Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Ink Blots on Poles

personal perception road signs
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While cross-country cruising, the notion crossed my mind that inkblots would make interesting sign symbols with or without numbers, arrows and slashed circles. Each sign’s ambiguous meaning would be interpreted individually by a vehicle’s occupants.
FarmerJohn, Mar 30 2005

example http://honolulu.haw...ms/p3/Rorschach.gif
"It's a mountain goat crossing."
"No silly, that sign's for the seahorse aquarium." [FarmerJohn, Mar 30 2005]

You could substitute for this one, maybe http://www.bris.ac....gelib/tsod-t100.gif
The current, "Watch out, there's something up ahead!" sign. [DrCurry, Mar 30 2005]

No fun zone? http://broken.typep...d/cimg1789sized.jpg
for [brodie] [Worldgineer, Mar 31 2005]

The Phantom Blot's Car http://goofy313g.fr...line/cars/blot.html
My favourite childhood character. If only he'd rubbed out that damned mouse... [ConsulFlaminicus, Apr 01 2005]


       The very idea makes me roar in shock.
normzone, Mar 30 2005

       Hmmm... Imagine my parents trying to figure this one out... We wouldn't get anywhere other than the divorce courts...
froglet, Mar 30 2005

       it's the naked Monty Python pianist playing in front of a mirror...and now for something completely different...
po, Mar 30 2005

       I wonder if such arbitrary shapes can be memorable enough to serve as a milepost or location indicator. I know that's just one use but I also know that I tend to memorize mileposts to remind me to look for something of interest the next time I drive by (an exit, a bucolic hill, a home I like, etc.)
bristolz, Mar 30 2005

       For a moment I thought this was a way to reduce central heating by accelerating global warming.
Basepair, Mar 30 2005

       It’s an ultrasound of Marge Simpson and her evil twin, which reads ‘Blue Mountain Pass - straight ahead’.   

       I’m not sure what I would do if I saw such a sign for the first time, but it would make for a fun road-trip game with the kids in the car. Once you have seen it, though, I think it would be as easily recognizable as any unintentional landmark; a tree branch pattern, a rock, landscape geometry, etc.
Shz, Mar 30 2005

       So, nothing to do with spoilt ballot papers?
TolpuddleSartre, Mar 30 2005

       [Shz], I don't think they would be as recognizable because their immediate context, the sign backing itself, would all be the same. Same is true of a branch pattern of a common tree in a forest or a mundane rock in a riverbed of rocks.
bristolz, Mar 30 2005

       A star field would be cool for those "ahead" signs. Also a giant tangle.
JesusHChrist, Mar 30 2005

       The immediate context of the sign is its location, not its backing. If the numbers were removed from the mile markers you memorized, wouldn’t you still know what is coming up because of where the marker is? Once you have seen the sign in location context, there’s no longer a need for images / writing on the sign.   

       Only when reading a sign for the first time do you have to associate it with a (yet to be seen) meaning. Once you have seen the location the image represents, even if you made up the association, that’s as good a match as actually planting the sign at that location. It’s what you will think of when you see that image, then if the symbol were removed from the sign, the sign location will be enough, and if the sign were removed, the location will be enough. You would know that there used to be a sign there, and what was on the sign.   

       Forest backdrop patterns are always different, as are riverbeds. Your analogy is appropriate if you are looking for one of countless signs at the same location. It’s like looking for a specific grain of sand at the beach, but if you couldn’t find that grain of sand, wouldn’t you still know which beach you were at if you had seen it before? Likewise, if you saw that particular grain of sand elsewhere, wouldn’t you think of the beach you associated with it?
Shz, Mar 30 2005

       The immediate context of the blot is the sign backing and my point is that, I think, one blot would look largely as the next unless you became very familiar with the route and the attendant blots along the way.   

       The reason that one blot would look as the next is that I wouldn't have any sort of idea association with a random blot shape--no memory, or color, or emotion. This is very different with numerals for which I have very clear and familiar associated ideas. Less so with a distinct tree branching but, even then, I am likely to have a memory of the species, bark, color, what I am seeing through the branches ... just so much more distinction and association with pre-existing ideas that I carry around.   

       Let me ask you this: do you think a simple phrase uttered in a language you do not understand is as memorable as one uttered in a language you've spoken your entire life? I'm thinking that it isn't, at least not for me and the way I remember things. This analogy best sums up my thinking about the efficacy of using random, monochromatic, blot patterns as anything other than abstract art in the absence of well-worn familiarity.   

       Now, I am not denying that there may be the occasional blot that is so reminiscent of something I am familiar with that it will function as effectively as a numeral but I'm betting that there wouldn't be many of those.
bristolz, Mar 31 2005

       Or two speed bumps ahead.
Ling, Mar 31 2005

       I don't know. I have only a sitcom-level understanding of the whole Rorschach thing.
bristolz, Mar 31 2005

       Pushing the boundaries of pattern recognition
JesusHChrist, Mar 31 2005

       You should have told the shrink that cards two and three were upside-down.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 31 2005

       [bris] Your annotation suggests the use of a scientifically calibrated scale of levels of understanding -

None at all
A quick Google search
Looney Tunes
Dummy's Guide to [...]
[...] 101


Professor of Extreme Cleverness
hippo, Mar 31 2005

       <duckman moment>
Cornfed: "Holding me against against my will is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, the Geneva Convention and the UN Charter of Human Rights."

       Psychiatrist: "Nonsense! You are insane and we can prove it!" [presents inkblot]   

       Cornfed: "Hmm. A PTA meeting with cucumbers instead of parents."   

       Psychaitrist: "That's it! You're the first person to get it right! You're free to go..."
Detly, Mar 31 2005

       Hah! Funny, [hippo]. Maybe the scale could be useful in judging writings around here.
bristolz, Mar 31 2005

       no more ink exploitation of polish people
benfrost, Mar 31 2005

       //The immediate context of the blot is the sign backing// OK, but how can it be isolated in memory? I don’t think it can, or I can’t do that, anyhow.   

       //The reason that one blot would look as the next is that I wouldn't have any sort of idea association with a random blot shape--no memory, or color, or emotion.// There is a context in which you saw it. Association is unavoidable.   

       //Let me ask you this: do you think a simple phrase uttered in a language you do not understand is as memorable as one uttered in a language you've spoken your entire life?// No, but remembering sounds is not the same as remembering images (for me).   

       I admit to having a Loony Tunes level of understanding on the subject, but since nobody seems to know how it really works... I’ve long been fascinated by this, beginning with a childhood observation that some people get lost in the woods easily, while others do not. It seems there are two factors involved; association, and resolution.   

       The people who get lost seem to remember details by association: “I think we have been here before. I recognize that egg shaped boulder”. The people who usually know where they are recall the entire image, and don’t make as many associations: “This looks familiar. Yep. We have been here before. We came from that direction”.   

       It’s similar to digital photography. Take the highest resolution shot possible. If the resolution is high enough, there’s no need to move closer and/or label things. A super high resolution would be a photographic memory, where images can be compared directly, without the need for an object oriented association database (er, or something like that).   

       //at least not for me and the way I remember things// Well, that about sums it up. We all remember differently. My theory is that everyone uses both association and resolution for remembering images, with more association for lower resolutions. Neither is better as a whole, but higher resolutions would work better for this idea.   

       [UB] I took a different approach to the blots. I assumed that they were attempting to measure creativity, so gave abstract, detailed, off-the-wall answers. They kept cutting me short, but I passed, whatever that means.
Shz, Mar 31 2005

       <passenger> Hey, how much longer till we get to lodge?
<driver> It’s a half mile past the hairpin turn above Dead Man’s Ravine, which should be coming up soon.
<passenger> Oh, o-
<driver> Whoa!!! Look at that sign!!!!
<passenger> What the…
<driver> Large breasted half naked women ahead?!?!!
<passenger> Are you sure?
<driver> You saw the sign.
<passenger> Uh… Ok. SPEED UP!!!!! Faster, Faster-
<driver & passenger> AHHHHHGHGHRRGZFVAVASD

Warning signs are simple and obvious for a reason.
Maybe not the best idea except for a prank. [-]
brodie, Mar 31 2005

       Simple and obvious? Not always. I'll find a link.
Worldgineer, Mar 31 2005

       May be a decent touristy gimmick for roadside signs (in Rorschach's home town?): blots suggestive of food or points of interest/commerce, with arrows leading to the location indicated. People may follow just to see if they interpreted the sign "correctly".
half, Mar 31 2005

       Sigmund Freud would either go loony, or have a field day. A Freudian maze... That's a thought, I might put the freudian maze idea up... Nobody steal it!
froglet, Mar 31 2005

       So language is recognition by association. But this could lead to us all only understanding one big stop sign. Editable ink-blot mile markers could become a sort of universal clock-language that keeps individuals productive but attached.
JesusHChrist, Mar 31 2005

       It looks like two, back to back, black knights from a chess set in a pool of wavy water with a skewed reflection to me.   

       So tell me the truth doc. can I get out soon?   

       Its a white rocket frog making love to a puppy with ear lice. Or two upsidedown ant maidens communicating with telepathy and touch.
JesusHChrist, Apr 01 2005

       Two squirrells with severe diarrea swimming off into the distance.   

       Well. LOOK at it! It's like a damned photo!
ConsulFlaminicus, Apr 01 2005

       Perception is conceived at the moment and has very little tie to memory.   

       Seeing something abstract the second time doesn't make you always remember what you saw the first time, since your own state at the moment will adjust your perception of the image.   

       A road sign that says "School Crossing" one day to you might be a "100kmh Speed Limit" the next day.   

       But I would like to see Ink Blots on poles just for sheer existence of it.
Giblet, Apr 01 2005

       Maybe if there was a system of improving the inkblot signs, where two were displayed and one chosen by each passer-by, and the results incorporated. The signs would improve to represent a communally-agreed-upon representation of their surroundings. Although this would mess up their original purpose of alerting you to what is coming ahead.
JesusHChrist, Apr 01 2005

       "A road sign that says "School Crossing" one day to you might be a "100kmh Speed Limit" the next day."   

       Likely the day you are being driven in for a pyschiatric observation.
bristolz, Apr 01 2005


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