Thursday, August 26, 2010

Discreet Illusion of Academic Freedom

The latest JSTOR imbroglio - see here and here for instance - culminates in the wisdom of concealment: 
Giving libraries the power to change the default setting such that non-accessible articles remain hidden is now a “number one priority,” see: Inside Higher Ed

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 23, 2010

McCandless at TED on beautiful data

The seductive power of visualizing data, beautifully explored by David McCandless. Many great moments - near the end, he touches on the requirements of and desired aesthetic preferences for the visual image - for balance, for symmetry, for beauty - and how simply obeying them can cause a change in thought. To what extent is thinking dependent on images it likes to believe are merely helpful utilitizations? How can we know if the beauty of data usurps truth?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Question about signs

AKMA remarks on a seemingly hasty and confused NPR piece about "symbols" and evolution:
I’m persuaded that we do better to theorise about meaning on the broader, more prevalent evidence of non-verbal expression and inference.
As AKMA notes, NPR's Alix Spiegel enjoys making huge radio leaps in causality and time without acknowledging that we are leaping. I would merely note that this seems in line with numerous other signs of flimsy, careless, and negligent editorial oversight inside the All Things Considered production effort. Not the first time to wonder if the program should be named Certain Things Adverted To Via Single Source Marketeers, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Punishingly Cute RadioTricks (CTATVSSMADDAPCRT.)

All Things Considered

One problem with the piece is, it mushes various signifying modes into one catchall word, "symbol." An entire field deriving from Pierce and de Saussure in the last century tried to make some headway in sorting out different modes of signification, even as grammar theory and rhetorical analysis looked more closely at the conditions of making meaning, the tricks of arranging signifiers and the tropes that mould, bend, and transfer signification. But hey, this is NPR radio, we're doing science here, not egghead, or even eggcorn,stuff not on the radar of our sponsors.

My question for AKMA is, to what extent he views "non-verbal expression and inference" to be distinct from linguistic entanglement. That is, are we to view verbal language as a subset of a larger realm of signifying powers that may use different sensory and expressive means, but share, at some more basic level, the same structures that produce meaning? Or is it more a matter of other modes of representing meaning that fall completely outside the material, means, and ends of verbal forms and communicative structures?

I ask because while it certainly seems worth saying that the study of meaningful articulations all too frequently remains narrowly concerned with verbal forms of language, it seems equally fair to suggest that in our haste to comprehend all kinds of signs, artifacts, and modes of expression within terms like "symbol," we tend to minimize the role of words, of linguistic structures. We tend to see the verbal element as non-problematic, which might be the same as saying we tend to not see them at all. We overlook our linguistic medium with all its peculiar properties and peculiarities and still not very well understood manners of development in time, we take its apparent transparency for an open window, and leap to conclusions about evidence, truth, objectivity, and so forth with NPR-like ease.

So that's my question to AKMA, who has a longstanding fascination with non-verbal expression, but not just to him -- to you as well, allthingsconsidering reader: If human nature involves making signs, do our modes of expression in all their multifarious glory relate to the verbal order, and if so, how, or do they seem to you to exist free from it?

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Hard to find

Mike, who used to blog frequently as informant38 among other personae, could well be - in fact, is - my candidate for Quartermaster of Microsustainability, if ever we all must go aboard a fragile ship in a dark time. He lives on virtually nothing in a rural area of CA. To get to a networked computer anymore he has to hike, or hitchhike, quite a ways.

This hasn't prevented him from blogging here and here, as well as other places. The top photo of informant38 always clicks through to another photo. The relationships between them are fascinating (often involving flags and pyramids).

Some of Mike's words:

Elements of the flag/pyramid juxtapositions can be found here and here.

He uses words, images, sounds, colors, links and does not stop, regardless of how precarious his perch on this world becomes. I used to hear from him fairly often, but now more rarely.

The donate button is here, or here.

Labels: , ,