Words as Puzzle Pieces

There are photo shops that will turn any picture into a puzzle — you can probably find hundreds of such services online. One thing that recently occurred to me is that if you took two (or more) pictures and sent them to the same service to turn these into jigsaw puzzles, then perhaps you could mix up (or mash up) 2 pictures with each other. With more pictures, you could make even more varied mosaics.

There’s a saying that a picture is worth 1000 words — and if you turn a picture into a 1000-piece puzzle, then I guess it sort of becomes a 1000-word statement (maybe a very long sentence, or perhaps a more complex structure — a composition, an essay, etc.).

Just as I can say “a green car drove down the street”, I can also say “a red car drove down the street”. In this sense, the words “green” and “red” are interchangeable puzzle pieces. Linguists (e.g. Noam Chomsky) have written about how words sometimes don’t seem to fit properly in sentences — I guess that would be like trying to fit a puzzle piece in a place that doesn’t match or fit together the way a puzzle should.

I don’t know why I am fascinated with this metaphor — maybe it’s because I also view information on the Internet as being a distributed but nonetheless coherent whole. For example: the information at twitter.com can be seen as one piece, the information at hotels.com can be seen as another piece. Both of these pieces (of the Internet) might have something to say about “luxury” or “vacation” (and indeed: I expect a site like luxury.com and/or vacation.com might also have something to say about “twitter” or “hotels”). Different pieces of the Internet could be woven together to create different statements, different images, different mosaics, different perspectives on what might be either one and the same objective reality or perhaps simply different points of view.

What a complicated web we weave!

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