February 17, 2008

A computational linguistics filksong

The Grammar and the Sentence

Truth be told, it’s not nearly as good as God’s Programming Language, but it might be worth a few chuckles even so.

February 15, 2008

Six blind men and the Twitter elephant

I got a long email today from a Very Smart Person who asked, in effect “What is Twitter for? I don’t get it.” Coincidentally, Rex Hammock posted a good answer yesterday, albeit with a bad title that I won’t repeat. The essence was:

… the most amazing thing about Twitter is this: everyone uses it differently.

It’s a little like trying to explain the telephone by describing what people talk about on the phone. “Telephones are devices that teenagers use to spread gossip.” “Telephones are the devices people use to contact police when bad things happen.” “Telephones are the devices you use to call the 7-11 to ask if they have Prince Albert in a can.”

Like the Internet itself, Twitter is hard to explain because it doesn’t really have a point. And it has too many points. Here’s what I mean: All it does is provide a common-place to relay short messages to a group of people who agree to receive your messages. Here’s the second part of what i mean: When you stop thinking those short messages aren’t limited to “I’m about to get on the elevator” but can be eye-witness accounts of breaking news stories or bursts of business-critical intelligence, or warnings that a gun-man is loose on campus, or shared conversations about political debates you and your friends are watching on TV, the possibilities of what can be done using Twitter becomes amazingly confusing — I think in a good way.

I’ve recently put up two posts on Twitter use cases. For yet another — well, as Shakespeare didn’t quite say, a 140 character limit is the soul of wit. Here’s my (ever-changing) list of Twitter “favorites”. The humor ranges from the sophomoric to the erudite; there are some serious aphorisms as well.

January 10, 2008

How Google’s technology took flight

For those who missed the original publication in April, 2002.

April 1, 2007

Orlowski is back to his old tricks

Andrew Orlowski thinks he’s figured out the Apple/Google/Oracle partnership. But he has it all wrong.

March 26, 2007


If you haven’t seen it yet, Uncyclopedia is an occasionally hilarious parody of Wikipedia. Definitely worth checking out.

January 30, 2007

Worst URL pun ever


That’s baaaad. Although I think Linda would insist it’s “wordplay” rather than a “pun.”

I wonder whether they have any posts about M*A*S*Hups.

June 9, 2006

That great linguist, Groucho Marx, and other stories

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with a saying that illustrates some of the basic challenges of disambiguation:

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

But did you know who said it first? I didn’t until recently. Read more

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