What have we to say to the inhabitants of Finland four thousand generations into the future, and how on earth might we expect them to understand us?
I went to the post office at lunch time. Lots of other people did too, so it was quite busy.
For the last few years, this post office has had a fancy queuing system (though it now no longer seems to require a dedicated member of staff to explain the self service options, which is progress of a kind). I took my ticket and prepared to wait.
King Canute is famous for thinking that by his royal command, he could hold back the incoming tide. King Canute is famous for demonstrating the limitations of even royal power by showing that he could not hold back the incoming tide. His attempt to show humility and the limits of power became a story of […]
Just before Easter, I spent a couple of nights staying in a rather nice hotel. As it turned out, the fact that I can dimly remember watching Fawlty Towers many years ago proved to be of no help at all to me in understanding what was going on or how to navigate its processes. I can’t […]
When transport is disrupted, the first casualty is information. People who know what the alternatives are, what’s working and what’s not, what’s impossibly overcrowded and what merely unpleasantly so can make intelligent decisions. Those who don’t, can’t. That doesn’t make it an easy problem to solve. Situations change quickly. Crowds bubble up here and disperse […]
If you don’t know what’s going on in a system, it’s very hard to know how to respond to it. Those who have information are powerful, those who share information empower others. Some of that is about big stuff, but some of it is about very small things. So in the next couple of days, […]
It’s a holiday cliché. The car is packed, the boot is full, the journey is under way – and then there is a flat tyre. Luggage is piled on the hard shoulder until the spare wheel is finally unearthed. It happened to me last week. Except that it was a plane not a car, and […]
The semiotics of plumbing is a slightly unlikely topic, but having not long ago discussed the affordance of soap dispensing, I now turn to the tricky question of how to turn on a tap. There follows a ludicrously detailed description of an utterly trivial process. If that prospect does not fill your heart with joy, […]
We all know too much. What each of us knows too much about is very distinctive, but it’s a safe bet that we all know too much about something. When other people, who know that thing less than we do, attempt to describe it or to understand it for themselves, they get it wrong, not […]
Translation is an extraordinary process. It is holding on to the essence of a thing while stripping away everything which expresses that essence and replacing it with a different language or a different form. Having pulled off this remarkable feat, the fate of the translator is then to be ignored: the integrity of the original […]