Fact-finder Quick-to-See Smith maps our cultural meanings

Last year Jaune Quick-to-See Smith mapped new meanings for existing figures and words in graph form. Now he has developed something similar for notes. Quick-to-See Smith has also had about 200 people submit their…

Fact-finder Quick-to-See Smith maps our cultural meanings

Last year Jaune Quick-to-See Smith mapped new meanings for existing figures and words in graph form. Now he has developed something similar for notes.

Quick-to-See Smith has also had about 200 people submit their words, sentence structures and ideas over the past week for matching them to known “zine’s mate factor”. All of the submissions, which include terms like “woke up in metropolis” and “illegal gardener”, will be gathered for the resulting map.

Quick-to-See Smith hopes the project will become a sort of “Mapping the Internet” for science, with more sophisticated map-making to come later on.

“I feel that I’ve covered the whole world now,” he said in a video for Future Tense. “I feel that from here, everything’s fair game. It’s like a checklist I can use to Google anything I want in the future.”

He also plans to release software that will automate the process, making the research all the more easy to repeat. “I think it’s great that we can create more meanings, more options for how to refer to these facts,” said Smith. “When you have them in the map, that knowledge of the data [is] accessible to you to see where you connect it.”

Another project looks at how words acquire meaning. By asking people to use their smartphone screens to press the spaces between key letters on the maps, Smith has discovered a new way of looking at phrases that simply appear to signify the similar traits of the letters used. For example, the headline “that thing” could be interpreted in a different way if the mobile phones captured in the images were tricked into clicking on other words.

“Most people don’t use spelling as a universal marker, and I think it’s sad that we spend so much time on a one-way textual interaction between ourselves and things and we can’t see other ways in which that’s possible to happen,” he said.

The project has expanded Smith’s book Future Tense by several hundred words, and not all of them are new, he said. A lot of words have meaning beyond their spelling, he said, including “thobe”, or manbabies, a breed of animal considered disgusting because they bite.

The three words Smith found “changing everyday” were talking voice commands (voice recognition technology), “twerking” (a dance routine and term first used in 2013) and “ultrasmogile” (the use of polymers to make or order products).

One thing that is new is a train of thought he discovered after seeing a very popular thread on Reddit discussing the cause of a face off between two groups of girls aged 15 to 19 years old.

One group of girls argued about the impact of movies showing a character living for other people, whereas another argued that having a relationship with another person was responsible for their happiness, Smith said.

After looking at several “Zine Zoges” from a UK school conference in 1988 and studying the comment sections of blogs over the course of a few months, he began to hypothesise how a gender dynamic would change if it were presented as a gender issue.

Smith added: “So the data is clear that there’s an interest and a sort of narrative in the discussion around female pleasure – a fascination with female pleasure. There’s definitely something interesting to explore there. So where do you go from there?”

• This article was amended on 13 April 2013. In the original, the word “cui” was misspelled as “guo”. This has been corrected.

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