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August 04
2014 年8月4日

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最近與老同學見面,難得高興小聚一番。

聚會時,知道這很久才得的小聚,被認為是小幸福。小聚後,朋友開車送我回旅館,差點被轉彎的車子碰到,如此的幸運,朋友叫它小確幸。

馬路上有人騎著富有創意又小巧玲瓏的摺疊式自行車,稱為小摺。也有女生的穿著被同車的人看成是小可愛,這小可愛指的可不是路上的行人,而是小女生身上半長不短的衣服。

最近雲端科技甚囂塵上。許多電腦資料、通訊數據、手機傳播……藉著雲端的大數據來取樣處理,所以大數據(big data)是個熱門的論題。與大數據相對應的就是小數據,數據太多或太少都令人煩惱:太多則不易整理出頭緒;反之,如果只有極少量的數據甚至沒有數據,則雖然該下個結論卻又不易下結論。如此這般,無論數據太多或是太少,都難以做出可靠的推論。

台灣可愛,但是再可愛的人不能隨便當小三,也不要隨便被冠上小王的稱謂。當然,只有小可愛也許是不夠的;這裡的小可愛指的可是「小小的可愛」,並不是小女生穿的衣服。

Small is beautiful。只要安全可靠,小也可以是美。

註:本文曾載於聯合報(2014年7月19日)。

The many meanings of xiao (small)

I recently learned during a rare and enjoyable xiao ju (private gathering) with some old friends that such get-togethers are considered xiao xingfu (a little happiness).

On the drive back to my hotel, my friend and I had xiao quexing (a small piece of luck) when we almost collided with another vehicle.

On the streets, we saw cyclists riding innovative, dainty xiao zhe (small folding-bicycles) as well as young female pedestrians wearing short skirts that my fellow passengers in the car referred to as xiao ke'ai. The term usually means "darling little baby", but in this case they were referring to the short skirts the women were wearing.

Small and big are ambiguous terms these days. As devices and chips get smaller, huge amounts of computer, communication and dissemination data can be sampled and processed in the thriving world of cloud technology.

Data can be perplexing when it is either too big or too small. Too big, and it is not easy to figure out the right way to handle it; when too small, or non-existent, a conclusion might be hard to come by. In fact, it is difficult to come to a decision reliably as to whether or not data is too big or too small.

No matter how lovely (ke'ai) Taiwan is, it should not allow itself to become casually labeled as xiao san (a third person). Of course, for Taiwan, just being xiao ke'ai is not enough, with xiao ke'ai meaning "lovely to a certain extent" in this context, rather than referencing the skirts women wear.

Small is beautiful, as long as it is safe and reliable.

Note:
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (19 July, 2014).

4 August, 2014

 

 

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