“One of my favourite Steve Jobs stories was the time the engineers working on the iPod brought their finished prototype to him in his office. He said it was too big, they needed to make it smaller. They said it was as small as they could make it, it couldn’t be made any smaller. So he took the…
“Can anyone seriously accept that information is the essence of the world? Of our world, perhaps; but we are making this world, and acquiescing in its making. The religion of information is another superstition, another distorting totalism, another counterfeit deliverance. In some ways the technology is transforming us into brilliant fools. In the riot of words and numbers in which we live so smartly and so articulately, in the comprehensively quantified existence in which we presume to believe that eventually we will know everything, in the expanding universe of prediction in which hope and longing will come to seem obsolete and merely ignorant, we are renouncing some of the primary human experiences. We are certainly renouncing the inexpressible. The other day I was listening to Mahler in my library. When I caught sight of the computer on the table, it looked small.”—What Big Data Will Never Explain | New Republic
“We try to never deliver any reports ever, if possible. Reports can’t attend meetings and they can’t argue in favor of their findings. They die in the wastebasket immediately. So we’ll bring up some data in a session, we brainstorm on a whiteboard, absorb some of the human patterns of the people that are using this stuff, and then incorporate that in our next build. That’s the goal.”—Secrets From Facebook’s Mobile UX Testing Team
“Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,”—Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves | MIT Technology Review
“Legend speaks of a sandwich—very discreet, somewhere—a sandwich well-concealed and expertly invisible. A sandwich so secret that its most vocal defenders absolutely doubt its existence. And they cite this prevelant doubt as the only actual proof of its existence. Sure, but do they have to say it with such skepticism? The only tangible proof was uncovered some years ago when an advertisement appeared in the Aberdeen Examiner. A mail-order cassette titled Sounds of the Secret Sandwich. A cassette which was largely blank, save for a brief conversation at 23’10”. A little child says, “Dad, dad!” and the wind is blowing. Then, this raspy voice says, “What is that? Are you wearing a beret?” The kid says really loud, “WHAT??” And the older voice says, “That’s cute, come here, show me, what is that you’re wearing on your head?” And there’s some movement and the kid is quiet, the wind dies down and the older voice says, “Oh, sure, I know what this is—it’s a—uh—it’s a dead bird.” So, I have my doubts about the validity of this recording.”—_why’s Estate - The Secret Sandwich
“In the same day of interviews you might meet some smart 19 year olds who aren’t even sure what they want to work on. Their chances of succeeding seem small. But again, it’s not their chances of succeeding that matter but their chances of succeeding really big. The probability that any group will succeed really big is microscopically small, but the probability that those 19 year olds will might be higher than that of the other, safer group.”—Black Swan Farming
“Long before the actual city of New York, the city of New York existed in the mind of its creator. In this dream city, there lived an ordinary man. (Ordinary in the sense that only dream people can be. Which is to say: Extraordinarily plain for a very wispy, immaterial person.) This man drew no attention to himself. He walked in such a way that he completely complied with crowds. His height was such that he was constantly overshadowed, though always present. His home was situated in a place where no one would ever look and his street address consisted of an imaginary number, such that it didn’t translate from the dream into the mind. It is common for such people to live this way in a dream, and it is most orderly of him to do so. This ordinary man concealed a great secret from the mind of his creator. This secret was called the Berkowitz Manuevre. You know enough about it now, so please go away.”—_why’s Estate - The Berkowitz Manuevre
“I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”—The Busy Trap
“Google, on the other hand, is Google and its undead shambling… but damn, it’s also Project Glass, and those cars that can drive themselves! Google is getting good, really good, at building things that see the world around them and actually understand what they’re seeing. In this context, Google is not the company’s most strategic project. That distinction goes to Glass, to the self-driving cars, and to Google Maps, Street View, and Earth: Google’s detailed model of the real, physical world. Maybe in twenty years we’ll think of Google primarily as a vision company—augmenting our vision, helping us share it—and, oh wow, did you realize they once, long ago, sold ads? Like Nokia’s first business selling rubber boots. Project Glass is a cool idea burdened by a supremely dorky device but possibly powerful enought to overcome it. Vision isn’t yet central to Google the way that pictures are central to Facebook—but lift your eyes and look out into the middle distance. It might be soon.”—Pictures and vision
“When talking about Zuckerbergs most valuable personality trait, a colleague jokingly invokes the famous Stanford marshmallow tests, in which researchers found a correlation between a young childs ability to delay gratificationdevour one treat right away, or wait and be rewarded with twowith high achievement later in life. If Zuckerberg had been one of the Stanford scientists subjects, the colleague jokes, Facebook would never have been created: Hed still be sitting in a room somewhere, not eating marshmallows.”—The Maturation of Mark Zuckerberg — New York Magazine
“The ! mark was not featured on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe. In the 1950s, secretarial dictation and typesetting manuals referred to the mark as “bang,” most likely adapted from comic books where the ! appeared in dialogue balloons to represent a gun being fired,”—Exclamation mark - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“It happens quietly, but the projects that could be the most disruptive to the company begin in silence. Someone, somewhere has a bright idea and a handful of talented engineers are whisked off to a different building behind a locked door. Their status is “elsewhere” and their project is “need to know.” Having never sat with one of these projects, I can only infer how they work, but when you see the results, you know for certain - these guys and gals are hacking. Their projects are the definition of ambition, you’ve never heard their names, they are small and fast-moving, and they are outsiders in their own company. Sound familiar?”—Rands In Repose: Hacking is Important
I’m writing this post because it’s my fifth Sanfraniversary—a nice round number by all counts—but I’m writing it about the internet because I’ve realized: it was never about San Francisco. I never moved out here for love of the trolleys or the fog. I moved out here because I love computers and networks and the way humans are able, in amazing ways, to abstract communication and contact to a level that typing buttons to input visuals on a screen makes us feel something.
Every day, I feel things because of the internet, and that’s amazing. Humans have been using abstracted communication for thousands of years, but it’s never been so instantaneous, never so capable of bringing folks of completely different backgrounds together in conversation. This is a huge step. Good job us.
I love that someday, this blog post might seem strange. My children might stumble across it, and they’ll ask me questions, and I’ll tell them how bad dialup was. They’ll ask me about MySpace and I’ll say “Oh, honeychild, you have no idea.” And they won’t, but I will, because I was there. Even better, I get to help design it, right now.
“Anything you do for any significant amount of time, no matter how dumb or trivial it seems at first, becomes a part of your history. Witness all the people now scratching their heads wondering how they create an archive of their time spent on Twitter. I am not here to fetishize artifacts and memorabilia. Sometimes it’s fine to do a thing and let it drift out out to sea; to exist only in the re-telling. History has always been lossy but the fact that we have history at all I think demonstrates they we want and value concrete representations of the passage of time. Those representations change with the technologies at hand but the motivation doesn’t.”—[this is aaronland] haystack triptychs
“Further complicating all of this are the feedback loops created when a group changes its behavior in response to changes in software. Because of these effects, designers of social software have more in common with economists or political scientists than they do with designers of single-user software, and operators of communal resources have more in common with politicians or landlords than with operators of ordinary web sites.”—Shirky: Social Software and the Politics of Groups
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I’m pretty sure craigslist missed connections are the most poetic thing going on in modern culture.
“A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.”
“Spread and participate in culture. Remix, reuse, use, abuse. Make sure no one controls your mind. Create new systems and technology that circumvent the corruption. Start a religion. Start your own nation, or buy one. Buy a bus. Crush it to pieces.”—Peter Sunde
“The recurring metaphor in The Inmates are Running the Asylum is that of the dancing bear—the circus bear that shuffles clumsily for the amusement of the audience. Such bears, says author Alan Cooper, don’t dance well, as everyone at the circus can see. What amazes the crowd is that the bear dances at all. Cooper argues that technology (videocassette recorders, car alarms, most software applications for personal computers) consists largely of dancing bears—pieces that work, but not at all well. He goes on to say that this is more often than not the fault of poorly designed user interfaces, and he makes a good argument that way too many devices (perhaps as a result of the designers’ subconscious wish to bully the people who tormented them as children) ask too much of their users. Too many systems (like the famous unprogrammable VCR) make their users feel stupid when they can’t get the job done.”—
“Computational processes are abstract beings that inhabit computers. As they evolve, processes manipulate other abstract things called data. The evolution of a process is directed by a pattern of rules called a program. People create programs to direct processes. In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer with our spells.”—The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
“The acts of the mind, wherein it exerts its power over simple ideas, are chiefly these three: 1. Combining several simple ideas into one compound one, and thus all complex ideas are made. 2. The sec- ond is bringing two ideas, whether simple or complex, together, and setting them by one another so as to take a view of them at once, without uniting them into one, by which it gets all its ideas of relations. 3. The third is separating them from all other ideas that accompany them in their real existence: this is called abstraction, and thus all its general ideas are made.”—John Locke - An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)
“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”—Information wants to be free - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (via slantback)
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”—― John Steinbeck, East of Eden (via zenchronicles)
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”—Roald Dahl (via zenchronicles)
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”—Steve Jobs (via putorti)
Seventy-two is a magic number in printing and typography. In 1737 Pierre Fournier used units called ciceros to measure type. Six ciceros were 0.998 inches.
Around 1770, François-Ambroise Didot used slightly larger ciceros to fit the standard French “foot.” Didot’s pica was 0.1776 inches long and divided evenly into 12 increments. Today we call them points.
In 1886, the American Point System established a “pica” as being 0.166 inches. Six of these are 0.996 inches.
None of the units ever strayed far from 12 points per pica: 6 picas per inch = 72 points per inch. It was an important standard by 1984, when Apple prepared to introduce the first Macintosh computer.