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December 27, 2008

Informationalized conversation

In his important 1996 book, Using Language, Herbert H. Clark opens Chapter 7 by analyzing two lines of conversation between ” a British academic” and “a prospective student”:

When Arthur says “u:h what modern poets have you been reading -” he doesn’t want Beth merely to understand what he means — that he wants to know what modern poets she has been reading. He wants her to take up his question, to answer it, to tell him what modern poets she has been reading. She could refuse even though she has understood. To mean something, you don’t have to achieve uptake, and to understand something, you don’t have to take it up. Still, Beth’s uptake is needed if she and Arthur are to achieve what Arthur has publicly set out for them to do at this point in their interview. p. 191

My first response, and probably yours, is: Well, duh But that’s the point. The fact that Clark has to explicitly state that we ask questions usually in order to get a response is evidence of just how deeply we’ve adopted the information-based paradigm that says that communication consists of the transfer of messages from one head to another. Language is a social tool used by embodied creatures to accomplish complex and emergent projects in a shared world. The transfer of messages is the least of it.

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October 21, 2008

New issue of my (free) newsletter: JOHO, Oct 18, 2008

Contents

Exiting info:
As we exit the Information Age, we can begin to see how our idea of information has shaped our view of who we are.

The future from
1978:
What a 1978 anthology predicts about the future of the computer tells us a lot about the remarkable turn matters have taken.

A software idea: Text from audio: Anyone care to write software that would make it much easier to edit spoken audio?

Bogus Contest: Name that software!

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Last Thursday, I had a discussion with Charlie Nesson and Aaron Shaw at the Berkman Center about the first article in this issue. You can see some clips of the conversation here:

1
2 [Note: In this I misspeak and say info is noise; I meant to say that noise is info. I just noticed my error. Oops.]
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August 5, 2008

We and information

David Reed has posted a reminder that communications is only understandable from the top of the stack down. It is about the we, not the individual acts, much less only about how messages get passed. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone involved from the beginning in the protocols of Internet message-passing .

From my little corner, what David says is a good example of why considering the Net only or primarily as an information medium is insufficient (although obviously information theory is crucial at various layers of the stack).

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May 31, 2008

Andrew Hinton on info, meaning, and all the rest

Andrew Hinton has posted the annotated slides of his talk at the Information Architecture Summit. While it ultimately is aimed at IA’s who are struggling with their profession’s identity (i.e., all IA’s), Andrew’s talk is quite broad and fundamental, and also engaging and creative. Well worth the read. [Tags: ]

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