Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Speaking and Writing; Complexity and Agility

Lurking within this post is a rebuttal to the following principle of Agile Development:

The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within a development
team is face-to-face conversation.

Near the end, the post compares spoken and written communication:

In a sense, RSVP [Rapid Serial Visual Presentation – Ed.], with its inflexibility in the timing of information flow, turns reading back into something a lot more like spoken language comprehension, though without some of the nuanced information we get from intonation or facial and body movements. Clearly, we do manage to cope with spoken language, even without the benefits of regressive listening or control over the presentation rate of speech. What written language does, though, is liberate language from the temporal tyrannies that are present during the comprehension—and production—of language. This is one of the main reasons why written language often achieves a complexity that is seldom heard in spoken language. [Emphasis mine – Ed.]

Note: In this context, RSVP involves presenting sentences to the reader one word at a time—at a fixed location on a screen—using a controlled rate of presentation. That removes an essential aspect of reading: the ability to backtrack to reconcile a parsing ambiguity, a homograph, or any other source of confusion.

Language Log: So much to read, so little time

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

Data Accessibility in Linguistics Research

Praiseworthy information responsibility in linguistics research.

I'll spare you the details, though I intend to try some of the ideas out myself later. What I want to underline here is something that the six papers in the session had in common.

What they all had in common was that they reported results on published databases. Two papers used NIST SRE 2008 data. Three papers used theNIST RT05, RT07, RT08, and/or RT09 datasets. One paper used the AMI corpus. And one used the REPERE collection.

None of the presentations used proprietary or unpublished data. This illustrates the fact that in most speech processing fields, it has become normal to cite the performance of new algorithms on data that is also available to others, so that comparisons are quantitatively meaningful.

In some sense, this is also really about accessibility. When you want to evaluate or extend someone's ideas, it's critical to be able to replicate their work — and that requires access to the datasets they analyzed.

Language Log: Accessibility and diarization

Friday, May 2, 2014

To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand

This news reminds me of this earlier post. And this one.

“We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” Mueller told me. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”

She thinks this might be the key to their findings: Take notes by hand, and you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension.

From To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Language Log: Is A Fish A Tangible Object?

Another example of appellate courts grappling with a problem familiar to data modelers: defining the boundaries of a seemingly well-understood category. The comments section is a treasure trove of other examples.

Or more precisely, is a fish a "tangible object" in the sense that throwing undersized fish overboard would fall within the purview of 18 U.S.C. § 1519, which states that

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

John Brewer alerts us to the fact that the Supreme Court has recently agreed to review the holding of a lower court that the noun phrase "'tangible object,' as § 1519 uses that term, unambiguously applies to fish.”

Language Log: Is a fish a “tangible object”?