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@20 (Ftrain.com)
Paul Ford's website is 20. I have always liked it.
paulford  writing  internet 
18 hours ago by infovore
@20 (Ftrain.com)

I'm in the middle right now. Young company, young kids, unfinished book, 40s, sore back, facing bariatric uncertainties and paying down the mortgage. 20 years is arbitrary nonsense. A blip. Our software is bullshit, our literary essays are too long, the good editors all quit or got fired, hardly anyone is experimenting with form in a way that wakes me up, the IDEs haven't caught up with the 1970s, the R&D budgets are weak, the little zines are badly edited, the tweets are poor, the short stories make no sense, people still care too much about magazines, the Facebook posts are nightmares, LinkedIn has ruined capitalism, and the big tech companies that have arisen are exhausting, lumbering gold-thirsty kraken that swim around with sour looks on their face wondering why we won't just give them all our gold and save the time. With every flap of their terrible fins they squash another good idea in the interest of consolidating pablum into a single database, the better to jam it down our mental baby duck feeding tubes in order to make even more of the cognitive paté that Silicon Valley is at pains to proclaim a delicacy. Social media is veal calves being served tasty veal. In the spirit of this thing I won't be editing this paragraph.
programming  career  writing 
19 hours ago by WimLeers
Virtual Roundtable on “Compression” | Public Books
Writing has been invented independently as few as three times in the history of the world: in ancient Sumer, in ancient China, and in medieval Mesoamerica. Sumerian cuneiform was likely the inspiration for Egyptian hieroglyphs. Those, in turn, inspired the early Semitic script from which all European and several Asian scripts ultimately derive.... Of the six or seven thousand world languages, fewer than a third are written. Of that third, nearly a quarter are typically written in the Latin alphabet, one of only 50 global writing systems. The alphabet today, in its most common guise—namely, this one—is thus regularly used to transcribe some five hundred languages...

Can we attribute this easy mobility to the alphabet’s efficiency in compressing sounds into symbols? Rather than the 2000–3000 characters one must know to read a Chinese newspaper fluently or the 500–1000 signs used in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, only 20–30 alphabetic characters are needed to record an increasing number of languages. Yet our alphabets’ history reveals just how slippery and complex “compression” is in relation to the messages that it allegedly compresses. ...

Consider the case of vowels. Just as they are absent from most Hebrew written today, marks of vowels were not usually necessary for transcribing ancient Semitic languages. Nor were they absolutely necessary for transcribing ancient Greek; Linear B encoded vowels along with consonants in its syllabary. When Greek speakers adapted characters from the West Semitic script to systematically represent vowels, they in fact expanded the inventory of types of sounds encoded in their writing.
writing  media_history  compression  transcription 
19 hours ago by shannon_mattern

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