The Book Isn’t Always Mightier Than The Adaptation

Okay before I get lynched by fans Harry Potter/Twilight/LOTR/Hunger Games/Da Vinci Code/and just about any story with fans, moving from medium to medium requires change and its not a new phenomenon, nor is it new that people are upset by changes. I’m not here to argue that as films are better than their source material, or even good, my argument is that its only bad one for version to be incomplete without the other.

Ancient History

So, I’ve spent a long term over the years studying texts that were originally part of oral traditions, but over Millennia were converted from a spoken medium to a written medium. The transformation of the oldest stories is fascinating, and if our current culture existed then, a whole lot of people would have been stoned for some form of blasphemy in the conversion of stories as the historical game of Chinese whispers that is oral tradition.

Actually, as it happens, people have died for presenting unfaithful accounts of history and legends. So I guess modern sensibilities aren’t so modern, just less extreme and more easily reported and repeated.

The earliest known stories came from the Lascaux caves in Southern France, it is a series of images progressing through a time period, covering the rituals and the hunt of the people at the time, it’s a story. It’s worth noting that spoken language of some variety probably came about somewhere between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago,  so I’d like to think the story telling was around long before someone thought to record it on a wall.  Continue reading

Where Have All the Robots Gone?

What’s in a word? Letters. Vowels, consonants, grammar occasionally.

Words are by far the greatest invention of humanity. Words are singularly responsible for civilization – and all the great and good, and evil and bad that that implies. I’m not a logophile as such, but I do love words. It’s part of the reason I aspire to be a writer, working with words is fun, and usually quite safe. Though there are some very dangerous words out there.

Words do have power though, in theory they shouldn’t. When spoken their just a random collection of noises we’ve learned to pattern together, likewise when they’re written it’s just scratchings in a small place. But these patterns are ingrained on our childish brains, and reinforced through strict regimes of practice, and necessity. And because our brains aren’t perfect, those patterns get loaded with a load of useless data as well – whether it’s random trivia, a memory, or an emotion. We love to charge words with emotions, and the emotions give the words far greater intent.

So, when clearing out some of my Twitter favourites from the past three years, (on my personal account, rather than my newer and not yet swamped in favourites writer twitter account), I came across this little gem.

While you’re at it, check out the Google Ngram of “literally” use over the years: http://j.mp/gkxMHR

Posted back in June 2011.

The word literally doesn’t do a great deal for me, but as soon as you see that tool – you can’t help but start firing words at it. And so I did, and it’s amazing the stories you can see in the graphs it produces. I set the Ngram Viewer to English, rather than English fiction. I wanted to see the effect on the whole of the English language dataset, rather than on fiction. With fictional elements, and concepts, obviously the effect will be greater in the smaller fictional dataset. Have a play, and see what I mean.

So, to start with I used the theme from today’s flash fic, zombies:

Zombies on Google’s Ngram Viewer

From Word Usage Post

Which as you can see is a fairly recent trend to use it, though I’m intrigued to find the uses of it in the 20’s and 30’s. The word undead shows a similar pattern. I’ve circled the bit I find particularly interesting, zombies are big business at the moment, with a TV series of the walking dead, and a few films due. There’s a zombie survival fitness training app doing the rounds, and numerous live role-playing zombie games going on. Yet while it’s still rising, it looks to be staling, the speed of the rise is slowing considerably.

Continue reading

Stop the presses! Shocking news, I love Technology says blogger with umpteen laptops and mobile phones.

I love technology – I really do. I love gadgets, I think gadgets make my life better – though I don’t believe they make the world better (but that’s another issue I’ll sidestep). I can’t help it, I’m a geek, it has to be bigger faster, smarter, and shinier than what came before. I want bells and whistles, I want it all. Yes, I said bigger – size does matter, I don’t want a mobile phone the size an ants nut.

Doesn’t matter with its a pen, a computer, or a phone – more technology is simply better, in my universe. Zero technology has its place, I mean sitting their doodling with an e-pen is kind of a waste, and drawing is better with a pencil on paper. That said, I have an Amazon Kindle, and it is all kinds of fantastic, and I don’t feel the urge to go back to the printed word.

My point is, as I mentioned I love technology. However, in a strange kind of way I’m a traditionalist, I like my technology to be technological. I like that sometimes it requires a bit of brain power, some intuition, and a touch of luck to find my way round a piece of technology. I don’t want a smooth easy user experience, if I end up with one, I’ll only break down the veneer of civilisation covering the rugged peaks and valleys of performance that makes technology grand. I don’t want easy, I want fun.

For me, its about fun – at the end of the day I don’t need any of it, I could suffice with just the basics, even down to going back to pen, paper, and the printed world, I’d find myself happy enough at that. However, I do so enjoy new gadgets, new toys.

I’ve finally replaced my crappy Nokia 5800, I now have an HTC Desire running Android (which I’ll be upgrading to Android 2.2 this evening, I’m far too impatient to wait for HTC’s own upgrade of the operating system). Its an absolutely fabulous piece of technology – I don’t even mind not having the things I normally miss in a phone (a physical qwerty screen, and resistive touchscreen). Okay, its not great for writing my Nokia E71 was, but it gets by, for short pieces, writing up ideas and such. I do feel kind of dirty, I’m not usually a Google fan (in fact I think Google are out of control, but those kind of things fix themselves in time, and my surrender to their mobile technology is hardly going to delay the downfall). Compared side by side with an iPhone (3GS, not 4, since I know no one with the new iPhone), and the HTC Desire wins hands down on all the bits that matter to me… and that really is the only measure that counts.

I did fancy the Motorola Milestone, but the new one is out soon – and I’m happy enough for the improvements to that to pick it up in a year’s time when its cheaper. The first Milestone has a keyboard its true (major appeal), but its not the greatest writing surface, so figured I’d survive well enough just the touchscreen.

There are some things I do miss about the Symbian operating system, but Android isn’t that different, its just as open and customisable – and it is firmly current generation, the aging Symbian system does feel old hat. Symbian^3 is out soon, and it looks swish (the whole N8 does), but for me, it hasn’t come far enough from what I’ve seen of it. Who knows what Nokia will have out in a year’s time, they look like to put out many phones, to match a whole host of needs – maybe Symbian^3 will come on in leaps and bounds, and it will leave Android and Apple with a massive headache as that hill they’ve been climbing to be a major mobile phone player suddenly becomes a lot steeper.

What I look forward to is the day we go buy our mobile phones from any company we want, and can then choose what operating system to have it on it. We’re getting there, I hear tell rumours that Windows Mobile 7 might be installable on some Android devices, not sure if its vice versa or not. Of course, a model like that would lead to us having to pay for a phone, and the operating system, because licensing deals with manufacturers would go out the window.

In other technology news, my netbook is now at the point where its my perfect travel companion, its running Windows 7, has an extra gig of ram, and now has an extra large battery, combined with its existing smaller battery I can get quite a bit of time out of it between charges (between five and six hours), which is perfect for my holiday to Prague in four weeks time, and my following trip to the British Science Festival two weeks after that.

So yes, if you didn’t get the message, I love technology.