Semasiology Take 2

I’ve listened to r0ml Lefkowitz’ OSCON 2005 keynote (The Semasiology of Open Source [Part 2]) several times, and grokked more with each hearing. It’s a tour de force of allusion and connection, and I decided to snip out some bits that really should have a wider listenership. They pretty much stand alone, though the ones I’ve chosen aren’t mostly about the nominal subject of the changing meanings of Open Source.

He makes repeated use of a favorite bit from Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inigo Montoya [Mandy Patinkin]). This gets across the essence of semasiology very memorably.

To get something of the flavor of a bout with r0ml, here’s a (partial) summary of last year’s OSCON talk (1:43) –and the whole thing is available, and extremely worthwhile.

He discusses Don Knuth’s development of the language APL, and as an aside, mentions Knuth’s instantiation of the term “Web” (0:27)

He really gets going with the example of the history of reading (5:15) –the percentage literate refers to the ability to read the code of programs. He ends with a farrago on reading aloud, and silently (8:13), citing Saints Isidore, Augustine, and Ambrose …and Charlemagne and Alcuin of York too.

Now that’s a Keynote!

You might be interested in r0ml’s blog (Taking IT Personally), and perhaps also in the Wired News story on Isidore, patron saint of nerds.