November 16, 2005

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.

Posted by oook at November 16, 2005 06:57 PM