Oh my god.
I just read the abstract of the first journal paper I have ever published (not counting my writings for the University’s weekly, the Delta). It is horrible writing! After a long and tedious process of writing, revising, co-editing, and revising some more it is unreadable!
The present and past tense are alternated seemingly at random. Bizarre sentences arose from disputes and compromises. Strange ambiguities must leave even the most forgiving reader puzzled and irritated. I promise here and now to do a better job next time.
Well, leaving the abstract aside, the paper contains the results of my first experiments, which are not entirely uninteresting I think, regarding the perception of signs and fidgeting. It is called ‘When and how well do people see the onset of gestures’.
To explain what it is about let me give you a little task. Next time when you are away from your computer and among the people, look for two or three people grouped together, talking or otherwise. Preferably they are at enough distance so as not to be overheard (or take offense at your snooping). Now, watch their movements, their hands. And as soon as you see a gesture you knock on something.
If you do this you will probably experience three things. First, it is an easy task. Second, you will probably ignore the fidgeting. Third, if you ask a friend to join your little game of gesture-spotting (as I have done on many occasions), he will probably knock in response to the same movements that you do.
Now, the ability to spot gestures, and ignore fidgeting, may seem trivial to you, but imagine you were a robot. Do you think computer vision experts would have been able to program you with this ability? At the moment, they don’t even have a clue how to solve this puzzle. You would be forced to analyze any movement as ‘possibly a gesture I might have to respond to’. And perhaps you would wish you had something to filter out the 50% ‘just fidgeting’ (estimate by intuition) to save you time that you need to keep from bumping into lantern posts and such.