Tag Archives: BBC Radio 4

Is the Subatomic Idea Collider (SIC) a Shaggy Doge Story?

I ‘wake’ every morning to BBC Radio 4. Mrs. Woo leaps from bed, showers, breakfasts, brings me coffee then leaves. I lie to myself that I’m about to get up, until 9:00. This morning as the caffeine starts to seep into my brain cells, I realise that two ladies are talking about the Interwebs, good cop, bad cop style. One is a digital native, the other seems scared. The presenter asks if anyone can have 200 real friends. I would ask how she knows anything is ‘real’ but that’s why I’m not allowed on the wireless.

[ Actually, Craig recently asked me if I wanted to be on a radio show but i didn’t think he was serious or find out why. Then there he was on the Interweb radio with my friend Maz. Maybe now he’ll see what a lucky escape he had.]

Was I wrong to exclude backward links from the Collider WIndow? <Beats away thoughts of what a relatavistic time-line looks like with a mental stick.> There’s no time for that now. Or was there? SHUT UP! I’m definitely going to get a mental-stick, once I have enough coupons. (*)

Melvyn Bragg had already been on to advertise his show about ‘States of Matter’. I’d decided to listen mash Melv into my mass-energy-information equivalence theory but as the show starts, the late start and the caffeine hit hard and I ‘need to go pee’. Last night I installed the new BBC iPlayer Radio so I grab my robotic fondle-slab, now playing life 7 seconds ago and put it on the bath. Radio on wire-less. What will they think of next? I amuse myself with thoughts of Archimedes and ‘good ideas in the bath’ then remember last night’s ‘Pointless’; the question about mathematician’s screws and my disgust when they answered “Pythagorus”. Don’t they know what a square he was? (Sorry.) I see that The Sub-atomic Idea Collider is going to need to understand international time differences. I can barely claim that about myself, particularly if it’s a Facebook event.

The broadcast stops. I can just hear the muffled sound of FM from the bedroom, playing the soundtrack of what seconds ago was my potential future, in relativistic terms. I panic then relax. It’s not a problem. I can time-shift the BBC again, ‘later’.

I check. I haven’t lost WiFi, it’s the bloody Internet! This IS serious. I do what any 21st century human would do under stress, I tweet sarcastically over virtual wet string – something about data packets and sending cache as an alternative. Oh well, maybe I’ll do something useful instead today. I hope last night’s move of my ‘book’ sources to Dropbox won’t ‘bite my bottom’, as the Americans say. It’s taken longer to write this than it took to happen. Might this be an issue for the SIC idea?

Maybe the SIC is just a shaggy doge story?

  • So channels
  • Really, all those best friends?
  • Very ‘me’s and ‘you’s
  • Twisty paths of same but different
  • Deep yet meme-ingful
  • Such offline sharings

* = I suggested mental vouchers as what I (laughingly!) call a ‘joke’ but I think it’s a viable idea. Who wouldn’t pay for a sturdy mental concept to be erected in their own mind for the benefit of society? No? Then explain tuition fees to me again… sufficient vouchers allocated at birth, to everyone, to fund free education up to degree level. Post-graduates purchase vouchers from people too stupid to benefit from knowledge, thus buying their electoral support for the idea, in the conventional manner.

** = You’re right, there was no “**” but I thought you might like to know that I HAD lost The Internet. I don’t really think a week is enough notice that my static IP address is going to be changed, do you? Particularly if I haven’t opened the letter yet. Luckily all I needed to do was go on-line and register. On-line?…


Creating the optimum conditions for Noticing Things

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

This morning, during his Reith Lecture on BBC Radio 4, I tweeted “Grayson Perry reported a student saying that contemporary art is about noticing things, as @robinince reported Darwin said about himself” after discovering the mechanism of Evolution.

This afternoon, in ‘Costing The Earth’, also on The Wireless, Tom Heap talked to Eben Bayer, who has developed a replacement for polystyrene, made from mushrooms and agricultural waste. He said “Invention comes from putting two very disparate ideas together”

Are ‘creativity’, ‘discovery’ AND ‘Innovation’ simply about colliding ideas and noticing things? That sounds like you could apply ‘The Scientific Method’ to them, IF we had some sort of “idea collider”, a “notion accelerator” perhaps?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

Steve Jobs

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/stevejobs416925.html#8f4zv5vPx69IxQ76.99


Do words matter?

Before we get into whether information is matter, do words matter?

I think I should have learned to care about the precise meaning of words in English lessons at school but I had to settle for learning only to love words. I came late to linguistic pedantry, under the influence a computer scientist. When you are asking a question at the edge of your understanding, someone deliberately failing to understand you because you have not used precisely the correct jargon words is ‘character building’. Someone made me this way deliberately! Blame Education, not me.

We know what we think. Words are the way we attempt to communicate those thoughts into the minds of another. They are thoughts in transit. They need to be accurate and unambiguous, unless we wish to deliberately confuse, like a politician or a poet. I heard that Stephen Fry (off Twitter) claim, on his ‘Fry’s English Delight’ programme on The Wireless, that we cannot think about a concept until we have a word for it. Clearly, that can’t be true. He also said that native Japanese speakers can’t hear the difference between some Western pronunciations, unless they are exposed to them at an early stage in their development. Were those sounds invented in early humans by children, in an early form of Yoof-Speak, unintelligible to their elders? That’s more believable.

How do we agree on the meaning of words? Generally, we don’t. We absorb them. We learn by example. Since the invention of the dictionary, we may look them up occasionally and get them defined in terms of some other words we think we understand better. It’s a bit like science. We build on what we think we Know, until someone embarrasses us by proving we were wrong.

As a culture, we move forward; defining new words, selecting which are the best and most useful ones to keep, refining and adjusting. We develop the nuance and subtlety that allows us to progress then occasionally we make a pointless ritual sacrifice. “Methodology” is such a word. It has a perfectly good meaning: ‘the study of methods’, where a ‘method’ is a way of doing something. Somewhere along the way, some idiot, probably in marketing, decided that if his company was going to make a killing telling people how to glue a few methods together in a fairly obvious way and pretend it was new, they were going to need a more impressive word – maybe something that sounded a bit clever. Ologies are clever, they’re all sciencey! They could call this “methods framework” (yes kids, there was a perfectly acceptable alternative) a “methodology”. They could spend a gazillion Euro-Dollars on promoting it until more people have heard of this usage than of the actual science.

Now what do we call the study of methods? We don’t call it anything without a debate and confusion and ambiguity. It may be easier to just stop THINKING ABOUT methodology altogether and BUY one. They’d like that wouldn’t they?

If someone is trying to sell you a methodology, they’re saying you look the kind of person who doesn’t like to think too much.