Eradicated Alphabets and Radical Algorithms

Ruth Miller, Oct 10, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's pure coincidence that this essay comes out while I am in Turkey, but it works for me. Part of my own thinking about online revolves around the idea that we are replacing alphabet-based communication with a wider set of digital artifacts; I outline this in my 'Speaking in LOLcats' presentation. The present essay examines the implications of the government mandated conversion from Arabic to Latin script in Turkey in 1928, and the impliucation this had with respect to the secularization of Turkish society. It's a view that sees the script as more than a communications object, but rather, a communications algorithm. That is, we don't think with the script, we let the script in some important ways do the thinking for us. If that's true - and you can read the essay to make the case for yourself - then what does this say about a conversion from script to non-script communications. Even if linguistic elements remain as signs within the LOLcat context, the sort of thinking these do for you will be fundamentally different - and may change society in as-yet unrealized ways. My own thinking is that as LOLcat-based communication is more associationist in nature, the character and demands of inference and reason will change, becoming more organic, and less linear. But then, so will our view of the world, maybe.

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