Unbabel’s Monthly Reads – July
At Unbabel we’re avid users of Slack, coordinating hundreds of overlapping workstreams, keeping the growing team of a multinational startup all on the same page, and generally living out our internal culture: one that values continuous learning about the areas we work in and on, and seeks to discover new and better ways to work.
As we’ve grown, more voices have been added to one of our channels, #worth_reading —rebellious academics, failed philosophers, restless souls, frustrated artists, and all-round geeks— and we think the collective curation here has now become a resource worth sharing more widely.
So let’s look at what we shared this month:
The man behind the bits
Before a man named Claude Shannon came along with the publication of his “Mathematical Theory of Communication,” everyone thought that each medium — written, spoken language, pictures, videos, etc — would require different ways of communicating. The revelation was that all of them could be turned into binary digits, or bits.
“Come here much?”
Artist Jonas Eltes was inspired by conversing in his limited Italian to create his latest installation, Lost in Computation, where two chatbots speaking different languages converse through the distorted layer of Google Translate.
When a language just won’t quit
Language symbolises a culture’s identity, and no one takes it more serious than the Euskara-speaking communities (or Basque), whose efforts to keep their language alive have survived brutal fascism and globalisation alike.
Growth hack backfires
Has growth hacking gone too far? The global developer community is up in arms about this startup’s method of hiring famous devs and getting them to insert advertising content into their formerly purely open source code.
Correlation strikes again!
It appears the closer we are to the equator, the more language diversity there is. The question of why humanity speaks so many languages sparks many theories, so, of course, simulation models were run to get to the bottom of this. The results may surprise you.
World Wide Web ≠ Wild Wild West
It’s been 13 years since Facebook was founded, arguably the last giant technology company to have emerged in more than a decade. So what’s going on?
If you’ve ever been to Germany and looked up at a road sign you’ll have come across the letter“ß”, or eszett in the word “Straße,” the word for street. It’s often transliterated as “ss,” and strangely enough, it’s never had an official uppercase counterpart. Until now.
Oh God, deep learning + cats
Deep neural networks are now automatically generating pictures of cats.
“Siri, remind me what I told my mother this time last year”
Everything we say, transcribed and documented, for generations to come. Will recording every spoken word help or hurt us? The possibilities are as intriguing as terrifying. But do they go back to how we lived for thousands of years?
Everything you always wanted to know about diversity reports (but were afraid to ask)
I’m going to spare you all my attempts in wittiness since Sarah Cooper says it best in her latest masterpiece: “In the interest of transparency and mounting pressure from other companies doing it, we are very excited to release our Annual Diversity in Tech Report and share all the gains we’ve made in hiring “other people”.
That’s a wrap, y’all
Have a nice weekend.