All posts by Jeff77789

G.K. Zipf and the Fossil Hunters – Reading Response

This chapter out of the book Uncharted written by Aiden and Michel focuses on the appearance of certain words in the English language. More specifically, it focuses on irregular verbs. by analyzing the appearance of the irregular and “regular” versions of the same verb, the phasing out of the irregular verb form can be predicted mathematically based solely on the frequency of the verb’s use in English language. The  clear example that is presented is the word throve vs. thrived. Clearly we mostly use the word “thrived” instead of “throve” but this isn’t the case when we look that the comparison between the words “drove” and “drived.” According to Aiden and Michel, the only difference between these two verbs which both have been irregular at some point is the fact that “drove” was used much more often than “throve.” As Aiden and Michel state on page 44,

“…once one took frequency into account,
the process of regularization was mathematically indistinguishable
from the decay of a radioactive atom. Moreover, if we knew
the frequency of an irregular verb, we could use a formula to compute its half-life.”


For the most part, Zipf, Aiden and Michel used literary resources to make their predictions on verb frequency. They state that the sole factor that influences the “regularization” of irregular verbs is the frequency of the verb in question in literature. Although their prediction may be correct to a certain extent, they disregarded the effect of social influences from their main argument. On the second page of the anecdote Burn, baby, burnt,  it states,

“A few days later, he saw another distressing headline, this one in the Los Angeles Times: “Kobe Bryant Says He Learned a Lot from Phil Jackson.” The student knew nothing about Phil Jackson, but was still shocked that Kobe had learned from Phil. If anything, he should have learnt.”

Although the pure analysis of the frequency of irregular verbs such as “learnt” may be a good determinant of the future of the regularization of that particular verb, it does not take into account any social factors or any other determinants that affect the frequency of the verb. It may be that the regularization of the verb starts with the simple news headline that used the regularized version of the verb which inadvertently sparked it’s popularity within the general public and as a result it eventually sets off the cycle for the word to make its way into formal literature. These social effects may or may not speed up or slow down the process of the regularization of certain words; for example, if kids are being taught generation after generation that the correct past tense for “drive” is “drove” and not “drived,” then these social pressures may affect the eventual outcome of the word, regardless of frequency. The significance of social factors on the regularization of irregular verbs can only be determined through further careful analysis.

The 1% of Everything


The influence and discussion of the term “1%” has become almost ubiquitous in today’s society. It has become synonymous with the ultra wealthy and the lavish lifestyles that they live. The influence of public opinion and media coverage has transformed “the 1%” from a factual threshold into a mere colloquial term. Since the beginning of print news, we have been exposed to not just the 1% of wealthiest Americans but rather the 1% of everything. Instead of being a source of jealousy and protest, “the 1%” should be a term for a goal that is attainable for the general public. Continue reading The 1% of Everything

Malcolm Gladwell— Setting the stage for the unheard story of David and Goliath

My analysis of this TED talk given by Malcom Gladwell begins at 0:45 and ends around 1:05. To summarize, he explains the long told story of David and Goliath in detail. He explains the lore in great detail for the first half of the video and then goes into other extraneous facts such as how the traditions of war had often resulted in one on one combat and how a certain type of soldier in the armies only had one job of being a “slinger” to volley a barrage of rocks at the attacking enemy. He then goes into the possible weaknesses of the giant; he describes the giant as being slow to react with poor vision, possibly diagnosed with “giantism” or with acromegaly. The main argument that he presents is that giants may seem very intimidating, but they may not be as strong as they seem.

To set the stage for this commonly known story, Gladwell goes into the lesser known facts of the story. In this particular segment of the video, he explains the geography of the area to help the audience visualize the scene in which history took place. He goes into great detail about the features of the land and uses strong imagery to depict a visualization that everybody can imagine in their heads. By using hand motions, a mental map of the area is pictured by the audience since he corresponds the ancient cities/areas with places in which he directs his hand. This hand motion is perhaps the most important part of the effect of imagery; the other example of him outlining the shape of a mountain range as he is talking about the valleys, mountains and plains of Israel really gives the audience a vivid impression on what he has pictured in his own mind. Gladwell uses a neutral tone in his voice to set a clear stage before the story begins and does not move his body around too much as to distract the audience from the strong image that he is projecting into their minds. Everything he is doing in this part of his speech is a key part of storytelling, and in this case it was to set the stage for the unheard story of David and Goliath so well that his argument connects with the audience just that much more.

Infographic: the electric car initiative

This infographic gives us lots of information regarding electric cars. The map clearly shows the growth over the years in a very clear and concise way that is easy to visualize and understand. When it comes to data that tries to describe the location of things on a map, it’s very hard to find alternatives to present that information other than using an actual map; however, what makes this inforgraphic stand out is the use of colors to distinguish and organize information. The colors used are visually appealing and provide very useful visual cues for when reading or just skimming through the infographic. This infographic uses flat styling to help make it as visually appealing as possible as well as to give it a modernistic touch. This infographic adds tremendous value to the article mainly because it displays information that can only be presented visually: one such example of this are the approximate locations of the charging stations on the map. Even without looking at the numbers presented, it is clear to anybody who even takes a quick glance at this inforgraphic that the number of electric car charging stations has increased over the years. The alternative to the infographic would include stating the numbers and perhaps using a basic map to visualize the locations of the charging stations. With this infographic, a legend of 1 car = 1000 vehicles makes interpreting the numbers even easier; readers can visualize how little 326 plug in hybrids in 2010 is when compared to 38,565 plug in hybrids in 2012. Without the visualization, it’s much harder to imagine the real comparison between these two figures. The greatest advantage of having this infographic is the use of easy-to-interpret visual cues that help people understand and retain the information better. Just numbers without pictures make understanding the general concept harder and the article would not be nearly as effective at its argument.


The Tip of the Iceberg: Pictures


I found this book cover on Amazon and it immediately caught my attention. To me, I think that this is a very interesting book cover. Unlike most book covers, this cover has somewhat of a “double title” and the style of the lettering is very unconventional from many other books. The cover of this book is directed towards grabbing the attention of the potential reader with unique styling and visual cues. The title reads “Things to Do and Make in the Fourth Dimension” but it is crossed out by a a scrawly text that serves as a subtitle. Having the actual title crossed out by the subtitle is a very unique method of presenting this information. The scrawly handwriting has a playful nature to it that represents a mathematician’s “sandbox” which is explored in the book. The object constructed by the tape measures is a tesseract which is essentially a 3D representation of a 4D cube. For those that did not know previously what a tesseract is,  the object is interesting just by itself through visual appeal as it is not a common household object that we might see from everyday life. The use of tape measures instead of a regular material such as wood to construct the object once again represents the playful nature of the mathematician’s “sandbox.” I refer to the book as a “sandbox” partly because of the appropriately named title, which suggests that there are many interesting things to do in the 4th dimension which really captures people’s attention and sparks their curiosity in the book. Everything about this book cover is meant to generate curiosity; it’s playful nature just might cause enough interest in people take a second look at the cover and to read through the book itself.

“THE INFORMATION” Reading Response

“And a year after that—still a full decade before most people heard the word—a Swedish computer scientist named Jacob Palme at the QZ Computer Center in Stockholm issued a prescient warning—as simple, accurate, and thorough as any that followed in the next decades. Palme began: ‘Electronic mail system can, if used by many people, cause severe information overload problems. The cause of this problem is that it is so easy to send a message to a large number of people, and that systems are often designed to give the sender too much control of the communication process and the receiver too little control…. People get too many messages, which they do not have time to read. This also means that the really important messages are difficult to find in a large flow of less important messages. In the future, when we get larger and larger message systems, and these systems get more and more interconnected, this will be a problem for almost all users of these systems.’ He had statistics from his local network: the average message took 2 minutes, 36 seconds to write and just 28 seconds to read. Which would have been fine, except that people could so easily send many copies of the same message” (Gleick 404)

Gleick describes email as one of the electronic tools in which we use to learn information but at the same time email provides us with almost too much information. As Palme said, email can cause severe information overload problems. In an age where information is so easily obtained, email is just one of the many things that can distract us from our daily lives. Other than that, email is just one of those things that can be taken for granted nowadays. We get so many emails that we mark most of them as spam to disregard all types of information, either for better or for worse. Just as how Gleick compared a piece of filed information to a shelved book, an email is just a personal electronic memo that we choose to file, store, and possibly delete without any second thought.

What was especially interesting to me was that this was all predicted by Palme in the 80’s when most of the general public had not even heard of the word “email” or “electronic mail” and had absolutely no sense of what the implications of having such a system may be. Nevertheless, Palme’s predictions still hold true today as we receive useless “spam” mail from countless sites by the hour, all filtered in some fashion by various digital algorithms. Filtering information out until the perfect balance is achieved is an ongoing challenge and remains crucial to proper information delivery. Without filtering, we may either miss out on key memos or experience “information overload” which has been proven to be ultimately inefficient to the end user. In our modern daily lives, information is so easily accessible that it all must be properly filtered to optimize our productivity and our livelihood.

Truth of Fact / Feeling Response video

If I had more time to thoroughly plan and shoot the video, I would have chose walk around while I talked and I would have had somebody help shoot the video for me. I think this would give it a better visual effect on the video; the current video is just a “talking head” and there is not much to it. I think adding a dynamic backdrop would make the video more interesting and more engaging for the viewer to watch. Even without the dynamic background, some of the challenges of producing the video included the mistakes of oral delivery and visual presentation. I found that I made oral mistakes many times even with a script; this resulted in me doing multiple takes just to get a clean run. This is different from an essay since the amount of work completed in an essay is cumulative even when mistakes are made but when shooting a video, starting over is usually necessary for a polished end product. As far as visual presentation, the formatting of the essay and the font plays a large part in the visual presentation but there are many more elements to a video presentation.