24 November 2006

Reading on the Tree of Life

sort all words
in order of frequency

assign primary colors
to the commonest words

more subtle shades
to rarer words

and where a human branch
on the Tree of Life
thinks reads hears or speaks
a word
light a star of that word's color

at most 5 words per second
300,000 words per day

a given passage of text
becomes a pattern of colored stars

repeated wherever the passage is read

repeated with errors by poor readers
repeated with gaps by hasty readers
repeated in clumps by distracted readers

for a given piece of text
(book article poem quote)
light all the segments
of the Tree of Life
where it's being re/cited

(extreme case:
pedants debating the significance
of a single word)

light further
all future thoughts
on each given reader's branch
re/shaped by their memories
of that text

(did it add a word
to their active vocabulary?

toddlers gathering early vocabulary
mostly from speech

or are they reminded of a scene
whenever a similar scene arises?

does the influence quickly fade?

does it persist
while the source is forgotten?)

rank the most influential works
for a given reader

for all readers at a given time
(dr spock; harry potter)
for all readers ever (the bible)

rank the books with the most
separate influential patterns
(gravity's rainbow)

those whose influence
peaked quickly then faded
(nobody reads fulmerford anymore)

(how can we extend this visualisation to include
influential non-verbal works--
music, dance, painting?)