vague, but exciting

the porous city

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about

Don't let them wear you out
What the fuck just happened today?

Trump news that actually matters (love/hate Twitter but the signal/noise ratio ...)

Kanda Shrine at Dawn

FFFFFuuuuuuuuuuu

"Now we can begin"
One fine day

This is the kind of stuff that's embarrassing to read years later, but right now I just want to give other people the chance to read it.

What makes me the enemy, you may ask? In their mind it’s very simple: if you’re not among the victims, you’re among the culprits. In your case, you’re that modern bogeyman called the liberal urbanite hipster ...
I resemble that remark.
But it took our leaders ten years to figure out they needed to actually go to the slums and to the countryside.
So, twenty years for the Democratic Party, then?

Ironically, one of the architects of the Democratic party's drift away from its base is folksy charmer Bill Clinton. The situations are not completely parallel. There were some engaged Democratic incumbents who lost. And some who faced a strong Republican challenge and held fast. But overall I think he's right that the Democratic party needs to have a stronger connection to voters. The link between the DNC and voters seems to be broken. I would argue that part of the problem is a professional class operating at an excessive level of abstraction but maybe I'd just be projecting.

OH INDEED
Poster hinting at the return of the KLF under their JAMMS guise

A bit older but more contemporary than rave archaeology:

this
and that with soundtrack

2017 could use some punk magic.

Visualize the CSS color function
Colorme

I absolutely do not need this, but ... direct manipulation!

neveragain.tech
We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.

Webrings 2k16
Okay, idea: have a javascript widget you can insert on article pages on your blog. This widget collects basic tracking data, offers the ability to follow the author, and depending on how the author configures it can do a few other things: display related articles the user might want to read, let users fav articles, and let users comment on articles (using Twitter OAuth, maybe with Medium's highlighting UI.)

Basically it's Medium for the decentralized web, or an up-to-date version of webrings. To replicate Medium's success there would have to be editorial judgment applied to who can join the network, but it would be interesting to have an "unlimited class" version of the widget where the only control exercised is what's necessary to avoid malicious activity (easier said than done, I know.)

If you have all this stuff you can create a site to serve as a front door, or several front doors for different topics. You can also create composite RSS streams, a social layer (mention other users in comments, or even in the main body of an article - the crawler could look for twitter handles or links to in-network sites in article text.) Oh, and you're well-placed to create a boutique ad network, assuming you sign up the right people.

The tracking data would be anonymized, of course, despite the impact on ad revenue. I want to make the tracking data fully public, as well, to emphasize how non-creepy it is.

Like Medium, it could turn into a drug if the traffic angle works out, but that would be a good problem to have. And you can drop out any time, the only thing you lose is the comment history (and the service could offer an export feature for that.)

Someone's gotta have tried this, right?

Visualize higher-dimensional data

Tackling the big hairy problem of sync
Vesper Sync Diary

Haven't read this. Wonder how much of what he learned is broadly applicable vs app-specific.


There's something nice about being about to access your stuff from anywhere with the client of your choice.

Seriously beautiful voxels and pixels
Pixels and voxels: the long answer

Also, holograms are almost sorta a thing now? (They had to have known that short clips of primitive, flickering but recognizable holograms looks exactly like a scene of out sci-fi: "then, our scientists discovered a new way to bend light.")

From the rave to the festival
Overthinking my commute soundtrack: I could listen to LFO. Or I could listen to the new Audion. The excitement of LFO is the palpable feeling of a new world coming into existence. LFO's sounds are both a reference to the new world of rave and the central shared experience - the reality - of that world. The excitement of Audion is the excitement of what's possible now, but also the excitement of stripping away, rather than building up. Dance as escape not from ordinary boring reality, but from an ever-present central shared experience. Escaping from mediated reality to now.

Early Nazi Propaganda
Including a number of Goebbels essays from Der Angriff

1. Your fatherland is Germany. Love it more than anything else, and more in deed than in word.

2. Germany’s enemies are your enemies; hate them with your whole heart.

"yes and i will cook there"

Pyramid

Photo of an inverted pyramid made out of metal and fabric, installed in the desert

A thing I did with friends. Metal by Daniel, fabric by Calli. Special thanks to Mary.

Transparency can increase inequality
Via @interfluidity, argument that wage inequality is increasing because it's easier to assess worker quality, so the most productive workers are self-segregating into high-profit firms leaving everyone else at low-profit firms. See also this post on job polarization.

I completely believe this dynamic exists. There's a related story playing out in online advertising, where the ability to target specific kinds of consumers has reduced the broad-based advertising that a lot of general interest online publications depended on.

My first thought was how to reconcile this with continued hiring discrimination, but I guess that's not actually hard. It just means that while firms have gotten better at picking out high-productivity workers from the available pool, they're still - partially intentionally, partially unintentionally - artificially limiting the size of that pool.

I have a harder time reconciling the stronger claims in the top post with the evidence that monopoly rents are a major driver of corporate profit inquality. I asked Waldman about this and ...



Sad lol.

Everyone has one great piece of interactive fiction in them
TODO figure out a reason I need to use inklewriter to write some Infocom knockoff bullshit.

Projects at the 2016 Decentralized Web Summit
I'm skeptical of a lot of this stuff, but I'm glad that people are working on it.

Technologies of the Decentralized Web Summit

"In the old city, we are condemned to bitter struggle over what ultimately may be too little to matter."
The thing about San Francisco is that while greenfields have been exhausted in the city, the San Francisco Bay Area is largely undeveloped. We are always arguing over San Francisco, or Palo Alto (ick). Outside of the 47 square miles of San Francisco proper are almost 3200 square miles in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties.
There's No Substitute For A Substitute

Interesting argument for Singapore-style dense, livable greenfield development. Probably another good idea that will be strangled in its crib by California's tax structure.

ngrok
Expose localhost to the Internet securely

Maybe useful someday. Demo, test, run lightweight services from a Mac mini under the end table.

Reflections on federated services and the trend to centralization
Post from Signal developer and HN comments (worth it for comments from Sandstorm dev alone.)

Prusa on a Coin-op Greg's

Will people stop doing cool stuff on the web already, it's supposed to be politely dead
Simulating the world with emoji

Imagine Conway's game of Life with emoji and more complex rules.

Moby Dick Big Read
Audio, different reader every chapter - Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, China Miéville ...

Another js component that I'll wistfully imagine adding to this site
Substance

Really, a pretty nifty-looking content editor, with the ability to run a server component that understands your document model and rendering rules.

So are we gonna break desktops, phones or both
Long detailed fascinating ideas for the evolution of iOS and OS X

A lot of these are, cough, relevant to my current job as well.

It's hard for me to imagine developers building serious apps without root access to their development environment. On the other hand, who's to say that should drive platform evolution. Either way, the idea of OS X and iOS "growing together" is seductive, if only because it suggests a plausible future in which OS X still exists. Not sure how it squares with the constraints that make the iOS experience so unique - part of what makes iOS apps so great is the limited target area.

The scariest thing about eliminating OS X, which the author is aware of, is Apple's restrictive policies towards apps in the App Store.

Custom View Controller Extension Providers

I mean, maybe OLE's time has come again.

Four pitfalls of hill climbing
hmmm
But actually ends with a defense of hill climbing for product optimization.

Come ON
do it

"But, oh, for one brief, shining moment ..."

Measure customers, not dollars
Initiatives at Apple are evaluated by how well they create and retain customers, not on profitability

Combined with the fact that Apple basically never changes prices, you can see why (1) they're able to focus on quality and (2) they're so ruthless about operations.

Amazing fractals. No, really.

Progressive political organizations in SF (and other ways to get involved)
Googled "social democrats san francisco" but was disappointed, although apparently there used to be such a group.

Gonna start this as a list sans commentary but will come back and add notes.


I know nothing about some of these so if some of them are fronts for AppGooAmFace or NIMBYs don't get mad.

Inequality and democracy
Piketty fears that given rising levels of wealth inequality, democracy is doomed. People will not tolerate high levels of inequality forever, and repressing their resistance to an unequal social order will eventually require dispensing with democratic forms. I’m not so sure ... procedural democracy limping on against a background of inequality, disdain and humiliation is not an attractive prospect, but it is already a big part of our present and may be the whole of our future unless egalitarian politics can be revived.
-Piketty, Rousseau and the desire for inequality

Yet the US political system has been under the influence of wealthy elites ever since the American Revolution. In some historical periods it worked primarily for the benefit of the wealthy. In others, it pursued policies that benefited the society as a whole ... unequal societies generally turn a corner once they have passed through a long spell of political instability. Governing elites tire of incessant violence and disorder. They realise that they need to suppress their internal rivalries, and switch to a more co-operative way of governing, if they are to have any hope of preserving the social order.
-History tells us where the wealth gap leads

You may pick two, but no more than two, of the following:

Liberalism
Inequality
Nonpathology

... if severe inequality is going to continue, then there must remain some sizable contingent of people who are socioeconomic losers, who will as a matter of economic necessity become segregated into less-desirable neighborhoods, who will come to form new communities with social identities, which must be pathological for their poverty to be stable.
-Tangles of pathology

Oh and the second link makes the point that when the pendulum swings back to more equality overall, it can still increase inequality between groups. The last link is the one that makes the picture really dark, because it suggests that the only way to end systematic oppression of black people is to either make the US more equal than it's ever been, or find a new group to oppress.

Useful meta-reviews of health studies
Cochrane findings that will help you

Can't believe I didn't bookmark Cochrane studies here when I found out about them. Cochrane reviews are the antidote to pop-sci articles on health issues talking about a study that just came out with n=20 and results not yet replicated. Study shows Volvo drivers 10 times as likely to experience stress-related tinnitus, maybe.

Stuff that's interesting to me:

  • Acupuncture is pretty good
  • Antioxidants aren't that great and are maybe bad
  • Exercise is good
  • Bicycle helmets are good, so are motorcycle helmets
  • Melatonin is good for jet lag
  • Muscle relaxants are probably good for lower back pain
  • Unsaturated fat is probably better than saturated
  • Reducing salt seems good (however, my understanding is that the important thing is the salt/potassium balance, so increasing potassium might be just as good?)
  • Chinese herbal medicine might reduce cold symptoms (okay I am so down with visiting Chinatown when I feel a cold coming on, give me all the elixirs)

Cryptography as a means to restore the balance of power
Cryptography rearranges power: it configures who can do what, from what.

I'd argue that the reverse is really the issue that needs more attention. Online systems that do not provide strong cryptography rearrange power, as compared to their offline equivalents.

It was not feasible to scan all phone calls for keywords in 1970, since that required effort from humans to do the patching and listening. The power dynamic changed when our industry brought those calls into a centralized, trivially-storable clear-text format. Encrypting the conversations is simply a partial return to the status quo of a few decades ago.
- via

I don't retreat, I reload

Betteridge's Law debunked
Usability on mobile is getting worse.

Although apparently people are getting better at understanding what a hamburger menu is.

Competing in an actually efficient market is terrible
It looks like (fingers crossed) my job in 2016 will involve making life easier for mobile app developers. I don't envy them, honestly.
The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

This will hurt long-term innovation from a number of reasons:

1) Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations. Popular apps get home screen placement, get used more, get ranked higher in app stores, make more money, can pay more for distribution, etc. The end state will probably be like cable TV – a few dominant channels/apps that sit on users’ home screens and everything else relegated to lower tiers or irrelevance.

2) Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.
- The Decline of the Mobile Web

So despite the massive growth in mobile usage "it has gotten harder, not easier, to innovate on the Internet with the smartphone emerging as the platform of choice vs the desktop browser" and as a result VC firms (or USV at least) are less interested in taking risk there. A year and a half later they see more of the same.

But maybe better app discovery - potentially via models for using apps that don't require an install - can help.

Things discovered over lunch in Stinson Beach
pyrrhus

Product managers vs accessibility, part two

previously

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