Re: intuitive writing
|From:||Moshe Blidstein <moblid@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, January 5, 2005, 21:15|
On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 00:06:18 +0300, Alexander Savenkov <savenkov@...>
>Happy New Year everyone, Moshe,
>> Hello - I put down my thoughts on the subject of the present method of
>> writing and its problems. I would be very happy if you would take
>> the time to read it, and if it interests you enough and you have any
>> suggestions or further ideas, to send them to me at
>> email@example.com. Even if it doesnï¿½t interest you, but you know
>> someone that it might - please send it on to him! Thank you.
>I'm just responding to some of your points, Moshe. I'm not forwarding
>the message to anybody because frankly I saw no revolutionary ideas.
>It's a pity you didn't make footnotes.
>first: thanks for the interest. It takes some time read such a long post.Ididn't make footnotes because frankly I have no idea where the idea came
from. It just sort of popped into my head. But since it isn't original I
guess I saw it somewhere. Still, I would like to see who exactly says these
things (really) - I looked in semantic web, and they arent intrested in
making things intelligible to humans, just to computers. I really don't care
too much about computers. The main reason I posted this here is because I
understood that probably the idea is up in the air somewhere and I'd like to
see what happened to that idea or collaborate with whoever is doing it.(By
the way, I hope I don't repeat myself too much...)
>> Text is highly inefficient from the eye-brain aspect. We read
>> (usually) much slower than we think. That is, our mind is idle most
>> of the time we read, waiting for us to get to the end of the
>> paragraph so that it can at last phrase the idea at hand to itself.
>> This causes our mind to wander, and we get diverted from what we are
>> reading while we wait for our eyes.
>Solved by cultivating stronger reading skills using special
>techniques and exercises. According to statistics an average reader
>reads about 500-800 letters per minute memorizing 40-60% of the text.
>After a simple training people start to read 1500-2500 signs per
>minute (and some of them up to 10000 signs) memorizing 80-95% of the
>text. Clearly, the text itself or the nature of it isn't a problem.
your right that the fast reading techniques help this, but I think the text
itself does pose the other problems I was talk about later. And I care much
less what they remember - much more what they understand. But maybe your
right about this point...
>> A word doesnï¿½t convey much information, much less than a picture for
>> example. Yet the amount of time that it takes for the eye to process
>> both isnï¿½t very different.
>The argument seems to be very weak. What do you call "a picture"?
>A hieroglyph or a giant painting in a museum?
>I meant a giant paiting in a museum. I meant the largest picture that youcan see at once, which I think you would agree is more than one word (or a
few lines, which is what I think they do in fast reading). espcially if you
count in colors.
>> I will start with the first, more technical, aspect of the problem.
>> Letters and words in all the languages I know are very uniform. They
>> are always the same color, on the same background; are of a similar
>> shape, stay in one line, and are usually the same font and style.
>These make reading much easier. Different shapes, fonts, line-heights
>or font styles are bad taste and are disrespectful to the reader.
>bad taste isn't very objective, and neither disrespect, though I agree thatI don't enjoy reading those kinds of texts either. But I thik that it has to
do mostly with what we are used to - which is trying to put down on paper
what we say (approximately), and my whole point is that the point isn't what
you say but what you think. I don't think that a map or an enginneering
diagram is disrespectful to the enginneer or the geographer, because those
are the kinds of the signs he uses.
>> Actually, present day writing is a remnant of a culture based on
>> parchment and manuscripts.
>This is like saying that human language is rudiment of the ancient
>people. The main point is that people think in words. In order to read
>you have to pronounce text. Only the very basic ideas can be expressed
>in pictures that all the people will be able to understand.
>I don't think people think in words. (By the way, I found a priordiscussion on this subject in the archives, which are pretty impressive, As
you understand, I'm new here). I don't mean that they think in a series of
slides, or that when they think "i'm driving" they see themself in a traffic
jam. I'm talking only about logical arguments, which are always done by
balancing two items in different ways against each other. Of course they
don't "see" those items. But they do (or at least I do) put them into some
kind of graph, or at least I do. when someone says "x is a example of y", I
see it as being inside it. really. maybe I'm weird, but thats the way I am...
>> In the humanities and social sciences graphs and maps are used only
>> to illustrate certain points, and are never the discussion itself,
>> because graphs are number-oriented.
>Exactly. Because the humanities are often contradictory and social
>sciences are often contradictory. There's no agreement, as you say, on
>what the axes are in the sciences themselves, let alone language.
>> But if you try to conjure your deeper or more significant, or
>> logical, thoughts, you will see that you usually state them to
>> yourself in graphic form, and sometimes in no form at all.
>I agree with what J. "Mach" Wust said. You can't draw freedom, essence
>or charisma. The deeper your thought is, the more likely you will
>think in words, not in primitive pictures.
>...already said I meant just the logical act, not the item itself. that youcan depict however you like.
>> But the present method of reading is step by step, in a linear
>> fashion, not representing at all the way that the thought or idea
>> itself is structured.
>Good to hear you talking about the method of reading. Take a rapid
>reading course. You don't have to read "in a linear fashion".
> o.k., so in a top-to-bottom fashion. anyway, it doesn't follow the
>> One of the results of this is that there is a big difference between
>> what the writer meant to say and what the reader reads (this may be
>> very well in a work of fiction, meant to be a work of art, but it
>> wonï¿½t do at all in academic writing).
>Depends on the writing skills of the authors. Translation is another
>...it certainly depends - and I think that presenting a method that makespeople that aren't such good writers, but have good ideas, to have their say
to. and anyway there will always be a gap (in any method, of course).
>> We can contrast the thinking represented by writing to the thinking
>> that is represented in a map of any kind. When you look at a map,
>> you first see the whole picture at once.
>And you understand almost nothing, except "wow, it's a map". This is
>true for a book page. You see the whole page and you understand
> I don't agree. you understand at once what's land and what's sea; where
the north is; where the main arteries are, etc. maybe a second more than "at
>> The eyes first go the main contours, the thick lines and the big
>> letters. After that, you start looking in to the part of the map
>> that interests you, going deeper and deeper into it.
>Good writers are able to emphasize what is important. Various
>typographical techniques exist to assist reading comprehension.
>...sometimes less, sometimes more. I think the overall emphasizing anddefrentiating equipment isn't enough.
>> Text, on the other hand, looks at a first glance like a block of
>> black squiggly lines and at second glance it looks that way too.
>If you can't read, that is true.
you know what I mean.
>> The only way to get at the information is to read it, word by word.
>> There are no intermediate levels, no dimensions.
>No one orders you to read the whole book, word by word or even page by
>page. Read what you need, search the book, use indices, table of
>contents, references, etc. There are intermediate levels, there are
>...that's not always as easy as it sounds. I use those things alot, but youstill end up reading much more than you intended, or not finding what you
>> This is also a technical problem (whether in talking to computers or
>> to humans), but it is more than that - I can read two authors that
>> say the same thing, and I wonï¿½t know it, because they said it in
>> very different words.
>Well, Moshe, take no offence, but this isn't a problem of the language
>or the writers.
>...thank you... that's really nice... sometimes the cultural differnces canbe overwhelming. I will give an example from a conference I was at today.
The speaker had a certain theory, which I think correlates closely to what a
12th century commentator says too. But they didn't say it in the same words,
language, placing, and so one. I'm don't think most of the listeners would
have agreed with the correlation either. The further the culture (or
scientific field), the stronger this tendency is. People sometimes do there
doctorates on arguing that somebody already said long ago what was thought
to be a new idea...
>> Present methods donï¿½t show you the logical steps inside the text.
>Yes, they do. If people forget the previous paragraph when they come
>to the next one, this isn't the fault of the text.
>> But all of these look in the text exactly the same, and actually the
>> only way that a reader can know what is probably most important, or
>> where the core of the matter is, is by the volume of writing -
>> whatever the author says again and again is probably the most
>Bad reading comprehension.
>> The logical core is sometimes hidden from the reader by the other
>> parts, leading him to evaluate wrongly the text he is
>Bad reading comprehension plus bad writing skills and bad editorial
>> Sometimes there is no logic at all behind the argument, or the logic
>> is faulty, but since the logic is never stressed anyway, we arenï¿½t
>> expecting it to, and content ourselves with the fun of the
>Profane author with bad writing skills.
>> Readers are persuaded much more by the artistry of the writing than
>> by the ideas themselves,
>Naive reader, weak reading experience.
>> because the writing isnï¿½t suited to show the ideas as they are, but
>> rather the writers are usually showing how well they write.
>Agreed. Not the writing alone, but our speech, the way we communicate.
>...well, I don't think we should leave it that way... at least in thewriting part, which can (and maybe should) serve, in certain circumstances -
research&acadamic writing, as a place where the ideas themselves shold be
shown as clearly as possible, with as little oration as possible.
>> The result of all this is that we are swimming an ocean of
>> information, and arenï¿½t able to find what we need.
>I can understand your frustration. However, not only the volume of
>information grows, but also the number of people who know more and
>more. Add to that the numbers that various researches show: we use
>from 1% to 10% of our brain power. Add to that the growing number of
>> Academic writing has to be made self-indexing in some way, because
>> no one else can contrive effective indexing other than the writer
>I join J. "Mach" Wust here. The keywords for you are: Semantic Web,
>RDF, graphs, triplets.
> any more keywords? whats "triplets"?
>> A further problem is that since the main language in academia is
>The language of the international community on the whole.
>> everybody has to learn it before they can become something.
>This is a rather discriminating approach. Strongly disagreed.
>...english is my second language. I would love to agree with you, but I'tpretty self evident that that is how it is when I see how hard people here
have to learn english before they can get into university, and to get passed
that they certainly have to have a real mastering of english. (I meant
"something" academically. of you course you can become something in millions
of other ways).
>> When we throw a ball, run, or talk, we are doing a very complex
>> action, usually putting to use many different muscles in a very
>> exact and complex way.
>By no means. Some people have bad a coordination of movements. Some
>are just bad at throwing balls.
> So do I, but I still think that I'm better at that than thinking, when I
consider how hard it is to throw a ball, let alone catch it. (or talk - 17
muscles (I think), or type, or see, etc. etc.)
>> This is true in anything we do without thinking about it. Contrasted
>> to these actions, things we do consciously and not out of intuition
>> are very poorly done, and many times donï¿½t work either.
>I don't understand the point of this paragraph. What are you talking
>of? The people on the whole are good at thinking, not throwing balls.
>Speech (or language) means progress, not the balls.
>...of course thinking is the thing we do much better than other beings, andwhich has done us much more good than the rest of the things we do. but we
still don't do it so well (with all due respect). when we try to solve a
complex problem, like who to choose for president, we usually can't think of
more than 20 factors at once (an exaggeration). But when we do something
physical, we do do more than 20 things at once - move many muscles, usually
use all the senses at once, compute where its going to (that isn't so
easy)... you could say that when we think we also use millions of neurons.
But that is just the point - all these millions of neurons are a
physical/chemical reaction, while the thinking/logical reaction that comes
out - can answer much less complex problems than the mechanisms themselves -
we are much better constructed than we can construct anything else. Part of
this construction is the instinct, intuition or what you call it.
>> All big discoveries and ideas seem to be made mostly be the
>> intuitional part of the brain, and less by the logical part.
>Extremely proofless comment.
>...I didn't proove it and I probably can't, but from what I know -discoveies (or musical pieces, or mathematical understanding, or spiritual
inspiration) come fom a lot of logical work and a sudden little "push" that
gives the idea. I think it's more evident in music, and that the more "high"
and less technical the idea is - the more it is true.
>> I think that the answer lies in substituting the present text for a
>> more complicated one. This text will not be a whole new language -
>> it will use heavily the usual written language. But: 1. It will use
>> many more marks, such as color, font, letter size, modes etc. If
>> they will always signify the same idea, they shouldnï¿½t be any more
>> confusing than a topographical map after you know how to read it).
>Number one reminds me of mathematical expressions. Unsuitable for the
>> 2. Instituting about a hundred (if possible, less) marks, that will
>> represent words or ideas.
>Maths plus various types of stenography.
>...exactly. I didn't say I want to make them up.
>> 3. Place on the page - the idea is that someone looking at the page
>> will understand immediately where the main argument is, where the
>> auxiliary arguments are, in social sciences - theory as opposed to
>> empirical data, implications and elaborations, sources and
>> bibliography, etc.
>Typographical techniques and writing skills (connective words,
>parenthetical words, etc.).
>> 4. These techniques may be used to solve the indexing problem as
>> well. The page placement, colors etc. will be used to show the
>> importance of different parts of the idea. A computer will be able
>> to read these codes, and so it will know the level of importance.
>Sounds like Semantic Web again.
> your right - this part does.
>> 5. A very important point is that all these symbols and signs will
>> be the same for all writers, and so it will be much easier to
>> compare and decide between different opinions.
>Sounds like natural languages.
>...of which there are a few thousands and they change all the time... Ithink it's less utopian to invent a writing method for a relativly small
amount of people then to get everybody to speak the same language.