Rapid Language — Speculative Linguistics

A research project looking at interoperating human and machine language on an intuitive level
21 Apr 2012
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Assume that one day, there could be a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion faster than spo­ken lan­guage. Some claim they can already type faster than they speak, but imag­ine express­ing our­selves faster than we think? Sure, this is a clas­sic future trope, and a defin­ing idea to cyber­punk —out­putting thought straight into machines, with say a brain-com­put­er inter­face. But why does it have to take the form of a brain pros­thet­ic nec­es­sar­i­ly? Put implants aside for a sec­ond, and imag­ine a dif­fer­ent sce­nario: we just learn a lan­guage. A lan­guage lying half-way between ever-more human­ized com­pu­ta­tion — look­ing in par­tic­u­lar at how nat­ur­al lan­guages are becom­ing increas­ing­ly eas­i­er for machines to parse — and our ever-more wide­spread abil­i­ty to speak "machine" through code, or even sim­pler com­putable ele­ments like #hash­tags, links, or user han­dles. This would be a lan­guage in which humans could com­mu­ni­cate togeth­er, as well as machines, and any­thing in-between, a sort of "human x human x machine x machine" com­mu­ni­ca­tion protocol.

This is the premise of Rapid Lan­guage, a spec­u­la­tive lan­guage that's noth­ing more than the result of accel­er­a­tion in our machine-medi­at­ed forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It is devoid of estheti­cism — though some may argue that poet­ry too can be born out of neces­si­ty — and as such, com­pris­es no adjectives.

Visu­al pro­to­type of Rapid Lan­guage #1 — presents a sin­gle com­mu­ni­ca­tion thread.
Visu­al pro­to­type of Rapid Lan­guage #2 — presents a larg­er debate with mul­ti­ple speakers
Spec­i­men poster

Rapid lan­guage finds its basic log­ic in a form of ternary com­put­ing. Its basic com­po­nents are sim­ple bars, some half-emp­ty some emp­ty some full, in a design rem­i­nis­cent of Chi­nese tri­grams and the Post­net encod­ing of our mail. Every char­ac­ter car­ries in itself a val­ue: ‑1, 0, +1 which, as they add up give away a gen­er­al score, let­ting the view­er catch a sense of the gen­er­al "pos­i­tiv­i­ty" in of a string. Below is an excerpt from our book 'N003' where Rapid Lan­guage is used as the source code of a fic­tion­al­ized inter­net called 'The Stream.'