2007-02-18

New The-Elected.com

The-Elected.com is completely different now:

http://www.the-elected.com/

let me know what you think. I've given up on the idea of having The Elected hold information like areas, institutions, offices etc. because they are already in Wikipedia. The only advantage was that the information in The Elected was in a structured form, but that wasn't a big enough advantage.

The new The Elected is really a database of constituency boundaries that is combined with Google Maps and Wikipedia to hopefully create something useful. Please send me any links to geospatial data of constituency boundaries and I'll put them on the site.

2007-02-02

The Lent Jewels

Hughes has a big thing about dreams. He thinks dreams go into a supernatural archive and then:

At the last, having thereby made a unique contribution to something beyond us, each of us was to die into that insubstantial but immortal nowhere.

Absolutely barmy.

The story is of his search for faith, told partly through the lives of two victorian figures. Archibald Tait, an archbishop, and Walter, author of 'My Secret Life'.

Throughout, Hughes uses religious language to describe modern, mundane things.

Freakonomics

I loved this book, although of course I didn't agree with all of it. Take the swimming pools versus guns thing. Levitt says that swimming pools are statistically more dangerous to kids to have at a house, than guns. That may be, but swimming pools are fun and so shouldn't that come into the equation?

That said, the Levitt approach and results will stay with me. Thanks Bob for giving me the book for Christmas!

Speech and writing is digital

In my lifetime, everything's gone from being analogue to being digital. These terms are usually used when talking about electronics, but they needn't be.

I think of digital as being where a range of values correspond to another discrete value. In his book, The Digital River, Richard Dawkins says that DNA is digital. That's because even if you bend and twist the DNA around a bit, the order of the proteins stays the same, and it's the order that counts. When the DNA is copied, the copy isn't nearly the same like a photocopy, the information in the copied DNA is exactly the same, like a copied computer file.

I think that speech and writing is digital too. When I've played Chinese whispers, it's been disappointing because the phrase never changes. If one were to play Chinese pictures (I'm sure there is such a game) with art that didn't contain symbols, the change would be immediate.

This is because with speech, a large variety of sounds map to a single word. It is digital. Also with writing, a large variety of marks on paper map to a single letter. It too is digital.