Jamie pointed me to John McWhorter today after my outsider academic efforts to make observations about language. In this talk, he eloquently dismantles criticisms that we might apply to texting, as being stupid or derogatory to good language and grammar:

We always hear that texting is a scourge. The idea is that texting spells the decline and fall of any kind of serious literacy, or at least writing ability, among young people in the United States and now the whole world today. The fact of the matter is that it just isn’t true, and it’s easy to think that it is true, but in order to see it in another way, in order to see that actually texting is a miraculous thing, not just energetic, but a miraculous thing, a kind of emergent complexity that we’re seeing happening right now, we have to pull the camera back for a bit and look at what language really is, in which case, one thing that we see is that texting is not writing at all.

At the same time, he makes the difference between how we speak and how we write, so painfully clear, that I can’t quite get my head out of my fingers as I write this. More conscious than ever that how I write isn’t how I talk.

Also, while on TED.com watching John’s talks, I came across another that twisted my brian a little: How computers are learning to be creative by Blaise Agüera y Arcas. He so beautifully explains the core concept / algorithm behind his work in machine perception, that he had me thinking it was actually quite simple! It’s also a skilfully structured talk, re-introducing what seems like a throwaway reference to Michelangelo at the start in a way that makes incredibly clear sense.

And finally, if that wasn’t enough inspiration for a Sunday. if you’ve never played with the interactive transcripts on TED.com, then go give it a go (just click any sentence, and keep watching the text at he starts to talk). Such great design and implementation.