Jun, a small Andalusian town founded by the Romans 2,200 years ago, is using Twitter to reduce bureaucracy, serve its citizens, and run a more efficient administration.
Why is good writing on technical subjects so hard to find? A popular explanation is that bureaucrats, scientists, doctors, and lawyers who write dense prose are intentionally obfuscating their writing to appear more intelligent than they are. After all, no one likes reading hashes of passive clauses salted with jargon and acronyms--not even fellow specialists. Stephen Pinker, however, has an alternate take on the issue. What if knowing a lot about a topic directly interferes with your ability to effectively communicate it?
PDF: 25 Communication Barriers and How to Repair Concrete tips written for couples, but applicable to many other arenas of communication. (Just don't try to solve coworker Aloofness by means of Positive Physical Touch!) [more inside]
The New Yorker investigates the differences between "e-laughter" in its latest cultural commentary. [more inside]
In 2010, the Colombian army wanted to send a message of hope to soldiers held hostage by FARC guerrillas deep in the jungle. But how to send a message the hostages would recognize, but their captors wouldn't? Morse code, hidden in a pop song.
Royal Mail 'special stamps' have been produced in the UK for fifty years since 1965, when the new postmaster general, Tony Benn, expanded the criteria for commemorative stamps to include representations of British life and culture.
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
Whale.fm is a project (which you can contribute to!) to help "marine researchers understand what whales are saying." - really it's a project looking at the effects that manmade sound has on marine life, but what whales are communicating with their songs is still a really interesting question, so I've listed some relevant links in extended description. [more inside]
I quit liking things on Facebook for two weeks. Here's how it changed my view of humanity [more inside]
[T]his is what we were dealing with: We were located in two places, and between us there were three laptops and one stenography machine. We were working in two languages (English and American Sign Language, or ASL) and across three communication channels (voice, sign, and text). They were sitting at a rectangular table, all on the same side: first Hilaria, then Kate, then Lynn, then Rabin´. That made five of us, four of whom brought constraints to the situation, ranging from the permanent to the temporary: Lynn is deaf, Hilaria is a non-native speaker of English, Rabin´ is supposed to be silent and invisible, and I couldn’t see, because I had no video on my Skype.A factchecking session for "young sign languages" turns into an exploration on communication across barriers and needs of accessibility, language, and technology.
Long before Mad Men, Forrest Gump, and coast-to-coast classic rock FM stations completed the transubstantiation of the 1960s from reality to legend, something stranger than fiction was burning the midnight oil in an old firehouse: The Socrates of San Francisco, Howard Luck Gossage, would change advertising--and the way we think about communication--forever. [more inside]
Let's Talk About Science is a blog devoted to discussing the world of science and technology communication with clear, beginner-friendly language, written and compiled by nanoscientist/physicist Jessamyn Fairfield and science educator ErinDubitably. [more inside]
I Sent All My Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week. "The idea: I wanted to message friends using calligraphic texts for one week... Before I started, I established rules for myself: I could create only handwritten text messages for seven days, absolutely no using my phone’s keyboard. I had to write out my messages on paper, photograph them, then hit “send.” I didn’t reveal my plan to my friends unless asked, and I received a variety of responses." [more inside]
What is the greatest danger of algorithmic culture? Christian Sandvig describes it as "corrupt personalization."
We need a theory of jerks. We need such a theory because, first, it can help us achieve a calm, clinical understanding when confronting such a creature in the wild. Imagine the nature-documentary voice-over: ‘Here we see the jerk in his natural environment. Notice how he subtly adjusts his dominance display to the Italian restaurant situation…’ And second – well, I don’t want to say what the second reason is quite yet.[more inside]
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
The Nordic Society for Invention & Discovery has brought never-before-seen and totally exclusive technologies into the world, such as the Aaltopuck (an ice hockey puck modeled after Alvar Aalto's Savoy Vase), the Flower Shell (a shotgun shell that shoots seeds into the ground), the Wall of Sound (an 8000-watt iPod dock) and No More Woof (a device that wraps around your dog's head and translates his or her brain waves to computerized speech).
Charlene deGuzman and Miles Crawford settle that age-old question, "What should we eat?" With drums.
A recent workshop on Analyzing Animal Vocal Sequences provided some illuminating views of what we know and what we don't know about animal communication. In particular one notes the increased use of Machine Learning algorithms that are currently used to make sense of human interactions on the web. Talks at the workshop included:Unraveling dolphin communication complexity, Singing isn't just for the birds, Automated identification of bird individuals using machine learning, A receiver's perspective on analyzing animal vocal sequences, Animal communication sequence analysis using information theory, Machine learning for the classification of animal vocalizations and Information theoretic principles of human language and animal behavior
Keith Hampton, an associate professor in Rutgers' School of Communication and Information, filmed people in Bryant Park (among other locations) in an ongoing effort to recreate and update sociologist William H. Whyte's Street Life Project. [more inside]
When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive? (New Republic) “In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all,” Liberman wrote me. “In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’”
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
The Conflict-Resolving Game is a new and challenging alternative to the traditional Debate. It can be played by adults and by children and by teams of very mixed age groups. To succeed in this game you should know the difference between debate and dialog. You will need to master the Twelve Skills. You may want to consult a 270 page training manual.. This longer one will work also - even mentioning the principles of Aikido. Oh, and mastering the game is not just for adults.
Too much information: Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers. [Via]
Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique. Love and respect instead of entitlement. Find your core set of relationship values. Heterosexism is rampant and out there, but don’t let fear lead you. Build for the lovely unexpected. Fake it til’ you make it. Trust is better. Change through communication. Customize your commitments. The Short Instructional Manifesto for Relationship Anarchy by Andie Nordgren.
After more than 25 years of studying the calls of prairie dog in the field, one researcher managed to decode just what these animals are saying. And the results show that prairie dogs aren't only extremely effective communicators, they also pay close attention to detail.
Happy Mother's Day - Leah Coleman was born profoundly deaf. Her mother, Rachel, decided that the best way to deal with it was to try to change the world and Leah tells us about it.
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
"Its not like we all sat in silence and stared blankly at our TVs waiting for the Internet to show up. We have probably always had vernacular webs of communication." Digital studies scholar Robert Glenn Howard talks about vaccines, the Christian right [PDF], AC/DC guitar tutorials and other "born-digital folklore" on the "vernacular web."
telegeography.com has a nice gallery of zoomable maps of global telecommunications and IT infrastructure, such as submarine cables (1 2), and internet backbones.
Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet. Also Part 2 and Part 3.
"Reading is always an act of empathy" - John Green of Crash Course (previously) explains "How and Why We Read" (... and recommends his favorite books). [more inside]
Can’t get enough of these videos from AsapSCIENCE. Here’s an earlier one from the Your Brain On Drugs series entitled marijuana. I was pretty stoned when watching it and ended up cracking up at the funny cats – total highlight for me. Can’t remember the gist, but you should definitely check it out. (Text Via) (slyt)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named the 2012 winners of their science journalism award. The winning text, radio and TV segments -- which cover subjects ranging from bat ecology to nuclear power post-Fukushima -- are all free access. [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
In 2005, the Discovery Channel aired Alien Worlds, a fictional documentary based on Wayne Douglas Barlowe's graphic novel, Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV." Depicting mankind's first robotic mission to an extrasolar planet that could support life, the show drew from NASA's Origins Program, the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest Mission, and ESA's Darwin Project. It was primarily presented through CGI, but included interviews from a variety of NASA scientists and other experts, including Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, John Craig Venter and Jack Horner. Oh, and George Lucas, too. Official site. Previously on MeFi. [more inside]
Man Gobbles at Turkeys, Turkeys Gobble Back. A heartwarming SLYT of interspecies communication for Friday afternoon.
Sam Harris- 'Wrestling The Troll' "Topics like torture, recreational drug use, and wealth inequality can provoke outrage and misunderstanding in many audiences. But discussing them online sets your reputation wandering like a child across a battlefield—perpetually. Anything can and will be said at your expense—or falsely attributed to you—today, tomorrow, and years hence. Needless to say, the urge to respond to this malevolence and obfuscation can become irresistible. "
In 1990, the avenues of information we have today weren't around. So what was a baseball fan who wanted to know the score of a game elsewhere in the country to do? Compile a list of pay phone numbers at stadiums and get the score from passers by who picked up.
Artist and film-maker, Hito Steyerl, asks us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our digital equivalents. Digital images are Things (like you and me) - a plethora of compressed, corrupted representations pushed and pulled through increasingly policed and capitalised information networks. If 80% of all internet traffic* is SPAM - a liberated excess withdrawn** from accepted channels of communication - perhaps it is in The Poor Image we find our closest kin? [more inside]
"Technology presumes there's just one right way to do things and there never is." - Robert M. Pirsig
The Museum of RetroTechnology is a curated online collection of (mostly) obsolete inventions. The exhibitions include Gearwheels From Hell, the Dynosphere monowheel, Unusual Pedal Bicycles, Propeller-Driven Sleighs, Water Engines, Dog and Goat Engines, Acoustic Location and Sound Mirrors, Optical Telegraphs, and Combat Cutlery.
Teenage bicycle messengers carried messages around American cities in the early 20th century, including red light districts. Social reformer and photographer Lewis Hine documented their lives in image and text.
"The political elite have actually no interest in explaining to the people that important decisions are made in Strasbourg; they are only afraid of losing their own power." Jürgen Habermas on the crisis of the European project and how it could be overcome.
Stories made from: microspores, fog maps, infected bass samples, mathematics, patterns of decay, broken machines, blood, code bugs…
NOVA hosts a test to see how well you speak dog. Originally in association with Dogs Decoded, which is available to watch for the next week via NOVA's website.