[ExI] Media generations

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Jun 13 22:28:52 UTC 2011

spike wrote:
> A variable I am trying to imagine is the ratio of thought to the 
> number of words. In the twitter medium (don’t know the proper name for 
> it) there are few words but nearly zero actual thought behind it.
Nah, good tweets have a thought compressed into few words. I think all 
questions at seminars and conferences ought to be tweets - if you cannot 
ask something in that space, you are probably not asking a question but 
making a mini-lecture.

Check out the Hayek twitter game:

> Here, more words but also more thought. What would we call that ratio? 
> Meme to text ratio? Or should it be the ratio of memes to time spent 
> ingesting the memes? The internet chat group is better than television 
> and twitter, but not as good as… what?

The memes/word ratio sounds good. The previous sentence presumably had a 
ratio of 1/6. One can also calculate the memes/kilobyte ratio and 
memes/second ratio. My guess is that text can have fairly high ratios, 
spoken words slightly lower (harder to make things succinct and brief, 
with plenty of fill words, plus text can be read quickly), much of video 
really low ratios (with a few significant exceptions - images can 
transmit a lot of memes fast if well designed).

Twitter benefits by the brevity: the number of words cannot go up too 
much (unlike in an email or a phone call...), the number of ideas is 0, 
1 or more.

It is a bit like Tufte's measure of the data-ink ratio in diagrams. How 
much of the ink is conveying data versus the total amount of ink? Some 
diagrams have amazingly low ratios.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

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