The 3 authors Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein have published in 2021 the impressive attempt to sell statistics to non-statisticians. The grip on the topic: “Noise. A Flaw in Human Judgment” is a bit misleading. Even the German translation (“Was unsere Entscheidungen verzerrt”), in my opinion, is grossly misleading. The work deals with judgment, or arriving at a sensible judgment. Decision-making is only the next step with a lot of other intervening processes. The German philosophical term since the enlightenment period has been “Urteilskraft“. We are all more or less familiar with the notion “bias” in judgment. Me, originating from the Moselle, will always be biased in favor of a Riesling compared to other vines. In addition to this naive bias I may apply a more professional judgment on wine. Testing several wines even from the same small area from the Moselle valley and then repeating the tasting I might make a noisy judgment. “When wine experts at a major US wine competition tasted the same wines twice, they scored only 18% of the wines identically (usually, the very worst ones).” (p. 80). In addition to the previously defined form of “level noise, pattern noise and system noise” (p.77), we have occasion noise, when judgments vary from an overall statistical perspective.
Having received a second dose of a vaccination yesterday and having spent an unpleasant night my judgment for this review might be biased, because of impatience. So in order to reduce bias and variants of noise I shall repeat the review at a later stage. Let’s see what this returns. But for today, the Epilogue “A less noisy world” (p.377) appears rather odd to me. It is probably an illusion to believe that we can create a less noisy world, even with the best of wishes. The authors abstract from any strategic use of noise to influence judgments. The political form of choosing judges for Constitutional Courts in the U.S. needs to be dealt with. Noise in judgments is an important element, but strategic use of bias might be more influential to impact outcomes. Noise, when faced with a judge who has a reputation to be very tough in sentences might be overturned in an appeal court decision. There are plenty of procedural ways to overcome noise in judgments. I agree with the authors that you better know about the noise in judgments than ignore it. Awareness of random errors and noise involved in grading exams and recruitment decisions have determined many excellent “failures” to leave historic contributions to our world. In music, maths or literature some splendid talents probably have been impeeded at earlier stages of their life to make average or normal careers. Some of them left us with fantastic pieces thanks to the noise in judgment of others.
There seems to be an age bias in the tolerance of noise in the acoustic sense. Noise in the statistical sense has left a strong mark on me when I learned about white noise as error or stochastic process.
Image Kahneman, Sibony, Sunstein 2021. p3.
Construction as an industrial sector was growing strongly in the last decade. Corona crises, supply chain disruptions have slowed growth in the last two years, but the sector was still growing in terms of employment. The topic of skill and employee shortages hardened from year to year. In March 2023 the sector has more time to reflect on the somehow rapid, if not sometimes chaotic growth of the previous decade. The macro-economic scenario has changed now. Following on supply chain disruptions, we saw the high inflation rates of raw materials. The war of Russia against Ukraine caused energy prices to soar and eventually come down again. Latest worry is the increase in interest rates to finance construction projects of public, private and the business sector.
The whole sector is known for its economic role of forerunner of economic cycles, up or down. So, what are the prospects? Not so rosy, as the experts explain for example on the expert forum of the Belgian construction forum. The official from the Belgian National Bank announced a rather bleak outlook for the sector. New construction is stalling, but the renovation of buildings, especially for the purpose of reducing energy consumption is still strong and growing. Long-term reduction of emissions keeps the sector busy, thanks to the EU green deal in my opinion. The public, private and business investments in buildings all keep growth from turning negative. 2 big worries remain: (1) skill shortages and the lack of employees signalled in job openings in the sector is high and still rising; (2) the scarcity of women employed in the sector is still trailing most other sectors. Most companies have seen earnings grow over the last decade, sufficient time to build up reserves for the tougher quarters to come. Skill shortages and gender biases are harder to overcome. The Construction Forum in Brussels addressed both topics and tries to convince employers and the younger generation. Construction companies have to work on their male-dominated image was one of the take home messages Hélène de Troostemberg, the Director of Build Up pronounced.
It is not certainly not enough to have a woman as moderator of a panel and an all-female singers group accompanying the presentations. Women as architects, technicians and builders will make the sector even more attractive for the next generation of men as well. Aging of employees in the sector is another tough issue waiting for innovative solutions. Digitalisation of every step in the value chain is an additional necessary step. The leadership and trade unions in the sector are well aware of these facts. Maybe next year women engineers will pilot the robotics demonstration rather than being in charge of building a nice atmosphere with their songs. I must admit I liked the intro song to the Forum: “We build this city on rock ‘n role”, but I am less sure whether rock ‘n role will solve the gender and recruiting issue of the sector. However, naming and framing the problem(s) is already part of the solution.
In cultural performances it is always interesting to refer back to titles given or attributed for example to music pieces. Dumky is the title of Antonin Dvořák’s 4. Klavier-Trio opus 90. In the late 19th century Antonin Dvořák found inspiration in the notion of Dumky. Rather than just composing a “Trauergesang with few joyful intermezzi” he creates a new form for this Trio containing, quite unusual, 6 parts. Dvořák plays around with structure and sharp swings from “piano to forte” parts, “moll to dur” intonations reflecting sorrow and joy in frequent and refreshing short sequences. It feels sometimes like fireworks, but at times the sorrow of soldiers and their families becomes evident as well. However, the music proves resilient. Knowing that Dumky is a Ukrainian word and notion, the choice of one of the masterpieces of Antonin Dvořák close to the 24.2.2023, the day of the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine is a commemoration of the sorrow caused by war and ways to overcome it. The “Concerts de Midi” of the Musée des Instruments de Musique” allowed us to travel through Ukraine a bit and experience the longing for better times. Joy will eventually prevail there again just listen to Dvořák’s version of the Dumky. Superb and effectful presentation of the work by the “Trio Impression” made for a memorable lunch break in the city centre of Brussels. The (virtual) visit of the Museum should be one of the attractions of visitors to Brussels as well, not just for the Art Nouveau architecture, but for the inclusive “global music” collection.
The animation festival “Anima” in Brussels is a good chance to catch up with new trends in the field (teasers). AR and VR animation is taking the first few time slots there as well. As much as it is important to allow visits behind the scene in opera houses, it is part of our common knowledge to understand the creation of animated films. This pedagogic mission is taken seriously at “Anima”. Taking the example of the animation “Un amour de cochon“, with several farm stages where Babs and Oink are exposed in the original small scale production scenery for the animation. However, it needs a lot of professionals to let a story come alive (Images below).
The short AR films represented seem to get carried away with futuristic city and landscape designs, which you experience in 360° turning your head with the heavy headset. Beyond the futuristic, historic or folkish settings chosen, the intended message, narrative or story is key. A metaverse immersion experience alone is tedious, if there is not a strong emotion or message connected to the immersive images. Sitting at the bar in front of a virtual drink is a bit dry, but the Paul Klee experience conveys a terrifying message. Totalitarian regimes use unimaginable brutality in wars and against their own people and artists. This has not changed. Animations catch specific (younger) audiences and therefore we surely will have more of this kind of imagination become real, or virtual or a real virtual experience.
In family histories we like to look on tree-like linking structures. Most frequently the choice is the descendant perspective (Top down). X, Y, Z have been the children of A and B and so on for a couple of generations. Bottom-up perspectives are equally feasible and modern patchwork families have more widespread representations of their families. Those representations were easy to do as families were lifelong bonds. Shorter family bonds, previously mainly caused by pre-mature deaths, are more common as people might have different partners and off-springs at different periods of their life course. Drawing family trees then looks more like a network structure of several families. History and literature is full of stories of how families aimed to keep their genealogy simple to the outside world. Modern days are no exception to this. Law had to adapt to these societal facts and changes thereof. Comparing decades over the last century there is, in my view, the remarkable trend to allow for more complexity in family histories, even after the 60s leading to many complete ruptures of family ties and links throughout the 70s and 80s.
With reducing fertility rates in most, not only western regions of the world, medical demography is back on the agenda. Similar to family trees, new forms of identifying promising pharmaceutical products have moved to more data-driven disease insights. Historically the local medical doctor had an overview about the likelihood of diseases following family’s medical histories over generations. Data-driven analyses, supported by data analytics and/or AI support, can learn permanently about potential and actual risks. New links of diseases are discovered this way extending the family doctor’s view of risks to watch out for in patients. Additional remedy and marketing potentials of existing drugs are also detected this way, beyond anecdotal evidence. Research published in the “Journal of biomedical semantics” by Vlietstra et al. (2020) classifies disease trajectories to construct knowledge graphs of biomolecular interactions. What previously a medical doctor in region could infer from his medical records in a less systematic way, can now be analysed on big data sets of countries, continents or even the global scale. Data is knowledge, and some already know, that this data-driven knowledge is worth a lot of money. Linking previously and seemingly unrelated facts or events, just like becoming aware of more complex family trees through DNA-analyses is the medical part of history. How we deal with this as families or societies as a whole, is the trickier part. Structural changes of societies are marked by decades-like changes, but specific events like “Fukushima”, Tschernobyl or other man-made rather than natural disasters have created new forms of contamination and the spreading of it. In addition to family trees we need broader consideration for knowledge bases to demonstrate, for example, the spread of cancer in the networked society. Additionally this evidence should have a stronger recognition in courts as prove of contamination lines. Statistical reasoning is more likely to become court-relevant. Hence, train the legal profession beyond what “statistical discrimination” is like. Causal mechanisms are manifold. Some are more likely than others. Semantic knowledge graphs remind us of the presence of reverse causality many relationships. Scientists need an optimistic state of mind to abstract from many intervening processes on health, be they tiny micro- or bigger macro-level societal effects.
The self portrait is a timely topic for an exhibition of photography. As part of the European month of photography (EMOP), the PhotoBrusselsFestival offers a good overview of what photography deals with in the 21 century. The Korean cultural centre (KCC) in Brussels has a long tradition to serve as an exposition in the centre of Brussels (Sablon) and is joining this year’s photo festival. The 2023 photography festival has the “Self-Portrait” as a guiding theme. Rather than entering the debate about “portrait chosen or portrait endured” (Photographica 5,2022) the self-portrait has more degrees of freedom in it. Even if it is apparently a choice to portrait oneself, there are ample examples, where the urge to produce a self-portrait is part of a wider concern for fundamental issues.
The exhibition of 5 artists from Korea at the KCC invites us to reflect on the pervasive self-portrait practice all around us. The self-portrait is not only a tool of self-reflection, which has a long tradition in art (just think of a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer of himself), but self-portraits are also pervasive on media and social media today. Additionally, the self-portrait is a powerful tool of thinking and imagining yourself at various stages of the life-course. For centuries it had been a social or political privilege to have your portrait taken. It still is to some extent, but only if the person taking the photograph, has a special reputation. In a market difference to the selfie, the exhibition of artists in the KCC highlights the process of self-reflection that is part of creating the portrait as well as the ensuing reflection by the spectator. In looking at the self-portrait of the photographer, we might involuntarily deal first with our own perception of the image. Danger, dreams, fantasy, sorrow, pain, self-assertion and reconstruction of the self, all these themes come to mind when confronted with the self-portraits of the 5 artists (Bae Chan-hyo, Jeong Yun-soon, Lee Jee-young, Ahn Jun, Choi Young-kwi).
KCC director Kim Jae-hwan names this collection, curated by Seok Jae-hyun, “An odyssey of images leading to self-re-flection”. In referring back to the protagonists in novels from Hermann Hesse, he points our attention to the “unique journey through images as they find themselves”. To embark on the journey visit KCC in Brussels, ask for a copy of the catalogue or start by reading the title of the exposition: “Who Am I” – it is apparently no longer a question after the journey. Is it for you? More reflection on images and photos here.
The Brussels Art Fair (Brafa 2023) with its long tradition is certainly a major highlight in the world of art in Brussels. In view of the languages spoken at the fair, mainly French and Dutch, some English with here and there a word in Spanish or German, the international reach is probably still not at the level of before the corona crisis.
The availability of established, internationally recognized art over many centuries on the art market is remarkable. Whereas before the crisis speculators bought art to shield their fortunes from a high inflation and/or politically instable period, nowadays it seems to me, that some art is returning to the market due to the need for liquidity of speculators or risks of confiscation in case of dubious previous acquisitions or ownerships. Renowned galleries, of course, provide impeccable certificates or information on them, a tricky business in itself. Anyway, the tour on the fair is a “parcour” through the history of art, mainly through the Western or European arts across centuries rather than decades. Most persons will find splendid examples according to their preferences of art ranging from paintings, sculpture, prints or other artefacts. Beyond the impressive individual art work, the arrangements and “mise en scene” of art is another learning experience at the fair. Whereas most public museums are happy to make accessible as much as they can of their collections and archives, the private art market has another objective. Effective and convincing presentation of the artefact is likely to “enrich” the value of art work as well as the seller and the dealer. Technology allows great lighting and some otherwise “sombre” artwork becomes a shiny little piece catching eyes, hearts and wallets. For some visitors it works probably the other way round.
For persons overly stimulated by art, I recommend to close the actual or virtual visit with a look at the little bit cheeky artwork presenting Belgian chocolate next to royalty (Gallery Delaive, showing Peter Anton’s “Paradise Variety” next to Andy Warhal’s depiction of a Queen, see below or their Instagram presentation). A sublime moment to repeat the experience at home at moderate prices with your very own box of chocolates. At a price of 10€ each box you can enjoy roughly 2000 of them for the price of the art work. The question is: What is more healthy? Think about mental health as well. Alternative question: Art on a Fair is fair, unfair or fair traide?
In autumn 2019 the Cosmopolitan featured a headline “Stop fighting it: the ´70s are back”. At least in fashion the 70s are still with us. Platform soles, moon boots, hot pants, all had their first appearance in the 70s. We keep seeing them in fashion shows even 50 years later. In politics, the retreat of the U.S. from Vietnam in 1972, with more than 50.000 killed soldiers from the U.S. and many more Vietnamese persons, is certainly a success of the sizable activists’ peace movement of the 60s. Willy Brandt’s kneeling in Warsaw in front of the heroes monument in honour of the Warsaw ghetto marked the beginning of a reconciliation with Eastern parts of Europe.
The oil crises 1973 and 1979 caused mass unemployment and from the beginning of the 70s “Greenpeace” started its on-site activist approach against nuclear weapons, killing of whales and dumping of toxic waste. The network of independent organisations is contemporaneous to the invention of e-mail between large so-called mainframe computers using the now common address format firstname.lastname@example.org. The feminist movement achieved major successes with a UN resolution to ban discrimination against women. The male dominated aggressive and excessive punk movement occurred almost in parallel. New products like the Polaroid camera for instant photos and prints, video cassette recorder, the chopper bike “Bonanza” as well as the collapsible Maclaren Buggy for children defined a lifestyle around a more mobile society. Plastic furniture, bright colours with uncommon combinations brought with it a more diverse culture. Societies exploded into different lifestyles. Some taking the new Concorde, so-called supersonic speed delta airplane between Paris and New York, whereas others walked around in “wooden clogs” as a kind of folk fashion, watched Kojak the bold police inspector, listened or sang to ABBA tunes, danced like in “Saturday night fever”. In December 1979 Pink Floyd released “The Wall” which became with 23 million sales the top seller of all 70s productions (Champ Hamish p.120). Some of these artists we can still enjoy jumping up and down on stages across the world or being honoured with a Nobel prize in literature like Bruce Springsteen.
The wild 70s are remembered for the sexual revolution, the philosophy of love and peace as well as the continued spirit of the civil rights movements (Particia Massó, 2010). The sexual revolution spurred women’s liberation just as additional exploitation by thriving borderless consumption industry. Sex sells and it sold well. The cinema and print industry cashed in on the new trends and the spreading the new trends. Social relationships became much more unstable, divorce rates increased sharply in the 70s. In response, “surviving the 70s” (DeMott, 1971) a kind of survival guide tried to give advice of how to stem the tide, largely unsuccess for some decades.
Societies continued to explore new forms of life, while some niches of conservative life styles started to shield themselves from these outrageous trends. Vasarely imitating tapestry and design invited new forms of facing your own walls. Where to go on from this liberalisation? More equal rights for all, was a claim, but it took several additional decades to achieve some of the claims. Intersectionality, viewing for example violence as an across gender, social class and ethnicity as an overall mankind issue, became a claim much later only. “All in all, it was just bricks in the wall”, a huge wall it still is. We haven’t climbed it yet.
The colourful 80s. That could be a summary of the years from 1980 to 1989. Certainly in fashion and design a multitude of colours dominated the 80s. Mariel Marohn (2010, Ed.) published 20 years later a visual summary of the 80s. Often thought as less spectacular than other decades, the 80s had seen some defeats to start with. John Lennon shot dead in New York December 1980. The NASA space shuttle Challenger explodes 2 minutes after the launch in 1986. Nuclear accidents (after three mile island 1979, Tschernobyl 1986,or the finding of the Titanic demonstrated not only the “limits to growth” (1972), but reminded us of deadly consequences of technological ambitions wanting to move too fast in time. Ghettoblaster, Walkman, first cell phones, facilitated a more mobile life style to more people. Overcoming the oil crises of the 70s, mobility roared ahead again. Cars, bikes, planes, CDs, windsurfing and aerobics become part of the lifestyle in these years. Mass culture in music reached all levels of society. Music was no longer perceived as a protest movement, but a normal part of the freedom of expression. Fusion of music and dance, but also music and street art like in hip-hop music and graffiti art become part of day-to-day experiences of commuters. In the anthology of poems of the 80s we find on page 141 “Commuters” by Edward Hirsch 1983 who singles out the commuting practice as the way of life, he does not want to identify with. “Malgré lui”, in spite of himself, he finds himself in cars, trains travelling distances every day. More, faster and with more colours, time moved on. The fall of the Berlin wall 1989 was thought of as a “Zeitenwende” already. Royalty in the press with the marriage of Diana & Charles, was replaced by Madonna as the Queen of Pop and Michael Jackson as the King of Pop. The digital age entered into a new era with the Apple Macintosh desktop computer with an accessible visual interface to computing. Reaganomics and Thatcherism pushed for a revival of liberal market economies ploughing the fields for digital multinationals (GAFAM) to thrive ever since. These lasting technological changes define this period as colourful, grabbing all our senses and attention. Want to breathe a bit of the air of the 80s – visit MAD Paris.
Photography has captured our imagination for years already. It is now a daily activity of many people to “capture their experience”, if not even their existence in some photographed way. Susan Sontag (1977) coined the phrase that photography “feels like knowledge – and, therefore, like power”. You are in a relation to the world. Taking the photograph in my view is the Mephistopheles moment. You are in control of the object taken by the camera. Arranging the scenery, waiting for the perfect moment, expression, light or colours is like mastering a situation, an atmosphere, an emotion. Photographs have the power to work as document. Editing has become easy and pervasive with digital tools. However, it was always present in the traditional technical parts of shooting and developing subsequently in the dark room. Being taken on a photograph is more like the Faustian moment of realising that you are manipulated, or at risk of being made use of for some purpose unknown to you at that moment. Beware, a photograph is always just an image of an image. The photographer is the intermediate person using a specific technology to transform his perception or vision of reality into another image of it, creating a some form of virtual reality. In addition to this twofold transformation, the third transformation is historically the technical development of the negative into the print (see below). Nowadays, this is the compression and editing into a specific format. Despite these transformations, a photograph is admitted in court cases as providing evidence of guilt or to identify an illicit act (excess of speed limit). Infringements on privacy are the rule rather than the exception. Who is that person sitting next to you and at what time of the day?
I apply photographs like note-taking for my research to capture spontaneous ideas or associations which await further interpretation or serve as inspiration. Painting has been an elitist artistic practice for many years. Taking photographs has democratised the image-taking art forms. Instead of originals we have collections of photos from museums around the world. We take photos of photos to reveal the world around us and reflect on values. The social construction of the world is directly visible through the process of taking, collecting and curating photographs. Construct your own world or the world will construct or deconstruct you instead. Politicians (e.g. Angela Merkel), John F. Kennedy or historical figures, all had their defining moment condensed into one or several photographs, paintings before. Susan Sontag wrote 50 years ago: “… a photograph can be treated as a narrowly selective transparency”. The third transformation of developing and/editing shown in the images below explain what she might be understand from this citation in a technical sense. Just as courts have to evaluate whether a proof is admittable and contributing to finding the truth. Viewing photographs is a balancing act between art and truth. “Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience.” (Sonntag, p.6). Photographs document sequences of consumption, CO2 footprints we should frame this in the 21st century. Restricting print to a few “best of” was necessary to reduce the dirty footprint of photography, particularly since photos have become a mass media as much as the preferred media of masses. With photos we certify our own certificates for job applications or passports even. The “cosmopolitans accumulating photograph-trophies” we encounter in all instagram-able locations. Taking photos is like a “friendly imitation of work” (p.9), you do something useful in documenting the images of a world in danger of being lost. We can give importance to otherwise forgotten realities, attach importance even immortality to something or someone of our choice. We make history through it or try to make it at least. “When we are afraid, we shoot. But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures.” (p.9) Sontag defines photographs as part of the repertoire of surrealism (p.77 ff), “to finding beautiful what other people found ugly or without interest and relevance …”). We at risk to mistake photographs as reality and experience the original as “letdown” (p.147). The return to polaroid instant photography brings us back to the authenticity of the orginal, unique moment with supposingly unfiltered not-edited images. The true moment of having had fun or joint experience without photoshopping the missing member. I take photos, therefore I am, has become the mantra of modern societies. We tend to ignore that we are taken on photos a million more times than we take some ourselves. A question of power in the end. Edit yourself or you become edited. (Prix du Tirage photographique BnF 2022Laurent Lafolie, photo below).
The urge to program human language originates for some in the quest for better explanation or understanding, for others in the improvement of communication. Both approaches have witnessed rapid evolution in recent years. Based on linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics or neuroscientific advances, the potential of knowledge creation and communication has risen due to computational models and applications to linguistics. ChatGPT3 and Neuroflash allow us to play around with the commonly available AI-applications. Construction of a linguistically informed Glossary of political and social ideas is a specific application case. In addition to the subject/object list we may add predicates or verbs to link subjects and objects. For this purpose, we construct a basic alphabetical list below which draws mainly on action verbs and is embedded in the socio-cultural environment of the sciences in general. A categorised list of verbs, like the one from Purdue University, is helpful to draw on several relatively distinct fields. With perspective on labour market or societal relevance the list focuses on verbs related to skill sets: administrative/managerial; communication; creative, information/data; caring/helping; efficiency; research; teaching/learning; technical. The categories are not mutually exclusive and may well be supplemented by additional categories like relational skills and transformational skills. Computational psycholinguistics (Crocker, 2006 pdf-file) differentiate the “principle of incremental comprehension” (add one word at a time) from the “concentric theory of complexity” (start from complexity to specificity or vice-versa) and the “deductive sentence processor”. ChatGPT is built on the incremental approach, supposed to be the fastest and probably a more reliable computational approach. We could just attempt to use the other approaches in the simple ABC glossary of subjects, objects and predicates to test for the possibility to build no-nonsense short sentences using random choices as starting points. The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics highlights in the final chapter the theoretical alternative of connectionism (p.811). Symbolic computation construes cognition as mental states that are symbolically represented. The sequence of operations then runs from one representation to the next one. However, the connectionist model operates more like a neural network and proceeds with the parallel processing of notions, relations or patterns. A list of predicates or verbs might do the trick: Chose a subject, chose a predicate and an object to start playing around: Subjects: action balance corruption democracy enterprise freedom god health imagination joy knowledge law memory nature optimism policy question repairing society time union value war xeno yinyang zero. Predicates: applies broadens creates directs establishes forms generates helps induces jeopardises keeps likes moderates needs opposes prioritises qualifies represents strengthens tests uses varies weighs x-outs yields zigzags. Objects: freedom god health imagination joy knowledge law memory nature optimism policy question repairing society time union value war xeno yinyang zero action balance corruption democracy enterprise.
New research on the fabrication of writing allows to debunk some of the received ideas about writers as living and drafting in a solitary space. However, the facts frequently show something different. In the journal of the BnF (images 2022), (Chroniques des la BnF Nr. 95 p.9 pdf-file) the BnF makes transparent the creative cosmos of Marcel Proust (Exhibition closed). From correspondence and other influential images, we learn about the “fabrique de l’oeuvre”. Far from writing his books from front to end in a linear fashion, Proust drafts “isolated sequences which he mounts, demounts and regroups sometimes even years later. These clippings of text are arranged by him like a patchwork, a collage rather than following a linear progression. Just peeping into the writer’s studio, drafting style and “paperoles” is fascinating. What a mess, some would say. What a huge imaginative space he has been living in, despite being reported to draft most of his work while actually being in his bed (Lire Magazine 12-2022). Beds are not always for sleeping, only. Today’s start-up enterprises frequently start from home, a century ago Proust demonstrated a lot can result from a very tiny physical space, but an enormous space in mind.
Syntax is just one of the categories of linguistics. Carl Lee Baker (1989) wrote a whole book 500 pages on just English syntax, can you imagine. I like his modesty in the introduction stating that English syntax is just a subfield of linguistics (p.12). Other languages have different structures, some might be very different from our ways to communicate even. The ways how animals or plants communicate is an exciting subfield of linguistics, psychology and biology (Carrie Fidgor, Pieces of Mind). The SPO structure of sentences is only one simple way of constructing sentences. Syntax is much more complex. The sociological aspect of linguistics and syntax lies in the “acceptability judgements”, which are present once we establish rules and sort phrases into correct or incorrect sentence structures. Norms and standardisation as well as authority to decide on correctness becomes an issue. Countries used to many dialects or multilingual populations are confronted with these issues on a daily basis. Linguistics as basis of communication is continuously present even in the mental structure. Bilingualism, tri-lingualism and their effects on minds, competences, behaviour, culture and societies are own thriving research fields. Building a sentence or a phrase, following Baker, is built around a head and their complements. Such minimal phrases are comparable to what we coin in a simplified manner the subject-predicate-object structure of a sentence. The definition of the nucleus of the structure of a sentence is also about conventions and acceptability. Staccato speech and rap-music are examples of forms of speech, which are often considered beyond the normal. Computer voices are becoming more normal as we are faced with chat bots all around us now. The image below reflects the simplified “representation of syntactic structure” (p.48 The Cambridge grammar of the English language 2002 review here). To play around with “Clause”, let us analyse the clause: I bought a shirt; I wonder what I bought. You know what I mean Klaus, it is a clause, or is it Dady gone gaga = DADA?
Linking information, explanation and entertainment is the power of the world wide web. The tool used for this is the hypertext format of texts and media in general. Wittgenstein was already dissatisfied not to be able to show the steps of his thinking more explicitly. In the “Tractatus logico- philisophicus (Link to pdf-file de/engl” he uses the a cube (5.5423) to explain that we see to different facts depending on our point of departure of our vision. Try it with the logo of www.schoemann.org you should realize how our vision swops from one way of viewing the cube to another. The white corner is once in the front of the cube and appears to be in the back, when you move your vision further up. In general this leads us to be careful with the choice of our point of departure, not only for our vision. Context, some say background, is important to determine starting points. Adding the hypertext markup language to a document, like in a blog entry, allows readers (+algorithms) to see the cognitive structure surrounding a text as well. Potentially as a reader you enter into a multidimensional space with each blog entry. Any encyclopedia, glossary or index has an apparent alphabetical order to entries, but the links between the multiple entries remain hidden at first sight. With use of hypertext this has changed and each entry is turned into a 3-dimensional space, for example. Additionally, all entries have different numbers of links to other entries including dead-end entries. With the structure of links it is interesting to learn about the self-referencing just as much as about the disciplinary locus of a text, chapters, a book or a library. This helps to still see the forest despite all those trees in front of us ,or we see the geological structure of the mountain while in the middle of the forest. Happy travelling in our new knowledge space!
Artists and scientists, all have their sources of inspiration. The most beautiful way of putting this is contained in a poem by Jacques Prévert. “Moi aussi, comme les peintres, j’ai mes modèles…”. The source of inspiration varies from physically present models to imagined ones. Painters and sculptors, we imagine, have their models right in front of them and build on their specific kind of observation, view and vision, seeing more or differently from others, at least since modern times. Poets and authors are believed to draw inspiration from abstraction and imaginative description and narration. Musicians tend to rely on hearing fine-tuned or creative tensions, as much as the resolution in harmonies through sequences of sound. All seem to have a sensitivity beyond the normal and a skill to find a way to transmit to others. Photographers catch representative moments or visualize artifacts and combinations of them in new ways. Scientists are not so different as we might think. Imagination of new hypotheses in established fields is part of their skill set. The transversal skill in all these processes of inspiration is the openness to cross-discipline fertilization. So-called Polymaths reached excellence in more than one field of science, “Polyartists” touch several fields of different arts. Further new innovative combinations of disciplines like they are practices in “centres of advanced studies” are a first step to brings down walls in mindsets and disciplinary ivory tower practices. It will take only a tiny little step forward to come back to the practice of royal courts. The person called “fou du roi” had an important role to play, not only in the game of chess, but in questioning and entertaining leaders. I wish universities, science centres and ministries would allow themselves more of this kind of inspiration. Inspiration is considered here as a source of questioning your own approach from another perspective. Look at your phenomenon of interest with a different model or imagination in mind. New synapses will follow. Let us welcome them to make the world around us a better or more beautiful place. Wait, is more beautiful enough already? Is this a contradiction, better versus more beautiful, or is the latter a subset of the former, or is a tautology anyway? The catalogue of the exposition “Archives des rêves” du Musée d’Orsay gives plenty of insights into images as sources of inspiration for people of all walks of life.
Employment is back on top of the agenda. Not as we used to think, though. Previously unemployment had dominated societal concerns. Now it is the lack of persons seeking or available for employment. What has happened? The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the need of persons qualified to work in the health sector. From health care and urgency care, we are short of personnel in all these fields, everywhere. Then we discovered the role of essential services and the need to equip crucial infrastructures like ports, transport, shops, schools and ambulances with service persons resisting despite work overload. Larger cohorts leave employment to retire, some even early due to illness or burn-out. Additionally, war is back in Europe. Military personnel is in high demand again, drawing largely from younger cohorts. The need for conventional weapons. long thought to be oblivious, is forcefully back on the agenda.
Growth potentials are everywhere. However, these pre-modern facts encounter a population in the western democracies that insists on new approaches to employment. Beyond hard and soft skills, recruiters seek atypical skills, competences and trajectories. A parachute jump from an airplane, cooking and dining experiences, caring spells, periods in self-employment, all are directly or indirectly relevant for employment and teamwork. So, what is your specialty? Collecting stamps? Surely you are able to spot tiny differences in images with specific content. Fake news and fake image detection or video surveillance is in high demand, just try an application and discover the employment potential of your MAD skills. Sounds crazy? No joke. Skill needs are everywhere, just give it a start again and again. Read a serious newspaper regularly (here LeMonde 19.1.2023) for inspiration.
Several inputs from logic will assist us to establish relations between 2 objects, 2 subjects or 1 subject and 1 object as in simple relationships to form sentences. The most obvious is A = B. The most common, depending on definitions, A is not equal to B, hence A >B or B>A. Medieval logic adds the consideration of consequences and suppositions to relationships. A determines or leads B. We might suppose that A is a precondition for B. Logical arguments often attempt to explain. Mathematical proofs chose ways to deduce or induce, whether a statement is true or false. To reduce the number of lines to explain a theorem is a mathematical virtue, just like in a game of chess to find a check and mate in fewer moves.
Leibniz increased the repertoire considerably. In geometry objects are parallel or in the infinitesimal calculus they approach each other without ever reaching each other. With the art of combinations he describes a language than contains groups and elements. The binary revolution, to express numbers, letters, images in form of pixels as multiple assemblies of 0 and 1, has revolutionized our potentials. Beyond these determined relationships there are stochastic relationships, they happen more or less likely. The centre of logic relationships remains deductability = to deduce, consistency = to consist of and completeness = to complete (Encyclopedia Universalis 14, p.653). Time adds another dimension to our concern to exemplify relations. A pre-empts B, or B follows A in time, but not in respect of deterministic logic. Additionally, locations in space of 2 objects allows us to imagine additional abstract forms of relationships, artists play around with this continuously. Some artefacts have created fantastic new ways to challenge our learned ways to consider relations. Last but not least, sound has contributed to how we perceive relations. To superpose, transpose or dissociate relations leaves different emotions. Relations are all around us. They certainly link subject and object in a sentence in multiple ways, copying or imitatingnature. For further reading: HERBERT HOCHBERG; KEVIN MULLIGAN. Relations and Predicates. Frankfurt: De Gruyter, 2004. ISBN 9783110326536. Disponível em: https://search-ebscohost-com.kbr.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=603683&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Acesso em: 23 jan. 2023.
Deconstruction is a powerful tool or even method. Beyond imagineering, deconstruction in the literal sense means take to pieces. In most cases a physical object consists of several objects or parts. By deconstruction we attempt to understand the whole object as the sum of its parts. Before a new product or design is created, many scientists, engineers and artists start to deconstruct existing artefacts. Understanding how the object is assembled, for example, allows you to play around with pieces and maybe come up with an alternative way of constructing the object. The architecture of “deconstructivsm” has left us fantastic buildings. In furniture design there are also nice examples of deconstruction. Paris is a good place to study deconstruction (Explained), perhaps many still read Derrida there. It is a fruitful method beyond its engineering sense for example in law, literature or many other social science disciplines. If you are not mad yet, visit the MAD in Paris to see examples of deconstruction or construct your own deconstruction. Both have a dialectic relationship to each other anyway.
Each society has its sound. Each person lives in her/his sound cloud or bubble. Cities are generally noisy places, Lots of traffic, mobility and moves leave sound bytes all over the place. Each city though has its own sound and spectrum of frequencies. Libraries, museums, places of worship, all build their special atmosphere due to specific sound design. The Singing Project by Ayumi Paul (Gropiusbau Berlin) created its own sound environment. Reminding us to consciously design our exposure to and experience of sound is welcome. John Cage started to build his very own language of music, similar to Schoenberg, from scratch. His writings Empty Mind explain his view and techniques a bit. Starting with silence and the time between sounds we recreate our own sound experience. Notation of it comes second in place. only for the potential to repeat the experience notation is useful. But it is only one form of conservation for posterity. Noise canceling is the amazing tool from sound physics which allows you to neutralize noise by adding specific frequencies to noise which cancel out each other. Design your personal sound experience beyond noise if you like. Nature recordings or familiar person voices allow you immersive experiences when and where we want. your home sound can be everywhere nowadays.
Action words are in other words called action verbs. Each complete sentence has one. Hence, they are part and parcel of the basic construction of sentences.
“The purpose of an active verb is to create a clear, concise sentence. By using an active verb, you can eliminate unnecessary words and make your writing more direct. In addition to making your writing more concise, active verbs also add punch and clarity. They can make your writing more interesting and persuasive. Additionally, active verbs can create a sense of immediacy which is often useful in persuasive writing. When it comes to writing, there is nothing more important than using strong, active verbs. Not only do they make your writing more interesting and engaging, but they also convey a sense of confidence and authority. In addition to being more descriptive, active verbs also add a sense of movement and action to your writing. Rather than simply stating that something exists, you can use active verbs to show how it exists. For example, rather than saying “there is a chair in the room,” you could say “the chair sits in the corner of the room.” This may seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how your writing comes across. Finally, active verbs can also help to set the tone of your writing. If you want to convey a sense of wit and humour, then using playful, lighthearted verbs is a great way to do so. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a more serious tone, then using powerful, authoritative verbs will help you achieve that.”
After the 3rd sentence this blog entry (Link) has been written by the artificial intelligence app “Neuroflash”. They promise that it is not just copy and paste, but rather written following some instructions I gave like title, table of content, style and then selected among several choices. It makes sense to me, although it is just like many other textbook entries I have found on the web. It may well serve as an introduction. Lazy journalists, priests or lawyers in case they do little research will be replaced soon by AI, who else, who is next? Big brother drafts the brave new world for us already.
Digital formats allow flexible organization of lists like alphabetical lists. Opening several pages, at the same time, of the same dictionary is easily feasible. In science the proceeding in this way is coined the inductive method. The entries of each letter stand on their own, but jointly they form a whole set of topics. Random choice is facilitated this way. New sequences or preferences of topics are the way forward. Alphabetical order or chronological order are only one out of many variants of possible sequences. Chose your own 3 favourite topics, maybe. On a big computer screen you might even organize your own poster – beam it on the wall – walk in the virtual exhibition of the metaverse with it. It could feel like you are strolling within parts of my brain. Frightening? For whom? The universe is within us.
Value in its singular form refers for most people to the value of things. Since Karl Marx we have been fighting about the surplus value of a worker’s work. Nowadays, we have to deal with speculation bubbles on the value of property or even basic elements of nutrition (Water, wheat, energy). Max Weber introduced us to the rigorous analysis of value judgements. In political science the plural “values” refers to basic human rights as fundamental values of humanity. Many other associations with the letter V pop up and arouse emotions: victory, video, view(s), vision, visit, voice, vote, vulnerability.
Creating lasting value seems to transform itself into part of our system of values later on. The longitudinal dimension of value is often neglected, particularly in the short-term focus of much of economic reasoning. Value over time, in addition to the distribution question, or as part of distribution over time, excites researchers of inequality and policy design for generations. Approaching the end of the alphabet increases the stakes of the “endgame”, it seems. Value for me, might not be of value for others. I hope you have found a person that values much of the same as you do yourself.
Interpersonal value, value exchange and intertemporal value are own fields of research. Since the Scottish enlightenment and Adam Smith’s work on “The theory of moral sentiments (TMS)”, reciprocity in value exchange has been an issue, well before the utilitarian turn in his own writings on “The wealth of nations”. Even Adam Smith refers to happiness and interest as a kind of value and “very laudable principles of actions” (part VII.ii.3.15 in TMS).
Children learn and experience value as natural part of growing up. Material things which you valued highly as toddler, you are ready to trash or exchange a couple of years later at much lower prices. Above which monetary value are you ready to trade in your humanitarian values? Never? History and bargaining theory is full of experiments and experiences that teach us otherwise. Corruption is the prominent example of exchanging or trading material value against immaterial values. Reading Kwame Anthony Appiah on “Experiments in ethics” is highly instructive. This bring me back to the economist joke I used to tell in lectures: You know that you’re an economist, if you ask your child, whether s/he prefers 20 Euros in cash, a trip to an adventure park later, a basket ball set or a pizza party for the next birthday. Economists do all this to find out about the value of each item, the preferences, the time frame of delayed reward or discounting of value also called the net-present value. Reading up to here is equal to the value of, maybe, an online bachelor in economics or social science. In your very own life review of learnings you then can estimate the value of your readings to you, your community or humanity. Alternatively, enjoy the joy of just living in peace with optimism.
Union, understanding, undo, unknown, uncertainty, universe, urbanization, use, u-turn. All those u-words spark imagination. Additionally, the short forms of u as abbreviation for you, ur = your, youth and smartphone typing are creating for us abbreviations to communicate even faster and shorter via social media. Union is my favourite of this list for several reasons: (1) Marital union, passionate topic not only for family sociologists, (2) trade unions, as collective form to organize solidarity in and across societies, (3) European Union, the formidable tool to create, conserve and ensure peaceful developments in Europe. We have to prolong this list with the union jack, the united states, the united nations and …, please continue the list.
For me, in union I see a whole film running, a process proceeding, or persons uniting. Unionization, just like two persons deciding to pass more time together, has some magic in it. Match making is the modern term for it. No Union without reunion, dissolving a union might be part of the process as well, as painful it can turn out to be. Most of the times we grow throughout the process. Forming a union, in all senses of the word and of all sorts of forms, is a kind of teleological urge of us as a species. We share this with many animals but have also developed strategies and weapons to force others into union. Unfortunately, no u-word without its potential to be used in the sense of abuse. Unite to defend the union of fans of unions. (Evolution of Union of Tweets own Video 12-2022). IMG_4611
“The times they are a changing“, end of blog entry T.
We live time forward, but we seem to understand it only backwards or in retrospect. Towards the end of each year, it is common practice to look back and review the last 12 months. Then we imagine what will the future be like. Our concept of time is past, present or future oriented. In classical physics we reflect this with a depiction of time on a linear axis. However, modern concepts of time include Einstein’s relativity theory, whereby in 2 different places time may run with different speed. Similarly, quantum physics allows that the causal relationship between 2 physical states is no longer observable in a logic that follows linear time. A particle may exit in 2 states in parallel. Hard to imagine, maybe, but demonstrations of these effects are found in textbooks for pupils already. Our grasping of the world around us is enhanced through scientific rigour.
Story-telling also plays with time frames. Analepsis and prolepsis are common techniques constructing a story, a film or any form or narrative. We tend to perceive chronological time even as boring. Our memory is also playing tricks with us on time scales. When was …? Additionally, we have multiple clocks ticking away. Time to submit a report, pay taxes, until the next medication or the psychological concept of “time until death”. Strangely enough, depending on which ticking clock we focus most, our behaviour is likely to change. Mobile time management tools have been created for centuries for us to handle all this jazz (call them a watch). They all have not changed our concept of time, only the precision to measure and cramp more activities or the same one faster into our daily life. Happier since? Test your self-efficacy, more general than time management! Try meditation to slow down the pace, use an app!? I started to clone myself with a virtual presence to experience the quantum effect of my life. Podcasts are played with 1,5x the normal speed now. Rhythm and music are the remaining traditional metrics of time. Even there, John Cage’s piece “silence” managed to abandon the time reference, partly at least. Okay, time is up, next letter, please.
Im Februar 2018 hatte ich auf dieser Webseite eine kleine Veröffentlichung mit dem kurzen folgenden Text angekündigt.
“A new research paper dealing with digital technologies is now published in the Open Journal of Social Sciences. The major impetus of the small scale project was to identify the potential of digital technologies to foster democratic procedures and decision-making. The paper investigates the role of new technologies to support employees and the trade union movement.”
Fast 5 Jahre später bräuchte das Paper eine Ergänzung, denn es gibt wohl eine interessierte Community dafür (1000+ Downloads, 3500+ online views-reads). Insbesondere sind neben die sozialen Netzwerke diverse mediale Platformen dazu gekommen, wie TiKTok, Mastodon, Twitch, Instagram und fast schon wieder vorbei Twitter. Ergänzen würde ich wohl auch die Notwendigkeit, digitale Technologie einzusetzen in der Bekämpfung von Korruption. So ließe sich automatisch in einer großen Menge an Zahlungen Auffälligkeiten wie hohe Bargeldsummen leicht identifizieren und Alarmsignale senden. Ebenso (Gruppen-) Reiseaktivitäten und zweifelhafte Abrechnungen könnten leichter zu Aufmerksamkeit führen.
Eigentlich freue ich mich bereits, dass dieser Artikel in eine damals recht unbekannten, aber eben “open access publication” doch eine so große Reichweite von aktiv Suchenden und Lesenden gefunden hat. Gut, gleich im Internet zu veröffentlichen und nicht in einem überteuerten Sammelband oder wissenschaftlicher Fachzeitschrift mit Bezahlschranke versteckt zu bleiben.