summing up 58

i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.

  • visualizing algorithms, so, why visualize algorithms? why visualize anything? to leverage the human visual system to improve understanding. or more simply, to use vision to think. highly recommended
  • what scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit? the mediocrity principle, the reason this is so essential to science is that it's the beginning of understanding how we came to be here and how everything works. we look for general principles that apply to the universe as a whole first, and those explain much of the story; and then we look for the quirks and exceptions that led to the details. it's a strategy that succeeds and is useful in gaining a deeper knowledge. starting with a presumption that a subject of interest represents a violation of the properties of the universe, that it was poofed uniquely into existence with a specific purpose, and that the conditions of its existence can no longer apply, means that you have leapt to an unfounded and unusual explanation with no legitimate reason. what the mediocrity principle tells us is that our state is not the product of intent, that the universe lacks both malice and benevolence, but that everything does follow rules - and that grasping those rules should be the goal of science
  • intuitive equals familiar, as an interface designer i am often asked to design a "better" interface to some product. usually one can be designed such that, in terms of learning time, eventual speed of operation (productivity), decreased error rates, and ease of implementation it is superior to competing or the client's own products. even where my proposals are seen as significant improvements, they are often rejected nonetheless on the grounds that they are not intuitive. it is a classic "catch 22." the client wants something that is significantly superior to the competition. but if superior, it cannot be the same, so it must be different (typically the greater the improvement, the greater the difference). therefore it cannot be intuitive, that is, familiar
  • "i think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we're tool-builders. i read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. the condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. and humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list; it was not too proud of a showing for the crown of creation. so, that didn't look so good. but then somebody at scientific american had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. and a man on a bicycle-or a human on a bicycle-blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. and that's what a computer is to me. what a computer is to me is, it's the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. and it's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds", steve jobs
  • what's on your mind? short film by shaun higton