Digitoneurolinguistic Hacking

In view of all the seriousness I’ve been writing about lately, I decided it was time to post an XKCD comic that made me laugh so hard I snorted hot chocolate through my nose.

Click the image below to embiggen!

Here’s a short blog post that explains a little more about digitoneurolinguistic hacking. It seems to be a reference to a concept introduced by Neal Stephenson, one of my very favorite authors, in his novel Snow Crash, which is a phenomenally fun and thought-provoking read. As the Wikipedia entry says:

The book explores the controversial concept of neuro-linguistic programming and presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain.

If that’s not enough to convince you to read the book, I should point out that it also involves post-apocalyptic skateboard kids firing grappling hooks at moving traffic.

Anyway, as the blogger above points out, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is a pretty controversial idea. Stephenson’s concept of hacking the brain through language might have been inspired by NLP, but it was intended as a fictional thought experiment, not a therapeutic technique.

Any therapy that claims to be able to “program” the brain is suspicious to me. A connectome is not a computer – it’s a constantly changing living thing – and as such, it’s got to be consistently trained and cared for, like a muscle group or a dog.

But it’s still fun to hack.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the word “trochee” is a poetic term derived from the ancient Greek τροχαιος (trochaios, “running”), which carries an implication of rolling downhill. I think it’s a pretty helpful metaphor for the way trochees seem to roll off the tongue.

One thought on “Digitoneurolinguistic Hacking

  1. I saw this one! Of course. Anyway, if we take it for granted that iambs are the most common rhythm in at least American English, then why does television emphasize trochees? Is it to make the shows more EXTREME? I heard somewhere that because so many TV shows and movies are filmed in Southern California, regional dialects throughout the United States (and to some extent the world) are becoming more like ours (or mine rather). So if TV is emphasizing trochaic rhythms (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), maybe American speech rhythms will change too? And if we stay on the nets, can we be like Locke and Demosthenes? Or will it be more like this? https://xkcd.com/635/

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