Google Feud

Google Feud is a game about Google. Try to guess what suggestions are shown to complete searches like “the beatles are …” or “does my boss …”. The trick I guess is to think about what other people would ask Google most often or most recently and work from that.

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YouTube find: Computers for cynics

Ted Nelson is one of the people who invented the Internet. Kind of.

Computers for Cynics is a series of lo-fi video rants about the history of personal computers and the web, and about how it all went wrong. He has a unique perspective and tells a great story.

Ted Nelson just sits in front of his computer and talks. His YouTube channel is a lot of fun.

Since the 60’s, Nelson has been working on Xanadu, a model for computer documents and computer networks that is not limited to hierarchical relationships and paper-based metaphors. Here’s a demo of a Xanadu document he uploaded just recently, in the same lo-fi style as all his other videos.

Invention of the alphabetical order

That Cawdrey should arrange his words in alphabetical order, to make his Table Alphabeticall, was not self-evident. He knew he could not count on even his educated readers to be versed in alphabetical order, so he tried to produce a small how-to manual. He struggled with this: whether to describe the ordering in logical, schematic terms or in terms of a step-by-step procedure, an algorithm.

Gentle reader, thou must learne the Alphabet, to wit, the order of the Letters as they stand, perfectly without booke, and where every Letter standeth: as b neere the beginning, n about the middest, and t toward the end. Nowe if the word, which thou art desirous to finde, begin with a then looke in the beginning of this Table, but if with v looke towards the end. Againe, if thy word beginne with ca looke in the beginning of the letter c but if with cu then looke toward the end of that letter. And so of all the rest.

It was not easy to explain. Friar Johannes Balbus of Genoa tried in his 1286 Catholicon. Balbus thought he was inventing alphabetical order for the first time, and his instructions were painstaking:

For example I intend to discuss amo and bibo. I will discuss amo before bibo because a is the first letter of amo and b is the first letter of bibo and a is before b in the alphabet. Similarly …

He rehearsed a long list of examples and concluded:

I beg of you, therefore, good reader, do not scorn this great labor of mine and this order as something worthless.

Instructions for using lists sorted according to the order of letters. Quote from The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. In turn quoting from Catholicon and Table Alphabeticall.

The major problem encountered in time travel

One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of accidentally becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can’t cope with. There is no problem about changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

The major problem is quite simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr. Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveler’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you, for instance, how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be described differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is further complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations while you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

[…]

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is one of the most extraordinary ventures in the entire history of catering.

It is built on the fragmented remains of an eventually ruined planet which is (wioll haven be) enclosed in a vast time bubble and projected forward in time to the precise moment of the End of the Universe.

This is, many would say, impossible.

In it, guests take (willan on-take) their places at table and eat (willan on-eat) sumptuous meals while watching (willing watchen) the whole of creation explode around them.

This, many would say, is equally impossible.

You can arrive (mayan arrivan on-when) for any sitting you like without prior (late fore-when) reservation because you can book retrospectively, as it were, when you return to your own time (you can have on-book haventa forewhen presooning returningwenta retrohome).

This is, many would now insist, absolutely impossible.

At the Restaurant you can meet and dine with (mayan meetan con with dinan on when) a fascinating cross-section of the entire population of space and time.

This, it can be explained patiently, is also impossible.

You can visit it as many times as you like (mayan on-visit reonvisiting … and so on — for further tense correction consult Dr. Street-mentioner’s book) and be sure of never meeting yourself, because of the embarrassment this usually causes.

This, even if the rest were true, which it isn’t, is patently impossible, say the doubters.

Quote from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams.