Archive | November, 2009

A synopsis of a synopsis

Lately I’ve been posting more pictures here than usual, and whether or not they succeed in conveying a thousand words, from time to time and for one reason or another,  it’s the best I can do.

So! Today, I’ve struck a compromise: an image of text, which itself depicts an amalgam of multiple, very short bits of text I’ve posted elsewhere.  After blogger chum Liza Tweeted her “tweet cloud,” I was tempted  to figure out what my “tweet cloud” would look like. I’m going to presume that if you are reading a blog, then you are, for better or worse, familiar with Twitter, and therefore also the term Tweets, and also (probably?) the quasi-related concept of a text-generated “cloud.” [If no, see the fine print at the end of this post.] Here’s my tweet cloud:


At first I was sure it was wrong. Just like when you hear your voice on an answering machine message or some such, you’re all, “No way could that be me!” Or in my case, “Who gagged me and hoodwinked a 13 year-old boy to speak in my place?”  But upon second and third thought, I had to accept that the program that amasses and sorts and ranks words is fairly undiscriminating (or rather, it discriminates to the point of omitting “and” and “the” and similar syntactic glue.

Fans of Edward Tufte and the whole fascinating world of the visual depiction of quantitative information of saw this “text cloud” thing gathering on the horizon before any precipitation began to drop, of course. What’s fun is seeing how all this, along with folk taxonomies and all the other fun intellectual neologisms of the internet continue to emerge and evolve.


  • 1.  Twitter: A “micro-blogging” social network service (neither “micro-blogging” nor “social network” will be on the quiz) that enables users to send and read extremely compact text messages using the internet. It’s kind of like text messages sent by cell phone to cell phone, except what stands in as the phone is any device with a keyboard, and the party who receives it is not simply the chum whose phone you send the text to, but potentially THE ENTIRE KNOWN UNIVERSE, that is at least the wired universe.  Unless you password protect your tweets. What’s a “tweet,” you ask?
  • 2.  Tweet: an increment, the increment, of text conveyed by Twitter. If Twitter is a micro-blogging service, then a tweet is a post.  We’re in trouble here if the concept of a “micro-blog” is stupefying. But let’s hope it’s not. A tweet can be no more than 140 characters, which encourages either brevity or superficiality or sometimes, heaven help us, both. Oscar Wilde would have kicked some Twitter ass; Dostoyevsky would have plunged into a mute stupor at the insurmountable challenge of it.
  • 3.  Text-generated cloud: You take all the words in a given chunk of writing (post, blog, Twitter stream) — okay, well, you get a computer program to take those words — and then you sort ’em, rank ’em, and assign text font size according to frequency of repetition. Big=appears a lot, smaller=less so. Then it’s kind of fudged around in a fairly random clump, which, to sound nicer, is referred to as a cloud.
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    Weekend bonus shot, 11.28.09


    Ghost boy/boy, Arnold, CA.

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    Wishing you well

    I’ll be away from the internet through the coming weekend, or at least away from reliable sources thereof.

    In honor of Thanksgiving, a big big holiday for those of us who are aware of what we’ve got to be thankful for (and in case I can’t find me any WiFi in the hills, or get struck with the good sense not to look for any), I offer up this several years’ old post on the topic of gratitude .

    And thank you, gentle reader, for your time here.

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    3,472 in a series


    I could have also entitled this “Baba’s mood is…” since the image captures that pretty nicely, too. Okay it’s a bit understated. It’s more like this other picture, by his sister.  But I don’t want to impose my interpretive vision on that of the artist.

    He was having a perfectly fine time with the paper, but of course eventually he ran out of it (either the paper itself or the fine time with it, who can say) at a point in the day when I was all tangled up in the dreary, inexplicable travails of adulthood.  Well, they’re explicable to us, but to them? Nope. Our grown-up stresses remain as distant and confusing to them as the global economy will always remain to me.  And as relevant.  Meaning, plenty.

    Either way, as per usual, as per the wall-to-wall stress that painted the insides of our home throughout the Prop 8 battle last year, all he sees is its impact on me, never its source.  For good reason, but still.  I’m Faust, muttering to a Mephistopheles that he’ll never see.

    So what did he do?  He did what any self-respecting 2.75 year old would do.  After multiple times trying to get my attention (was I on the phone? hunched over the computer? pacing the room in a reverie of self-importance?), after the umpity-umpth unanswered “Babaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” he made a nice facsimile of this image. On the arm of the couch. In permanent marker. For posterity.

    Every time I peep that little image I hope I take in a deep breath, say “There, there” to myself and everyone around me, and thank the little guy.

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