modest

November 2021

Hi! I keep thinking about this scene from Good Will Hunting where after getting the girl’s number, Will turns around and taunts the pompous guy who didn't manage to. For some reason this scene feels like a metaphor for many situations in life — so often the shiny new thing quickly shows signs of being mostly hype, while the unassuming, homely area of interest steps in to once again prove its power of persuasion over you. Along those lines, here’s some long-standing-areas-of-interest type links of mine:


Computers

  • Spacewar (article)
    An underground portrait of classic computing history in the 70s by Mr. Stewart Brand himself. Sidenote: Stewart’s writing a new book about maintenance?

  • Syntax & Sage (article)
    A short but beautiful essay on the importance of using software to tell stories about worlds that we think should exist.

  • The Poet and the Computer (article)
    A cautionary philosophical tale about software: “the computer could… foster the illusion that [man] is asking fundamental questions when actually he is asking only functional ones.  It may be regarded as a substitute for intelligence instead of an extension of it.”

  • Towards a Third Culture (article)
    A deep-dive on the division between the arts and the sciences. Spoiler alert: the word ‘science’ used to refer to both science/technology and the arts — only to be split into two disciplines come the end of the eighteenth century.

  • The Thing that Makes the Thing is More Interesting than the Thing (video)
    This talk is chicken soup for the toolmaker’s soul — big fan of Casey’s genuinely multidisciplinary perspective.

  • Deskto.ps (site)
    I have no idea why this collection of old interactive desktop screenshots exists, but I enjoy perusing it all the same.

  • Pointcloud.garden (site)
    A lovely little collection of 3D-scanned interactive pixel gardens.


Humans

  • The Essence of Peopling (article)
    This has quickly become material that I cite constantly in conversation — it beautifully articulates the fabric that makes up the human experience.

  • The Power of the Marginal (article)
    A PG classic on the value of non-instrumental spaces for people solving big problems. tl;dr: we all need spaces where we can try opinions on for size.

  • The Importance of Awe (article)
    In an age of instant gratification, our sense of awe is shot — but what will we do about it?

  • Rebirth of the body politic (article)
    A good explanation of the ongoing struggle between individualism and collectivism that we see on display virtually everywhere.

  • Work on Something that Matters: First Principles (article)
    I usually find these types of advice diatribes tiring, but this one strikes a timeless cord. tl;dr: work on something that matters to you, create more value than you capture, and take the long view.

  • What’s going on here, with this human? (article)
    The best piece of writing I’ve come across on hiring/recruiting.

  • 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School (deck)
    If you’ve ever fantasized about creating a building from the ground up, this crash course scratches that itch. Plus, the design of the deck is gorgeous.


Media


Parting thought

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig