Literacy and Numeracy: Stone Axes and Bone Knives

stonetoolsboneknives

Ultimately, everything is metaphor, whether we relate a taste to a strawberry or a color to a sound.  I use the word synesthesis broadly to describe the mechanism in memory that makes this possible.  The more I read, the more I am discovering that the structure is relatively the same in most individuals, but the perceptual history of every individual shapes the content of this structure differently.

There is some research that shows identical twins when together take different paths, however separated identical twins take similar paths.  You can find this in the work of Steven Pinker.

What is known is multiple sensory cues are better than individual sensory cues.  A visual cue will have a synergistic effect in memory when accompanied by other sensory cues including what I call the “cognitive sense”.  This being the case, the classroom is a terrible environment for learning and it is generally better to be immersed and learning in an environment with as many real sensory cues as possible right from the start.  This is why immersion is regarded as the best way to learn language although there are some caveats.

Steven Pinker has found that restricting language does limit people in their thinking, however in a generation the children build complete grammars with the language they are given and even coin new words as their experience dictates.  Language is a living, evolving thing within and across generations and cannot be contained in a 1984 fashion.  Nor is it wise to attempt to freeze a language you are studying, because it is a moving target.  Spelling guides, pronunciation keys, dictionaries, thesauruses, quotations, encyclopedias, news was never meant to police your thinking, but to equip you to think more broadly than your current abilities.  You weren’t meant to follow these books, you were meant to read to lead.  The books were meant to follow you.

Memory is infinitely flexible.  We are continually living a life where our mental data is accumulating and where we encounter crisis, climax and resolution or some variation mentally and we make the mental leap or stand on the cliff edge unable to evolve and cornered by our past.

Physics, Chemistry, Chronology, Geology, Psychology, Biology, Mathematics are the foundation stones of our sensory perception and our symbol systems and every one of these symbol systems evolves as we accomplish a phase change in any one due to an accumulation of exceptions until the system on which the symbols are based breaks down.  We call these phase change points “zero” and “infinity”, but zero and infinity are only place holders on a continuum be it linear, geometric, exponential or hyperbolic that has yet to show a limit of any kind.  All they mark are phase changes.

As Goedel demonstrated mathematically no system is complete, therefore no symbol system is complete.  There will always be phenomena that have yet to be represented and cannot be represented by the present system.  This is true for any language as well.  Listen to the phenomenal aural vocabulary of our youth as they imitate the sounds of their environment such as instruments and devices that our previous generation never heard.  Can we capture those “sound effects” with our current alphabet or icons?  I listen to children and youths communicating without uttering a single word in any language.  They communicate in the sounds and visual action of their home entertainment systems!  Anime is creating a world of children who speak a language their parents cannot fathom unless they are watching what their children watch.

And don’t be surprised to find children are no less intelligent than we were.  They don’t need the literacy we had to function in their environment quite effectively.  Measures of literacy and numeracy are irrelevant justifications for perpetuating an obsolete educational system.  The problem isn’t your children, it’s your educators.  Your children will define what communication will be in the future and we have to learn their lingua, not teach them ours.  Educators refusing to make the leap are, as Elliot said, “hollow men”.  Our children’s communication tools and cognitive abilities are in many ways superior to the cognitive tricks we use to think literally and mathematically with alphabets and numbers.  And that is all they are, a bag of tricks hammered into us for over twelve years.  Our literacy and numeracy tools are like stone axes and bone knives compared to what our children are using now.  Children can compose in video, audio, events, graphics, text, gesture and digits faster than we ever could read, rite and rithmatic with our pencils.  What makes our technology so exceptional or even worth preserving?  Are you still using a stone axe?

Welcome to the world of Marshall McLuhan.  Make the leap and learn the new media.  Let your children get on with computing.

The next time your child gets poor results on a literacy or numeracy test, tell the teachers to get their shit together and teach new media or find another job.

Love your children not your herd teachers.

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English, Globish and English Mania

2 Billion non-English speaking people are learning English as the language of international trade.

Globish: The New International Language

mfl

France has lost the language war.  Globish, a new form of pidgin English is being used within France and by businessmen internationally to communicate.  If the trend continues I am sure this will become a full blown dialect within one generation.

BBC Article: Globish

Icons: Systema Iconic Language: Part IV

sixnetworks.jpg

I have been thinking about all I have read to this point and something occurred to me this evening.  There are no such thing as nodes and links.  There are only equilibrium and non-equilibrium states respectively.  Newtonian Thermodynamics only describes equilibrium states.  It does not account for the transition between states when equilibrium does not exist.  So it is with all networks.

When you navigate the web, you are actually moving from one HTML equilibrium state to another HTML equilibrium state.  The page metaphor is concealing the conceptual character of the process.

Back to Basics

The web navigation buttons on a browser are also deceptive.  They do not reveal the logical consistency between the navigation of hypertext networks and goal networks, contact networks, service networks, product networks, location networks, event networks and unit networks.  The consistency between the many forms of media is also concealed by not recognizing that all forms of media are networks transitioning between equilibrium and non-equilibrium states.  It is important to recognize that any form of process or data structure is really a network, even relational databases are simply lattice networks.

iconic_universals_verb4

The above Icons are the only ones you need to deal with “step” and “loop”, two of the three “linear” processes for navigating any network.  In reality there is no such thing as a linear network.  There is only a path through a set of equilibrium states connected by these non-equilibrium states.  The remaining “decision” is not a binary decision, but a case or switch which is represented by hyperlink icons.

In reality, with the option to back track and break continuity by creating new browser windows, navigation of the web is much more like Prolog than say Basic or C.

It is that simple.  The above icons are the universal icons for navigation of any network, the rest irregardless of conceptual and physical meaning are hyperlinks.

I think it is significant to indicate the target state for hyperlinks through use of icon background shape and color, and to indicate target context through the use of icon foreground content.  This would make hyperlink icons much more communicative and universal.  As also discussed, hyperlink content could be presented as picticons (picture icons), graphicons, (graphic icons), liticons (text icons), sonicons (sound icons), anicons (animated icons) or vidicons (video icons) that exhibit proscribed behavior when rolled over.

Icons: Systema Iconic Language: Part I

In this series of posts I will be exploring the concept of an iconic language built upon the vocabulary I have been incrementally creating as part of the Systema Framework.

Abstract Relationships

enterpriserelateabstract

Concrete Relationships

enterpriserelateconcrete1

I have worked with icons before and this is a revisit of some of those ideas as well as modifications.

Apport Icon Set

The Apport icon set defines the entities that can exist in a system:

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Accord Icon Set

The Accord Icon set defines the relationships that can exist in a system:

iconsrelate2

Below is a cross product of the Apport and Accord Icon sets:

enterpriserelateicons2

Record Icon Set

I am sure that the icon set below is familiar if you have followed my blog.

iconsrecord1

Note that the cross product below is only for the entities themselves and not for their relationships.

enterpriserecordicons

Properly utilized, an iconic language would allow you to build sentences out of the individual icons interactively.

I plan to continue to think about this subject further and will update as I go along.

Below are links to web pages and pdf documents I have read so far on the topic:

If You Don’t Like the Speed, Get Off the Ride

We have lived in “exponential times” since the big bang (if there was one)

VIDEO

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The Brain: Hardwiring and Softwiring

I’m just finishing a very fine book by Steven Pinker, The Languange Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

and several years ago I read Donald D. Hoffman’s book, Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See. Both books deal with the same subject: What part of our minds are hardwired–instinct–and what parts of our minds are softwired–reason. It is a truly fascinating exploration.

Stephen Pinker in The Language Instinct very thoroughly explores all the aspects of spoken language. He discusses how broken pidgin languages are turned into grammatically rich creoles by children. He explains that whether a person learns a language or not they can have complex thought he calls Mentalese. He explains Chomsky’s concept of a Universal Grammar and how, with language, learning does not cause mental complexity, but mental complexity causes learning. He reveals that children have an acute sense of the morphology of words and rapidly acquire vocabulary as listemes because of the nature of the relationship between child, adult and reality. The perception of speech as well as the physical production of speech is explored. How we derive meaning from language rejects the technical concept of packets being transmitted and received for a much more subjective process of interpretation. The ability of children to learn language is treated as an evolutionary trade off existing only long enough to adopt the tribes language and then shutdown to make way for other special priorities. The “Language Organ” or region of the brain that is responsible for speech is narrowed down. The chain of being is pushed aside for the bush of evolution to reveal that hundreds of thousands of generations existed for language and homo sapiens sapiens to evolve separate from all our other primate cousins. The difference between living spoken language is separated from living written language, the discipline required for each and the fact that language is never in decay. Finally the relativism of the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) or tabula rasa as proposed by Margaret Mead is rejected, Pinker takes sides with the Evolutionary Psychologists stating that environment alone cannot create the complexity of the mind, the mind must have many complex modules to be able to learn from the environment at all. He discusses Donald E. Brown’s Universal Person (UP) inspired by Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (UG). Finally, Pinker tries to define the modules of the human mind and here I get excited as I find I am able to fit them easily into the Six Hats, Six Coats model. Pinker says that language is a system and extrapolates to say humans are a system of both hardwiring and softwiring.

Hoffman’s book deals with an aspect of mind that more easily subscribes to the module concept than language because it is a much more detached, empirical exercise to test for the visual hardwiring that humans have through the use of visual illusions. Hoffman takes us through many aspects of vision such as facial recognition, edge and shadow and color and the perceptual development of children to reveal what appears to be hardwired and softwired. He concludes with a relativistic statement, but I think that he chooses this because of the political desire of scientists to distance themselves from the eugenics of the first half of the 20th century instead of an objective conclusion that, yes, we have a complex module in our brain specifically hardwired and softwired for vision as used by our species. In other words, when presented with the depth of Steven Pinker’s work compared to the breadth of Donald Hoffman’s work, I believe that we do have a vision instinct.

All in all I believe that Steven Pinker’s and Donald Hoffman’s work is revealing that humans minds are far more than just an empty neural net at birth. That in fact there is an evolved complex predefined structure that humans make use of through the learning stages of childhood to understand their environment that diminishes to adult levels at puberty. Consequently, no form of Artificial Intelligence will succeed unless it also comes with a robust collection of Artificial Instincts.

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