1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby woktiny » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:38 pm UTC

suso wrote:Ok I was just being silly with the TLDR. Actually thank you Randall for this insight into the world because this is one of my own long standing questions about the world, which is "How much do things really change? Is the world changing or is it just me?" This comic summarizes at least part of the answer to that question.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby leifbk » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:42 pm UTC

Angelastic wrote:
Douglas Adams wrote:Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.


As a hexagenarian, I'm not so sure about that. There are lots and lots of elderly people on Facebook, for instance. Rather than being "against the natural order of things", the modern instant worldwide communication feels like an old dream come true. I see it as a natural continuation of a process that started with the telegraph in the 1830s.

In retrospect, the 20th century monopolistic mass media looks like a perversion of the idea of communication. It is no coincidence that totalitarian regimes thrived in a world where mass communication was owned by the few. In contrast, the new-fangled interweb is democratic in its very essence.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby LtPowers » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:45 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:For shame, xkcd. There are two possible reasons for the same whine about change to be roughly constant across history. Don't ignore the other.


Ignore? I don't believe the author took a position on which of your two reasons is most applicable. In fact, I think that was rather the point.


Powers &8^]

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby orthogon » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:47 pm UTC

Radical Pi wrote:
wumpus wrote:(since e**x has a constant derivative, then each generation has the same amount of change to whine about)

You sure about that?

Depends what you differentiate with respect to. :P
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby NiteClerk » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:48 pm UTC

This seemed interesting, but it's too long for me to read now. Is there a summary somewhere?
8-)

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby jasongb » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:56 pm UTC

If this gets posterized, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY"

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby airdrik » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:58 pm UTC

NiteClerk wrote:This seemed interesting, but it's too long for me to read now. Is there a summary somewhere?
8-)


condensed version: the pace of our world is increasing, the speed of cummunication is increasing, people don't enjoy life the way they used to. It seems like people don't put as much thought into their communication like people used to when things were slower.

Summary: TL;DR ;)

ETA: condensed version
Last edited by airdrik on Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:05 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby TuringTest » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:04 pm UTC

mojacardave wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:Anyhow, it just goes to show that our current social problems have been a long time in the making, and since no one did much about them back then, it's doubtful there'll be any improvement now either, especially since even less people are paying attention.


If that's what you got from this 'comic' then you read it very differently to me! It seems to be saying that a lot of the things that we perceive as 'social problems' aren't really social problems at all. People have been complaining about moral decay and poor life balance since before we were all born.


Dunno... maybe the ancients from early XIXth century and beyond did have some knowledge and deeper intuition that was provided by their slow and deep reasoning, which has been lost in the hurry of modern times. (And maybe they had strongest morals and we live in a definitely more decadent society). How could we know?

BTW I love how the comic strip provides a digest in the form of bold highlights for quick consumption.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:17 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Comparing Tweets to telegrams, on the other hand, makes it seem as though very little has changed.


And now I have an image in my head of Teddy Roosevelt sending a telegram to Spain:

"Am in ur islands, killin ur dudes lol FULL STOP."
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby keithl » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:28 pm UTC

The provenance of the quotes has gone unremarked so far. This comic appears to be the result of a long day spent looking at older books in the Boston Public Library; I looked for a couple of the quotes online and did not find them. They are for the most part written by the leisure classes for the leisure classes, and refer to somewhat earlier leisure classes that (we presume) had more time to spend on fewer distractions.

The fallacy in golden-era nostalgia is that it is commonly based on comparison to literature, and that literature is a highly selective and distorted record of the inaccurate memories of the few who had time to write, as selectively read and preserved by readers seeking particular kinds of writing.

Yes, there may have been a few hundred courtiers over the vast span of history who recorded their idle foppishness for posterity. Meanwhile, my ancestors worked from dawn to dusk steering plows, chopping wood, gathering the needfuls for another year of shivering in the dark, and watching the liveried thugs working for those courtiers make off with what we needed for survival. More recent ancestors got on dangerous little boats to cross the Atlantic and get away from those parasitic bastards, coming here to America to work their asses off dawn to dusk and KEEP most of what they gathered. Even that is distorted nostalgia - my genotype shows that a few of those ancestors were kidnapped from Africa, to join the people working dawn to dusk to support America's homegrown liveried thugs.

I write this on a laptop made in China, by more people working dawn to dusk so that Chinese factory owners can send their children to US universities, producing the next generation of fops, some of whom will write comparisons of hurried modern life to the glorious works of classical China.

This shit never ends.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby longs » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:35 pm UTC

The most robust and obviously accurate conclusion to be drawn from the examples in today's comic is that the pace of the exchange of information is increasing rapidly. Other conclusions are more dubious, such as the possibility that each generation is degrading in character [I believe this only a little bit, heh], or that the acceleration of information (which is mistaken for the pace of life) is degrading our humanity [I think the opposite is true].

The other conclusion to draw from the comic and from this discussion is that XKCD folk tend to be poor social scientists if they are willing to dismiss ALL of the claims the authors of the comic's examples make instead of teasing out of the examples what different strands of meaning are present and which are accurate or not, but some of you have gotten it right, anyway. this is coming from a social science bachelor's.

Did you know that in Medieval times the average person over their entire lifespan was exposed to as much information as is in the Sunday New York Times? This is something my friend told me and I wish I could fact check this. But taking this further back does make the trend clearer, that information has accelerated, not the pace of modern life -- not that making guesses about society is not a worthy enterprise in the first place.
the participle.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby STACL » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:43 pm UTC

I concur with previous individuals that the pace of life has been exponentially increasing, and that explains these quotes. Also, don't forget selection bias: you can probably find *some* people complaining about X (or something close to it) in any era; that doesn't mean that it was equally common in each one, or that X isn't a worse problem today than in the past.

I think it's plausible that people have become less virtuous in the last 50 years than they were in the previous 50, although I'd be cautious about projecting back further than that. Compare murder rates pre- and post-1960s. (I presume everyone here is in agreement that murder is morally wrong.)

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:45 pm UTC

longs wrote:Did you know that in Medieval times the average person over their entire lifespan was exposed to as much information as is in the Sunday New York Times? This is something my friend told me and I wish I could fact check this. But taking this further back does make the trend clearer, that information has accelerated, not the pace of modern life -- not that making guesses about society is not a worthy enterprise in the first place.



I find this to be highly suspect. Given that once a week in most areas would be a market fair, plus the normal gossip that happens in any group bigger than two, and that trade between distant groups was common, I think that your friend was completely wrong.

For example, look at the Hanseatic League - started in the late 1100's as a trade group, ended up becoming the one of the first international banking cartels. They operated from England to Russia, from Sweden to Constantinople. Pretty sure they would pass information along (as any good traders do) as they went about their businesses, and that would filter along from markets, to towns, to villages. Sure, it was slower than the Times, but some version of the information would eventually get there.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby bakhtosh » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:17 pm UTC

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Can one say about anything,
“Look, this is new”?
It has already existed in the ages before us.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby PFD Studio » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:22 pm UTC

There's no doubt that we face more stimuli, and thus more cognitive load, now than 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Probably those numbers have been increasing monotonically for at least a couple of centuries. That certainly means we have less attention for longer, more contemplative activities. Music and entertainment in general have gotten louder and more raucous to try to compete for attention more successfully. In fact, attention ("eyeballs") is now the more precious commodity on the Internet.

I think the irony of today's XKCD comic is not that people have always thought the pace of life was too fast, but that they couldn't seem to imagine how much faster it would get.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby teelo » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:29 pm UTC

I'm living in the god damned fucking past.
EVERYTHINGS SO FUCKING SLOW. I'm so tired of waiting to get my messages to people.

I send them a text, they don't reply. I call them, they don't answer. I instant message them, they don't respond. I go around to their house and knock on their door, and they hide behind the furniture and yell something about calling the police.

Come on society. Get with the modern times. Hurry up.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Milnoc » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:48 pm UTC

I'm well over 35, and I find Twitter to be a wonderful invention, and the most significant written word communications medium since the invention of the telegraph. Its 140 character limit forces people to get to the point, and not ramble on forever.

The best Tweeters seem to be those who can nearly fill the 140 character Tweet window with proper grammar, spelling and sentence structure, WITHOUT resorting to adding any unnecessary and cryptic abbreviations.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:06 pm UTC

Anybody who thinks that modern society isn't too demanding and impersonal hasn't tried to get a job with an Associate's degree in the last five years.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby StClair » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:32 pm UTC

"Impudent youth, depart from my swath of green!"

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby TimXCampbell » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:37 pm UTC

Confession: I skipped some of the long posts in this thread.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:02 pm UTC

I came here to kick ass and post the quotes from Socrates and Plato.

And someone already posted the quotes from Socrates and Plato...
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby mdistancerunner » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:04 pm UTC

The Synologist wrote:Some other good ones copied from yahoo answers:

"The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of
today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for
parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as
if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is
foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest
and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress."
-Peter the Hermit, 13th Century AD

"The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer
rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
legs, and are tyrants over their teachers."
-Socrates, 5th century BC

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders,
they disobey their parents. They ignore the law.
They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions.
Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"
-Plato,5th century BC

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond
words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise
[disrespectful] and impatient of restraint"
-Hesiod, 8th century BC


They all appear to be misattributed and lies... I can't believe no one called you out on those.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby orthogon » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:11 pm UTC

ctdonath wrote:
YellowYeti wrote:200 years ago the missus would have been spending hours at a time chatting to her mother/sister who lived locally while I was in the pub. Today, she spends hours at a time chatting to her mother/sister who live 1000 miles away while I am in the pub.

orthogon wrote:This, this, and thrice this! Even within the same large city I don't see my best friends as much as I'd like, and my wider group even less, if at all. Facebook makes me feel like I bump into them every day, just like I would have done in a village.

Wasn't all that long ago that a newlywed couple would pack their few belongings onto a horse-drawn wagon, head west to find a suitable spot for a homestead, and never see or communicate with their family/friends again.
Today, I know what darn near every high school acquaintance is doing darn near including what's for breakfast.

Yes, but surely this was a heartbreaking experience for them and those they left behind, and something you only did once in a lifetime; and even then you would form a new social network of people that you did see every day. Is it that we suffer an ongoing tension caused by the feeling that in principle we could and should see these people more, after all it's only an hour each way or whatever, rather than just giving up on them; and we don't befriend our neighbours because why should we arbitrarily hang out with people who happen to live nearby, and we end up with the worst of both worlds?

The problem as I see it is that transport hasn't kept pace with the exponential change in everything else - affordable transport is at best a few percent faster than it was in 1900 (see also : Bill Gates vs GM). We seem to be (I hope) emerging from some kind of nadir in which our average "distance" from the people we love is a maximum. Faster transport doesn't look likely any time soon, but hopefully online social networks as we know them today are just the beginning of something way better, involving virtual and augmented reality, super high definition, etc, which really will reduce the need for travel. Maybe Google+ is already halfway there - I wouldn't know.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Kit. » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:16 pm UTC

The question is: are we fast enough?

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:20 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:The question is: are we fast enough?


not until v ≅ c, bitches.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby jacobstevens » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:34 pm UTC

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.
- Ecclesiastes 7:10, ~450BC-180BC

The Plato & Socrates quotes seem a bit dubious, and pertain to youth more than pace of modern life, so Ecclesiastes seems more germane.

The comic gave me pause; I've been aware of the seemingly timeless fallacy for a while, but reading the comic made me realize I hold to some of these notions even still. Yet the timeframe is all within the industrial revolution, apparently constrained to Anglican upper classes (Jamaica's in there so it's not just American), and I find myself wondering what kind of sentiments we could find in letters, journals, quarterlies and magazines in Revolutionary & Renaissance times. It sure seems like the pace of modern life has increased! But the repercussions on culture, etiquette and cognition are perhaps easily overstated.

Well stated, woktiny. Well served, Klear.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby kelvinc » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:37 pm UTC

TuringTest wrote:
mojacardave wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:Anyhow, it just goes to show that our current social problems have been a long time in the making, and since no one did much about them back then, it's doubtful there'll be any improvement now either, especially since even less people are paying attention.


If that's what you got from this 'comic' then you read it very differently to me! It seems to be saying that a lot of the things that we perceive as 'social problems' aren't really social problems at all. People have been complaining about moral decay and poor life balance since before we were all born.


Dunno... maybe the ancients from early XIXth century and beyond did have some knowledge and deeper intuition that was provided by their slow and deep reasoning, which has been lost in the hurry of modern times. (And maybe they had strongest morals and we live in a definitely more decadent society). How could we know?

BTW I love how the comic strip provides a digest in the form of bold highlights for quick consumption.

This digest cuts off at 1915 because at that point, our lives got too fast to write six coherent lines of text on the problem.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby wolfticket » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:56 pm UTC

The only thing that doesn't change is that things are always changing... Oh, and people thinking things aren't a good as they used to be.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Bounty » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:06 pm UTC

100 years ago we went from 30 pages to 15 pages, but the average response to the comic could fit in a 140 character tweet.

Just because we haven't solved the issue doesn't mean it never was an issue. Some of these have gotten worse, some are staying fairly static, and some got better only to get worse again.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:09 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
longs wrote:Did you know that in Medieval times the average person over their entire lifespan was exposed to as much information as is in the Sunday New York Times? This is something my friend told me and I wish I could fact check this. But taking this further back does make the trend clearer, that information has accelerated, not the pace of modern life -- not that making guesses about society is not a worthy enterprise in the first place.
I find this to be highly suspect. Given that once a week in most areas would be a market fair, plus the normal gossip that happens in any group bigger than two, and that trade between distant groups was common, I think that your friend was completely wrong.

For example, look at the Hanseatic League - started in the late 1100's as a trade group, ended up becoming the one of the first international banking cartels. They operated from England to Russia, from Sweden to Constantinople. Pretty sure they would pass information along (as any good traders do) as they went about their businesses, and that would filter along from markets, to towns, to villages. Sure, it was slower than the Times, but some version of the information would eventually get there.
People
today definitrly have access to more global information than ever before, and can get that information faster and more accurately than ever before. However, I suspect that the vast bulk of the propositional information (i.e. that which can be stated in declarative sentences) any one person contends with is now and ever has been the gossip and intricate social interrelationships of the people he or she interacts with regularly. The set of such people may have grown over time, so that the amount of information one can readily recall about any individual acquaintance has shrunk, but I imagine the total amount of such information has remained relatively constant throughout history.

Bounty wrote:100 years ago we went from 30 pages to 15 pages, but the average response to the comic could fit in a 140 character tweet.

Just because we haven't solved the issue doesn't mean it never was an issue. Some of these have gotten worse, some are staying fairly static, and some got better only to get worse again.
Which have gotten worse? The same few percent of people who read and wrote 30-page articles in the quarterlies a century ago probably read and write in similar volumes today. There's a lot more volume on Twitter today than there ever was in informal telegraph messages, but you'll need to provide some sort of citation if you want anyone to believe this is truly at the expense of longer correspondence in years past.
Last edited by gmalivuk on Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Cousj001 » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:14 pm UTC

Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby speising » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:26 pm UTC

this would have been better with a "TL;DR" in the title text...

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Davidy » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:29 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:
Anyhow, it just goes to show that our current social problems have been a long time in the making, and since no one did much about them back then, it's doubtful there'll be any improvement now either, especially since even less people are paying attention.


If that's what you got from this 'comic' then you read it very differently to me! It seems to be saying that a lot of the things that we perceive as 'social problems' aren't really social problems at all. People have been complaining about moral decay and poor life balance since before we were all born. Every technological advance shifts the way we interact, and people are very sentimental about the past. I'm not saying I'm entirely in love with the way the media works, and maybe we'd benefit from relaxing more often, but the world isn't 'going to hell' in the way that moral commentators have been saying forever.

Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.


Agreed.


What I took from the comic was that there has been a general decline in the arts of communication in general, both in quality and in quantity. Long sit-down conversations and hand written letters have largely been replaced by various forms of social media, most having brevity as a common denominator.

gmalivuk wrote:
Davidy wrote:It hardly seems like 40 word tweets or IM's packed with abbreviations, misspellings and coded letter sequences are an improvement. LOL, IMHO. JK!
Sure, pretending that Twitter constitutes the primary mode of modern communication and then comparing Tweets to letters written longhand paints modern communication disfavorably. Comparing Tweets to telegrams, on the other hand, makes it seem as though very little has changed.

While it is certainly true that certain aspects of the pace of life have been accelerating for centuries, such as the amount of time something could go uncommunicated or unreported before being seen as an intolerable delay, other aspects, as well as the feared social consequences (such as the collapse of the sacred institution of marriage "now" that divorced people are no longer social pariahs) haven't actually been getting worse as the commentators feared.


I don't think I implied that Twitter is the primary mode of communication, I used it mainly to include the 40 word limit example, although Twitter is, along with other IM forms, a good example of modern communication, a counterpoint to letter writing in the pre-electronic past. To compare Twitter with telegrams is rather specious - telegrams, while noted for brevity - were primarily a means of emergency communication, rather than general every day chatter. The Main thrust of what I was getting at is the decline in grammar and spelling that is common in many communications today.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby pitareio » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:46 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:The problem as I see it is that transport hasn't kept pace with the exponential change in everything else - affordable transport is at best a few percent faster than it was in 1900 .


Are you kidding ?

Air transport wasn't affordable in 1900 - it was non-existent. Today, international flights carry one billion passengers per year.

In 1900, there were a few thousands cars worldwide. Today, developed countries almost have more cars than inhabitants.

Trains did exist, but they were much more than just a few percent slower, and I won't even mention comfort. And they probably weren't much more affordable than planes are today.

Ship transport wasn't cheap either, and intercontinental travels were taking many days on liners.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:59 pm UTC

Davidy wrote:The Main thrust of what I was getting at is the decline in grammar and spelling that is common in many communications today.
Oh, would you like a list of quotes about how the grammar and general language use of the youth of "today" has been declining ever since anyone first wrote anything about language? Because those quotes are not hard to come by, either. Young people and the lower classes and inferior races have been diluting "proper" speech for millennia, and yet we still manage to get by somehow, usually going whole sentences at a time without resorting to animalistic grunts and crude gestures.

All I get from complaints like yours is that the person complaining has little to no idea what he's talking about. Centuries ago, only a few percent of the most educated people learned to read or write at all, and even an individual writer within an individual work could rarely manage to spell things consistently throughout. Now it is the number of illiterate people in most of the world that can be measured in single percentage points, so even if it were true (which it isn't) that spelling and grammar have gotten worse on average, that's hardly an indictment of the modern age. If you took an average of the writing of the "most literate" 90% of people several hundred years ago, you'd probably find that it consisted primarily of X's in place of actual signatures on important documents. I'd say Twitter is rather an improvement on that.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby trueger » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:08 pm UTC

Jibberandtwitch wrote:I find people posting 'TL;DR' a bit ironic here; saying that the issues and rhetoric never change is one way of looking at it, but we're now at the point where people don't read interesting content because they can't be bothered and indeed aren't even willing to write the entirety of the four words necessary to express this fact. Maybe the rhetoric hasn't changed because the trend itself hasn't.


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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Azkyroth » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:22 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Maybe before we rush to advance we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving it such a central position in our lives.


You mean like less than 50% infant mortality?

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Daneel » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:44 pm UTC

While the quotes are hilarious, anyone trying to draw a serious meaning from this "comic" (if a comic has no pictures, is it a comic?) might benefit from a sense of scale.

From a broader historical view, the nineteenth century might as well be yesterday. All those quotes are essentially modern. And from an evolutionary view, those quotes are today, this very moment - humans haven't had even a small fraction of the time it could take to become neurologically adapted to handle the modern information world. We also aren't going to evolve into a species that can remain healthy with a sedentary lifestyle anytime soon. And there are definitely things we've lost in our new world; illiterate medieval messengers could perform feats of memory that would seem impossible to anyone today who doesn't recreationaly train his/her memory (not that that time was in any way "better" than the present).

On the other hand, from a more detailed view, those quotes come from a time very like the 2010s. As someone mentioned before, it hasn't been a straight line from then to the present. Stuff like morals got progressively more liberal from the turn of the century until the end of the 20s (with some minor fluctuations). Then the pendulum began to swing back, and it's kept going back and forth, just like it did before.

And by the same token - if you read enough nineteenth century essays and fiction, you can find lots of short pieces. The short story and the newspaper article weren't invented in 1923. Pages are a really silly unit of measurement, since font size and layout changes over time and between individual works.

Incidentally, I know everyone loves those Plato and Socrates quotes. We all know their fears were unfounded; since their time, Greece's power, importance, and intellectual achievements always rose, and they've been both the center of the world and it's absolute rulers for many centuries. Hmm, that doesn't sound quite right.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Daneel » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:51 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Davidy wrote:The Main thrust of what I was getting at is the decline in grammar and spelling that is common in many communications today.
Oh, would you like a list of quotes about how the grammar and general language use of the youth of "today" has been declining ever since anyone first wrote anything about language? Because those quotes are not hard to come by, either. Young people and the lower classes and inferior races have been diluting "proper" speech for millennia, and yet we still manage to get by somehow, usually going whole sentences at a time without resorting to animalistic grunts and crude gestures.


I'd say young people, lower classes, and the like succeeded pretty well in corrupting the language and forgetting all sorts of important spelling and grammar rules. Does this post look anything like correct Latin to you? It might as well be written in a foreign language!

And after you trace all the Romance languages back to Latin, you can start looking for where Latin came from...

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby pitareio » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:01 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Davidy wrote:The Main thrust of what I was getting at is the decline in grammar and spelling that is common in many communications today.
Oh, would you like a list of quotes about how the grammar and general language use of the youth of "today" has been declining ever since anyone first wrote anything about language? Because those quotes are not hard to come by, either. Young people and the lower classes and inferior races have been diluting "proper" speech for millennia, and yet we still manage to get by somehow, usually going whole sentences at a time without resorting to animalistic grunts and crude gestures.

All I get from complaints like yours is that the person complaining has little to no idea what he's talking about. Centuries ago, only a few percent of the most educated people learned to read or write at all, and even an individual writer within an individual work could rarely manage to spell things consistently throughout. Now it is the number of illiterate people in most of the world that can be measured in single percentage points, so even if it were true (which it isn't) that spelling and grammar have gotten worse on average, that's hardly an indictment of the modern age. If you took an average of the writing of the "most literate" 90% of people several hundred years ago, you'd probably find that it consisted primarily of X's in place of actual signatures on important documents. I'd say Twitter is rather an improvement on that.


Sure, but Twitter, internet fora, Youtube comments and so on certainly contribute to the perception of a decline - before that, fewer people could read what people who can't (or won't) spell properly write.

Not to mention those who write in a language that is not their native language.


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