sspela + essays   90

Making, an essay
Today, my main business is running a small amusement arcade on a seaside pier in the UK (The Under The Pier Show, Southwold Pier). It’s unusual because all the machines are home-made, mostly by me. I feel very lucky to have it. Anytime I can go down to the pier and see people enjoying using my machines and having a good time. This keeps me working, encouraging me to make the next machine.

Then at the end of each week I empty the coins. They are so heavy I can’t lift them all – it feels like real money. And it really is a wonderful way to live – no schmoozing with people in power, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, no cheques from stupid projects that should never have been funded anyway, and no exaggerating the truth to get grants.

Goldberg’s machines are always described as useless and my machines are too. But they both made us enough money to live off, which is quite useful. Also making people laugh is useful, a lot more beneficial than many ‘serious’ advances in technology like yet another new computer operating system. My aunt Lis, who is very religious, describes my arcade as my ministry.
rubegoldberg  making  essays 
november 2017 by sspela
If wishes were fishes | Essay | Edition 32: Wicked Problems, Exquisite Dilemmas | Griffith REVIEW
Our model needed to play with this reality. Poke holes in the intractable, loosen up the strings that bind the fishers, just like the rest of us, to their everyday habits. Be fun. Be funny. Be the comedy that ignites hope.
models  games  deborahcleland  fish  play  essays  fun  fishing 
march 2013 by sspela
Neil Gaiman - Where do you get your ideas?
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it. You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if...?
whatif  ideas  noticing  neilgaiman  boredom  essays  questions 
march 2013 by sspela
None
"An adventure game, curiously, is one of the most satisfying of works to have written: perhaps because one can always polish it a little further, perhaps because it has so many hidden and secret possibilities, perhaps because something is made as well as written."
games  chooseyourownadventure  narrative  interactivefiction  play  *****  grahamnelson  essays  scoring  adventure  storytelling  interactive  puzzles  design 
march 2013 by sspela
None
"The machine can save a lot of time and trouble (and sometimes take a lot of time and make a lot or trouble); but the fact that the results come out of a computer not give them any special authority--possibly the contrary, on account of the second point."
[...]
"The computer is able to make silly mistakes at fantastic speed and with complete reliability, if somewhere along the way we instructed it to make those mistakes."
[...]
"The computer does not substitute a superior intelligence, it solves the problem the way a reliable, highspeed idiot would solve."
[...]
"An equally impressive thing about the computer is that a properly instructed idiot could usually do its job. (He'd just never get the job done.)"
instructions  stupidity  essays  abm  programming  simulations  models  idiots  computers  pdf  thomasschelling 
november 2012 by sspela
Thomas C. Schelling and the Computer
When Schelling presented his model in the years between 1969 and 1978, his own analysis was based on manual table top exercises. Even more, Schelling explicitly warned against using computers for the analysis of his model. That is puzzling. A resolution to that puzzle can be found in an essay that Schelling wrote as teaching material for his students. That essay is now made public by Schelling in JASSS, exactly 40 years after it was written. In his essay, Schelling gives a guided tour of a computer implementation of his model he himself implemented, despite his warnings.
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/15/4/9/Schelling_Th_C_1972._On_Letting_a_Computer_Help_with_the_Work._JASSS.pdf
programming  speed  stupidity  instructions  idiots  pdf  simulation  computers  essays  thomasschelling 
november 2012 by sspela
There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster
The denial of the naturalness of disasters is in no way a denial of natural process. Earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards, droughts and hurricanes are certainly events of nature that require a knowledge of geophysics, physical geography or climatology to comprehend. Whether a natural event is a disaster or not depends ultimately, however, on its location.
location  essays  disaster  tsunamis  earthquakes  hurricanes  naturaldisasters  neilsmith  geography 
october 2012 by sspela
SimCity Essay
What makes interaction with computers so powerfully absorbing - for better and worse - is the way computers can transform the exchange between reader and text into a feedback loop. Every response you make provokes a reaction from the computer, which leads to a new response, and so on, as the loop from the screen to your eyes to your fingers on the keyboard to the computer to the screen becomes a single cybernetic circuit. [...]
[SimCity creator] noticed after a while that [he] was having more fun building islands than blowing them up."
[...]
"Learning and winning (or, in the case of a non-competitive "software toy," "reaching one's goals at") a computer game is a process of demystification: one succeeds by discovering how the software is put together."

[http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/660/575]
systems  play  learning  winning  decisions  computers  loops  cybernetics  feedback  simulations  games  simcity  essays  interactive  tedfriedman 
july 2012 by sspela
Hayek, The Use of Knowledge in Society | Library of Economics and Liberty
"It is, perhaps, worth stressing that economic problems arise always and only in consequence of change. So long as things continue as before, or at least as they were expected to, there arise no new problems requiring a decision, no need to form a new plan."
problems  society  economy  friedrichhayek  change  essays  knowledge 
january 2012 by sspela
A Rough Guide to Disney World - NYTimes.com
"[...] Disney had to deceive the government of Florida, [he] pitched Disney World to Florida not as a resort but as a real city. You’ve heard of Epcot. [...] The reality [..] is that Disney never really meant for people to live permanently at Epcot. [...] If your town has residents, then those people are citizens of some local government of the United States — yours. [...] They can vote against you. That hardly made sense as part of a corporate development strategy. But without municipality status, Disney wouldn’t be able to secure the legislative fief it ended up getting, with ludicrous tax advantages, unprecedented oversight of land and water usage, of building codes, etc. For that you needed inhabitants. [...] [T]hese maneuvers leave Disney World in an ambiguous category of legitimacy. It receives the breaks that an autonomous political settlement would have enjoyed (and then some), but it never has had any settlers. Strictly speaking Disney World shouldn't exist."
essays  johnjeremiahsullivan  epcot  advantages  citizens  taxes  government  inhabitants  cities  usa  florida  disneyworld  waltdisney  disney 
january 2012 by sspela
The American Scholar: Solitude and Leadership - William Deresiewicz
"Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along." [...]

"[O]ne of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask."
essays  trust  questions  work  thinking  excellence  bureaucracy  friendship  williamderesiewicz  leadership  solitude 
december 2011 by sspela
How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later
It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it.
universe  change  chaos  philipkdick  essays 
december 2011 by sspela
The Overjustification Effect « You Are Not So Smart
"Extrinsic motivations are easy to quantify, and can be demonstrated in bar graphs or tallied on a calculator. [...] [Y]ou do [some things] just because they fulfill you, or they make you feel like you are becoming better at a task, or that you are a master of your destiny, or that you play a role in the grand scheme of things, or that you are helping society in some way. Intrinsic rewards demonstrate to yourself and others the value of being you. They are blurry and difficult to quantify. [...] If you pay people to complete puzzles instead of paying them for being smart, they lose interest in the game. If you pay children to draw, fun becomes work."
davodmcraney  psychology  motivation  happiness  money  rewards  work  essays 
december 2011 by sspela
Kenneth Goldsmith - If It Doesn't Exist on the Internet, It Doesn't Exist
"[...] if it's not networked, it doesn't exist; if it's not able to be shared, it doesn't exist. Older media needs to be digitized in order to exist."
[...]
"Used to be that if you wanted to be subversive and radical, you'd publish on the web, [...]. Shhhh... the new radicalism is paper. Right. Publish it on a printed page and no one will ever know about it. It's the perfect vehicle for terrorists, plagiarists, and for subversive thoughts in general. In closing, if you don't want it to exist -- and there are many reasons to want to keep things private -- keep it off the web."
networks  kennethgoldsmith  internet  publishing  paper  sharing  essays 
november 2011 by sspela
6 Guys in a Capsule: 520 Days on a Simulated Mars Mission | Magazine
In their sealed lair, astronauts aboard Mars500 will have journeyed to a remote and unique psychological place—to a new planet that we won’t ever wholly understand, even after the data is crunched. They went on a mission and they came home, as travelers always do, changed in ways that they will forever protect as secret, and also in ways they may never quite fathom themselves.
essays  billdonahue  mars500  isolation  psychology  experiments  esa  simulations 
november 2011 by sspela
Catastrophic Prototyping and Other Stories | levitylab
"First, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. The ambitious projects I had undertaken in the past “failed” because I made the mistake of not proving out the core ideas in prototypes. You can’t send a rocket to the moon if you haven’t first experimented with launching simple toy rockets."
chaimgingold  doingstuff  prototyping  projects  ideas  mistakes  essays 
october 2011 by sspela
Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better? : The New Yorker
"“Is that really where you want it?” he said. Osteen’s voice was a low, car-engine growl, tinged with the accent of his boyhood in Savannah, Georgia, and it took me a couple of years to realize that it was not his voice that scared me but his questions. He was invariably trying to get residents to think—to think like surgeons—and his questions exposed how much we had to learn." “He never tells you what to do, [i]nstead, he suggests to you, in an extraordinarily inarticulate fashion, what you want to do yourself.”
teaching  thinking  performance  *****  questions  essays  learning  atulgawande  coaching  surgery 
october 2011 by sspela
What Are You Going to Do With That? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"The problem with specialization is that it makes you into a specialist. It cuts you off, not only from everything else in the world, but also from everything else in yourself. [...] It's just that, as you get deeper and deeper into the funnel, into the tunnel, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember who you once were. You start to wonder what happened to that person who played piano and lacrosse and sat around with her friends having intense conversations about life and politics and all the things she was learning in her classes. The 19-year-old who could do so many things, and was interested in so many things, has become a 40-year-old who thinks about only one thing. That's why older people are so boring."
education  humanities  life  specialization  williamderesiewicz  essays 
october 2011 by sspela
Shareable: Architectural Myopia: Designing for Industry, Not People
Have you ever looked at a bizarre building design and wondered, “what were the architects thinking?” [...] You might be forgiven for thinking “these architects must be blind!” [...] New research shows that in a real sense, you might actually be right. [...] Not only do architects notice and look for different aspects of the environment than other people; their brains seem to synthesize an understanding of the world that has notable differences from natural reality. [...] The phenomenon of “architectural myopia” may also explain the repeated mistakes that architects make in fashioning built environments for others, which turn out to be woefully unsuccessful in what may seem obvious ways to laypeople.
mistakes  architects  thinking  psychology  buildings  essays  myopia  architecture  design 
october 2011 by sspela
The Search for a More Perfect Kilogram | Magazine
"[O]f the seven fundamental metric units—the kilogram, meter, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, and candela—only the kilogram is still dependent on a physical artifact. [...] The American prototype is one of some four dozen such national standards around the world, and each of those, in turn, is accountable to an even higher authority: a regal artifact called the international prototype kilogram. Familiarly known as Le Grand K and held in a vault just outside of Paris under three bell jars, it dates back to the 1880s, when it was forged by the British metallurgist George Matthey from an alloy of nine-tenths platinum and one-tenth iridium."
science  kilogram  kg  legrandk  metrics  mass  metricunits  jonathonkeats  essays  standards 
october 2011 by sspela
The importance of stupidity in scientific research
"Science makes me feel stupid too. It's just that I've gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn't know what to do without that feeling. I even think it's supposed to be this way."
science  research  stupidity  essays  martinaschwartz 
october 2011 by sspela
What geography ought to be
One of the first things a child asks his mother is: 'What becomes of the sun when it goes down? -- and as soon as he has read two descriptions of travel, in polar and in tropical countries, necessarily he will ask why palms do not grow in Greenland,' We are bound then to give notions of cosmography and physical geography from the earliest childhood. Of course, we cannot explain to a child what the ocean is if we do not show it a pond or a lake close by; and what a gulf is, if we do not point out to it a creek on the banks of a river. It is only on minor inequalities of ground around us that we can give children an idea of mountains and table-lands, of peaks and glaciers; and it is only on the map of its own village, or town, that the child can be brought to understand the conventional hieroglyphs of our maps.
mountains  geography  maps  whatisgeography  essays  children  travel  learning  rivers  imagination  peterkropotkin 
september 2011 by sspela
CABINET // Think with Me about Your Extension of Now
"Meteorology, in feudal times a matter of life and death, originated from a real need due to its ability to prolong the "now" to include tomorrow's weather, taking our much too suspended reality for a pleasant ride into the future. Like a time traveler, weather predictions are able to get a small part of the yet abstract future and include it in our cultivated sense of space."
essays  time  now  longnow  olafureliasson  weather  meteorology 
september 2011 by sspela
CABINET // Deceptionists at War
"[D]eception is the intentional distortion of another’s perceived reality and can be divided into two clear categories: dissimulation (hiding the real), and simulation (showing the false). Within dissimulation, he identifies three modes: masking (hiding the real by making it invisible), repackaging (hiding the real by disguising), and dazzling (hiding 
the real by confusion). Under simulation, he describes 
mimicking (showing the false through imitation), 
inventing (showing the false by displaying a different reality), and decoying (showing the false by diverting attention). Elsewhere, Whaley compared this taxonomy of deception with the strategies used by professional magicians and discovered a distinct correspondence in the order of decreasing effectiveness within both fields. He further noted that both military tacticians and magicians frequently combined strategies from each category in highly inventive and targeted ways.
"
deception  magic  war  tactic  hiding  simulations  dissimulation  disguise  military  essays  jonathanallen  simulation 
september 2011 by sspela
CABINET // Colors / Black
"The space of refusal is also the space of imagination. You can sit in the darkness for as long as you like, staring blindly at nothing, and see what you will. Maybe that’s the reason why caves, which are the Fort Knox of blackness, were the first sacred places. In the total darkness of caves, human beings rubbed their eyes until they saw weird patterns in the dark: gods, they thought."
black  colors  caves  imagination  darkness  nothing  religion  god  paullafarge  essays 
september 2011 by sspela
ANNALS OF THE ROAD: GETTING THERE : The New Yorker
"Being told where you are, however, is not the same as knowing where you are."
geography  gps  directions  driving  navigation  place  maps  nickpaumgarten  essays 
august 2011 by sspela
CABINET // How to Make Anything Signify Anything
"The photograph was an enduring reminder, then, of Friedman’s favorite axiom—and he was so fond of the phrase that some fifty years later he had it inscribed as the epitaph on his tomb in Arlington National Cemetery.2 It captures a formative moment in a life spent looking for more than meets the eye, and it remained Friedman’s most cherished example of how, using the art and science of codes, it was possible to make anything signify anything."
interesting  cryptography  steganography  language  meaning  codes  francisbacon  williamfriedman  secrets  essays  ***** 
august 2011 by sspela
Fuller & Jenkins: Nintendo and New World Travel Writing
"Nintendo®'s central feature is its constant presentation of spectacular spaces (or "worlds," to use the game parlance). Its landscapes dwarf characters who serve, in turn, primarily as vehicles for players to move through these remarkable places. Once immersed in playing, we don't really care whether we rescue Princess Toadstool or not; all that matters is staying alive long enough to move between levels, to see what spectacle awaits us on the next screen. "
nintendo  essays  maryfuller  henryjenkins  cyberspace  simulations 
august 2011 by sspela
Civilization Essay
[Simulations'] primary narrative agent is geography. Simulation games tell a story few other media can: the drama of a map changing over time. [...] The map is not merely the environment for the story; it's the hero of the story.
tedfriedman  games  geography  maps  civilization  *****  essays  tetris  simulations  space 
august 2011 by sspela
An Academic Author’s Unintentional Masterpiece - NYTimes.com
Academic writing sucks!

"[I] now look forward to a new book in which Fried advances his habit of recessive deferral to the extent that he doesn’t get round to what he wants to say until after the book is finished, until it’s time to start the next one (which will be spent entirely on looking back on what was said in the previous volume)."
academia  writing  michaelfried  essays  research  papers 
july 2011 by sspela
Will the Humanities Save Us? - NYTimes.com
To the question “of what use are the humanities?”, the only honest answer is none whatsoever. And it is an answer that brings honor to its subject. Justification, after all, confers value on an activity from a perspective outside its performance. An activity that cannot be justified is an activity that refuses to regard itself as instrumental to some larger good. The humanities are their own good.
essays  humanities  education  stanleyfish 
july 2011 by sspela
Bret Victor, beast of burden
This essay describes what dynamic pictures are, what dynamic drawing is, why the subject is so important, and some initial project ideas.
interesting  programming  bretvictor  dynamic  pictures  essays 
july 2011 by sspela
Bret Victor, beast of burden
the most interesting spatial landmark is usually “here.”
essays  gui  interface  graphical  bretvictor 
july 2011 by sspela
http://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/papers/ComputersCantThink.txt
We can hardly expect to be able to make machines do wonders before we find how to make them do ordinary, sensible things. The earliest computer programs were little more than simple lists and loops of commands like "Do this. Do that. Do this and that and this again until that happens".
[...]
"Why could we make programs do those grown-up things before we could make them do those childish things? The answer is a somewhat unexpected paradox: much "expert" adult thinking is basically much simpler than what happens in a child's ordinary play! It can be harder to be a novice than to be an expert! This is because, sometimes, what an expert needs to know and do can be quite simple -- only, it may be very hard to discover, or learn, in the first place. Thus, Galileo had to be smart indeed, to see the need for calculus. He didn't manage to invent it. Yet any good student can learn it today."
machines  essays  learning  computers  thinking  experts  beginners 
june 2011 by sspela
West 86th - Paperwork Explosion
"Once again the music accelerates as a series of faces and voices speed across the screen: “Machines should work — people should think — machines — should work — people — should think — machines — should — work — people — should — think.”
machines  video  essays  paper  office 
may 2011 by sspela
An Algorithm for the Names at the 9/11 Memorial : The New Yorker
"Like Administration officials recounting the milestones in the bin Laden search, Daniels enumerated some of the now surmounted obstacles. The big break in the case, it turns out, was the invention of an algorithm for sorting the [names of the] dead."
algorithm  names  9/11  sorting  nickpaumgarten  essays 
may 2011 by sspela
Our Local Correspondents: Up and Then Down : The New Yorker
"The elevator, underrated and overlooked, is to the city what paper is to reading and gunpowder is to war. Without the elevator, there would be no verticality, no density, and, without these, none of the urban advantages of energy efficiency, economic productivity, and cultural ferment. The population of the earth would ooze out over its surface, like an oil slick, and we would spend even more time stuck in traffic or on trains, traversing a vast carapace of concrete."
elevators  cities  geography  essays  nickpaumgarten 
may 2011 by sspela
Creative Generalist
Generalism is not simply a nice-to-have; it’s essential that someone focus on everything.
creativity  generalism  geography  essays 
april 2011 by sspela
The Power of the Marginal
The word "try" is an especially valuable component. I disagree here with Yoda, who said there is no try. There is try. It implies there's no punishment if you fail. You're driven by curiosity instead of duty. That means the wind of procrastination will be in your favor: instead of avoiding this work, this will be what you do as a way of avoiding other work. And when you do it, you'll be in a better mood.
paulgraham  essays  doingstuff  procrastination  work  trying 
january 2011 by sspela
Taste for Makers
Most of the people who've made beautiful things seem to have done it by fixing something that they thought ugly. Great work usually seems to happen because someone sees something and thinks, I could do better than that. [...] Intolerance for ugliness is not in itself enough. You have to understand a field well before you develop a good nose for what needs fixing. You have to do your homework. But as you become expert in a field, you'll start to hear little voices saying, What a hack! There must be a better way. Don't ignore those voices. Cultivate them. The recipe for great work is: very exacting taste, plus the ability to gratify it.
fixingthings  greatwork  paulgraham  essays  taste  doingstuff 
january 2011 by sspela
Six Principles for Making New Things
Here it is: I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.
paulgraham  essays  doingstuff  problems 
january 2011 by sspela
THE ART OF?Puzzle Game Design
The job of the puzzle designer is exactly that, to create threats and obstacles that are appropriate to the story and the setting, and to give the player the means to solve those problems in a way that make sense within the story’s genre.
games  puzzle  essays 
january 2011 by sspela
Long Live the Web: Scientific American
The world wide web went live, on my physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1990. It consisted of one Web site and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer. The simple setup demonstrated a profound concept: that any person could share information with anyone else, anywhere. In this spirit, the Web spread quickly from the grassroots up. Today, at its 20th anniversary, the Web is thoroughly integrated into our daily lives. We take it for granted, expecting it to “be there” at any instant, like electricity.
web  internet  timbernerslee  essays 
november 2010 by sspela
Hire Art: Five Artists on What It Means to Work Today - Design - GOOD
Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow. Let’s scratch our heads and give up and wake up and try it again. Let’s fail at digging the well the first three times to get it right the fourth. Let’s build faster horses, and then strap rocket ships onto them. Let’s start a company, let’s watch it fail, and then let’s start another one.

Let’s be the boss. Let’s take the boss down. Let’s order too much of something just to see where our limits are. Let’s take a chance precisely because it might fail. Let’s take the hard way out. Let’s go to the moon. Fuck it; let’s go to the moon again. [...]
work  essays  mistakes 
october 2010 by sspela
The Top Idea in Your Mind
"I think most people have one top idea in their mind at any given time. That's the idea their thoughts will drift toward when they're allowed to drift freely. And this idea will thus tend to get all the benefit of that type of thinking, while others are starved of it. Which means it's a disaster to let the wrong idea become the top one in your mind."
ideas  thinking  paulgraham  essays  *****  doingstuff 
july 2010 by sspela
Exclusive: Newly Published Mark Twain Essay, 'Concerning the Interview' | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS
"The Interview was not a happy invention. It is perhaps the poorest of all ways of getting at what is in a man. In the first place, the interviewer is the reverse of an inspiration, because you are afraid of him. "
interview  marktwain  essays 
july 2010 by sspela
DNA/How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet
What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.
internet  trust  douglasadams  essays 
may 2010 by sspela
In Praise of Idleness By Bertrand Russell
If you ask him [an actual worker] what he thinks the best part of his life, he is not likely to say: 'I enjoy manual work because it makes me feel that I am fulfilling man's noblest task, and because I like to think how much man can transform his planet. It is true that my body demands periods of rest, which I have to fill in as best I may, but I am never so happy as when the morning comes and I can return to the toil from which my contentment springs.' I have never heard working men say this sort of thing. They consider work, as it should be considered, a necessary means to a livelihood, and it is from their leisure that they derive whatever happiness they may enjoy.
essays  life  work  bertrandrussell  idleness 
april 2010 by sspela
Olia Lialina: Vernacular Web 2
"So, here’s the question: how does the Web look now, when it’s no longer seen as the technology of the future, when it’s intertwined with our daily lives and filled by people who are not excited by the mere fact of its existence?" + how the early users shaped the web
internet  history  essays  technology 
march 2010 by sspela
Edge: TIME TO START TAKING THE INTERNET SERIOUSLY By David Gelernter
"On the Net we have the satisfaction of reading only opinions we already agree with, only facts (or alleged facts) we already know. You might read ten stories about ten different topics in a traditional newspaper; on the net, many people spend that same amount of time reading ten stories about the same topic. But again, once we understand the inherent bias in an instrument, we can correct it. One of the hardest, most fascinating problems of this cyber-century is how to add "drift" to the net, so that your view sometimes wanders (as your mind wanders when you're tired) into places you hadn't planned to go. Touching the machine brings the original topic back. We need help overcoming rationality sometimes, and allowing our thoughts to wander and metamorphose as they do in sleep. "
internet  essays  davidgelernter  serendipity 
march 2010 by sspela
The Right Kind of Nothing - Do Your Job Better - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Every minute of every day, ask yourself, and those around you, "Could this be done better? Are we doing this the right way, and getting the most done for our expenditures of time and money?" Whether you are designing a new science quad or picking up trash in an old quad, try to look at everything around you as if it were new. Forget things you know, and learn something."

If at the end of your day as an administrator, you do the right kind of nothing, and everyone around you is happier and more productive, that's a good day.
goodwork  work  nothing  job  essays 
february 2010 by sspela
That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger - New York Times
He wins for the most fundamental of reasons: he refuses to stop.
cycling  jurerobič  psychology  essays 
october 2009 by sspela
Don Norman's jnd.org / When Security Gets in the Way
"passwords are not where the action is among thieves and spies. It is like the front door of your home. Professional thieves don’t even bother. They know the front door is solid, with expensive locks and bolts, but the rear and side doors are often left unlocked or equipped with cheap locks. While we carefully lock the doors, they get in through the windows, or by finding the key hidden above the threshold or under the potted plant." ......... "Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people". Bruce Schneier
security  passwords  essays 
august 2009 by sspela
Annals of Innovation: In the Air: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
People weren’t finding dinosaur bones, and they assumed that it was because they were rare. But—and almost everything that Myhrvold has been up to during the past half decade follows from this fact—it was our fault. We didn’t look hard enough.
malcolmgladwell  ideas  innovation  essays 
may 2009 by sspela
Annals of Innovation: How David Beats Goliath: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
David can beat Goliath by substituting effort for ability—and substituting effort for ability turns out to be a winning formula for underdogs in all walks of life [...].
We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It’s the other way around. Effort can trump ability—legs, in Saxe’s formulation, can overpower arms—because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coördination.
malcolmgladwell  winning  effort  essays 
may 2009 by sspela
Stuart Jeffries on the revival of the exclamation mark | Books | The Guardian
There is a town of 1,471 happy souls in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. The second "Ha!", amazingly, is part of the town's name, not my commentary on the first "Ha!".
!  essays  punctuation 
may 2009 by sspela
Emotional Cartography - Edited by Christian Nold
Emotional Cartography is a collection of essays from artists, designers, psychogeographers,
cultural researchers, futurologists and neuroscientists, brought together by Christian Nold, to
explore the political, social and cultural implications of visualising intimate biometric data and
emotional experiences using technology.
essays  christiannold  cartography  pdf  book  emotions  gps 
may 2009 by sspela
globeandmail.com: One man's garbage, another's wisdom
I recognize, even celebrate, the fact that my brain has come to resemble Uncle Joe's garage: cramped with half-completed projects and dusty relics of dubious value, but certainly the sort of place where I love to spend an afternoon.
education  davidgraham  essays 
april 2009 by sspela
Scene stealer: The aXXo files - Features, Films - The Independent
"When you have six million people breaking the law, it's the law that needs changing, not the people."
axxo  piracy  torrent  essays 
april 2009 by sspela
How to Procrastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci - ChronicleReview.com
If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of Leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted — the things we truly want to do. Procrastination is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure, in that joyful state of self-forgetful inspiration that we call genius.
procrastination  leonardodavinci  essays 
april 2009 by sspela
The unrecognizable Internet of 1996. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine
What did people do online back when Slate launched, he wondered? After plunging into the Internet Archive and talking to several people who were watching the Web closely back then, I've got an answer: not very much.
internet  essays  farhadmanjoo 
april 2009 by sspela
Developing a great mouth for a picture
Nature isn’t always tidy and well lit: squirrels aren’t always cutely nibbling nuts nor lions throttling wild-eye ungulates to death. [...]

People crave good stories. Too often the stock pictures that have tended to define nature photography in the public - and galleries - mind are superficial. They look fabulous for an instant but don’t endure because they are generic and don’t trigger enquiry or wonder in the thoughtful viewer.
niallbenvie  photography  environment  essays  story  filetype:doc  media:document 
april 2009 by sspela
You and Your Research
The great scientists, when an opportunity opens up, get after it and they pursue it. They drop all other things. They get rid of other things and they get after an idea because they had already thought the thing through. Their minds are prepared; they see the opportunity and they go after it. Now of course lots of times it doesn't work out, but you don't have to hit many of them to do some great science. It's kind of easy. One of the chief tricks is to live a long time!
research  essays  science 
march 2009 by sspela
Caring for Your Introvert
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
jonathanrauch  essays  introverts 
december 2008 by sspela
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