There’s a rush now at Google and Microsoft to incorporate chatbots into their search engines, which seems apt to undercut the usefulness of search engines.
Suppose you want a list of Ruben Bolling’s God-Man comics. The words that a large-language model will string together about God-Man, based on having taking the whole internet as its corpus, will be nonspecific, incomplete, and probably error-ridden. The best source on this topic would be an official webpage or a fan page. There is no official God-Man episode guide, but I happen to maintain what is probably the only God-Man fan page. The best answer to the query is not to digest my page along with ten thousand others, but just to link to my page.
For lots of perfectly ordinary queries, one wants a dedicated webpage or site rather than the word-salad gestalt of a general purpose tool. So a traditional search engine can provide answers that a chatbot will only obscure.
This post was prompted by OmnipotentFriends, the latest adventure of God-Man and the cause of an update to the fan page.
Two unrelated things.
One of my longest-running things on the internet is The God-Man Fan Page. I updated it today with a recent adventure— by my count, the 74th appearance of the character.
In preparing for tomorrow’s class, I discovered Raphaël Julliard’s 2005 work 1000 Chinese Paintings. She commissioned a Chinese factory to make square canvases painted a uniform shade of red and reserved a booth at a Paris art fair to sell them. All of the canvasses were sold by the end of the pre-show, so the result was an empty booth during the fair.
Continue reading “Icons and symbols”
I’m not a big fan of reaction videos as a genre, but Glamour‘s second-order reaction video series You Sang My Song is an exception. A star watches YouTube covers of their hits, and then the people who made each cover watch the reaction video of the star watching their cover. The stars sometimes get genuinely excited. The YouTubers are often genuinely verklempt.
Continue reading “Every video has an equal and opposite reaction video”
Via the Guardian: Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ abortion ban, claims that it doesn’t limit women’s ability to control their own bodies. Instead, “women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion” because they can practice abstinence. This is a bad take in lots of ways, but it requires at minimum that all sex be consensual. If he took as hard a line against rape culture as he takes against women’s choice, one might believe that he isn’t just plumping for patriarchy.
Over on Twitter: Kathleen Stock writes, “Some knowledge is essentially experiential- you can’t get knowledge of x, just by hearing description of x. Colours, tastes are like this.. and sexual pleasure. If you’ve never had sexual function, you can’t give informed consent to losing it imo: you can’t know what’s lost.” It’s an argument against puberty blockers, but it also has the immediate consequence that first sexual experiences can’t be consensual.
Under the headline How philosophy is making me a better scientist, Rasha Shraim discusses how her undergrad degree in Philosophy is helping her in genomics and data science.
The article ends by recommending Philosophy resources for scientists and, under the heading of Logic and inference, suggests my free textbook forall x.
They don’t link to the webpage for the textbook here at fecundity.com, instead linking to the University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library. Nonethless, they give the citation as “(Fecundity, 2012).” It’s odd to see that in the same sentence as “(Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).”
Over the summer, I recommended some long-form narrative webcomics. However, my greatest comics love has always been stand-alone funny comics.
Reza Farazmand’s Poorly Drawn Lines regularly makes me laugh out loud. There are some recurring characters, but no plot to speak of. There aren’t punch lines so much as perverse situations that escalate into absurdity.
Continue reading “Some days you need snarky animals”
The dialectic of science journalism, especially as refracted through social media, is to begin with the overenthusiastic claim “Study proves P.” Within a couple of days, the antithesis: “Study shows nothing of the kind, and anyway not-P.” Then there’s a storm, a cute puppy, or racism, and the matter is never resolved in a progressive synthesis.
Take the recent specimen of a study on the effectiveness of various kinds of face mask. Coverage popped up in my feeds from numerous friends. Most people took away the lesson that gaiters were worse than no face mask at all.
Yesterday, Slate ran the antithesis under the headline For All We Know, Gaiter Masks Are Fine.
Continue reading “Science journalism and the experimenter’s regress”
Here’s another post of webcomic recommendations. The loose thread connecting these is that they are ongoing comics about young people in odd situations, for some values of ongoing, young, and odd.
- Questionable Content started back in 2003 as a slice-of-life comic with some science fiction elements. I didn’t start reading it until much later, when there were 1000s of comics in the archive. It manages to simultaneously deliver goofy, fun characters and real emotional engagement.
- Dumbing of Age has been running since 2010, but David Willis had a number of earlier comics that covered similar ground. This started out as a reboot of his series of comics which began as a college slice-of-life comic, turned into an interdimensional government conspiracy comic, and then turned into a comic about working at a toy store. The current run began with students starting at college and hasn’t added any of the science fiction elements. The characters take on a new life, so appreciating it doesn’t require looking back at any of Willis’ earlier work.
- Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter is about kids who have bodily organs turned into magical monsters. It’s a comic with heart. The story is drawing to a close, so it’s close to belonging in the completed epics post.