Archive for April, 2006

Google Launch, Bad Linguistics ?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15th, 2006 by Bergo

I was reading the article Google launches as ‘Valley Song’ in China the other day, and thought sounded a little strange.

So I asked a chinese colleague of mine. He said “Valley Song” has no meaning, in fact, the only similiarity is that the two chinese characters pronunciation is approximately that of “Google”. Looking at the Wikipedia article on Google, they mention it translates to “Song of the Harvest”. So which is it?

My colleague says they are bastardising a translation where none really exists.

It’s obviously difficult to translate a made up word to a foreign language which does not have the same alphabet. I guess those two characters give chinese speakers the best chance of pronouncing “Google”. Although, Google is pretty much a symbal in itself nowadays.

So did the article get it wrong ? Proabably .. the article was focused on chinese censorship and not really the name for the launch.

Interesting that people try to derive meaning where there possibly is none. In my opinion, they were just trying to represent the sound, and that’s it. So maybe they should have just said “Google launches in China ?”

Halo : Book Review

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6th, 2006 by Bergo

Halo was a good read. It has most of elements of your average cyberpunk novel, Direct Neural Interface, AI, Bioenginering, Cybersex, big corporations, etc. This gem was the first book written by “Tom Maddox“.

Halo was written in 1991, while the cyberpunk genre was in full swing. The story opens with “Gonzales”, an information auditor, getting into his “egg” so that he could have “total involvement through all sensory modalities”. Other story factors involve an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that evolved through interaction with a woman through a direct neural interface, who had an extreme experience. This seemed to be the basis for “the awakening” or intelligence in that application. And there’s also an off world component.

Tom Maddox, according to wikipedia, is a buddy of William Gibson. If you are interested Maddox and Gibson co-wrote two x-files episodes Kill Switch and “First Person Shooter”.

I enjoyed Halo .. good story, good technology, and has aged well .. The mark of good science ficiton.

Rating: 8/10

Echoes of mind and thought

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2006 by Bergo

In the book Cryptonomicon, one of the characters talks about how we get a sense of a person from their email and writing. And that we get to *know* that person through these representations or echoes, even though we haven’t met. Our mind forms an opinion or view to fill in the blanks, probably extrapolated from our own experiences and memories. So, in this way, we get a sense of the person at a subconscious level, because what and how they write gives us an impression from what we have perceived beforehand.

This idea is also echoed in Idoru where laney, a quantitative analyst, finds patterns in personal information (purchase history, plane flights, etc) to gain an understanding of what they’re doing or thinking. While Idoru focuses on laney abilities as a byproduct of an experiment, people do this in some lesser form whenever they consume written information.

Consider blogging or email .. the thoughts are written down, probably not captured completely. Maybe the reader is required to remember other ideas, concepts and events to put these into context, and only then will it have meaning.

But our written language is not how we speak. We first learn to communicate through learning to speak as a child, and only years later do we learn how to read and write it. Speech is a lot more fluid and synchronous, not necessarily bound by correct structure or even completion, but it allows fast feedback. Feedback does not necessarily come in the form of verbal questions. Other feedback such as facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact and other body language carries more information than writing does. I guess this is why video is sometimes better at documentation than just written text. Feedback is an important part of learning or idea transmission. Think of an email conversation bouncing between two people, versus a 2 minute conversation for the same thing. In Snow Crash, there was talk about facial expression being vital in conversation, so when they created the Metaverse it was incorporated into their avatars to aid in communication. Interestingly, we are more and more dealing with people through means where we haven’t met before or spoken. So we just deal with our minds view of them

Our online form, be it written (blogs, email, web pages, etc) or chats (IM) are representations of us, open for interpretation. This makes us faceless constructs of other peoples minds. Maybe this is better, without having an voice sound and accent or visual appearance to discriminate. Avatars in places like Second Life etc a probably not going to look anything like reality, and why would you necessarily want to anyway.

So .. is your mind’s construct of someone else accurate ?