Archive for December 7th, 2011

December 7, 2011

Paradoxical Laughter

killing joke

Paradoxical [par-uh-dok-si-kuhllaughter is an exaggerated expression of humor which is unwarranted by external events. It may be uncontrollable laughter which may be recognized as inappropriate by the person involved. It is associated with altered mental states or mental illness, such as mania, hypomania or schizophrenia, and can have other causes.

Paradoxical laughter is indicative of an unstable mood, often caused by the pseudobulbar affect (a neurologic disorder characterized by uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing), which can quickly change to anger and back again, on minor external cues. This type of laughter can also occur at times when the fight-or-flight response may otherwise be evoked.

December 7, 2011

Gerd Arntz


Gerd Arntz (1900 – 1988) was a German Modernist artist – famous for his black and white woodcuts. A core member of the Cologne Progressives he was also a council communist. The Cologne Progressives participated in the revolutionary unions AAUD and its offshoot the AAUE in the 1920s, and in 1928 Arntz was contributing anti-parliamentary prints to its paper ‘Die Proletarische Revolution’ which called for workers to form and participate in worker’s councils. These political prints depicted the life of worker’s and the class struggle in abstracted figures in woodcuts.

In 1926 Otto Neurath sought his collaboration in designing pictograms for the ‘Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics’ (‘Wiener Methode der Bildstatistik’; later renamed ‘Isotype’). From the beginning of 1929 Arntz worked at the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum (Social and economic museum) directed by Neurath in Vienna. Eventually, Arntz designed around 4000 pictograms. After the brief civil war in Austria in 1934 he emigrated to the Netherlands, joining Neurath and Reidemeister in The Hague, where they continued their collaboration at the International Foundation for Visual Education.

December 7, 2011



Isotype (International System of TYpographic Picture Education) is a method of showing social, technological, biological and historical connections in pictorial form.

It was first known as the Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics, due to its having been developed at the Social and Economic Museum of Vienna (Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien) between 1925 and 1934. The founding director of the museum, Otto Neurath, was the initiator and chief theorist of the Vienna Method. The term Isotype was applied to the method around 1935, after its key practitioners were forced to leave Vienna by the rise of Austrian fascism.

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December 7, 2011



Blissymbols or Blissymbolics was conceived as an ideographic writing system called Semantography consisting of several hundred basic symbols, each representing a concept, which can be composed together to generate new symbols that represent new concepts. Blissymbols differ from most of the world’s major writing systems in that the characters do not correspond at all to the sounds of any spoken language.

Blissymbols were invented by Charles K. Bliss (1897–1985), born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the Austro-Hungarian city of Czernowitz (in what is now Ukraine), which had a mixture of different nationalities that ‘hated each other, mainly because they spoke and thought in different languages.’ Bliss graduated as a chemical engineer at the Vienna University of Technology, and joined an electronics company as a research chemist. When the German Army invaded Austria in 1938, he was sent to the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenbald. His German wife Claire managed to get him released, and they finally became exiles in Shanghai, where Bliss had relatives.

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December 7, 2011


the road not taken

iConji is a free pictographic communication system based on an open, visual vocabulary of characters with built-in translations for most major languages. The app debuted with 1183 unique characters, known as the lexiConji (vocabulary), culled from base words used in common daily communications, word frequency lists, often-used mathematical and logical symbols, punctuation symbols, and the flags of all nations.

The process of assembling a message from iConji characters is called iConjisation. Since most characters represent an entire word or concept, rather than a single letter or character, iConji has the potential to be a more efficient communication system than SMS (texting). The usual jumble of text and confusing abbreviations can often be replaced by a short string of colorful icons that convey the identical meaning.

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December 7, 2011


poop emoji

Emoji [ih-moh-jee] is the Japanese term for the picture characters or emoticons used in Japanese electronic messages and webpages. Originally meaning pictograph, the word literally means ‘e’ (‘picture) ‘moji’ (‘letter’). The characters are used much like emoticons elsewhere, but a wider range is provided, and the icons are standardized and built into mobile devices. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing (apologizing) businessman, a face wearing a face mask, or a group of emoji representing popular foods (e.g. ramen noodles, rice balls). The three main Japanese phone operators, NTT DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone), have each defined their own variants of emoji.

Although typically only available in Japan, the characters and code required to use emoji are, thanks to the nature of software development, often present in many phones’ software. As a result, some phones, such as the Apple iPhone, allow access to the symbols without requiring a Japanese operator. Emoji have also started appearing in emailing services such as Gmail (accessed via Google Labs) in 2009.