Tag Archives: Random warblings

Content versus Structure

I like that title. Sounds nice and pretentious. Like I’m going to say something intelligent.

Let’s not hold our breath(s).

So… I’ve done lots in the last few months. I went to World Fantasy Con in Brighton where I got more rained on than I have ever been in my entire life (and I live in Scotland), met the fabulous Holly Black and astounding Sarah Rees Brennan, saw Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman and other writer rockstars and was baffled and disappointed by some of the weirdness on panels, and excited by some of the sense on others (generally those which included Holly Black and Garth Nix, not that I’m obsessed). I got two books signed by Susan Cooper — who, disappointingly, didn’t look at me, which was a little soul-destroying for someone I’ve worshiped since I was 10, but then I was speechless with awe when I met her, the longest of a very long line of people getting things signed and she must have been exhausted. So.

It was a lot. I am still processing. Did I mention how amazing Garth Nix was? How stunning Holly Black was? I went to a reading by Joe Abercrombie, too. He had a cold, he was feeling grim, and still he read so powerfully I forgot where I was (and that crying in public is a Bad Thing).

Also, I’ve been working, testing a system that’s been developed to guide people around and tell them interesting things about the places they pass. Something occurs to me about the way programmers approach these things compared to the way humans do (not saying programmers aren’t human, not really). Our evaluators — the people who are testing the system — get really disappointed when the system tells them pointless or stupid things (a current classic is, “The Bank of Scotland is a Scottish bank”). The people who have developed the system — who are all utterly brilliant — get excited that it knows when to give the right information, irrespective of what that information is. They’re interested in structure, not content  (see what I did there!?).