12.0370 binary not other

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 22:29:09 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 370.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 22:25:16 +0000
From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: The binary is not other...


I am provoked by a recent posting to Humanist by
Jim Marchand to distinguish between the digital and
the binary. He did draw attention to the importance of labels and


The binary (I/O) builds the digital. From rudimentary finger counting
to random number generation, a computer, human or machine, operates by
manipulating sequences. The digital works at the level of sequences.


The thresholds implied by "more or less" can be generated by
stochastic means. For example the time out idle that triggers auto
shut off switches can be set by a singel predetermined value or
randomly selected from a range of values.


Thresholds are representabel by sequences of negations

>N big
<N not big
=N not big and not not big

[This is of course not a syllogism. It is however a form of laying out
differentia and contraries. I wonder if it has a name. The scholars of
scholastics might know. The triad does appear to be a symetrical part
of a semiotic square. Any comments from the semioticians and narratologists?]


To configure a machine that will break rules and make rules about
breaking rules : sounds like the story of a human childhood; looks
like a very artistic process; feels like a sequence of sequences -- a
vey halting decision problem.

The binary stops. The digital whorls on.


vide argumentem tautologica...
machine : computer :: human : narrative
computer : machine ::  narration : human 

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