Shaka, When the Walls Fell
"Pooh?" said Piglet. "Yes, Piglet?" said Pooh. "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra," said Piglet. "Shaka, when the walls fell," said Pooh.— Michael G. Munz (@TheWriteMunz) November 17, 2015
In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost poses a challenge based on Darmok, a 1991 Star Trek New Generation episode.
DATHON, the Tamarian captain: Rai and Jiri at Lungha.
(no response from Enterprise, looks at First Officer in frustration)
(slowly, deliberately) Rai and Jiri.
In the Star Trek universe, a “universal translator” automatically interprets between any alien language instantly and fluently.
Picard calls the Tamarian's communication model metaphor, Troy calls it image, but according to Bogost's analysis they're both wrong:
"If we pretend that “Shaka, when the walls fell” is a signifier, then its signified is not the fictional mythological character Shaka, nor the myth that contains whatever calamity caused the walls to fall, but the logic by which the situation itself came about.
Read Bogost's essay for a fascinating dive into what Bogost calls “procedural rhetoric”—the use of computational processes to depict worldly processes.
I was struck by a simpler point: If the Tamarian's communicate using shared references, this implies:
1) A shared corpus of events known by every member of the Tamarian civilization;
2) A shared means of economically denoting a particular significant event in that corpus, with little likelihood of ambiguity or error;
3) A biological, technological, or technologically augmented biological means for every Tamarian to choose the appropriate event to communicate the desired interpretation (or logic in Bogost's analysis).
This seems like a tall order, but consider that most of us now live in a civilization that assumes that no factual question need go unanswered for more than a few minutes, after poking or talking at pocket sized supercomputer screens meshed with an associatively addressable, world spanning corpus that's glued together by annoying commercials, a few giant companies, and unicorn dreams of VCs.
What Tamarian's need (or have) is a culture spanning version of Doug Engelbart's Journal, a shared, addressable record of Tamarian history and its logic.
In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost.
And here's what Enterprise 2.
Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter Vannevar Bush's 1945 concept of trailblazing, across the dark matter of the Internet.
The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Addressable work.