While the events in Charlottesville have had major ramifications both politically and socially, and while the violence is terrible and abhorrent, I was surprised and strangely pleased to see the reason for the rage was something physical. Monuments built long after the Civil War to reinforce the idea that the idea that white rule is still a force in the south and elsewhere deserve to be removed and put in a proper historical context. We still can’t view Disney s “Song of the South” because we can’t seem to find a way to put it in a historical context, as a moment in time that we may not be proud of or wish to replete. This is a topic whose time has more than come and it deserves to be examined. Yet, in an age where the only discourse seems to be over memes, tweets, and posts, it was almost refreshing to see action and rage over something in the physical world. While I am too in no way condoning violence, it is good to see people taking action in the physical world- that we understand live action is still an option and perhaps the only way to make real change in the world. We can overcome, but perhaps not by tweeting.
Recently, we have been discussing the idea of computer code as language and the ramifications that may have for us as humans in the digital age. The movie “Arrival” also dealt with the limitations of language, for those who haven’t yet seen the movie, which I recommend highly, one of the points of the movie is that language forms the way we see the world (brilliantly addressed in Yana Schottenstein’s article “How the Language You Speak Affects Your Worldview”) and basically can determine our relation to the world that we describe and live in. I couldn’t help but take this idea and bring it to the idea of a computer language and wonder; Do people who write code begin to see the world differently because they are using a different language paradigm to describe what they see? Now to be clear, the word Expressive means that it’s easy to write code that’s easy to understand, both for the compiler and for a human reader. That doesn’t address the descriptive quality of the computer language, nor how languages influence and dictates our world view. Verbs must exist as do qualifications, if-then questions, choices, and consequences. Is it possible then that a communication between programmer and computer could describe the world that would be unrecognizable to a non-code literate person? I remember in Carl Sagans, “Cosmos”, Sagan stating that computers could communicate at such a speed as to discuss the entirety of current human knowledge in an instant, and when asked by a human what they were saying could only reply,”Nothing” as they could have no way to explain it to us. Perhaps we may find that not only can we not speak at their speed but we are looking at a completely different world. Not a world of colour and things but a world of 0’s and 1’s.