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The digital word

2024-02-24T05:04:02.902Z

Highlights: The world is full of those extraordinary things that we do without realizing that they are extraordinary: pointing fingers. Humans are humans because we have fingers. Now our fingers seem, if anything, useful for grabbing whatever we want to grab, eating with modest lasciviousness, picking our noses or other orifices. And, millions of years later, when it occurred to them that they should count things, they once again resorted to their fingers: one finger, two, three, four fingers... That is why we have, in general, decimal systems.


We live in “digital” culture: a world where fewer and fewer things can be touched with our fingers.


The finger points: it is a miracle of culture.

I must confess that she had not thought about it until yesterday, when I pointed something out to

Tita

, our cat, and the very perfidious one, instead of looking at what she showed her, she insisted on looking at my finger.

The world is full of those extraordinary things that we do without realizing that they are extraordinary: pointing fingers.

I mean: the incredible process of civilization necessary for 8 billion individuals—more Chinese, less Indian—to agree that, when a person extends his index finger, what he does is show something that we should look at.

Those things that cats, for the moment, ignore.

Humans are humans because we have fingers.

Now we value them less, but there were times when the word finger had so many functions.

There was the accusing finger and its poetic uses: “I must not be silent, no matter how much with the finger, / now touching the mouth, now the forehead…”, thundered Maestro Quevedo.

There were fingers as a measure of someone who pretended to be measured and asked for only two of liquor because he supposedly had more than two of his forehead.

The finger was straight, protruding from the closed fist to say that it would look for the inside of the insulted person.

There was the finger sucked by those who ignored too much.

There was the finger of those who chose the same -monarchs, generals, potentates-, that which for millennia was normal and now is ugly.

There was the finger of God, so different from the hand of God.

Now our fingers seem, if anything, useful for grabbing whatever we want to grab, eating with modest lasciviousness, picking our noses or other orifices, tapping the table with impatience.

And we forget that our fingers, that thumb facing all the others, changed the way we grasp and handle things and allowed those monkeys that we were and will be to become more and more human.

And, millions of years later, when it occurred to them that they should count things, they once again resorted to their fingers: one finger, two, three, four fingers... That is why we have, in general, decimal systems.

Therefore, strangely, we live in a digital world.

Because someone decided to use the word digit to say number: since the first numbers were counted with the fingers, the Latin word that refers to the fingers,

digital

, became the name of the figures.

Only those Roman figures were rigid, marble.

Until some Arab or Indian genius invented the positional system: the Romans, for example, needed to write DCLXVI to write down 666: a 600 —DC—, a 60 —LX— and a 6 —VI—, all piled up.

Those Arabs, on the other hand, could write it by putting a 6 in the first of three positions - that of the hundred -, another in the second - that of the ten - and another in the third - that of the unit -, and instead We recognize them.

For that they needed, among other things, 0, and in those days, more than 1,000 years ago, they invented it.

Thus, with those 10 digits they could express any figure: the invention, it is obvious, was imposed with honors.

And we used it, and we assumed that this way of telling things in the world was the order of the world and we took it, as we usually do, as something natural and unalterable.

But their absolute reign was more or less brief: it lasted until 50 or 60 years ago, when those machines capable of storing any information using only two of them began to prevail: 1 and 0. They called them computers or computers or computers and they had the incredible ability to reduce the world to just two signs and their almost infinite combinations.

Since they were two digits, they called

that way of storing and processing and transmitting

digital : there we began to live in this world defined by that word.

(And because of it, everything is now measured in “bits”: a synthesis of “

binary digits

” armed with the beginning of the first word and the end of the second. If computing had been invented in Spanish—or if we translated those things— , using that same procedure with “binary digits” would make the bits called “god”, and it would be much more logical).

Now the decimal system is a luxury of greengrocers, soccer coaches, high school teachers and brutes like me;

The world moves in the binary, digital system.

So much of our lives now is digital: the machine on which I write these words, the machine where you read them, the numerous machines that have made you able to read better things, the billions of machines that organize every detail of this world.

And it is almost a joke that they are called digital: nothing in them is further from the fingers, from materiality, than digital culture.

Now everything that we cannot touch or grasp with our fingers is digital.

The word digital has made an almost complete turn and laughs at us: it is the final proof that it has triumphed.

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Source: elparis

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