summing up 70

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.

  • a whole new world, shipping often is a great way to achieve short-term business gains and a great way to discover what your customer wants. but when you're a programmer, and you are the customer, and you're writing the system, and you've been using these tools for 20 years, you don't need customer discovery. you need to go off and sit in a hammock for a couple of years and think hard. the thing which i find surprising is that we have not only all this legacy, but we have a paralysis around it. we can't even imagine replacing it. highly recommended
  • the real computer revolution hasn't happened yet, by alan kay. so we had a sense that the personal computer's ability to imitate other media would both help it to become established in society, and that this would also make if very difficult for most people to understand what it actually was. our thought was: but if we can get the children to learn the real thing then in a few generations the big change will happen. 32 years later the technologies that our research community invented are in general use by more than a billion people, and we have gradually learned how to teach children the real thing. but it looks as though the actual revolution will take longer than our optimism suggested, largely because the commercial and educational interests in the old media and modes of thought have frozen personal computing pretty much at the "imitation of paper, recordings, film and tv" level. recommended
  • datacide, we were told to surf the web, but in the end, the web serf'd us. the right way is to turn off, buy in and cash out. reinforce the grand narrative and talk about how social is going to bring people together, not just online, but in the real world. how it will augment our interactions and make us more open. how in five years you'll be able to meet your true love through an algorithm that correlates your itunes activity to your medical history and how that algorithm will be worth a billion fucking dollars. and it's through that magical cloud of squandered human potential that skinner emerges once again and starts poking his finger into your brain. we are not going to escape this crisis by putting ourselves in a cage. there is no opt-out anymore. you can draw the blinds, deadlock your door, smash your smartphone, and only carry cash, but you'll still get caught up in their all-seeing algorithmic gaze. they've datafied your car, your city and even your snail mail. this is not a conspiracy, it's the status quo, and we've been too busy displacing our anxiety into their tidy little containers to realize what's going on. recommended
  • the computer revolution hasn't happened yet (transcript), by alan kay. i'm going to use a metaphor for this talk which is drawn from a wonderful book called the act of creation by arthur koestler. one of the great books he wrote was about what might creativity be. he realized that learning, of course, is an act of creation itself, because something happens in you that wasn't there before. he used a metaphor of thoughts as ants crawling on a plane. in this case it's a pink plane, and there's a lot of things you can do on a pink plane. you can have goals. you can choose directions. you can move along. but you're basically in the pink context. it means that progress, in a fixed context, is almost always a form of optimization, because if you're actually coming up with something new, it wouldn't have been part of the rules or the context for what the pink plane is all about. creative acts, generally, are ones that don't stay in the same context that they're in. he says, every once in a while, even though you have been taught carefully by parents and by school for many years, you have a blue idea. maybe when you're taking a shower. maybe when you're out jogging. maybe when you're resting in an unguarded moment, suddenly, that thing that you were puzzling about, wondering about, looking at, appears to you in a completely different light, as though it were something else. he also pointed out that you have to have something blue to have blue thoughts with. i think this is generally missed in people who specialize to the extent of anything else. when you specialize, you are basically putting yourself into a mental state where optimization is pretty much all you can do. you have to learn lots of different kinds of things in order to have the start of these other contexts

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