Our monitors want software that detects sarcasm

The Secret Service is in the market for software that can detect sarcasm. That way the government agencies that monitor what you say on the internet will be able to tell whether you are joking if you threaten the president or if you really mean it.

Two points of interest here:  The government is really serious about monitoring Facebook, Twitter, and other internet media, doing continual automated monitoring of anything that might be construed as threatening statements.  Note how this could be both used and abused.

There is also the technical problem of a software program being able to detect language that does not mean exactly what it says.  How can a mechanized process determine the possible meanings and intentions of a statement such as “I’m going to kill him!”  Attention to context, of course, would help.  (Note to government monitors of this blog:  The statement before the previous sentence is for illustrative purposes only.)  But there is not always clear context.  “Artificial intelligence” can only take us so far in emulating the human mind, since intelligence is only one of many faculties of the mind, which also include imagination, the will, emotion, as well as complicated uses such as play, humor, fiction, and self-expression. [Read more...]

How God uses the imagination

More from my interview with Mathew Block, who asks how God uses our human imaginations to reach us. [Read more...]

Associated Press will shorten the news

We’ve blogged about the findings that the internet has diminished people’s ability to read long, complex texts.  Now the leading practitioner of print journalism is giving in to the trend.  The Associated Press wire service has ordered its reporters to keep their stories no longer than 500 words. [Read more...]

The world’s eucatastrophe

Thanks to Rev. Sam Schuldheisz who posted passages from J. R. R. Tolkien on “eucatastrophe,” a word he coined for “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.”  Tolkien then developed the idea that the eucatastrophe of history is the Birth of Christ, and the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation is His resurrection. [Read more...]

Bible reading in the digital age

In answer to my question about how reading conditioned by the internet might affect the way people read the Bible, Rev. Lucas Woodford (my former pastor) pointed to this article by Robin Phillips published in Touchstone in 2012, which also gets into the various ways reading itself has already changed over the centuries.  An excerpt after the jump. [Read more...]

Does the internet degrade our ability to read?

There is some evidence that the way we read on the internet–skimming, surfing, hopping from link to link–is interfering with the ability to read complex, content-rich books that require reading slowly and thoughtfully.

Do you think?  Having just finished the 1500 page unabridged Les Miserables for free on my Kindle (an overwhelming experience that I’ll blog about later), I say not necessarily.  But still, I can see the danger.  I wonder what the eye-bite approach would do to Bible reading.

[Read more...]


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