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Quarterly Contest! Writing in Two Dimensional Space

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 11, 2005, 21:13
I, for one, would be greatly excited to see some of these 2-dimensional 
and/or nonlinear writing examples in practice and not just in theory. Since 
there's a lot of work in between arguing that something can or cannot be 
done and actually succeeding or failing, I'm willing to provide some 

I hereby announce a contest: The submitted language/communication system 
that makes the best use of two dimensions of space will win a new copy of 
"Writing Systems: A Linguistic Introduction" by Geoffrey Sampson. I will 
purchase it and have it shipped to the winner. If the winner has this book, 
a suitable substitute will be purchased. The only requirements are:


1) It ought to be a reasonably fleshed-out system. Not a system that will do 
this or will do that, but a system that actually does.
2) It ought to make use of 2-dimensional space in some non-trivial manner. I 
place no requirements on how this is done. It is not required to be 
"non-linear" for some value of "linearity", since our definitions of this 
vary greatly. Writing systems in more than 2 dimensions present a barrier to 
easy submission.
3) It ought to be a system for non-trivial communication. It need not be 
capable of encoding War & Peace, but ought to be capable of expressing some 
range of inter-human, inter-humanoid, or human-computer interaction. 

I make no other assumptions about the purpose or motivation of the script. 
Constructors of artlangs will by personal necessity construct very different 
systems than IALers, who will construct different systems than creators of 
pseudo-natural languages, etc. Each of these camps will have very different 
notions about what the "best" such system entails. For the purposes of 
judging, however, the "best" system is simply defined as the one that makes 
the best use of the possiblilities of two dimensions for the purposes of 


I would prefer a panel of judges rather than just myself. On the other hand, 
the prize costs money, which will probably end up being mine. As such, I 
will use the following system. If anyone wishes to be on the judging panel, 
he or she will have to help out a bit regarding the price of the book. It 
costs $1.00 to be a judge. Each judge will have a single vote, except for 
myself, who will have exactly as many votes as there are dollars remaining 
in the price of the book. (Of course, if I personally retain the vast 
majority of votes due to low judge turnout, I won't use them to overrule any 
clear non-me majority. I *want* a panel, not a decision by personal fiat.) I 
see no problem with a person donating $5.00 and being five judges at once, 
so to speak. Interested judges should contact me. 

One judgeship is provided to whomever volunteers some webspace to post the 
final submissions.

Lack of interest on the part of other judges will not invalidate the 
contest. If more judges donate than there are dollars in the book's price, a 
more expensive book will be purchased, or an additional book, or runner-up 


1) This contest is valid for the 2nd quarter of 2005. Entries are due by 
June 30, 2005. 
2) Submissions should optimally be in pdf format, but I won't disqualify any 
document in a format that I and the other judges can open. 
3) If fewer than four submissions are received, the contest is invalidated. 
Donated money will be returned to respective patrons. Prizes may still be 
issued provided I'm in a good mood.

Example submission:

I will try to post an example submission within the next week or so. I do 
not intend to hold it up as what "2-dimensional" or "non-linear" writing is, 
or should be, or must be. Nor will I suggest that it is the sort of thing a 
judge should vote for, or the sort of thing I would vote for if I were a 
judge. It will merely be an example of a submission to suggest a minimum of 
what I above called "fleshed-out", "2-dimensional", and "used for 
communication". Your submission need not be anything like it, and hopefully 
will not. If I felt like only I knew what the proper use of 2-dimensional 
space was, I would not be willing to buy a book for someone that could 
enchant me with their own unique implementation of their own unique ideas.

I hope this incentive helps to inspire some fascinating work,
Patrick Littell
PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00
Voice Mail: ext 744
Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00


Simon Clarkstone <simon.clarkstone@...>