Base 2

We’re drawing to the end of base 2 dates for this year — 12/11/2011. We have a few left, but I’ll be sad to see them go. In my daybook, I stack them, and they appear to hold some mystery of intent:
1
11
2011
Or:
11
21
2011

The simplicity calls for a quick addition, or it makes me want to reread a wonderful post at garlikov.com on teaching 3rd graders base 2 math entirely through the Socratic method. Actually, it’s here and it’s fun: http://www.garlikov.com/Soc_Meth.html Mostly it’s a breezy transcript, but it will probably occupy ten minutes of your reading day and then more minutes of thought over the coming years.

The limits and potential of base 2 are not unlike the growing number of websites or technologies that allow only so many letters or characters, and that takes us back to haiku and its 17 syllables and other restricted forms of poetry. Then there are the books based on the website that invites autobiographies in six words.

Restrictions can be a fun engine for creativity. The novel Gadsby has no occurrences of the letter e. I once wrote a short story based on Chopin’s Minute Waltz — every syllable matched to a note. By no stretch were they lyrics, but the idea of reading the whole story in a minute was definitely attractive. Hmmm. Maybe that’s another website.

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About Carolyn

I live in Washington, D.C., write, teach, try to eat the requisite fruits and veggies daily, and avoid caffeine after 2 pm. I wonder about things a lot -- like why "pretty" means "pretty" and "not so much" and if I can ever perfect the single-portion, no-knead, daily baguette and how many people realize that Beau Brummel had a lot to do with our desire to bathe daily -- those of us who do in fact "take the daily."
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One Response to Base 2

  1. Irene says:

    This post presents a challenge (of the good sort)! I’m captivated by the “Minute Waltz” idea and (as someone with synesthesia) by the word-for-note correspondence. Now I’m going to have to do some work….

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