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> Literacy and the Sixth World, Portrayal In-Game
BrianL03
post Nov 4 2006, 04:24 AM
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Recently, I've been running into problems of trying to figure out how in the Sixth World, a period of "functional illiteracy" as they put it, information is properly conveyed, especially those things that could only be figured out by reading. I've tried to phase out reading as much as possible when I'm describing things in-game, using spoken explanations of a requirement or somesuch, but it's rather hard to wrap my mind around the concept.

I mean, even in something like Shadowland, where they have the posters putting up information, are those supposed to be actual BBS-style posts, or is it more like an audio replication? I could imagine that the high costs of audio would be much too great for people to just have mini-recorders with them everywhere or something.

So for instance, how in your game would you resolve:
-Someone passing a note to the group
-Informational sign on a building
-Billboard-style advertising

and so on?
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Bodak
post Nov 4 2006, 07:40 AM
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QUOTE
Someone passing a note to the group
I write it in the worst possibly English I can come up with. It is usually about the standard of English in World of Warcraft chat. Every occurrence of 'then' and 'than' are transposed, 'their/there/they're' are rearranged to be as confusing as possible, as are 'right/write/rite' and 'where/we're/were/wear'. 'Missed' is confused with 'mist', 'passed' with 'past', etc. 'You' is replaced by 'u', 'too/to/two' by '2', etc. 'The' always spelt 'teh', 'and' often spelt 'adn', etc. Tenses are totally corrupted, so for example instead of 'I will be sitting beside the window' the note might say 'I will be sat beside the window'. Or 'after the run, you should lay low for a while' instead of 'after the run you should lie low for a while'. Lots of references are contracted (eg 'advertisement' -> 'ad', 'television' -> 'tv', 'mobile telephone' -> 'phone') requiring some thought before a meaningful expansion can be worked out. Sometimes I get rid of a letter entirely, such as C, replacing it with Ss or Ks instead. Imagine a dyslexic child with a small vocabulary for whom English is a second or third language... which they've learnt from Internet chat rooms, SMSs, games manuals and some unabridged Chaucer manuscripts. That's the kind of level. It's great fun. A scribbled PostIt note stuck on a wageslave's desk can take ten minutes to decrypt.

QUOTE
Informational sign on a building
Icons, abbreviations and numbers. Instead of 'Renraku', have their symbol. Instead of 'firearms dealership' have a smoking pistol. Instead of 'LoneStar', have their logo.

QUOTE
Billboard-style advertising
Large, bright, flashy, probably 3d-animated, using icons and symbols everyone will recognise. DocWagon, a Red Cross, a gun, blood, a coffin, a number of digits followed by ::nuyen:: symbol. That kind of thing.
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hyzmarca
post Nov 4 2006, 07:51 AM
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Just make sure that most characters have Read and Write 2 (at least) in their primary language.

DNI makes a lot of stuff easy.
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BrianL03
post Nov 4 2006, 07:39 PM
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QUOTE (hyzmarca)
Just make sure that most characters have Read and Write 2 (at least) in their primary language.

DNI makes a lot of stuff easy.

See, this is the thing. Not all the characters do have R/W at that level. One thing I'm trying to wrap my head around is how the singer deals with R/W 1, especially when it comes to information going between the bandmembers.
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Dog
post Nov 5 2006, 01:54 PM
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Think about things like online chat language. U means "you" to everybody now; it's not considered slang. Throw in that some asian characters are universally recognized. Consider instructions like they have on airplane safety cards.

It's really amazing how "iconerate" we already are. Take smilies for instance. Or the other day I was in a grocery store, and noticed that at the ends of the aisles, they didn't list what was in the aisle in words, but in pictures: fresh produce, meat, pop, ice-cream etc. I'm looking at all the symbols on my computer's tool bar right now, and I imagine that I could apply them anywhere: home, search, favourites, an hourglass or a watch icon means wait a minute. Consider traffic signs. We probably all know what a red octagon means, right?

Or here's an approach: instead of imagining that you're writing for somebody who's kind of dumb and uneducated, imagine you're writing for a group of people who speak many different languages.
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nezumi
post Nov 5 2006, 08:45 PM
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Personally I think the whole thing is a little silly. It completely flies in the face of reality. Literacy rates are continuing to climb as technology advances. Ultimately learning to read icons to the point that they can replace written language would require so many new, non-intuitive images to remember that it's simply ridiculous. Sure we'll see more icons in common writing, but we'll also see more writing in general. Until technology becomes so pervasive that every message can be transmitting directly to the brain (which seems unlikely with magic around), writing will continue to exist in its current capacity (more or less). I have done away with the r/w skill being half of the linked language skill.
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PirateChef
post Nov 5 2006, 09:34 PM
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QUOTE (nezumi)
Ultimately learning to read icons to the point that they can replace written language would require so many new, non-intuitive images to remember that it's simply ridiculous.

Have you never heard of Chinese, Japanese, or Hieroglyphics? That's exactly what thje written versions of these languages are.(Kanji at least) Each symbol is iconic of an idea or item, and you do have to learn thousands just to be considered functional. (Something along the lines of 10,000 characters just to read a newspaper) I think what the writers were trying to say is that if you looked at it from our perspective we would consider them illiterate, but that things have changed so much that it doesn't matter so much.
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eidolon
post Nov 5 2006, 11:27 PM
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Actually, if you go deeper than that and learn the radicals, the strokes, character construction, you'd be surprised by how it's actually not "pictures", at least not as much as Hieroglyphics. I actually don't think it's terribly apt to compare Chinese to Hieroglyphics, but that's speaking as someone who has studied and speaks Chinese (Mandarin, anyway ;)).

To a layperson..."look, pictures!!". :D

And I'm another in the "SR canon's supposed illiteracy is ridiculous for many many reasons" camp. For what it's worth, anyway.
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hyzmarca
post Nov 5 2006, 11:42 PM
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Well, Chinese was intentionally designed to a unified writing system for a country that had several different spoken language. Creating a writing system which crosses spoken language barriers requires heavy iconography.
Phonetic writing systems, which are designed to represent sounds, only work in one language at a time.

I suppose that it is less functional illiteracy and more of another step toward creating a universal written language.

However, DNI does some a lot of problems. There is no need to read, write, or speak a language if you just think into your pocket secretary and have it transmit the message to your friend's pocket secretary.
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Dog
post Nov 5 2006, 11:58 PM
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I think a lot of this hinges on how we choose to define literacy. I would imagine that in the sixth world, the "literacy" rate would still be high, whereas measured by our current standards, the numbers would be a lot lower.
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Kagetenshi
post Nov 6 2006, 12:39 AM
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In the Sixth World, creative definitions have eliminated poverty.

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BookWyrm
post Nov 6 2006, 01:16 AM
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Depending on what your campaign/The Sixth World defines as 'literacy'. Icon-driven literalism is prevalent even now (traffic signs & colors), especially with most fast-food registers. Warning symbols, such as the 'ban' (a red cirle with a slash) & 'warning' (a red exclamation point in a circle) are on the increase.

I would reccomend Hyzmarca's suggestion, but also make sure that it's a specialization (Read & Write 21st Century Anglish, Read & Write Cityspeak, ect) so that there's little confusion.
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Hell Hound
post Nov 6 2006, 01:40 PM
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I always pictured functional illiteracy as being a problem primarily with grammar and punctuation as opposed to actually being able to read or write, but perhaps that is my own level of illiteracy showing that I don't understand what is meant by "functional illiteracy" :)

I see it as people who can read the single words, sentence fragments and nonsensical jingoistic garbage of a billboard or similar display but can't construct a grammatically correct sentence. They read slower the longer the block of text becomes and can often misunderstand what they are reading because they are not paying attention to the punctuation, nor do they use it in their own writing.

Thus in short simple sentences what the average person writes is understandable. But if required to write something lengthy (like an essay or report) their work would be nearly indecipherable. It would be grammar correcting software that does the work for most people. Thus whilst their programs correct all their own poor grammar, spelling and punctuation it does not help them to read and undestand the writing of others.

As an aside my cousin, an English teacher in a private school, complained to me not all that long ago about the state of english spelling and grammar amongst his students. His complaint was that "they are writing tons of stuff, if you add up all their text messages, but it really doesn't bode well when a student turns in an assignment and they have spelt great with an 8."
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nezumi
post Nov 6 2006, 02:30 PM
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QUOTE (PirateChef)
QUOTE (nezumi)
Ultimately learning to read icons to the point that they can replace written language would require so many new, non-intuitive images to remember that it's simply ridiculous.

Have you never heard of Chinese, Japanese, or Hieroglyphics? That's exactly what thje written versions of these languages are.(Kanji at least) Each symbol is iconic of an idea or item, and you do have to learn thousands just to be considered functional. (Something along the lines of 10,000 characters just to read a newspaper) I think what the writers were trying to say is that if you looked at it from our perspective we would consider them illiterate, but that things have changed so much that it doesn't matter so much.

I hope you're not suggesting that people are more likely to willingly teach themselves Kanji over written English because it's somehow 'easier to read'.

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Kagetenshi
post Nov 6 2006, 02:39 PM
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Depends. Do you need to know 10,000 of them, or just 100 for day-to-day signs?

~J
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eidolon
post Nov 6 2006, 02:59 PM
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Depends. Where are you, and how long do you need to be there? ;)
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Kagetenshi
post Nov 6 2006, 04:30 PM
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Seattle, 2055, and for quite some time.

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Herald of Verjig...
post Nov 6 2006, 05:52 PM
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Don't forget the 200 or so standard images you have grown accustom to on your PC and as general law and warning signs. That's not even considering how many stupid variants there are of the no smoking image with smoking replaced by almost anything you could think of restricting.
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Kagetenshi
post Nov 6 2006, 06:02 PM
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No smoking is a "stupid variant" itself—it originated on roadsigns.

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Angelone
post Nov 6 2006, 06:11 PM
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QUOTE (Hell Hound)
I always pictured functional illiteracy as being a problem primarily with grammar and punctuation as opposed to actually being able to read or write, but perhaps that is my own level of illiteracy showing that I don't understand what is meant by "functional illiteracy" :)

I see it as people who can read the single words, sentence fragments and nonsensical jingoistic garbage of a billboard or similar display but can't construct a grammatically correct sentence. They read slower the longer the block of text becomes and can often misunderstand what they are reading because they are not paying attention to the punctuation, nor do they use it in their own writing.

Thus in short simple sentences what the average person writes is understandable. But if required to write something lengthy (like an essay or report) their work would be nearly indecipherable. It would be grammar correcting software that does the work for most people. Thus whilst their programs correct all their own poor grammar, spelling and punctuation it does not help them to read and undestand the writing of others.

As an aside my cousin, an English teacher in a private school, complained to me not all that long ago about the state of english spelling and grammar amongst his students. His complaint was that "they are writing tons of stuff, if you add up all their text messages, but it really doesn't bode well when a student turns in an assignment and they have spelt great with an 8."

Ouch my ego, that struck close to home, gonna go cry now.

This is how I see it as well, you'd be suprised how prevalent this is today.
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nezumi
post Nov 6 2006, 06:22 PM
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wtf teh aliteracy thred is teh sux ok thxby
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hyzmarca
post Nov 6 2006, 07:38 PM
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If you are a baby today then there is a very good chance that Mommy (or Hypersexual Teenage Au-Pair, if you're rich) will read to you. If you were a baby in 2060 then it is far more likely that mommy will plug her datajack into your dataack and think to you. This has several advantage. First, you'll know exactly what she wants from you and she'll know exactly what you want from her. Second, it can be stopped by a Silence spell. Third, ninjas can't hear her thinking to you over DNI.
It also has a big disadvantage. It makes learning language quite a bit more difficult.
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nezumi
post Nov 6 2006, 08:37 PM
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we lernd reedin in es no frm mom thx
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noname_hero
post Nov 6 2006, 08:44 PM
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QUOTE (hyzmarca)
If you were a baby in 2060 then it is far more likely that mommy will plug her datajack into your dataack and think to you.

If your mother is sane she will NOT let anyone implant a datajack into you at that age.
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hyzmarca
post Nov 6 2006, 09:13 PM
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QUOTE (noname_hero @ Nov 6 2006, 03:44 PM)
QUOTE (hyzmarca @ Nov 6 2006, 07:38 PM)
If you were a baby in 2060 then it is far more likely that mommy will plug her datajack into your dataack and think to you.

If your mother is sane she will NOT let anyone implant a datajack into you at that age.

A sane mother who wants what's best for her child will have a datajack implanted in the kid before he leaves the hospital for the first time. It is a perfectly safe procedure and the advantages of having it done early far outweigh the little annoyances. Babies do more learning in the first few years of life than adults do in the rest of their lives. Giving him a datajack early will allow him to acclimate to DNI in such a way that VR and AR might as well be real to him. This makes it far more likely that he will be a super-leet haxxor and make billions with his own matrix business.

The best young deckers are the ones who got datajacks as infants, including William Gates III (or IV, I forget) and Dr. Halberstam's kids (including his brains-in-jars).
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