Archive for October, 2003

Digital Wanderlust

Posted by Arlo on Oct 14, 2003 under Life of Arlo

Not too long ago a friend commented that I always seemed to find cool and interesting places on the Internet. He asked me why I didn’t have a section of my web page devoted to my favorite links. Honestly, the thought had never occurred to me.

I’ve rarely found the huge list of links that some people put on their web pages very useful. In theory, it sounds like a good idea to organize, categorize, and publish your bookmarks for the enlightenment of the online masses, but I never can seem to find a good implementation. One of the most annoying virtual experiences is to click on a link that someone professes to be worth your time… only to have a 404 error show up in its place.

Relishing my propensity to type, I thought I might take a different approach to sharing my favorites with you. Instead of supplying a list, I thought I would take some extra time to tell you why I link the site is worthwhile. (Apologies to those who come across this web log entry 10 years from now when all the URLs are broken.)

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Parlez-vous Usted English?

Posted by Arlo on Oct 8, 2003 under Thought Objects

I like science fiction. I’m hooked the way lonely housewives are addicted to romance novels and the Lifetime Network. I’ll watch the movies, I’ll quickly commit to a season of episodic television, I’ll read the novels and the short stories. I doubt there’s any one reason why I’m drawn to fantastic descriptions of utopian or dystopian futures, rather it’s probably the same combination of events in my youth that nurtured my fondness for hi-tech gadgets, comic books, and computer games.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about one of the big conceits of sci-fi – interspecies communication. For each movie, show, or book there is usually a God-like device inserted to enable the author to get past the language barrier. Douglas Adams imagined the improbable Babel Fish (appropriately adopted by Altavista search engine geeks as the name for their web page translation tool), but it was Star Trek that introduced The Universal Translator into the public conscience.

Whatever the contrivance, the intent is the same: To shelve the language barrier in deference to the story being told. It’s understandable. As a viewer, can you imaging watching every sci-fi story with a realistic alien language barrier? You would either have to read a lot of subtitles or miss out on half the story. Of course, if written well, the process of communication barriers could be very interesting – but how many authors or scriptwriters have the ability to create entire languages while telling a compelling story?

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