Today I was playing a quiz online. I like quizzes. I also like money, which I would have won, except that I got a question wrong. That question was:
While writing about social media yesterday, a thought occurred: what’s the etymology of the name Instagram? The Insta- part seemed pretty obvious, but I was curious about the –gram part. Luckily, when you want to find out about the etymology of the names of social media, you don’t have to do too much digging…
You may have read a story about Facebook shutting down an artificial intelligence because it got too intelligent. I first came across this on my Facebook newsfeed last week, and was suspicious of it: surely if this news is as big as it seems, I’d have already heard about it. So I ignored it, dismissing it as clickbait, until I saw the same story presented in a more reasonable manner on a respectable website. So I read the article, which told a more plausible story. Apparently, Facebook had develop chatbots to negotiate over virtual items. They’d been programmed with the ability to experiment with language in order to see if this could help them to dominate the discussions.
Seemingly, one morning the researchers checked on what the chatbots were up to, only to find them chatting in apparently incomprehensibly gibberish such as:
I’m surprise to find that the article I read the other daythe article I read the other day has inspired a second article by me, but here we are. Something else that interested me in the article was the fact that Michael Buffer, has become a millionaire by licensing the trademark for the phrase Let’s Get Ready to Rumble. It’s probable that you read that in your mind in a very specific voice, and that voice is Michael Buffer’s. Buffer, a boxing and wrestling ring announcer, became famous for his catchphrase, delivered in his unique style. In 1992 he registered the phrase as a trademark, and since then has earned about $400 million from it.
I want to take a little break from looking at language for this evening. Actually, I had tried to write something about language. I tried to write the post I’d mentioned yesterday: I wanted to start with the word English, and then let my phone choose which words would follow. I was hoping for some mad Dadaist poem, but was somewhat disappointed it was just recreating whole sentences from my blog or from emails. But then, having a look at my blog dashboard, and looking at other blogs, I decided to write about what I like about blogging. And when I started thinking about it, I realised I could write a lot, so I decided to focus on one aspect of the blogging experience: the statistics.
Or txtspk I suppose, only, do so many people really use textspeak anymore, and therefore, is textspeak perhaps now more appropriate? I was thinking about this recently when someone communicated with me in classic txtspk, as in things like hi how r u, I wnt 2 da suprkmarkt 2day, it was gr8! It surprised me, partly because it wasn’t in a context in which I’d normally expect to encounter textspeak. Mostly though, it surprised me because it made me realise that I hadn’t come across someone using textspeak in a long time…