Archive for May, 2011

WoD – Outward Appearances

I could do a meme on our oh-so-public appearances and public information via Facebook, Twitter, et al, but I won’t delve into all that yet.  We’ll let that marinate.

But, I was reading a journal online and the author/compiler has a rather lame and mugshot-like picture posted next to her article.  It got me thinking — is that really the best you got?  That’s the BEST smile, hairdo, and photo that could be taken of you, for the WORLD to see?  You may think I shouldn’t see her picture and then write commentary on it.  But hey, that’s my point!  She put it out there for the world to see and comment on.  So I don’t feel as guilty.  (Ok, a little guilty.)

So, what’s the takeaway?  It is something we all (kinda) know, but mostly all (kinda) stick our heads in the sand about or pretend not to believe.  So I’ll remind us all: in the all-digital in which we now live (tweets, posts, comments, emails, pictures, IM’s, even phone messages), everything is pasteable, findable, forwardable, searchable, researchable, available, accessible…  In short, everything is forever.  Word to the wise.

Wednesday:

SHTIK (SHTIHK)

Piece, bit; a special bit of acting

Don’t fall for his “stop short” move – that is just his shtik!    [An old Seinfeld reference, for any Frank Costanza fans out there…]

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WoD – Save the bees!

http://www.fastcompany.com/1752894/are-cell-phones-killing-all-the-bees

I don’t like just forwarding along an article without at least some WoD-like commentary.  But this one kind of has it without me having to add much.  In a nutshell though, all our crazed cellphone-driven usage is now affecting bees’ orientation.  So they die and can’t pollinate all our crops.  So we die.  Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences!  (Remember the poor frogs?  https://yiddishwod.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/wod-frog-fungus/)

Looks like Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie” from 4 years ago was awfully prescient…

Monday:

BESER A GUTE SOYNE EYDER A SHLEKTER FRAYNT (BEHsehr ah GOOTeh SOYneh AYdehr ah SHLEKHKtehr FRAINT)

Better a good enemy, than a bad friend.

As Sun Tzu used to always say, beser a gute soyne eyder a shlekter fraynt.  

WoD – Watson vs. Me

A mini-continuation on the Watson meme.  So I was flipping through channels on the radio the other day, and I identified a song in an instant.  Literally it took like 2/10 of a second (I think it was Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child.  Yes, Bootylicious.  It actually has a unique sound, thus helping to make it easily/quickly identifiable for us humans.)

Which got me thinking – how could Watson ever be faster than that?!  No way, right?  

In raw speed, of course a computer is faster in doing so many calculations and determinations.  So, yes way.  

But when it comes to things like rapid identification of something specific, I think our computers (i.e. our brains) win.  I am always amazed at our brains’ abilities to process huge amounts of information and home in on a precise answer or outcome so rapidly.  Sort of like identifying Destiny’s Child in 0.2 seconds out of the literally millions of songs out there and the (probably) millions of songs we have heard over our lifetimes.  

Think about these few things — scanning Madison Square Garden for someone sitting on the other side of the stadium.  We don’t realize or notice it, but our brains are actually seeing and taking in EVERY SINGLE PERSON and every stitch of clothes, but we throw out so much of the info equally as fast.  Or think of finding a skimming rock on a beach filled with thousands of little rocks.  Our eyes dart like lightning to find just that one perfect skimmer, but we actually see each and every one.  Or think of a treeline across a lake – we can spot a deformed branch on one tree out of a thousand trees in our view, in a matter of a second or two.  

Try this: right now, look out from your PC and very very fast just scan the room (or look out a window) as fast as you can.  If I asked you to do it and look just for the color of (e.g.) the door knob across the room, you could do it in an instant.  But you actually saw so much raw information!  Your eyes and brain took it ALL in, in fact.  But you threw it all out equally as fast, because none of it mattered except the color of the door knob.  

It is all about the filters.  With proper filters, i.e. when we know what we are looking for, our brains are amazing machines.  The way we build computers, however, is distinctly different.  It has been all about raw horsepower.  More and more processing power.  So the way a computer solves for Bootylicious is by grabbing the entire universe of music, then maybe matching up that 0.2 second snippet against the billions of 0.2 second snippets of every musical piece out there, until a match is found.  Our brains don’t do that at all – we reject superfluous information almost instantly, allowing as much of our “processing power” to be as focused as possible on the one task at hand.  Personally, I think we should build computers to work the way our brains do.  And perhaps we are even beginning to do this.

This is all a bit hard to describe, I know, so I will stop here.  But today’s WoD is just to help us all pause and think about how we… think.  It is a truly amazing and powerful thing.

Monday:

A TAYVL ZOL IM KHAPN (a TAIvuhl zohl ihm KHAHPn)

A curse (literally: May the devil catch him!)

A tayvl zol im khapn on that LeBron James!

WoD – Watson’s Voice

Did any of you see or hear Watson on Jeopardy a few weeks back?  (I know, this is getting to be a dated WoD, since that was probably two months ago now.)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUj9AzSE_9c

There was plenty of theological and sociological debate being waged on the blogo- and twitter-sphere about computers being smarter than humans, but they’ll never have a soul like us humans, but neither do we, but G-d invented us to invent things like Watson.  Rinse.  Repeat.

My musing is totally different.  (Surprise, surprise.)  

What if they had Watson compete, but used Darth Vader’s booming voice, instead of that rather pleasant and proper guy’s voice.  That would have been so cool!  If they used a Darth Vader-like voice, and he/it totally kicked everyone’s ass, we’d all be a lot more spooked by Watson than we were, I bet.  Or, what if it was Lewis Skolnick (“Revenge of the Nerds”).  Or Miss Piggy.  Take a moment and think about Watson answering Jeopardy questions in each of these voices.  

We actually feel very differently about Watson, and about “technology,” based on each supposed voice.  The thing is, it is all the same computer.  It is the same algorithm and process and software code.  But we react very differently to it based on what we hear, and who’s voice it is.  You can take the computer out of the human, but you can’t take the human out of the computer, I guess…

Thursday:

UTZN (OOTZn)

To needle, to goad

“I already said no playdate today!  Go utz your mother about it.”

[Kids are professional utz-ers aren’t they.  All you parents need this word…!]



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