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What is the uncanny?

November 1, 2010

How I went about answering the question, what is the uncanny?

I made a plan to research ‘the uncanny’

1. look up uncanny in a dictionary
2. google the term “what is the uncanny?”
3. check other sites to confirm information found on the web
4. tweet the question

First I looked up in the English dictionary the definition for Uncanny – “Strange or mysterious, esp in an unsettling way: an uncanny feeling that she was being watched

Then I looked up Canny – “having or showing shrewdness and good judgement, esp. in money or business matters:  canny shoppers came early for a bargain” or “Scottish & N. English pleasant; nice: she’s a canny lass

Next I googled the question. From wikipedia – Uncanny is defined in a simplistic way “The Uncanny is a Freudian concept of an instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange”

On the first page of google result the term “Uncanny Valley” comes up, which is a theory commonly used in tv, flim, robotics and animation, in reference to how characters become more life like, the more humans don’t like them. This is explained in videos, wikipedia and on  blogs.

I completed my plan, but then my research became a little unstructured and distracted by the Uncanny Valley term. At the time of publishing this post, I didn’t have a responses to my tweet.

What is the uncanny? [ in one sentence?]
My answer is:
Uncanny is when something is familiar, but unfamiliar at the same time, resulting in a strange feeling like a coincidence or deja vu, for example when you are about to call a friend and the phone rings with that friend calling you.

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