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To go where people are, to be where people think, to present what people desire and to give people what they want to have

2016-03-22 in Uncategorized

Yesterday’s blog post was in large part prodded by one of my friends who keeps saying I should publish my writing in print – as if that were more a sign of success than if I publish my own ideas on my own properties (and this friend is also not exactly fond of the „self-publishing“ idea in general, even though in my opinion that is perhaps one of the few ways one can be truly authentic).

Today’s blog post is inspired by another one of my very inspirational friends – and there is a similarity between the two threads insofar as they both touch upon the notion of property. Today, I want to address one of this friend’s issues with my thinking about „social media“ (though in fact I normally focus on retard media – which is not exactly the same thing, though the two predicates indeed often fit the same somewhat less than noble prize-winners 😉 ).

The sans-culottes 2.0 have an affinity to aggregate on the most popular websites … like Google or Facebook (or similar brand names that happen to be in fashion at the moment). They appear to feel that there is some sort of significance to large clusters of such congregations. Few consider such herd mentality questionable, many are more prone to pronounce „YAHOO!“ at the top of their lungs’ capacity. They are #1 because the numbers say so. In my humble opinion the numbers are meaningless, because each of them is no more valuable than a single grain of sand upon thousands of miles of beaches. Their numbers and statistical prowess are far less impressive than something as simple as the salt of the Earth.

Heavyweight monstrosities such as Google or Facebook (or the more or less similar dozens of unicorns behind them) are no more significant than the dead and gone monstrosities that have come before them, only to vanish from the face of the Earth. Their existence is ephemeral, they come and go with the whims of the loud and screaming mobs who trample this way today, that way tomorrow, and then back again the next day with yet more new signs and banners they daily swear by with ever-present enormous valour.

Less than a decade ago, Digg was a force to be reckoned with on both Wall Street and Main Street, not the biggest laughing stock of yesteryear. Random strings blowing in the wind do not bring about change, they merely dissipate and whither away. Even vaporware would be an overestimation of their non-lasting worth.

The crucial question is: What distinguishes properties with lasting value from such ephemeral brand names? Years ago, the masses would scream: „A dot com“ (meaning the domain name’s „ending“ or more precisely „top-level domain“, also often referred to by the abbreviation „TLD“). Well, how much did the dot com help Digg or Myspace? Right: Not one iota.

Having a property is not good enough. To be of lasting value, you need the right property. A valuable property is etched deep in the mind of its users – it is as irreplacable as their own mother, there is a kinship as deeply rooted as the sunrise which awakens their spirit every morning, day after day, throughout their lives.

Valuable names are usually not names per se. They are the words spoken time and again at breakfast, lunch and dinner alike.

Valuable words are few and far between. They are short and simple. A „home“ will be just as valuable decades from now as it is today. A „car“ was not always a gasoline-powered vehicle, nor will it remain so until the end of time – but it will probbably remain a valuable concept in many contexts.

Written language is a technology that has developed over more than just a few years, more than just a few decades, longer even than entire centuries. It has been at the very least many millennia since writing was first developed. There are quite a few four-letter words, but not an infinite number. In contrast: Google is probably just a passing phase.

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by nmw

Top Level Domains + Domain Name Meanings

2015-03-02 in Uncategorized

Recently, a colleague of mine wanted to look up the meaning of a neologism, and decided to check urbandictionary.com. You could wonder why he didn’t choose to check oed.com — after all, the OED is internationally recognized as the standard English dictionary print publication. However, you may also know that there are indeed very many dictionaries available (especially online)… and any online dictionary is more or less just as easy to reach as any other online dictionary (the main difference being how easy it is to remember the domain name, how many letters are in the name, how easy or difficult it is to type, etc. — but nothing like that anyone would have to get up, walk over to a bookshelf, select the correct volume, pull it down, open it up, page through it or anything that people who still remember doing so time and time again back in the era of paper might still be able to recall from memory). Personally, I usually use dictionary.com — but more on that in a moment.

The short and simple answer is that different dictionaries document different vocabularies, different jargons, different linguistic communities, different languages. Although most people would not see a significant difference between oed.com and dictionary.com, only a very few people would miss the difference between either of these and urbandictionary.com… and in particular: each of these three websites have different procedures put in place for how the different user communities who use each website can interact with the site. The different methods applied lead to different lexicons, different descriptions, different designs, different functions and in general different user experiences. For example: it is not at all uncommon for an urbandictionary.com user to contribute a description (rather than merely “consuming” a description provided by the professional editors of the site).

Now I wish to make a huge quantum leap… — switching from English to German, and also switching from a standard language lexicon to a general, more encyclopedic format.

Kleines Hand-Lexikon: Wissenswertes von A - Z

Kleines Hand-Lexikon: Wissenswertes von A – Z

The image above is the cover of a paperback book — a pocket lexicon — that purports to contain information about anything worthy of note from A to Z. I have a copy of this quirky book on one of many shelves of paper books (I actually collect such crap 😉 ). The reason why I include it here is to point out that this is yet another “information resource” that is also quite similar (in certain ways) to the dictionaries described above.

ergo: There is no such thing as the English language. There is perhaps one English language described by oed.com, another English language described by urbandictionary.com, yet another English language described by dictionary.com, there are probably hundreds if not even thousands or millions of English languages. Let me take a step back and select one particular instance: commercial English.

The global language of commerce is, indeed, commercial English. The lexicon of commercial English is documented in the commercial top level domain (TLD): COM (also known as “dot com”). One might even go so far as to say that COM is its own language — one which transcends English — and one that also includes elements from other “natural” languages (e.g. Spanish, French, German, etc.). The string “dictionary” is registered under COM as an “English” element — this site describes the English vocabulary (that is the meaning of the word “dictionary”). For more about the “COM language” and other generic top level domain languages, see Generic Community Languages.

From the above discussion, you might glean that top level domains designate languages. Moving forward, we can also distinguish two different types of languages: Languages that are closely held (proprietary top level domains) vs. languages that are widely held (generic top level domains). One must not think that proprietary top level domains are inherently worse than generic top level domains (nor are they inherently better) — they are simply inherently different. While a quirky encyclopedia (such as the example above) may be rather idiosyncratic in nature, there are many examples of closely held languages that are very useful — think of (e.g.): The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association; The Medical Subject Headings (MESH — the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary used for indexing articles); Stock ticker symbols at various stock exchanges worldwide; industrial codes and classification systems; public / government data and statistics, etc. In each case, there is some “closely held” organization that provides what is referred to in the jargon of information science as “authority control”.

Ever since the Enlightenment, the Reformation and the rise of the so-called “Scientific Method” in early modern times, more and more authorities have been established. Whereas in the Middle Ages, the Pope of the Catholic Church was the sole ultimate authority regarding each and every issue, today — especially in matters of science, industry, commerce and many other spheres — a wide variety of institutions have developed to establish the meaning and significance of concepts that have become regular “tools of the trade” in each of these numerous segments of social interaction. We are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.

One example of a proprietary top level domain is “NYC”. Just today, I have included an update about considerations regarding authority control in that controlled language: http://nooblogs.com/activity/p/5175

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