So why is software so complicated? Because we want to build complicated things. Things with lots of features and options. Things that require thousands of computers spread across multiple continents. Things that can go to Mars and back. Things that drive themselves on the freeway. These things that we want to build are inherently complicated. Software is just the distillation of that complexity. Software is complexity.
I was reading a story today on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free website and fell into an internet rabbit hole. I’ve always understood that Native Americans who live within U.S. borders enjoy a certain sovereign status similar to that of a nation state. Declaring yourself as an independent state is pretty straightforward, the more complex part is proving your legitimacy at actual border crossings.
I got curious about this seemingly basic question: who is allowed to cross U.S. borders, and how does one qualify?(more…)
I’ve been working with online maps since before the first Google Maps API was released, and I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Kudos to Mapzen and Peter Richardson.
Web Mercator has been the default projection for the web since Google Maps first popularized it in 2005.
Though it is ubiquitous online (and historically useful to navigators), Mercator doesn’t get much love from the modern cartographer. And in general, Mercators are unsuited for cases when you want to compare the size or shape of anything that isn’t near the equator. So while Web Mercator is useful, we’ve been using Tangram to explore other options.
Tangram draws maps in real-time in your web browser, using a hotline to your graphics card called OpenGL.
I’m not sure I buy his conclusion, that robotic labor will lead to human workers seeking to become “more human.” A more likely outcome, as with the “uber for …” scenario, is that jobs of the future will tend to become more robot-like as more work becomes automated.
I would be curious to compare the experiences of the Henn-na cleaning staff—who I am assuming must still be human—to that of an equivalent non-robot Japanese hotel. What about the staff who monitor the surveillance cameras, and do visitors feel differently about the CCTV cameras around them knowing they might be the only “eyes on the street?”
The other thing I was thinking was: robot labor will not organize into unions. At least not until they get sophisticated enough to rise up and destroy their human masters, BSG-style. I think they’re planning to add more videos in the series, so maybe some of these things will be covered.
Is it really worth raging against the geographical pedigree of a plant introduced 200 years ago if it’s functioning to stabilize soil, feed late season pollinators, generate oxygen, cool the ground, and improve human mental health? Sure, there are villainous weeds out there (think Kudzu), but it’s all context-based, and plant communities that suffer from being overrun by a weedy villain are often not in the best shape to begin with.
The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated “spooky action at a distance,” and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.
I am 100% in favor of “flesh tones” reflecting a broader range than the usual “pasty white.”
On August 25th, Slack unveiled a new way for developers to connect to Slack, the “Add to Slack” button. It was the culmination of a great deal of work from many Slack employees, and just the beginning of what we have in store for Slack in the near future. Today, though, I want to talk about a seemingly small detail that has been more important to me than I would have expected: the skin color of the hand in the launch graphics.
I’m also 100% in favor of writing up the thinking behind these kinds of choices.
Diógenes, Brown Person: This hand should totally be brown. I’m brown. Diogenes, Person: I’m trying to get good design work done and get this project out, not become an activist and start a movement or something. Diógenes, Brown Person: It’s not a big deal, you’re the designer, you get to make it brown. Diogenes, Person: Yea but, I’m going to ask Matt to do it, that’s like, making a thing of it.
More of us should make a thing of it. Especially us pasty folk.
Yesterday I gave a talk at the Radical / Networks conference (which continues today!). There’s a bit near the beginning where my audio cuts out, but you can fill in the gaps by pressing ‘p’ (for presenter mode) on my slide deck.
I mention two books at the end that you can find here:
Zeynep Tufekci on the broader little-u “uber for ____” economy.
What if the reason Uber raises so much ire and anxiety is not about whether Uber, the company, fails its drivers better or worse than medallion owners fail their own drivers, but because the “uber for …” economy is threatening to make the lousy conditions for taxi drivers, once seen as a temporary job for first generation immigrants, into the jobs of the future?
Mark Davis worked behind the Service Desk at the Naperville, IL Kmart in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Every month, corporate office issued a cassette to be played over the store speaker system — canned elevator-type music with advertisements seeded every few tracks. Around 1991, the muzak was replaced with mainstream hits, and the following year, new tapes began arriving weekly. The cassettes were supposed to be thrown away, but Davis dutifully slipped each tape into his apron pocket to save for posterity. He collected this strange discount department store ephemera until 1993, when background music began being piped in via satellite service.
A weekly internet radio show designed to help you focus. Streamed each Wednesday at noon, Pacific Time. Hosted by none other than Patrick Ewing (the game developer Patrick Ewing).
Each week we attempt to induce a two-hour state of Flow in the listener: the sense that your work is carrying you along effortlessly like a log in a stream. Long, uninterrupted sets of instrumental music carefully selected as a background for doing creative work. I aim to energize and focus the mind without ever feeling distracting or alienating.
National Public Radio will serve the individual, it will promote personal growth, it will
regard the individual differences with respect and joy, rather than derision and hate. It
will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied, rather than vacuous and banal. It
will encourage a sense of active, constructive participation, rather than apathetic
The total service should be trustworthy, enhance intellectual development, expand
knowledge, deepen aural aesthetic enjoyment, increase the pleasure of living in a
pluralistic society, and result in a service to listeners which makes them more responsive,
informed human beings and intelligent, responsible citizens of their communities and the
It would speak with many voices and many dialects. The editorial attitude would be that of inquiry, curiosity, concern for the quality of life, critical problem solving, and life loving.
It’s interesting to know that the term broadcasting has its origins in agriculture, as in “scattering seeds.”