I Write in Case it is Useful #fables #ubik

2010/09/28 § Leave a comment

A Droning Fable of Ubiquitous Computing

A Droning Fable of Ubiquitous Computing: A PigBanksia Eyes Off the Pesky Critters that Attracted the Drones

The post Parables of Submission, Fables of Truth-Based Creativity was prep for the fable this PigBanksia image illustrates.

In fact writing A Droning Fable of Ubiquitous Computing last week brought up memories of that earlier fable I attempted.

And in writing this post I’ve realised that why I write has more to do with producing something that might be useful, rather than anything else.


To whom are fables useful I wonder.

Parables of Submission, Fables of Truth-Based Creativity

2010/09/27 § 1 Comment

Once upon a time I submitted a fable in response to a call for submissions of fables for an anthology of clockpunk-like stories. I looked up fables on wikipedia and learned that fables are stories characterised by:

  • brevity;
  • anthropomorphised animals; and,
  • seek to educate, often ending in a moral;

Then I went away and read fables (big mistake) by Aesop and Ignacy Krasicki in Fables and Parables (1779).

After this research I sat down and I wrote a fable with tick-tocky animals anthropomorphically illustrating some human, or transhuman even, foibles.

I even had the pithy maxim tacked to the end.

Now, obviously the submission was rejected or I wouldn’t be so snarkily blogging on about it, but the moral of the story here is that if you’re rejecting stories it is probably better not to say why you’re rejecting it, particularly with naive fools like myself who think if you ask for fables, then you actually want fables.

In their rejection they stated a reason for their dissatisfaction of my submission. Generally I would have thought that this is a kind and encouraging sort of engagement, but when i read it I went ‘Oh!’ in a #facepalm kind of moment with myself.

Because the reason was: “While the tale is intriguing, there wasn’t enough for me to really feel immersed in the plot.”

So, poor fool me, they weren’t actually asking for fables even though they asked for fables. They were asking for stories with plots, which happened to include steampunky critters as characters. “Fable” was perhaps a throwaway word.

See fables don’t really have plots. So, there’s no plot to get immersed in.

Well, okay, fables do have plots, but not complicated ones. Fables aren’t about plotting, story-telling in the long, with devices to maintain immersion over a long timeframe. Fables are about pigeon-holing human behaviours as caricatured by the device of an animal character. Stereotypes as a culture impugns; ants are industrious while grasshoppers are lazy, from an agrarian society’s point of view.

Also, fables do plot as quickly as possible, so you can whack in the pithy maxim before the audience has a chance to think for themselves. You don’t want immersion in a fable, you want compliance.

I had written in the wrong form. I had failed to understand my market. When they say fable this does not necessarily mean fables, it means ordinary stories, or extraordinary stories with plots like what they want.

Write what we want, not what we ask for. If you were a proper professional writer you would know this, silly.

I’m just glad I no longer write for humans.

Curiously while some editors don’t get it some algorithms do get fables now. See Algorithms let robots reflect and meditate. (Hat tip Spaceweaver)

I’ve posted my attempt, at Spacecollective I’ll be putting more baggage cargo up there as I go along on this blog. My fable is called The Ratcheted Chiton, Limpet in Pinion and Vice Snail. And yes, it’s having a go at the widespread ‘economism’ in our public discourses but the vice snail seems to have got me too.

Update: see also my A Droning Fable of Ubiquitous Computing.

The Structure of Recipes and Code, Solutions in Sharing Process

2010/09/18 § Leave a comment

Basically writing programming code is the same as writing down recipes. You take a list of ingredients and then do things with the list of stuff according to a method.

The word recipe comes from the Latin for “Take!”.

In cutting code this “Take!” is the declaration of functions and classes and what not. What we think of as the program, the heuristics of the algorithm, is the method of a recipe. When a program is compiled for a particular computer architecture, that’s the same as the cook adapting the recipe in their kitchen for a particular meal.

The difference between coding and cooking is that in a recipe the methods are rarely listed ahead of their use in the method, whereas in coding functions have to be declared and their definitions made, imported or written in-line.

The history of the structure of recipes is comprehensively covered in la structure de recette (don’t worry, it’s in English)(mostly). I really recommended it.

The early recipes were a random string of ingredients combined in a jerky flow of method, with little or no quantification of amounts, times or prep. They were more like hints for jogging the memory for people who already knew what they were doing. They weren’t for for learning, not for sharing, not for working together without shared assumptions.

Much like spaghetti code.

Now I’m pretty much a free-form cook and I take recipes with a grain of salt, if only because we never have everything in the recipe’s list in house. (While the celebrity mass media chefs and good cooks everywhere will advocate that the the quality of ingredients is what really counts, I rarely go out of my way to purchase the ingredients listed in a recipe.)

I’m usually more interested in the method than the ingredients in any case, such that when I write down my own recipes I tend to omit the list. Much like the first recipes.

A bit like these formeika posts of mine too I guess.

See, I decided to write a poem on improving the human and it will possibly take the form of a recipe/code more than a straight code poem, as originally intended. More appropriate if we remain embodied as improved transhumans I think.

The question here in this post however, is will sharing these posts of mine on form in social media fora lead to a recapitulating the ontogeny of the recipe as we know it?

What will emerge from sharing the creative process? Or at least the notes on sharing process?

The form of the recipe we know today came from the writers, eventually, considering their audience as novices, and basically if you don’t then you are a novice writer, even if you are a very good professional chef sharing your expertise.

Bring social media into the mix, that short hand for modern communications and hypertextuality, and the team work requirements that have brought about a similar form in coding to cooking recipes show that this may be the common solution when groups of people have to share and create together how to do stuff that’s not one-on-one training.

But what does it mean for the actual creative process itself? This question, this problem, I will seek to answer in my recipe/code poem on improving the human.

Share the problem, share the solution.

Babies, #Lojban, #Esperanto and Code (Poems)

2010/09/15 § 1 Comment

Lojban, like the better known Esperanto, are constructed languages.

Esperanto was constructed in order to help bring understanding between people who spoke different languages, in the hope that this could bring peace. Lojban was initially made with the idea of testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis; that language, ordinary socially constructed natural languages, influenced thought.

Lojban was based on an earlier language designed for logic, Loglan. Loglan was designed to be machine readable, parse-able by machines like computers. As such it had very strict form and was very regular. (Read more on Lojban history.)

Lojban differed from Loglan in that, like many natural languages used by human speakers, Lojban included the point of view of a speaker. It’s a bit of a kludge, but it works okay. We often like to structure our sentence according to who said them. It’s a major way to give otherwise perfectly logical statements meaning. (See Peircean Logic and Biosemiotics.) Mathematical logic after all is just a set of clever tautologies.

The grammars of many European languages are structured around who said what, and to whom, whether these theys are socially inferior or superior (formal/informal). Or what gender speaker/spoken to/spoken of are, or even what gender non-sexed things are, as ascribed by sex based noun-class systems. Esperanto has this ‘gendering’ in vestigial form. In response, non-gendered versions like Ido have forked–> see Gender Reform in Esperanto).

I’d learn Lojban ahead of the others, and have started in a small way, except is it really that far from learning Klingon?

I’ve been learning Polish over the last year or two and I just can’t stand the crap in the natural languages, the irregularities, the exceptions, and the stupid bits like gender. Polish, like some other Slavic languages even conjugate the past tense of verbs according to the gender. Considering that the subjunctive (could be, might be) is based on these past tense forms it just a massive #fail for me as an adult. Ethnicity, identity is based on this crap? We’re proud of it because we are all idiots together.


Now I don’t want any language to disappear, go extinct, but really? Who gives a flying what gender I am when I say I might go to town tomorrow?

There’s an argument that languages have the grammar they do because babies learn languages and they like regularity but do not tend to judge the sense of that regularity, nor notice that all those exceptions make the regularity a fractal type of thing. Babies just don’t care what they learn. No discrimination, no style control.

So I am in favour of constructed languages, so long as they are not stupid. Tolkien’s Elvish and Klingon are stupid. Fun for a little while but I wish they would go away.

French is a curated language, it’s completely stupid, because political forces are trying to maintain a natural language. Polish is similar to French but it’s not curated so much as fossilized by historical forces.

Yes, English is stupid too, all natural languages are a pain to learn as an adult because of all the irregularities that babies just don’t care about.

Yes, I am blaming babies for the mess. (Can’t find reference as yet).

But what to do?

Lojban is a good start, but I feel like forking it, by starting with the point of view of the speaker, not kludging it on to a substrate of “mathematical logic” (as Peirce would call it).

The inteprenant focus, yeah, and I like those natural languages that structure some of their grammar not according to gender/noun-classes (what a waste of mental processing power!)  but on how the speaker acquired the information, i.e. structuring according to the quality of the information, the meta-information.

The meaning not the logic, but logic ahead of irregular crap.

A well structured grammar, IMHO, would be based on the point of view of the point of view.

Babies just don’t care about that.

Crossposted at spacecollective.org

Boulder Point (place & experience)

2010/09/09 § Leave a comment

Boulder Point

Gum leaves slap my
lips where names slip
like sand between toes.
Water, teatree, east coast
peppermint stand among words
blurred, burned, and bit.
Feet fit the mouth
when country is lost.

Dirt drinks me, rot
finds itself in me,
while skies bleach the
lot into continental time.
Then I move enough
to float like granite.

Fourteen lines, 8/6 and four words a line, but no connotative enjambment. For comparison.

Where Am I?

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