffee
  • 29. Light and Life
  • 30. Funneling Energy
  • 31. Spontaneous Organization
  • 32. The Origin and Purpose of Life
  • 33. Evolution’s Bootstraps
  • 34. Searching Through the Landscape
  • 35. Emergent Purpose
  • 36. Are We the Point?

* Part Five: Thinking

  • 37. Crawling Into Consciousness
  • 38. The Babbling Brain
  • 39. What Thinks?
  • 40. The Hard Problem
  • 41. Zombies and Stories
  • 42. Are Photons Conscious?
  • 43. What Acts on What?
  • 44. Freedom to Choose

* Part Six: Caring

  • 45. Three Billion Heartbeats
  • 46. What Is and What Ought to Be
  • 47. Rules and Consequences
  • 48. Constructing Goodness
  • 49. Listening to the World
  • 50. Existential Therapy
  • Appendix: The Equation Underlying You and Me
  • Acknowledgments
  • Further Reading
  • References
  • Index

Source: Sean Carroll | The Big Picture: Table of Contents

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How to Steal a Million

Some satiric commentary on the American condition
Msr. Charles Bonnet, painter, art forger, conman
counter-scolding his daughter who has called him a fraud
in How to Steal a Million (1966)

 

Then, just a bit later in the film:

Msr. Charles Bonnet, painter, art forger, conman
ironically speaking to his daughter after forging and selling several major artworks
in How to Steal a Million (1966)

 

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Advanced Reader Edition Giveaway of Henry James Korn’s Upcoming Amerikan Krazy

For those who just can't wait for the official launch on February 22, 2016, Boffo Socko Books is giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition of Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn.

Many of you may have already heard, but I’m publishing books under the Boffo Socko Books imprint and our first release, a satirical novel entitled Amerikan Krazy written by Henry James Korn, is being put out on February 22, 2016, just in time to “celebrate” the race for the Presidential Election of 2016.

For a limited time, we’re giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition before the official launch of the book. Along with major book review outlets, you’ll be able to have and read a copy weeks before the official launch.

You can sign up for the giveaway by January 15, 2016 at GoodReads.com.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn

Amerikan Krazy

by Henry James Korn

Giveaway ends January 15, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Entrants will be notified on Jan 15, 2016 if they win.

We hope our friends will take a moment to register for a free GoodReads account and spend a moment to indicate that they “want to read” the book, and “follow Henry” there as an author.

If you have a moment, and feel so inclined, feel free to share a link to this post on your favorite social media outlet. Your help in spreading the word is greatly appreciated.

Members of the press, reviewers, and book bloggers can request ARC/ARE copies directly. 

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Donald Forsdyke Indicates the Concept of Information in Biology Predates Claude Shannon

In the 1870s Ewald Hering in Prague and Samuel Butler in London laid the foundations. Butler's work was later taken up by Richard Semon in Munich, whose writings inspired the young Erwin Schrodinger in the early decades of the 20th century.

As it was published, I had read Kevin Hartnett’s article and interview with Christoph Adami The Information Theory of Life in Quanta Magazine. I recently revisited it and read through the commentary and stumbled upon an interesting quote relating to the history of information in biology:

Polymath Adami has ‘looked at so many fields of science’ and has correctly indicated the underlying importance of information theory, to which he has made important contributions. However, perhaps because the interview was concerned with the origin of life and was edited and condensed, many readers may get the impression that IT is only a few decades old. However, information ideas in biology can be traced back to at least 19th century sources. In the 1870s Ewald Hering in Prague and Samuel Butler in London laid the foundations. Butler’s work was later taken up by Richard Semon in Munich, whose writings inspired the young Erwin Schrodinger in the early decades of the 20th century. The emergence of his text – “What is Life” – from Dublin in the 1940s, inspired those who gave us DNA structure and the associated information concepts in “the classic period” of molecular biology. For more please see: Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) History of Psychiatry 26 (3), 270-287.

Donald Forsdyke, bioinformatician and theoretical biologist
in response to The Information Theory of Life in Quanta Magazine on

These two historical references predate Claude Shannon’s mathematical formalization of information in A Mathematical Theory of Communication (The Bell System Technical Journal, 1948) and even Erwin Schrödinger‘s lecture (1943) and subsequent book What is Life (1944).

For those interested in reading more on this historical tidbit, I’ve dug up a copy of the primary Forsdyke reference which first appeared on arXiv (prior to its ultimate publication in History of Psychiatry [.pdf]):

🔖 [1406.1391] ‘A Vehicle of Symbols and Nothing More.’ George Romanes, Theory of Mind, Information, and Samuel Butler by Donald R. Forsdyke  [1]
Submitted on 4 Jun 2014 (v1), last revised 13 Nov 2014 (this version, v2)

Abstract: Today’s ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) concept is rooted in the distinction of nineteenth century philosopher William Clifford between ‘objects’ that can be directly perceived, and ‘ejects,’ such as the mind of another person, which are inferred from one’s subjective knowledge of one’s own mind. A founder, with Charles Darwin, of the discipline of comparative psychology, George Romanes considered the minds of animals as ejects, an idea that could be generalized to ‘society as eject’ and, ultimately, ‘the world as an eject’ – mind in the universe. Yet, Romanes and Clifford only vaguely connected mind with the abstraction we call ‘information,’ which needs ‘a vehicle of symbols’ – a material transporting medium. However, Samuel Butler was able to address, in informational terms depleted of theological trappings, both organic evolution and mind in the universe. This view harmonizes with insights arising from modern DNA research, the relative immortality of ‘selfish’ genes, and some startling recent developments in brain research.

Comments: Accepted for publication in History of Psychiatry. 31 pages including 3 footnotes. Based on a lecture given at Santa Clara University, February 28th 2014, at a Bannan Institute Symposium on ‘Science and Seeking: Rethinking the God Question in the Lab, Cosmos, and Classroom.’

The original arXiv article also referenced two lectures which are appended below:

[Original Draft of this was written on December 14, 2015.]

References

[1]
D. Forsdyke R., “‘A vehicle of symbols and nothing more’. George Romanes, theory of mind, information, and Samuel Butler,” History of Psychiatry, vol. 26, no. 3, Aug. 2015 [Online]. Available: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0957154X14562755
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JHU Arts Entertainment Media Entrepreneurship (AEME) Group Event

Fellow Johns Hopkins Alumni come join us as we welcome Linda DeLibero, Director of the Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program,​ and current Film majors from the Film and Media Studies Intersession Course for a diverse and dynamic panel discussion featuring creative and successful Hopkins alumni working in the industry. Learn relevant information, make connections with fellow LA area alumni and talk with the current students.

Over the past several months, I’ve been helping to set up an affinity group for the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association to bring together alumni who work in areas related to the entertainment industry.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been making plans for our first official event to be held in conjunction with a week long Intersession course being offered by the Film and Media Studies Program at Hopkins.  We’re happy to announce the details for this event on January 7th and hope everyone can join us. There will be a panel discussion as well as ample time to chat with a variety of fellow alumni, current students, and faculty.

Are you a member of the Arts, Entertainment, Media, or Entrepreneurship communities in Los Angeles?

Join us as we welcome Linda DeLibero, Director of the Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program,​ and current Film majors from the Film and Media Studies Intersession Course for a diverse and dynamic panel discussion featuring creative and successful Hopkins alumni working in the industry. Learn relevant information, make connections with fellow LA area alumni and talk with the current students.

Hosted by:
Donald Kurz ’77, Johns Hopkins University Trustee and School of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board Member, and
the Arts Entertainment Media Entrepreneurship Affinity: LA Group

January 7, 2016
6:30 pm
at Omelet, LLC, 3540 Hayden Avenue, Culver City, CA 90232
No Charge for alumni and guests

RSVP now for this event.

 

For more information:
Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association AEME LA Reception
Office of Alumni Relations
800-JHU-JHU1 (548-5481)
alumevents@jhu.edu

 

As part of the reception, we’ll have a panel discussion with a variety of local alumni who work in the entertainment and media sectors.

Panelists

Jason P. Somerville, ’97
Founder and Managing Partner, EIG
Mark Swift, ’93
Screenwriter
Dalia Ganz, ’05
Director, Digital & Partnership Marketing at ABC Family
Mitch Tenzer, ’75
Partner, Ziffren Brittenham, LLP
Sunny Boling, ’99
Casting Director

 

A number of students from Hopkins will be in attendance at the event as part of an Intersession course being offered by the department. The listing for the course follows:

The Entertainment Industry in Contemporary Hollywood

This week-long course in Los Angeles gives students inside access to the entertainment industry through daily meetings and workshops with key figures in film, television, new media, and music, many of them JHU alums: directors, producers, screenwriters, studio executives, agents, exhibitors and more. We will visit studios, major agencies and production companies, and will end the week with a JHU networking event and panel discussion with alumni who work in film and television.The course runs from January 4 -8. Open to all Film and Media Studies majors and minors, with preference given to seniors. Students outside FMS may apply if slots remain open after all FMS students have registered.

Course Number: AS.061.377.60
Credits: 1
Distribution: H
Days:  Monday 1/4/2016 – Friday 1/8/2016
Times:  M – 9:00-4:00PM | Tu- 9:00-4:00PM | W- 9:00-4:00PM | Th- 9:00-4:00PM | F- 9:00-4:00PM
Instructor: Linda DeLibero

 

Update

The event was a wonderful success.  I wanted to share a few of the photos I took during the panel discussion:

20160107_202153_002
Students, alumni, and faculty look on at the Johns Hopkins Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Entrepreneurship Panel Discussion

 

20160107_193110
Johns Hopkins Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Entrepreneurship Panel Discussion featuring Dalia Ganz, Mark Swift, Jason Sommerville, and Sunny Boling.

 

Omelet group photo
Here’s just a few of the many alumni who came out to the LA meetup at Omelet! It was a pleasure to see so many graduates interested in helping the current students and young alumni break into the film industry. — with Amelia Voos, Lydia Youngman, Dael Norwitz, Cole Spivak, Juliana Veracka, Taylor Veracka, Errol Koenig, Elena Thompson, Chris Aldrich, Howie Mandel, Evelyn Jerome Alexander, Josh Siegel, Don Kurz, Grant Lease, Linda DeLibero, Kathryn Alsman, Mark Swift, Brian J. McConnell, Will Mason, Josh Raphaelson, Caitlin Duffy and Jess Ambrosetti at Omelet.
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Quantum Biological Information Theory by Ivan B. Djordjevic | Springer

Quantum Biological Information Theory by Ivan B. Djordjevic (Springer, 2015)

Springer recently announced the publication of the book Quantum Biological Information Theory by Ivan B. Djordjevic, in which I’m sure many readers here will have interest. I hope to have a review of it shortly after I’ve gotten a copy. Until then…

From the publisher’s website:

This book is a self-contained, tutorial-based introduction to quantum information theory and quantum biology. It serves as a single-source reference to the topic for researchers in bioengineering, communications engineering, electrical engineering, applied mathematics, biology, computer science, and physics. The book provides all the essential principles of the quantum biological information theory required to describe the quantum information transfer from DNA to proteins, the sources of genetic noise and genetic errors as well as their effects.

  • Integrates quantum information and quantum biology concepts;
  • Assumes only knowledge of basic concepts of vector algebra at undergraduate level;
  • Provides a thorough introduction to basic concepts of quantum information processing, quantum information theory, and quantum biology;
  • Includes in-depth discussion of the quantum biological channel modelling, quantum biological channel capacity calculation, quantum models of aging, quantum models of evolution, quantum models on tumor and cancer development, quantum modeling of bird navigation compass, quantum aspects of photosynthesis, quantum biological error correction.

Source: Quantum Biological Information Theory | Ivan B. Djordjevic | Springer

9783319228150I’ll note that it looks like it also assumes some reasonable facility with quantum mechanics in addition to the material listed above.

Springer also has a downloadable copy of the preface and a relatively extensive table of contents for those looking for a preview. Dr. Djordjevic has been added to the ever growing list of researchers doing work at the intersection of information theory and biology.

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Tickets for the Rose Parade on New Years day arrived. I think I’ve got better seats than any of the networks.

Tickets for the Rose Parade on New Years day arrived. I think I've got better seats than any of the networks.
Tickets for the Rose Parade on New Years day arrived. I think I’ve got better seats than any of the networks.

Instagram filter used: Slumber

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Attributes in Paintings May Stem from Mnemotechnics Dating from Ancient Greece

As I delve into the history of mnemotechnics, I suspect that attributes in paintings originally stem from memory techniques that date from Simonides of Ceos (c. 556 – 468 BCE) and potentially earlier through the oral tradition.

As I delve further into the ancient history of mnemonics and mnemotechnics, I  strongly suspect that attributes in paintings (like those frequently seen in depictions of Christian saints) originally stem from memory techniques that date from Simonides of Ceos (Σιμωνίδης ὁ Κεῖος; c. 556 – 468 BCE) and potentially earlier by means of the oral tradition.

The National Gallery has a short little primer on paintings of saints and recognizing them by means of their attributes. As an example, in the painting below Saint Genevieve of Paris holds the candle which she miraculously relit. On the brooch at her neck are the alpha and omega signs. Saint Apollonia of Alexandria’s brooch shows pincers: she was tortured by having her teeth extracted.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1472 - 1553 Saints Genevieve and Apollonia 1506 Oil on lime, 120.5 x 63 cm Bought, 1987 NG6511.1 This painting is part of the group: 'The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters' (NG6511.1-NG6511.2) http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG6511.1
Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1472 – 1553
Saints Genevieve and Apollonia (1506) Oil on lime, 120.5 x 63 cm
Bought, 1987; NG6511.1
This painting is part of the group: ‘The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters’ (NG6511.1-NG6511.2)
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG6511.1
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