Literacy and Numeracy: Stone Axes and Bone Knives


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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The Brain: ZenUniverse: Seven Senses


  1. GREEN: EYE: OCCIPITAL LOBE: visual center of the brain
  2. YELLOW: EAR: TEMPORAL LOBE: sensory center of hearing in the brain.
  3. SKY: NOSE: BRAINSTEM: control of reflexes and such essential internal mechanisms as respiration and heartbeat.
  4. BLUE: TONGUE: PARIETAL LOBE: Complex sensory information from the body is processed in the parietal lobe, which also controls the ability to understand language.
  5. RED:  JAW: FRONTAL LOBE: control of skilled motor activity, including speech, mood and the ability to think.
  6. ORANGE: BODY:  CEREBELLUM: regulation and coordination of complex voluntary muscular movement as well as the maintenance of posture and balance.
  7. GREY: SELF: CORPUS CALLOSUM: The arched bridge of nervous tissue that connects the two cerebral hemispheres, allowing communication between the right and left sides of the brain.


If you look at my first ZenUniverse post, you will see a six column model.  However, the System International Units require seven columns.

Here is a table of two hemisphere intersections.  I am using Latin roots, but you will recognize many of the terms:


Here is a blank table you can print out and experiment with correlations and intersections of your own:





Marshall McLuhan: The Reversal of Media


I just read a great blog post by Michell Tripp.  She announced that she was offended that Guy Kawasaki revealed he had ghost twitterers and unfollowed him comparing him with Milli Vanilli.  But along with her thinking declaring herself a heretic as original being quite boring, I think she is missing a significant point.

The entire trend of the web and technology as a whole is democratization.  By democratization, I mean individuals taking control of technology personally.

After democratization there is the commons that Howard Rheingold talks about: Cooperation.  Individuals opening up to each other and sharing themselves.

However, what Guy is doing is not at all bad.  He is going one step further.  He is turning his cooperative persona into a business.  He has done the personal computation thing. He has done the personal cooperation thing.  Now, he is doing the personal corporation thing.

So, you may have unsubscribed to a corporation, seeking cooperation.  But Michelle’s comparison to Milli Vanilli is off.

Milli Vanilli started off as a corporation posing as personalization.  The incongruity offended everyone.

So, maybe in a sense it is Michelle.  Maybe she is just behind the curve a little.  She does not see the reversal of the phenomena that Marshall McLuhan talked about regarding media.

Personal computation; Personal cooperation; Personal corporation.  What’s next in line?

Marshall McLuhan and Norman Mailer: Artists, Patterns and Morality

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A debate in 1968 that is still relevant today.

Probably the best thirty minutes you could spend this week is hearing these two giants exchange their thoughts.

I agree with McLuhan’s foresight regarding the ascent of the role of the artist to integrate new good patterns on behalf of the global village. I also agree with Mailer’s foresight regarding the ascent of the role of the artist to denigrate new bad patterns on behalf of the global village. This is the crux of their differences and amusingly, they argue past one another.

DemocraNet: Scale-free CPUs, HFGW Networks, Associational DBMSs, Iconic Languages, AlwaysOns and Laypeople


I came across this article in regarding a medical iconic language. This lead me to think about iconic languages in general.

What would happen if we developed non-text languages where icons were not just “terms” but were used as “definitions” as well?

Consider having:

Iconic vocabularies.
Iconic grammars.
Iconic syntax.
Iconic linguistics.
Iconic dictionaries.
Iconic thesaurii.
Iconic wikis.
Iconic semiotics.
Iconic animation.
Iconic context.
Iconic databases.
Iconic functions.
Iconic organization.
Iconic networks.
Iconic events.
Iconic fonts.
Iconic classics.
Iconic metrics.
Iconic audio.
Iconic video.
Iconic mechanio (pressure)
Iconic olfio (smell)
Iconic gustio (taste)
Iconic thermio (heat)
Iconic nocio (pain)
Iconic equilibrio (balance and acceleration)
Iconic proprio (body position)

Such languages already exist. Chinese Hanyu for example. But what if a new global iconic language were developed?

In my reading I am discovering that even words are treated by our minds iconically as symbolic clusters. If the first and last letter of a word is correct the remaining letters in the word can be in any order. In fact, we do the same things with words themselves. We create word clusters and shuffle them around to create sentences. I think language does not have the formula Chomsky came up with using random sets of words arranged syntactically. Words are symbols and sentence fragments are symbols that we connect together. We do the same thing with lists which are basically paragraph fragments. All these fragments are are arranged according to the rules of a scale-free network not a hard wired linguistic structure. I think that would shake Steven Pinker up.

The thing that is necessary to point out is literacy and numeracy does not make us any more or less intelligent. It is a symbolic system like any other that trains us to think in certain ways to process language and quantities. Whatever we do we are simply learning another, perhaps more efficient way of processing symbols representative of reality. Plato thought that literacy was dumbing down his students because they did not memorize and meditate on what they learned, choosing to write it down and put it on the shelf instead. Are our children any different if they choose to let computers deal with the mechanical aspect of literacy and numeracy so they can concentrate on higher order operations? Do we agonize over our children being unable to weave cloth and tailor clothing?

If Marshall McLuhan is right, we are not past the point where we are pumping old media through the new internet media pipe. Text will always be with us, I think because it is just too darned useful. But we will utilize it differently as we become able to record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate using non-textual, non-numeric media and move beyond linear and tabular networks and into netular scale-free networks.

Something that occurred to me about phonetic language like English and syllabic language like Arabic versus iconic language like Hanyu Chinese is a phonetic or syllabic language enable you to encode or decode words according to their sound and store and retrieve them based on a simple index. Hanyu on the other hand provides no association between code and sound. You are dependent on the person you hear the word from to provide the association making coding and decoding author dependent. Iconic storage and retrieval indexes are not always obvious either although they do exist based on the subordinate symbols from which words are composed. The internet poses the remedy to this by enabling the automation of the association between sound and icon and definition.

It seems to me that iconic languages as a technology are undergoing a major evolutionary change that could not be achieved without the internet.

Computing is going through an interesting process:

Note: PL means programming language

Nodular Computer: Mainframe: Priesthoods operate
Nodular Network: ARPANET: Priesthoods connect
Nodular Data: Variable: Noun: Priesthoods Query
Nodular Language: Variable PL: Assembler: Priesthoods Manipulate
Nodular Communication: Variable Packet: TCP/IP Priesthoods Communicate
Nodular Schedule: Sequential Batch

Linear Computer: Minicomputer: Scribes operate
Linear Network: Ethernet: Scribes connect
Linear Data: String dbms: Verb: Scribes Query
Linear Language: String PL: 3GL: Scribes Manipulate
Linear Communication: String Packet: HTML: Scribes Communicate
Linear Schedule: Multi-Tasking

Tabular Computer: Microcomputer: Educated operate
Tabular Network: Internet: Educated communicate
Tabular Data: Relational dbms: Noun Set: Educated Query
Tabular Language: Relational PL: SQL: Educated Manipulate
Tabular Communication: Relation Packet: XML: Educated Communicate
Tabular Schedule: Multi-Threading

What is over the horizon and will accompany Iconic Languages I call “DemocraNet”

Netular Computer: Scale-free CPUs: Laypeople operate
Netular Network: High Frequency Gravity Wave Network: Laypeople communicate
Netular Data: Associational DBMS: Verb Set: Laypeople Query
Netular Language: Assocational PL: Iconic Language: Laypeople Manupulate
Netular Communication: Association Packet: XMPEGML: Laypeople Communicate
Netular Schedule: AlwaysOn

Scale-free CPUs will be solid state computers.  There will be no moving parts at all: Solid State Storage, no fans, no boards and a Network Processor.

High Frequency Gravity Wave Networks will make available bandwidth several factors larger.

Associational DBMSs will allow us to modify databases on the fly without concerns regarding referential integrity or normalization.

Iconic Language will Internationalize visual communication.

XMPEGML as new form of markup language for the standardization of iconic language exchange awaits development.

AlwaysOn would mean that you are always connected to democranet and always processing data.

Everything is in the mix to varying degrees, but each successive community is larger.

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Netular Technology versus Psuedo-Netular Technology


I have been having a very interesting discussion on having expressed my opinion about current information technology and the netular  information technology I would like to see.

The people who have been exchanging their views with me cannot see the forest for the trees.  One is offended that I do not rave about all the social transitions the technologies are offering.  Another spews buzzwords like a chainsaw.  Another assumes my opinion is a product of my impatience for the convergence of the existing technologies.

Einstein once said he would spend a majority of his time defining a problem and a fraction of his time solving it.  A majority of the time on information technology is spent solving and a fraction actually taken to understand.  The consequence is most of the solutions out there are not designed, they are hastily assembled patchworks that because of the inertia of being first on the field are only replaced by further patches.

Our entire system of networks is built upon a foundation of linear and tabular architecture that is present in our CPUs, memory, storage, data structures, programming languages, organization, locations, events and goals.  In reality we are only dabbling in networks and doing an abysmal job of using them to their full effect.  We don’t understand them.

Marshall McLuhan said that when a new media is created the first thing we do is pump old media through it.  That is what we are doing now.  We are taking every form of old media we have and pushing it through the internet.  There is not a single case where we have successfully departed from linear and tabular old media.  I have looked at all the current technology, I have used it, I understand its internals and I stand by what I say.

We need a fundamental change in the way information technology works otherwise we are going to continue with an undesigned brute force attempt to solve our problems without ever understanding them.  The outcome will not be progress, but the perpetuation of flat earth thinking.

Linear and tabular thought are responsible for many of the problems we have in the world.  The biggest is the inability to fully appreciate the uniqueness of everything and everyone in this world.  The supreme example of this has been the long history of Religion, Genocide, Slavery, Nationalism, Imperialism, Racism, Eugenics, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, Marxism, Capitalism and Socialism.  All of them fail us because they depended on linear and tabular models of thought that denied the respect of the individuality of all experience.  True netular thought has the potential to challenge all of these misconceptions.  I think it is appropriate that this transition is on the horizon with the rise of globalism.  I doubt it will be a peaceful transition.

Actually, the insights into the underlying order in networks has made quite a bit of progress. One of the leaders in this area is Albert-Beszlos Barabasi who authored the book “Linked” . Another researcher Kwabena Boahen made a fascinating presentation at TED . There is also the work of Simon Williams that has come up with a new associative database architecture as well as a commercial product, Sentences.

It is time for everyone to fundamentally change the way they think.

Tetrads: McLuhan’s Laws and SQL

I have been going over all the past material in this blog as I am now working on my book. One of the things I am clearing up is my understanding of McLuhan’s Laws of Media known as Tetrads. All that McLuhan discovered and I don’t mean to diminish his work is discover the four manipulations that are possible with any form of media including data.

McLuhan’s four Laws of Media were:

  1. Retrieve
  2. Enhance
  3. Reverse
  4. Obsolesce

The four correspoding manipulations are:

  1. Select
  2. Insert
  3. Update
  4. Delete

Please dismiss any past correlations I made between the Manipulations and Laws of Media with the Six Interrogatives.