Commas, semicolons and question marks are so commonplace it seems as if they were always there – but that’s not the case. Keith Houston explains their history.
We look at Medieval science as barbaric and backwards. We think of their culture as unwashed and religious based. They believed the Earth was flat. But they thought they were just as advanced and right as we see ourselves.
Every present science looks good to those living in that time period. Medieval scientists would have had many of the same thoughts as current scientists, but filtered through their culture, knowledge, beliefs, and science.
If you were writing Medieval science fiction what would it be like? How would you combine the Middle Ages into a story about cloning, for instance?
How would you write Medieval science fiction?
Dieselpunk is an alternate history/reality science fiction sub genre that takes much of it’s flavor and attitude from cyberpunk. It is usually set between 1915-1950 and like it’s cousin steampunk it is retro-futurism. Even though it is compared to and pigeon-holed with steampunk it actually has more in common with cyberpunk. Think of it as cyberpunk as seen through a pulp, art deco, filter. If you like all things early 20th century vintage and retro-future you’ll love Dieselpunk.
Source: Dieselpunk from Facebook
I first heard about Esperanto ten years ago when I was writing at a site called BackWash. One of the other writers was learning to speak the language and writing about it. I read some of the history, how the language was developed. I even wrote a post about Esperanto, as a resource for anyone else interested in finding out more. Then, I heard very little about it again, until finding this post today (see below). Esperanto is still around, still has all the potential to grow and become important… but it hasn’t yet.
Like its vastly more successful digital cousins — C++, HTML, Python — Esperanto is an artificial language, designed to have perfectly regular grammar, with none of the messy exceptions of natural tongues. Out loud, all that regularity creates strange cadences, like someone speaking Italian slowly while chewing gum. William Auld, the Modernist Scottish poet who wrote his greatest work in Esperanto, was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, but never won. But it is supremely easy to learn, like a puzzle piece formed to fit into the human brain.
Invented at the end of the 19th century, in many ways it presaged the early online society that the web would bring to life at the end of the 20th. It’s only ever been spoken by an assortment of fans and true believers spread across the globe, but to speak Esperanto is to become an automatic citizen in the most welcoming non-nation on Earth.
Find a vintage motel or hotel postcard on eBay. Pick something from your local area so you will know the streets, more or less. Use Google Street View (find the location on the back view of the postcard) see if you can find the motel now. Is it still there at all? If so, is the name the same? Spot the differences between then and now.
Take it on the road and visit the site. Get a photograph and (if you have a site) post the then and now images. Find some history, if you can. Or design a history for the motel yourself. Who owned and operated it over the years? Did they love it, grow too tired to keep it going, run out of money? What changes happened around them in the local area?
I found the Caribou Motel in the present, it’s gone. Replaced by a new gas bar. Nothing left of the old motel and diner except the space around the new building. You can see some curb out by the road and the parking lot is bigger than the current commercial business would need. Small hints at what once was.
You can see what became of the Caribou in urban exploration photos from CopySix and other explorers who posted to Flickr and Ontario Abandoned Places. Note: the CopySix post has a comment from the original owner’s family.
Gopher was a competitor of the early World Wide Web, differing in its simpler, more structured interface. The flexibility of HTML led to the World Wide Web eclipsing Gopher, and today few people are aware that Gopher even existed. Gopher has not, however, entirely vanished, and over one hundred Gopher servers still provide access to more than a million content items. Unfortunately the number of modern web browsers with support for Gopher is dwindling, potentially rendering all of this content inaccessible.
Gopher Proxy allows Gopher content to be viewed in any web browser, by converting Gopher content into web pages as you request it. With Gopher Proxy you can browse Gopher exactly as you would browse the World Wide Web. To start, enter an address in the address bar and click on the green arrow, or enter some words in the search bar and click on the magnifying glass.
It’s been a long time since I came across something using Gopher. Good that it can still be viewed/ adapted for viewing. A lot of Internet history would be found in older Gopher content.
Through a strange set of circumstances, you are being forced to spend the rest of your life as a… Spartan, Viking, Knight or Roman. Which do you choose? Why? What will your life be life? What’s daily life like? Would you enjoy it?
I’d pick Viking, mainly because they had a better attitude towards women. When people think of Spartans, knights, Vikings or Romans they tend to think of men, fighting men. But, most of the people living in those days were not men, or fighting men. What do you know about the ordinary lives of people in history? Most fiction is written from the perspective of people who had power and resources, not those who lived and died without making it into history books. The great unknown.
Thanks to the member-driven online information site Twitter, the lowly “pound” or “number” symbol “#” has been elevated to a new role. The hash mark, or pound symbol, (#) is now known by social media users as a “hashtag” or “hash tag”. Posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the frenzied chaotic world of Twitter.
Twitter user Chris Messina (@chrismessina) first Tweeted with a hashtag symbol # in August 2007, as a way to define groups on the social media site. The use of the pound symbol to categorize messages and define conversations spread quickly throughout the Twitter community, and is now an integral part of this fast-paced live information network.
I can’t resist adding some Internet history along with the information about hashtags.
Hashtags can be used or organize information, create an archive or directory for a group of people. But, I think hashtags are just fun. Stick together a phrase (shortened for space) and add it as a sub-commentary to your post.
Don’t take hashtags too seriously.
I was looking up something tonight and found a link to the Open Directory Project (aka Dmoz or ODP). I was an editor there, shedragon, for about ten years. I liked being part of the project, seeing it evolve and tweaking categories for topics I was interested or involved in.
I forget why I left now. Something I was annoyed about. Isn’t that so often the story. I did seem to have upset someone in the upper management of the directory but I never found out what it was about. I think that’s actually why I did leave. I can remember being annoyed at the close mouthedness of it and feeling I couldn’t even defend myself because I had no idea what the problem/ issue was.
I put a lot of time and energy and care into the directory. I was quite proud to have become an editall and manage several larger categories in the directory. Likely I burnt out and I did leave and not regret the decision. I still don’t. I do tend to get absorbed into things so it is good for me to take some steps back and give myself space to find diversity instead of becoming too focused.
Anyway, today (just now) I checked if my old login still did anything. Not expecting it would. But, some part of it was still there. So I filled out the short form to ask to be reinstated.
It would be nice to fix up the categories for urban exploration and ASCII art again. But, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy sorting out my own link collections and sites. It is nice to be part of something though. I wish Dmoz had grown, along with Google. It’s a shame it didn’t. It’s still a decent resource if someone is looking after the section you’re looking in. That’s likely why I applied. I do like history and archives!
http://www.livejournal.com/login.bml?code=kvdY6EouMV7BzGakQQ4bEw – This is the link typed out if you want to use my referral link. Or, click the image.