summing up 65

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.

  • rage against the machines, in many ways, we are our greatest technological constraint. the slow and steady march of human evolution has fallen out of step with technological progress: evolution occurs on millennial time scales, whereas processing power doubles roughly every other year. our ancestors who lived in caves would have found it advantageous to have very strong, perhaps almost hyperactive pattern-recognition skills - to be able to identify in a split-second whether that rustling in the leaves over yonder was caused by the wind or by an encroaching grizzly bear. nowadays, in a fast-paced world awash in numbers and statistics, those same tendencies can get us into trouble: when presented with a series of random numbers, we see patterns where there aren't any. we have to view technology as what it always has been - a tool for the betterment of the human condition. we should neither worship at the altar of technology nor be frightened by it. nobody has yet designed, and perhaps no one ever will, a computer that thinks like a human being. but computers are themselves a reflection of human progress and human ingenuity: it is not really "artificial" intelligence if a human designed the artifice. highly recommended
  • the sixth stage of grief is retro-computing, technology is what we share. i don't mean "we share the experience of technology." i mean: by my lights, people very often share technologies with each other when they talk. strategies. ideas for living our lives. we do it all the time. parenting email lists share strategies about breastfeeding and bedtime. quotes from the dalai lama. we talk neckties, etiquette, and minecraft, and tell stories that give us guidance as to how to live. a tremendous part of daily life regards the exchange of technologies. we are good at it. it's so simple as to be invisible. can i borrow your scissors? do you want tickets? i know guacamole is extra. the world of technology isn't separate from regular life. it's made to seem that way because of, well... capitalism. tribal dynamics. territoriality. because there is a need to sell technology, to package it, to recoup the terrible investment. so it becomes this thing that is separate from culture. a product. highly recommended
  • worse is better is worse, the real quarrel with the paper i have is about what it teaches people. it warps the minds of youth. it is never a good idea to intentionally aim for anything less than the best, though one might have to compromise in order to succeed. maybe richard means one should aim high but make sure you shoot - sadly he didn't say that. he said "worse is better," and though it might be an attractive, mind-grabbing headline seducing people into reading his paper, it teaches the wrong lesson - a lesson he may not intend, or a lesson poorly stated. i know he can say the right thing, and i wish he had (pdf)
  • airport codes: a history and explanation of airport abcs

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