From Humanities: Texting in Ancient Mayan Heiroglyphs

The Madrid Codex, World History Archive

If King Tut were around today, could he send a text in Egyptian hieroglyphics? Yes, with the right font and keyboard. That’s because the writing system of the pharaohs has already been included in the Unicode Standard, meaning that a character like the Eye of Horus has a code point, 13080, that will render the same way on a tablet in Cairo and a smartphone in Beijing. Because Mayan hieroglyphs have yet to be encoded, the ancient Mayan emperor K’inich Janaab’ Pakal would have to stick to emoji—but that’s about to change.

Unicode is the international encoding standard that makes it possible for users to read, write, and search in a wide range of written languages on all manner of devices without technical miscommunication. Made up of a mix of academics, stakeholders, and interested volunteers, the Unicode Consortium has encoded 139 of the writing systems, technically known as scripts, ever to have existed. Given that alphabets like Cyrillic, Arabic, and Devanagari serve more than 60 languages each and that 500 languages use the Latin alphabet, Unicode makes electronic communication possible in almost a thousand languages. But there are more than a hundred writing systems to go.

In June 2017, the Unicode Consortium rolled out its tenth version in 26 years, which included four scripts as well as the Bitcoin sign and 56 new emoji. The scripts introduced this year include Nüshu, a writing system that was developed by women in the Hunan Province of nineteenth-century China as a workaround when they were denied formal education. Also newly available is Zanabazar Square, created by a Mongolian monk in the seventeenth century to write spiritual texts in Mongolian, Tibetan, and Sanskrit. Crucial as these steps toward cultural empowerment may be, it is the textable faces, socks, mermen, and the like that have brought this global standard into the limelight.

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To err is human? Kelley School researchers examine how errors affect credibility of online reviews

From News at IUPUI

Shoppers increasingly consult online reviews before making holiday purchases. But how do they decide which reviewers to trust?

Recently published research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business at IUPUI shows that consumer trust in online reviews is influenced by spelling errors and typos. But how much those errors influence each consumer depends on the type of error and that consumer’s general tendency to trust others.

The study, from Dena Cox and Anthony Cox, both professors of marketing at the Kelley School, and Jeffrey Cox, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University, examined nearly 300 people’s reactions to different online reviews with either no errors; typographical errors, such as common keystroke errors like “wsa” instead of “was”; or spelling errors like “sevral” or “useing.”

The study’s results suggest consumers who have a high level of trust in other people distinguish between these two types of errors in online reviews.

Anthony Cox, who also serves as the faculty chair of the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program at IUPUI, says these high-trust consumers view misspellings as “errors of knowledge,” which they are willing to overlook, and typos as “errors of carelessness,” which erode their confidence in the reviewer.

Furthermore, consumers who have a low level of trust in others are not influenced one way or the other by reviews that contain either typographical errors or spelling mistakes, he explained.

“For high-trusters, typographical errors signaled a general lack of conscientiousness or carelessness that harmed reviewer credibility and reduced involvement with the content of the review,” Anthony Cox said.

“For example, a typographical error, like substituting ‘regualr’ for ‘regular,’ seems more likely to be attributed to careless writing by someone who ‘knows better,'” he added. “Conversely, a spelling error, like substituting ‘hite’ for ‘height,’ might be attributed to a lack of education or to a cognitive challenge such as dyslexia, traits over which the writer has little control.”

Online reviews are a mixed blessing, Anthony Cox said: “They are a source of not only information but also misinformation. You don’t know the reviewers. You don’t even know if they are who they say they are, if they’ve actually used the product or if someone paid them to write the review.”

When looking at online reviews, read carefully, he said, because your own level of trust in others will likely play a role in how you react to them.