Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Banapana In Brief for 1/29/13

Terrorist Twitterers

Boing Boing reports that a twitter account associated with Somali terrorists has been suspended. The terrorists have issued statements to the effect that they believe this has occurred because the West is afraid of them getting their message out through non-mainstream channels. From Reuters:

“They shut it down because our account overpowered all the Christians’ mass media and they could not tolerate the grief and the failure of the Christians we always displayed (online).”

Aside from it being somewhat humorous that they sound like incensed teenagers, I find it hypocritical that they don’t seem to recognize Twitter as an invention of the West. It’s kind of hard to believe that if they had their desired caliph-state (see Afghanistan pre-2001) that they would have come up with Twitter… or the Internet for that matter—kind of a Western-scientific invention, that.

On That Note

The Internet is going to transform the way that government works. No, seriously, it is, one day. That’s sort of the topic of Clay Shirky’s engaging Ted talk. From Ted:

“Clay Shirky argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible — with deep social and political implications.”

Clay Shirky’s best idea yet (IMHO) is that the Internet is creating spare cognitive cycles that he calls a cognitive surplus. In short, the human race (in first-world counteries, anyway) have been largely a consumption-oriented group because of the nature of our broadcast media. The Internet has largely turned that idea on its head and is maker producers of us all, as well as allowing for the coordination of groups across the world to create markets that would otherwise be relegated to obscure micro-niche status. How McCluhan! He details this in his book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. I haven’t read it yet, but this is definitely on the short list of books to review here on Banapana.

Is Siri the Future?

This one’s been being bandied about for a while. I wrote about it in 2005 along with DJ Adams over at Openp2p primarily asking the question if a language user-interface (LUI) might be the next real option to the graphic user interface (GUI). I think so, but the cognitive power behind these systems really still has a ways to go, as evidenced, I think, by the fact that we were asking this question in 2005. Still, Kontra, of CounterNotions adds to the debate pointing out some new developments such as Siri operating without a screen in cars as adopted by nine different automakers. To me, processing power in the client device is still a big stumbling block for this interface. Play a game with a friend to see my point. Arm yourself with iPhones and try to answer some inane question1 like “What was the name of the comedian that starred with Kevin Bacon in ‘A Few Good Men’?” All results will get you to the IMDB page for “A Few Good Men”—definitely where the answer is. (Hint: the comedian’s name is Kevin, too.) To put it mildly, Siri will take longer, but not, because the answer is elusive, but rather because parsing that particular question takes a while—it’s a long question is my point. I suppose that if you’re not great at thumb-typing, the advantage is moot. Looks like it’s time to update my LUI editorial. 🙂

  1. Really inane. There are still lots of simple questions that totally stump Siri and Google Now 

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