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Re: Emacspeak, Newspeak and Duckspeak



>>>>> "A" == Ann K Parsons <akp@eznet.net> writes:

    A> ... when you need to talk about something and the only common
    A> terminology is FTP...

Precisely.  What do you call the file that contains the inode numbers
of other files plus inode numbers of other files like this one?  In my
generation, we called it a 'directory'. Today, 90% of the popular
literature on sale at my local Coles calls it a folder.  It is in fact
just a file containing a list of files, not really any different from
any other file.  When we talk of common terminology, we need to be
very careful, especially being people emmersed in a culture where the
techno-jargon is the everyday language.  William S. Burroughs believes
language is a virus, a wreckless parasite which uses humans as its
host, destroying them in the process; I tend to agree with Bull about
many things.

In Canada, 1 in 10 Canadians lives in the city of Toronto, but 90% of
all Canadian banking, manufacturing, advertising and mass media are
centered there. There is a great pressure by the media both here and
abroad to believe Canada ends at Yonge and Steeles.  It does not.

In the rest of Canada, we call this attitude "Torontosaurus Rex", and
Torontonians just look at us blank and say "We don't understand what
you mean, but listen, it's only 11pm on a Sunday night: Let's stop
somewhere for a latte and talk about it."  The nearest "latte" to my
office is one cafe in a town 30km from here, the next one is another
100km, and both close up tight at 6pm Saturday.  

Out here, our most exotic midnight coffee is a Tim Horton's Iced
Cappacino; the standard brew calls for a "double double" -- 2 sugar, 2
creams -- and a 'brew' is a beer, not a coffee. The nearest StarBucks
is 217km ... the distance to the edge of Toronto.   That said, the
actual _effect_ of "let's find somewhere to chat" is perfectly valid:
"Let's hit Duffy's for last call".  The human task is the same.

Toronto has heavy linguistic and cultural influences from all over
asia, europe, africa and south america; out here, "multicultural"
means "Cree" or "Ojibiwe"; move another 200km northward, Cree almost
becomes the mainstream.  The boundary line of the digital divide today
is like Steeles avenue: There is a huge, diverse and wonderful world
beyond it which does not include late-night 'latte' and where
'protocol' is still a diplomatic term, but where conversations still
happen.

All this amounts to three points: 

        1) Languages are made by the communities which use them, and
           having shaped our tools, our tools then shape us.

        2) As McLuhan also observed, one's environment is invisible.

        3) I forget what the third one was, but I had one ;)

The hardest thing from inside any culture is to realize you are in
it. As people "in the know" with technology, we have been seduced into
thinking our little world is global and universal, equally applicable
everywhere; developmental psychology calls this "egocentrism", the
belief that all others think and need as we do.  Those psychologists
tell us to expect children to grow out of it by age 3 or 4.  I believe
we instead externalize it, and project it as another facet of our
culture. Whether or not we are aware of it, we grow into community-ego
centrics.

In many respects, documentation is much harder than programming
because it must 'run' on wetware.  We are free to re-interpret
the technical details into new metaphors to describe the audio
desktop, but unless those metaphors have some similarity to the
mythology of the people we target, we fail to serve our audience.  If
"folder" makes more sense than "directory" (considering that LDAP is
also called a 'directory') then maybe it is also time to seriously
re-examine why 50% of north americans have no interest whatsoever in
using computers.

Note that figure: Half-way means there is as much money to be made
selling digital technology to that other 50% as has been made in _all_
the fortunes of Microsoft, Sun, IBM, HP, Cisco, Novell and _everyone_
else, yet all the indices show us curves suggesting the approach of
digital market saturation!  This does not even consider the emerging
markets of South and Central America, mainland China or Africa.  This
is just the potential wealth to be had in old familiar western culture
where everyone knows about french fries and the Big Mac!

Bucky Fuller wrote, "every time I draw a square, I want to step out of
it"; we should never fear stepping out of the comfortable box of our
mental constructs.

Just as a footnote, with my developmental psychologist hat on ;) the
reason children will say "pee pee" is because the sensation of
repetition in the child's brain is very different from the jaded
sensation of a more mature child.  If you have ever played lengthy
sequence-repeat games with a toddler, you know the repetition itself,
the repeat of what just came before, is magical to their cognitive
comprehension.  Even in Chinese, small children say most noun-words
twice, and to reach them, to speak _their_ language, adults are well
advised to emulate their audience rather than foist an invalid
cultural assumption.

    A> Anyway, everything else sounds just great!  I'm looking forward
    A> to the results of all your work.

Ah, me too! :)  Somedays it seems impossibly remote.

-- 
Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@linux.ca>: office voice/fax: 01 519 4222723
T(C)Inc Business Innovations through Open Source http://www.teledyn.com
M:I-3 - Documenting the Linux kernel: http://kernelbook.sourceforge.net

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