Typo (4): (no) Standard English

[The task of documenting all the words in the English lanuguage] no longer seems finite. Lexicographers are accepting the languages boundlessness. They know by heart Murray’s famous remark: “The circle of the English language had a well defined centre but no discernable circumference.” In the centre are the words everyone knows. At the edges, where Murray placed slang and cant…

Typo (3): the myth of correct spelling

Ironically – considering the frequency with which school children use it for exactly this purpose – the Oxford English Dictionary never set out to specify “correct” spelling. For “mackerel”, the second edition in 1989 listed 19 alternative spellings. The unearthing of sources never ends, though, so the third edition revised entry in 2002 listed no fewer than thirty: maccarel, mackaral,…

Podcasts: starting points for learning about AI

Stuart Russell on After On with Rob Reid A thought provoking interview and excellent introduction that sounds a note of caution about AI and gives good reasons for doing so. Highlights include: some interesting stuff about how people and robots process goals and the huge number of actions and priorities that make up a single ‘simple’ action (around 32 minutes);…

Counting stamps

Examining the economics of the mail, he [Charles Babbage] pursued a counter-intuitive insight, that the significant cost comes not from the physical transport of paper packets but from their “verification” – the calculation of distances and the collection of correct fees – and thus he invented the modern idea of standardised postal rates. James Gleick – The Information: a History, a…

Structure Counts: Information Architecture reading list and who’s who

I know almost nothing about Information Architecture, but I’ve been thinking a lot about structuring information recently. Here’s the metaphor: Jacques Carelman‘s famous Coffee pot for Masochists. All the pieces are there, but it just. doesn’t. work. We’ve all used badly put together tools, instruction manuals, software, doors. At best they’re slower and frustrate us. At worst, they cause us to…