Archive for July 2004
I’ve been spending some time lately at WordCount, which presents an elegantly designed interface to the 86,800 most frequently used English words.
The goal is for the user to feel embedded in the language, sifting through words like an archaeologist through sand, awaiting the unexpected find.
Some will surprise you. Reading between the rankings 12913 and 12923, for example, will reveal that Staffordshire constables are untidy and thicker than (their colleagues?) in Bombay, for example. “Gasp! Wha?”, you cry. But it’s true. Why, they couldn’t even catch the Interfering Manhattan Buckets Killers.
WordCount gets its data from a very interesting source: the British National Corpus,
a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of current British English, both spoken and written.
A free simple search version of this amazing resource is available online, and works very well as, among other things, a finder of randomly recondite information, drawing as it does from sources as diverse as the novels of Ruth Rendell, The Railway Station: A Social History, and Rabbiting by Bob Smithson, among many others.
OUf! I’m tired. Work is so over-rated, don’t you think?
LImitless horizons beckon. For now, let me
POint you toward the not-all-that-lately updated, but intriguing nonetheless, site of the OUPABO-America, The Workshop of Potential Comics, whose project is
to identify those constraints that already exist (2 common examples: using a 9-panel grid, or using a fixed point of view, as in a monologue comic) and to propose and implement new constraints that can generate new comics
This is but one of their endeavours, based on Harry Mathews’ “perverbs” (two disparate proverbs mixed together):
Also, a link (PDF format), found via the extremely iterative and ramificatory folks at Spineless Books, and at the excellent ubuweb, to Doug Nufer’s Never Again, a novel which doesn’t use the same word twice.
“A certain schedule of a day was followed in the fort. The strict security measures were observed, the staff in infectious branch worked in gummed raincoats atop of dressing gowns, in the same trousers, in high rubber galoshes.
The laboratory was perfectly equipped. The household conditions were also quite good: each member had a separate room, library and billiards were available. “
Also, a monument to Pavlov’s dog:
Kane’s travels in the Polar Sea, Mac-Clintock’s in search of John Franklin, Mr. the Marquis de Moges’ in China and Japan, Mr. Guillaume Lejean’s in the Montenegro and Herzegovina, Mac Donald’s to the Big Vitti, Mt Elisée Reclus’ in New Orleans, Pargachefski’s to the River Amour, Doctor Barth’s in Central Africa, Captain Burton’s to the lakes of Eastern Africa, Mr. de Gobineau’s in Persia, Henri Yule’s to the Kingdom of Ava, Mr. Paul Riant’s in the Scandinavian States, Mr. Bida’s to Jerusalem, Mr. Proust’s to Mount Athos, the travel to the land of the Yakoutes, the adventures of Baron de Wogan in California, and several others, will probably not be read with indifference.
Such was the hope, as expressed in his preface to an early volume, of Édouard Charton, founder of the illustrated magazine Le Tour du Monde, which appeared between 1860 and 1914, and fueled the imagination of Jules Verne. The accounts of travel and adventure in far-flung places were illustrated by artists such as Doré, Emile Bayard, and Édouard Riou.