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various news: mid-May

May 15, 2012
  • May 13th – happy birthday Stevie Wonder.
  • 1st workshop on distributional data semantics

    There are alternatives to the top-down, assertional approaches to semantics, which can work even without (too much) expensive human involvement. One of the most widely and successfully used are distributional semantics models that have been researched within the field of computational linguistics. These models, based on the distributional hypothesis, provide a bottom-up approach to the computational representation of meaning, where the statistical co-occurrence of words in unstructured corpora can provide a basis for the construction of simplified but comprehensive and extensible models of semantic content.

    sounds like a great approach to use for generation!

  • when your government collapses, when your families fight to the death, when your country is taken by bandits and terrorists and pirates, you will still have poetry:

    Imagine a country where poetry is everything.

    Imagine a place where the poets themselves are folk heroes and role models, a place where everyone knows the verses by heart and where crowds gather spellbound to hear the most popular poets perform.

    What you’re imagining is probably not Somalia, a country that has become a byword for death, mayhem and chaos, but where poetry is a political tool as powerful as the gun.

    “Without poetry we would not exist as a society. It can rouse thousands of people in a minute and demobilize thousands in a minute. As the stomach needs food, so the brain needs beautiful words,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame, known as Hadraawi, Somalia’s most famous poet.

    Inside Somalia: Where poetry is revered

    In recent decades, after the Somali language was written for the first time, and cheap radios and tape recorders began to spread into rural as well as urban areas, there was an expectation that oral poetry might decline as a societal force.

    In fact, modern communications and transportation have spread the art more efficiently from one area to another. Distinguished poets began to travel from area to area, leaving behind tapes of their work to be passed around and evaluated. After World War II, literary productions on Somali national radio and the Africa Service of the BBC attracted huge audiences.

    “Thus, it is a common, if amusing, thing,” Samatar wrote, “to come upon a group of nomads huddled excitedly over a short-wave transistor, engaged in a heated discussion of the literary merits of poems that have just been broadcast while they keep watch over their camel herds grazing nearby.”
    Somalia: a Nation of Poets

  • meanwhile, one of our #firstWorldProblems is that our poetry sucks. at least according to Perloff, who’s always good for a literary slap-down. well, she’s right, but she seems to think that Conceptualism is what “poets of the digital age” should be doing.
  • Germany knows what time it is. check out the Metricalizer:

    An implemented part-of-speech tagger but now calculated speech and grammatical function of the individual words and a hidden Markov model adds these findings into new sets. The only thing it lacks now is to make sense. But he has his readers: you can in the jumble of words create images and your creativity is to the generator breathes life.

    here’s a pdf with some details in English. you can also see vids of them building their generator (which produces text-to-speech as well as text output.)

  • update: how could I forget? the collection of poetry human readable messages, by mez breeze (the ‘queen of codework’) is now available on amazon! you can also get it through lulu if you don’t want to deal with amazon for some reason.)
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