The English language has evolved dramatically throughout its lifespan, to the extent that a modern speaker of Old English would be incomprehensible without translation. One concrete indicator of this process is the movement from irregular to regular (-ed) forms for the past tense of verbs. In this study we quantify the extent of verb regularization using two vastly disparate datasets: (1) Six years of published books scanned by Google (2003--2008), and (2) A decade of social media messages posted to Twitter (2008--2017). We find that the extent of verb regularization is greater on Twitter, taken as a whole, than in English Fiction books. Regularization is also greater for tweets geotagged in the United States relative to American English books, but the opposite is true for tweets geotagged in the United Kingdom relative to British English books. We also find interesting regional variations in regularization across counties in the United States. However, once differences in population are accounted for, we do not identify strong correlations with socio-demographic variables such as education or income. [.pdf]
I appreciate the logic you’ve laid out on multiple levels here. I wish it were more widely viewed and shared. There’s an additional linguistic trick which Trump seems to take heavy advantage of as well: doublespeak. I’ve laid out some of the details here: http://boffosocko.com/2016/09/30/complexity-isnt-a-vice-10-word-answers-and-doubletalk-in-election-2016/ though I’ve got a slightly more nuanced approach now a year on and with additional data.
I enjoy your take on Direct vs. Systemic Causation which I bundle a bit more simply under the concept of “complexity”. The example I provide certainly fits well into your argument. It also seems to explain the political divide, which also follows the same party lines, in the ways the country views science in general, but the ideas of climate change and evolution specifically. While the evolution portion may be in direct conflict with the religious right, it doesn’t explain why so many don’t believe in the sciences generally or why they would be climate change deniers. Direct causation would seem to supersede the simple religion argument and explain the backlash against the sciences in general.
The esteemed academic discusses Trump supporters who stay faithful to him even when he works against their material best interests and well-being.
Dr. Lakoff does a solid job of dissecting Trump’s communication style and providing some relatively solid advice to journalists and media outlets who aim to disrupt what Trump is attempting to accomplish. The discussion of morality and its role in our political system, albeit brief, was incredibly interesting.
In the last third of the interview, Lakoff provides an interesting reframing of much of the public/private case that Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson make in their recent book American Amnesia.
Apparently there is another interview Smiley’s done with Dr. Lakoff. I can’t wait to watch it. I certainly would have appreciated an extended hour or two of their conversation.
I can see people like Jay Rosen and Keith Olbermann appreciating these interviews if they haven’t seen them.
This was so solid that I actually watched it a second time. It may also be time to dig into some of Lakoff’s other writings and research as well. Some of it I’ve read and seen before in general terms, but it’s probably worth delving into more directly.
In Our Computers, Ourselves, a look at the ways technology affects us, and the main question is : Are computers changing human character? You'll hear from cyborgs, bullies, neuroscientists and police chiefs about whether our closeness with computers is changing us as a species.
Possibly not as interesting to me because I’ve watched this space more closely over the past 20 years or so. Still it’s an interesting episode asking some great questions.
I can’t believe I flew through season one so quickly.
The Power Of Categories examines how categories define us — how, if given a chance, humans will jump into one category or another. People need them, want them. The show looks at what categories provide for us, and you'll hear about a person caught between categories in a way that will surprise you. Plus, a trip to a retirement community designed to help seniors revisit a long-missed category.
The transgender/sexual dysphoria story here is exceedingly interesting because it could potentially have some clues to how those pieces of biology work and what shifts things in one direction or another. How is that spectrum created/defined? A few dozen individuals like that could help provide an answer.
The story about the Indian retirement community in Florida is interesting, but it also raises the (unasked, in the episode at least) question of the detriment it can do to a group of people to be lead by some the oldest members of their community. The Latin words senīlis (“of or pertaining to old age”) and senex (“old”) are the roots of words like senate, senescence, senility, senior, and seniority, and though it’s nice to take care of our elders, the younger generations should take a hard look at the unintended consequences which may stem from this.
In some sense I’m also reminded about Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and why progress in science (and yes, society) is held back by the older generations who are still holding onto outdated models. Though simultaneously, they do provide some useful “brakes” on both velocity of change as well as potential ill effects which could be damaging in short timeframes.
Continuing the short season of bits and pieces that didn't quite fit in the year's episodes by getting to grips with the origin of "gherkin" and other names we give cucurbits.
The story behind Canada’s most distinctive verbal tic.
I’d meant to document this back in November when it was discussed at IndieWebCamp Los Angeles, but it was a busy weekend.
POSSE is an abbreviation for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere (or Everywhere), a content publishing model that starts with posting content on your own domain first, then syndicating out copies to 3rd party services with permashortlinks back to the original on your site.
When I originally heard about POSSE, I considered the original post on my own site as the Sheriff or “leader” and the ensuing syndicated copies as the (literal and figurative) traditional posse which follows along behind it adding ideas, conversation, and help in accomplishing the original post’s mission.
If that second meaning didn’t exist before, it does now…
"True story," Matthew Lewis, a communications strategist based in San Francisco, told me recently over Twitter. "I put the 'k' in fracking." As best I can verify, he is correct. I'd always wondered how the term "fracking," which has dominated energy discussions for years, worked its way into our vocabulary. And the backstory turns out to be pretty interesting.
Went on vacation or fell asleep at the internet wheel this week? Here’s some of the interesting stuff you missed.
Science & Math
- Context Specific and Differential Gene Co-expression Networks via Bayesian Biclustering | PLOS Computational Biology
- The Competing Incentives of Academic Research in Mathematics
- [1607.08473] Quantum circuits and low-degree polynomials over F_2
- This Physics Pioneer Walked Away from it All | Nautilus
- Monumental proof to torment mathematicians for years to come: Conference on Shinichi Mochizuki’s work inspires cautious optimism. | Nature
- What Your Brain Looks Like When It Solves a Math Problem | New York Times
- Habits of Highly Mathematical People
- Why You Should Care About High-Dimensional Sphere Packing | Roots of Unity
- Initial steps toward reproducible research
- Bridging the Curation Gap between Research and Libraries – A Case Study
- Quantum steampunk: Quantum information applied to thermodynamics
- How Vector Space Mathematics Reveals the Hidden Sexism in Language
- How Sound Can Make Food Taste Better | Nautilus
- Top 10 algorithms of 20th century numerical analysis, from a talk by Alex Townsend
- UK vs. US: Who’s got the right way to teach math(s)? | Math with Bad Drawin
- Physics & Caffeine: Stop Motion Film Uses a Cup of Coffee to Explain Key Co
- The Water Kingdom: A Secret History of China by Philip Ball (review)
- The master of them all: Book review for”Leonhard Euler: Mathematical Genius in the Enlightenment” | The Economist
- Biologists Search for New Model Organisms: The bulk of biological research is centered on a handful of species. Are we missing a huge chunk of life’s secrets?
- One-sentence proof of Fermat’s theorem on sums of two squares | Fermat’s Library
- This protein designer aims to revolutionize medicines and materials
- Our last common ancestor inhaled hydrogen from underwater volcanoes
- Meet Luca, The Ancestor of All Living Things | New York Times
- *Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network
- What’s Behind A Science vs. Philosophy Fight? | Big Think
- What is a “Neutral Network” Anyway? An Exploration and Rediscovery of the Aims of Net Neutrality in Theory and Practice
- The Brachistochrone Curve: The Problem of Quickest Descent | Fermat’s Library
- In what sense is Quantum Mechanics a theory of information? | Quora
- Major transitions in information technology | Philosophical Transactions of
- Human brain mapped in unprecedented detail: Nearly 100 previously unidentified brain areas revealed by examination of the cerebral cortex. | Nature
- Cell biologists should specialize, not hybridize: Dry cell biologists, who bridge computer science and cell biology, should have a pivotal role in driving effective team science, says Assaf Zaritsky | Nature
- Internet 3.0: How we take back control from the giants | New Scientist
- How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology | The Atlantic
- People can sense single photons | Nature News & Comment
- Defining synergy thermodynamically using quantitative measurements of entropy and free energy
- A Prime Case of Chaos | AMS.org
- Murray Gell-Mann (video interviews) – YouTube
- Mathematics & Chalk: A teary goodbye to Hagomoro | Jeremy Kun
- Want to Change Academic Publishing? Just Say No | Chronicle
- Textbooks Show Aging Signs: Curated Guides Are Next – 10+ Disruptive Factors Transforming the World of Education and Learning — Consequences, Opportunities, Tools
- Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Random House Don’t Want to Talk About Their Ebook Sales
- Amazon Sales Rank: Taming the Algorithm | Self-Publishing Author Advice
- What Authors Should Know About Advance Review Copies
- Ingram Launches Ingram Academic Services
- How a Publishing House Designs a Book Cover
- How Indie Bookstores Help Drive Book Discoverability
- How to Grow Your Email List
- 3 Ways Indie Publishers Sell Books | Digital Book World
- 10 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch
- Ingram Launches Academic Services for University Presses and Academic Publishers
- Indigo Goes Where Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and a Dozen Publishers and Startus Have Dared to Tread
- How To Make An Ebook Feel More Like A Real Book
- Looking for open digital collections – Wynken de Worde
Indieweb, Internet, Identity, Blogging, Social Media
- What is Open Source?
- My Text Editor is Absolutely Sublime | Devon Zuegel
- My zsh aliases | Devon Zuegel
- XOXO Festival
- Web Design in 4 minutes
- Custom Elements
- Design Principles
- Infographic: The Optimal Length for Every Social Media Update
- Notes For New (and Potential) Twitter Followers | Whatever
- How Blogs Work Today – Whatever
- My reply to: How Blogs Work Today | Whatever
- Unicode Character ‘ZERO WIDTH SPACE’ (U 200B)
- A Book Apart, Practical SVG
- Gillmor Gang Trumpathon
- The best news aggregation service – The Sweet Setup
- Social Startup Sprinklr Is Now Valued At $1.8 Billion After $105 Million Raise | Forbes
- Epeus’ epigone: Digital publics, Conversations and Twitter
- The New Meaning of Success
- 7 Lessons from the Future of Content: Part One — Tools Are Cheap, Time Is Expensive
- 7 Lessons from the Future of Content: Part Two — Let’s Play Risk
- Aron Pilhofer Joining Temple University School of Media and Communication
- Secrets and agents: George Akerlof’s 1970 paper, “The Market for Lemons”, is a foundation stone of information economics. The first in our series on seminal economic ideas | The Economist
- John Oliver has the takedown of Donald Trump’s Republican convention
- Reference: New Interactive Map Of 100,000 Photos and Videos Reveal “Lost London in the Victorian Era”
- “better modifiers than “insane(ly)” (Grammar and Usage)
- A lesson in the errors of statistical thinking: Nate Silver on Trump
- Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing
- Charlie Parker Plays with Dizzy Gillespie in Only Footage Capturing the “Bird” in True Live Performance
- Let Me Remind You Fuckers Who I Am (Shit HRC Can’t Say/satire)
Advances in computing power, natural language processing, and digitization of text now make it possible to study our a culture's evolution through its texts using a "big data" lens. Our ability to communicate relies in part upon a shared emotional experience, with stories often following distinct emotional trajectories, forming patterns that are meaningful to us. Here, by classifying the emotional arcs for a filtered subset of 1,737 stories from Project Gutenberg's fiction collection, we find a set of six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives. We strengthen our findings by separately applying optimization, linear decomposition, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning. For each of these six core emotional arcs, we examine the closest characteristic stories in publication today and find that particular emotional arcs enjoy greater success, as measured by downloads.
I was getting concerned that I hadn’t heard back from Sol for a while, particularly after emailing him late last week, and then I ran across this notice through ITSOC & the IEEE:
Solomon W. Golomb (May 30, 1932 – May 1, 2016)
Shannon Award winner and long-time ITSOC member Solomon W. Golomb passed away on May 1, 2016.
Solomon W. Golomb was the Andrew Viterbi Chair in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) and was at USC since 1963, rising to the rank of University and Distinguished Professor. He was a member of the National Academies of Engineering and Science, and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the Shannon Award, the Hamming Medal, and numerous other accolades. As USC Dean Yiannis C. Yortsos wrote, “With unparalleled scholarly contributions and distinction to the field of engineering and mathematics, Sol’s impact has been extraordinary, transformative and impossible to measure. His academic and scholarly work on the theory of communications built the pillars upon which our modern technological life rests.”
In addition to his many contributions to coding and information theory, Professor Golomb was one of the great innovators in recreational mathematics, contributing many articles to Scientific American and other publications. More recent Information Theory Society members may be most familiar with his mathematics puzzles that appeared in the Society Newsletter, which will publish a full remembrance later.
A quick search a moment later revealed this sad confirmation along with some great photos from an award Sol received just a week ago:
— Yannis C. Yortsos (@DeanYortsos) May 2, 2016
— Yannis C. Yortsos (@DeanYortsos) April 22, 2016
— Yannis C. Yortsos (@DeanYortsos) April 21, 2016
As is common in academia, I’m sure it will take a few days for the news to drip out, but the world has certainly lost one of its greatest thinkers, and many of us have lost a dear friend, colleague, and mentor.
I’ll try touch base with his family and pass along what information sniff I can. I’ll post forthcoming obituaries as I see them, and will surely post some additional thoughts and reminiscences of my own in the coming days.
Yesterday, I saw an interesting linguistic exercise:
I have to imagine that once the conceptualization of language and some basic grammar existed, word generation was a much more common thing than it is now. It’s only been since the time of Noah Webster that humans have been actively standardizing things like spelling. If we can use Papua New Guinea as a model of pre-agrarian society and consider that almost 12% of extant languages on the Earth are spoken in an area about the size of Texas (and with about 1/5th the population of Texas too), then modern societies are actually severely limiting language (creation, growth, diversity, creativity, etc.) [cross reference: A World of Languages – and How Many Speak Them (Infographic)]
Consider that the current extinction of languages is about one every 14 weeks, which puts us on a course to loose about half of the 7,100 languages on the planet right now before the end of the century. Collective learning has potentially been growing at the expense of a shrinking body of diverse language! In the paper “Global distribution and drivers of language extinction risk” the authors indicate that of all the variables tested, economic growth was most strongly linked to language loss.
To help put this exercise into perspective, we can look at the corpus of extant written Latin (a technically dead language):
These numbers become even smaller when considering ancient Greek texts.
Another interesting measurement is the vocabulary of a modern 2 year old who typically has a 50-75 word vocabulary while a 4 year old has 250-500 words, which is about the level of the exercise.
As a contrast, consider the message in this TED Youth Talk from last year by Erin McKean, which students should be able to relate to:
And of course, there’s the dog Chaser, which 60 minutes recently reported has a vocabulary of over 1,000 words. (Are we now destroying variants of “dog language” for English too?!)
Hopefully the evolutionary value of the loss of the multiple languages will be more than balanced out by the power of collective learning in the long run.
An infographic from the South China Morning Post has some interesting statistics about which many modern people don’t know (or remember). It’s very interesting to see the distribution of languages and where they’re spoken. Of particular note that most will miss, even from this infographic, is that 839 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea (11.8% of all known languages on Earth). Given the effects of history and modernity, imagine how many languages there might have been without them.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This series of 12 audio lectures is an excellent little overview of Augustine, his life, times, and philosophy. Most of the series focuses on his writings and philosophy as well as their evolution over time, often with discussion of the historical context in which they were created as well as some useful comparing/contrasting to extant philosophies of the day (and particularly Platonism.)
Early in the series there were some interesting and important re-definitions of some contemporary words. Cary pushes them back to an earlier time with slightly different meanings compared to their modern ones which certainly helps to frame the overarching philosophy presented. Without a close study of this vocabulary, many modern readers will become lost or certainly misdirected when reading modern translations. As examples, words like perverse, righteousness, and justice (or more specifically their Latin counterparts) have subtly different meanings in the late Roman empire than they do today, even in modern day religious settings.
My favorite part, however, has to have been the examples discussing mathematics as an extended metaphor for God and divinity to help to clarify some of Augustine’s thought. These were not only very useful, but very entertaining to me.
As an aside for those interested in mnemotechnic tradition, I’ll also mention that I’ve (re)discovered (see the reference to the Tell paper below) an excellent reference to the modern day “memory palace” (referenced most recently in the book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything) squirreled away in Book X of Confessions where Augustine discusses memory as:
Those interested in memes and the history of “memoria ex locis” (of which I don’t even find a reference explicitly written in the original Rhetorica ad Herrenium) would appreciate an additional reference I subsequently found in the opening (and somewhat poetic) paragraph of a paper written by David Tell on JSTOR. The earliest specific reference to a “memory palace” I’m aware of is Matteo Ricci’s in the 16th century, but certainly other references to the construct may have come earlier. Given that Ricci was a Jesuit priest, it’s nearly certain that he would have been familiar with Augustine’s writings at the time, and it’s possible that his modification of Augustine’s mention brought the concept into its current use. Many will know memory as one of the major underpinnings of rhetoric (of which Augustine was a diligent student) as part of the original trivium.
Some may shy away from Augustine because of the religious overtones which go along with his work, but though there were occasional “preachy sounding” sections in the material, they were present only to clarify the philosophy.
I’d certainly recommend this series of lectures to anyone not closely familiar with Augustine’s work as it has had a profound and continuing affect on Western philosophy, thought, and politics.