Nov 22, 2013

Antisocial media

We’ve heard it all, repeatedly: social media, ironically, is (are?) making us more antisocial. Technology (especially, again ironically, communications technology) is separating us rather than bringing us together. We have ‘relationships’ conducted entirely online. We stare at our mobile phones rather than make eye contact with the people in front of us. We text each other rather than engage in face-to-face conversations. Try doing a Web search of the word antisocial and any combination of media, technology, and phone, and you will find numerous opinions on the debate. And every time I come across yet another rant on any side of the issue, I am reminded of this classic passage from Geoffrey Chaucer’s House of Fame (lines 644-660). The Eagle is lecturing the hapless Geoffrey:

British Library MS Lansdowne 851, fol. 2r (detail).
. . . thou hast no tydynges
Of Loves folk yf they be glade,
Ne of noght elles that God made;
And noght oonly fro fer contree
That ther no tydynge cometh to thee,
But of thy verray neyghebores,
That duellen almost at thy dores,
Thou herist neyther that ne this;
For when thy labour doon al ys,
And hast mad alle thy rekenynges,
In stede of reste and newe thynges
Thou goost hom to thy hous anoon,
And, also domb as any stoon,
Thou sittest at another book
Tyl fully daswed ys thy look;
And lyvest thus as an heremyte,
Although thyn abstynence ys lyte.

Nov 6, 2013

Models for Text

The paper I gave in New York recently, at an INKE conference, tentatively explored the idea that multiple models for text are desirable because humans use text in various ways. The four models for text I proposed, by way of example, are summarised in this table: