Digital Dualism [...]

Digital dualism allows Turkle to write as though she is championing humanity, conversation, and empathy when ultimately she is merely privileging geography. Again, this can feel intuitive, because this fetishization of contiguity has a long tradition and is echoed in our everyday language: Each time we say “IRL,” “face-to-face,” or “in person” to mean connection without screens, we frame what is “real” or who is a person in terms of their geographic proximity rather than other aspects of closeness — variables like attention, empathy, affect, erotics, all of which can be experienced at a distance. We should not conceptually preclude or discount all the ways intimacy, passion, love, joy, pleasure, closeness, pain, suffering, evil and all the visceral actualities of existence pass through the screen. “Face to face” should mean more than breathing the same air. (Source)

skype dual portrait

A significant difference being not distance but mediation. Face to face tends to set aside mediation. It’s still there in the interfaces of spoken words, touch, the semiotics of gesture and pose, but we set it aside for a sense of the real. Digital mediation means reading artifacts (blog post, image) created by the real interaction and working in a different semiotic frame than that of face to face.

Mutual Teaching [...]

The English translation of a Danish watercolor (“Indbyrdes undervisning”) showing the Monitorial System. The watercolor was painted sometime before 1882 by P. C. Klæstrup (1820-1882). This copy comes to us via Danish Wikipedia.

Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (VPNS) [...]

VPNS is a catch-all name for pedagogies which involve students working at the edges of the classroom uses vertical non-permanent surfaces such as portable whiteboards. The idea is it improves visibility to the teacher, who can watch as work progresses, allows for transfer of knowledge around the room, reduces the stress of “permanent” writing, and encourage students to learn from the examples of others.

There is at least a nod here to the Monitorial System, at least in regards to room organization.

Getting Credit Wrong [...]

People get credit wrong for many reasons. Here’s a few:

Cryptomnesia is when a person has a memory of an idea they doe not recognize and perceive it as their own.

Sometimes discovery is incremental and dispersed, and the people who go the last mile get the credit. See CRISPR Credit

Sometimes the marketing of the invention fails, and better marketed attempts that come later are identified as the prominent. See Kenbak-1

Sometimes the most prominent instance of an idea gets the credit, as in wiki/wikipedia or the Rio/iPod issue.

Overconfidence by Gender and Major [...]

Some people are overconfident about the the truth of what they think, some are underconfident. Unsurprisingly, this varies by gender and major.


Philip Parker [...]

Philip Parker holds a patent on a method of generating computer generated books. Use a program called Eve he has developed a method of poetry creation he calls “graph theoretic”. (wikipedia)

He also holds a number of patents on computer produced books and media:


Hamilton’s Rule [...]

Rule to predict kin selection effects in evolution.

From Wikipedia:

Formally, genes should increase in frequency when

rB > C


r = the genetic relatedness of the recipient to the actor, often defined as the probability that a gene picked randomly from each at the same locus is identical by descent.

B = the additional reproductive benefit gained by the recipient of the altruistic act,

C = the reproductive cost to the individual performing the act.

This inequality is known as Hamilton’s rule after W. D. Hamilton who in 1964 published the first formal quantitative treatment of kin selection.

Pentagonal Mart [...]

Meet the Pentagonal Mart, a gargantuan, $200 million shopping complex inspired by the US Pentagon, which has the dubious honor of being the largest vacant building in Shanghai. According to the People’s Daily News, the 70-acre mall was completed in 2009 and remains virtually empty to this day, “mainly because of its location and confusing inner structures.” Hmm, minor planning details. (Source)

picture of mart

Mincome [...]

Between 1974 and 1979, a rural town called Dauphin in the Canadian province of Manitoba took money as part of the “Mincome” program. University of Manitoba professor Evelyn Forget published a highly cited study of Dauphin in 2011 that’s considered the definitive look at the Mincome project. Using health administration data from the time period, she determined that “a Guaranteed Annual Income, implemented broadly in society, may improve health and social outcomes at the community level.” (Source) (Link)

Same Sex Cryptomnesia [...]

From Contexts of Cryptomnesia: May the Source Be with You (some of the data has been removed for readability):

Whereas new-errors (i.e., intrusions) were not affected by the composition of the dyad, dyad composition did affect participants’ tendency to take credit for their partner’s responses, with higher rates of plagiarism emerging in the same-sex than the mixed-sex groups. In addition, partner plagiarisms were more abundant than intrusion errors in both groups. Closer inspection of the reproductive errors in the mixed-sex dyads revealed no difference in men and women’s tendency to steal items from a partner of the opposite sex. As expected, however, women in the same-sex dyads were more likely than women in the mixed-dyads to steal an item from their partner.

Cryptomnesia [...]

From Wikipedia:

Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.

Weirdly, Cryptomnesia is more likely to happen when the person is similar to you. See, for example, Same Sex Cryptomnesia

Misinformation Effect [...]

The questions asked of a witness can alter the memory of the witness in surprising ways.

Following that lead, Loftus won funding in 1974 for a proposal to study witness accounts of accidents, and she soon published the first of several influential studies revealing the limitations of eyewitness testimony1. She showed people film clips of car accidents and asked them to estimate the speed of the cars. The wording of the questions, she found, had a profound effect on the estimates. People who were asked, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” gave higher estimates on average than those with whom the verb ‘hit’ was used. And those who were told that the cars had ‘contacted’ each other gave the lowest estimates.

Those asked about cars smashing into one another were more than twice as likely as others to report seeing broken glass when asked about the accident a week later, even though there was none in the video. “I realized that these questions were conveying information,” says Loftus. “I began to think of it as a process of memory contamination, and we eventually called it the misinformation effect.” (Source)

See also The Least Contaminated Memory, and False Memories are Common

The Sounds Bob Ross Made [...]

Bob Ross’s painting is now seen as an early example of ASMR. While the team making that show was not aware of the phenomenon that would dominate YouTube decades later, they did create the audio soundscape of the show quite intentionally. It was a show, in many ways, as much about sound as painting:

The show had a peculiar audio setup. The sounds Ross makes with his painting — the scraping of palette knives and his signature brush cleanings — are picked up almost as well as his voice.

Kowalks says this was done on purpose. “We were aware and Bob was aware that from the very beginning it was about the sounds that he was making.”

The sounds and how they were recorded are crucial. ASMR is usually triggered aurally, particularly when the person causing them gives personal attention, as Ross did when he talked directly to the viewer.

Dmitri, who creates videos on the YouTube account MassageASMR, says the audio was almost too perfect. “Whoever was recording onto audio knew that these sounds were quite important. It’s almost like trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger.” (Source)

Abandoned Orbiters [...]

Ralph Mirebs writes in Russian, Just yesterday, June 2, 2015, was 60 years old cradle of world space and the largest domestic space harbor – Baikonur Cosmodrome. Over the years, its territory has been tested many different spacecraft, the apex of which was the system of “Energy-Buran”. (Link)

But history has chosen its path and the project died in infancy. More than two decades ago, the last time to close heavy sliding doors MKS – installation and filling of the complex, cut off from the alluring star sky two orbiting spacecraft. There is an easy irony that the birthplace of those who had to surf the cosmic expanses, it was the burial place and a crypt.

See Mall Dystopia for a parallel decay of 1980s mall culture.

The Space Race — and the abandonment of it — is discussed in NASA’s 1966 Zenith

NASA’s 1966 Zenith [...]

Margaret Lazarus Dean talks about the anomaly that was the NASA of the 1960s.

“Some years, during the run-up to Apollo, Congress voted to allocate NASA a larger budget than NASA had requested. The effects of this kind of public support were unprecedented outside of war, and may never be seen again. As important as this financial support was for the early days of Apollo, it also created a tragically inaccurate impression within NASA that its projects would continue to be funded at this rate. In the mid-sixties, everyone thought the construction of the Kennedy Space Center was taking place at the start of an exciting new era. No one could have known that in fact 1966 was to represent the zenith of that unanimity. The public’s imagination for fulfilling President Kennedy’s challenge would prove more shortsighted than anyone at NASA had hoped.” [ post]

Lazarus connects this history to our radically different times, exemplified by moon landing hoax conspiracists. See Buzz Aldrin’s Punch

Abandoned Orbiters also show the sad decay of national space ambitions.

1966 was the year of Great Society backlash. Did this backlash kill NASA? See The Sanitized Lexicon of 1966

Buzz Aldrin’s Punch [...]

Buzz Aldrin is confronted and harassed by yet another moon landing conspiracist in 2009. He cracks.

The incident encapsulates so many things it’s hard to know where to start. But it does represent an almost perfect clash of cultures.

See also NASA’s 1966 Zenith, which references the event.

The moon conspiracy is almost mathematically impossible to maintain. See Failure Curves for Conspiracies

Failure Curves for Conspiracies [...]

Failure of a conspiracy can be predicted by a model that assumes a certain level of uncertain loyalty spread out across the ranks of the conspirators. Conspiracies that would have to have a large number of conspirators, either initially or over time, would be more likely to fail over time than conspiracies involve a small number of individuals that do not need to recruit fresh conspirators.

Researchers created a model of conspiracy collapse and ran some of the more common conspiracies through it. The results? Large, global conspiracies involving thousands of players are almost impossible to maintain.



Conspiracies above from upper left: Moon Landing, Global Warming, Vaccine Manufacturers, Suppressed Cancer Cure.

High Resolution Maps of Victorian London [...]

Here’s a real treat. The National Library of Scotland’s Map Department, supported by David Rumsey, have taken some very high-resolution scans of the Ordnance Survey 1:1056 (that’s 60 inches to the mile!) set of 500+ maps of London issued between 1893 and 1896 and, crucially, reorientated and stitched them together, so that they can be presented seamlessly (using OpenLayers) on top of a “standard” Google web map or OpenStreetMap, with the base map acting as a modern context.

The detail in these maps is breathtaking. In the above extract (direct link) of the eastern end of Fleet Street, you can see each individual alleyway. Much of London has of course changed in the intervening 120 years. In the extract, the printing works have been replaced with banks and other offices, the pub and several of the alleyways (“courts” here) themselves have disappeared, as has the tiny fire station, and the urinals are long derelict and locked shut. (Source) (Link)


The Origin of the Calorie [...]

The origin of the calorie and metabolic measurement:

The work that Baer and colleagues do draws on centuries-old techniques. Nestle traces modern attempts to understand food and energy back to a French aristocrat and chemist named Antoine Lavoisier. In the early 1780s, Lavoisier developed a triple-walled metal canister large enough to house a guinea pig. Inside the walls was a layer of ice.
Lavoisier knew how much energy was required to melt ice, so he could estimate the heat the animal emitted by measuring the amount of water that dripped from the canister. What Lavoisier didn’t realize—and never had time to find out; he was put to the guillotine during the Revolution—was that measuring the heat emitted by his guinea pigs was a way to estimate the amount of energy they had extracted from the food they were digesting. (Source)

Dead Cat Strategy [...]

To understand what has happened in Europe in the last week, we must borrow from the rich and fruity vocabulary of Australian political analysis. Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as “throwing a dead cat on the table, mate”.

That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout “Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!”; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief. (Source)

Malheur’s Broken Window [...]

Despite the elegance and intuitiveness of the theory, a good deal of fairly rigorous analysis has shown over the last two decades that the so-called “broken windows” theory didn’t turn out to be valid, at least not in terms of reducing the most serious crimes by taking a more vigilant approach toward enforcing laws against petty crimes. (For keeping your dorm room livable, it’s probably fair to say the theory has been infinitely validated.) But the ‘stand off’ at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is turning out to be a validating case study: the reluctance of federal authorities to enforce the law has triggered a slow but measurable growth of law breaking which was likely latent in the white rural male culture of violence but held somewhat in check by law enforcement. (Source)

See also [Broken Windows Theory Broken]]

The Intimate Contest for Self-Command [...]

In some cases the self can be better modeled as competing agents.

Thomas Schelling, a Nobel prize-winning economist, was also for much of his life an inveterate smoker. Searching for ways to quit, Schelling applied game theory—a science concerned with strategic interactions—to his problem. Schelling identified his quest to quit smoking as being like a two-player game—in which he was both players. He was the smoker; and he was the person desperate to quit and lead a healthier life. pdf

The Drinking Age Might Work After All [...]

The answer, it seems, is that Europe is not doing fine. If you look at the data, there’s no evidence to support the idea that Europe, in general, has a safer drinking culture than the US.

According to international data from the World Health Organization, European teens ages 15 to 19 tend to report greater levels of binge drinking than American teens. (Source)

Best of Jill Hives [...]

Whenever I go to the muffler or brake shop, I’m reminded of the story of how Bob Pollard of Guided By Voices came up with the idea for the song “The Best of Jill Hives.”

Pollard is always a bit expressionist with his lyrics, and saying what a song is about does a bit of violence to his style. But the song is presented as a character study of the fictitious person Jill Hives, a person who somehow manages in bouts of meanness to push away the people that mean something to her:

I don't know where you find your nerve
I don't know how you choose your words
Speak the ones that suit you worst
Keep you grounded, sad, and cursed
Circle the ones that come alive
Save them for the best of Jill Hives

The source? From a comment on the Pollard a Day blog:

I read an interview with Bob in which he said that the title comes from a time when he took his car to the muffler shop and was sitting in the waiting area with a barely audible TV on in the background showing the soap opera “The Days of our Lives”. Bob couldn’t quite make out what was being said and wrote down “The Best of Jill Hives”. He said he often comes up with song titles based on notes he makes of dimly overheard background noises and conversations. (Link)
Video below:

On Its Side tells a similar story about Kandinsky’s discovery of abstract art.

Being a bit tired can help creativity. See Creative Nights

Absence of Notation [...]

A story from the new media reader:

A friend of mine is an ethnomusicologist who spent several years studying the gamelan music of Central .lava He was trained in Western music in the States. and spent many years working on his own compositions and performing with other musicians. One of the most frustrating things about his studies in Java, he told me. was trying to work on specific parts of songs with the gamelan musicians. Once they were at a rehearsal, and after running through a piece. he asked them to play only a section from the middle so that he could make sure he got all the notes right. This proved to be an impossible request. After a lot of hemming and hawing, excuses. and several false starts, he realized that the group just could not do it. They insisted on playing the entire piece over again. from beginning to end In Java. the music was learned by rote. from many years of observation and imitation. not from written notation. The idea of taking a small part out of context or playing just a few bars. simply did not exist. The musk was learned and conceived as a whole in the minds of the musicians.

Voyager Expanded Books [...]

Expanded books were a series of books produced in 1991, written in HyperCard, that extended existing books. Titles included Moby Dick, The Annotated Alice, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Jurassic Park.

Voyager had previously made a name for itself with Criterion Collection laserdiscs,[1] but the main impetus came out of their success with a hypertext version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The idea was to bring this success to literary texts.


A Voyager version of MacBeth

The books were heavily annotated in the margins with a variety of multimedia comments. Users were allowed to annotate them as well.

In 1992, a toolkit was produced (also in HyperCard) allowing users to make their own books.

These books have more of a claim to the “first electronic books” than Peter James’s Host, although technically the earliest ebooks were the open texts of the Gutenberg Project.

  1. Scotched“. The Magazine, December 19, 2013.

Bob Stein, the prime force behind the Voyage Books, is still evangelizing the ebook today. See Social Book.

Peter James’s Host is seen by some as the first ebook.

Conversational Gapping [...]

The typical gap between speech turns in conversation is just 200ms. The small gap is possible because we construct our response while the other person is speaking.

When we talk we take turns, where the “right” to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign-language conversations.

“It’s the minimum human response time to anything,“ says Stephen Levinson from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. It’s the time that runners take to respond to a starting pistol—and that’s just a simple signal. If you gave them a two-way choice—say, run on green but stay on red—they’d take longer to pick the right response. Conversations have a far greater number of possible responses, which ought to saddle us with lengthy gaps between turns. Those don’t exist because we build our responses during our partner’s turn. We listen to their words while simultaneously crafting our own, so that when our opportunity comes, we seize it as quickly as it’s physically possible to. (Source)

Implications here for interface design. Think about related issues — Calm Tech, etc.

Social Book [...]

Bob Stein was an early ebook publisher, publishing titles such as the Annotated Alice and the digital version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lately he’s been working with a new platform he calls Social Book.

Stein imagines, for example, that future forms of books might be developed not by conventional publishers but by the gaming industry. He also envisions that the distinction between writer and reader will be blurred by a social reading experience in which authors and consumers can digitally interact with each other to discuss any passage, sentence or line. Indeed, his latest project, Social Book, allows members to insert comments directly into digital book texts and is already used by teachers at several high schools and universities to stimulate discussions. “For my grandchildren, the idea that reading is something you do by yourself will seem arcane,” he says. “Why would you want to read by yourself if you can have access to the ideas of others you know and trust, or to the insights of people from all over the world?” (Source)

Stein on SocialBook:

Bob Stein mentions in this presentation the MIT project Bicycle Repair Manual.

Peter James’s Host [...]

Peter James’s Host was an early electronic book.

From Penguin’s 1994 Announcement:

Penguin (UK), publisher, will launch its first electronic novel in November 1994. The novel is Host by Peter James and will cost GBP12.99 on floppy disk. The disk includes the novel, research material used by the author, an audio clip of the writer explaining the background to the novel and a video introduction. (Source)

Naturally, people were outraged:

When Peter James published his novel Host on two floppy disks in 1993, he was ill-prepared for the “venomous backlash” that would follow. Journalists and fellow writers berated and condemned him; one reporter even dragged a PC and a generator out to the beach to demonstrate the ridiculousness of this new form of reading. “I was front-page news of many newspapers around the world, accused of killing the novel,” James told pop.edit.lit. “[But] I pointed out that the novel was already dying at an alarming rate without my assistance.” (Link)

Matrix Torrent Survives 12 Years [...]

A fan-created ASCII version of the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix is the oldest known torrent that’s still active. Created more than 12 years ago, the file has outlived many blockbuster movies and is still downloaded a few times a week, even though the site from where it originated has disappeared. (Source)

Escalator Traffic Patterns [...]

Some questions: why is this pattern different for cars, where keeping the “fast lane” clear is seen essential?

The idea had come about after Len Lau, Vauxhall area manager, had gone to Hong Kong on holiday. Lau noticed that passengers on that city’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) were standing calmly on both sides of the escalator and, it seemed, travelling more efficiently and safely as a result. His report prompted Harrison and her colleagues to wonder whether the same effect would apply at a station such as Holborn, and so they set about arranging a three-week trial.

The theory, if counterintuitive, is also pretty compelling. Think about it. It’s all very well keeping one side of the escalator clear for people in a rush, but in stations with long, steep walkways, only a small proportion are likely to be willing to climb. In lots of places, with short escalators or minimal congestion, this doesn’t much matter. But a 2002 study of escalator capacity on the Underground found that on machines such as those at Holborn, with a vertical height of 24 metres, only 40% would even contemplate it. By encouraging their preference, TfL effectively halves the capacity of the escalator in question, and creates significantly more crowding below, slowing everyone down. When you allow for the typical demands for a halo of personal space that persist in even the most disinhibited of commuters – a phenomenon described by crowd control guru Dr John J Fruin as “the human ellipse”, which means that they are largely unwilling to stand with someone directly adjacent to them or on the first step in front or behind – the theoretical capacity of the escalator halves again. Surely it was worth trying to haul back a bit of that wasted space. (Source)

Making Making a Murderer [...]

Does Making a Murderer fall prey to the very overconfidence it claims to critique?

“Making a Murderer” raises serious and credible allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct in the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. It also implies that that misconduct was malicious. That could be true; vindictive prosecutions have happened in our justice system before and they will happen again. But the vast majority of misconduct by law enforcement is motivated not by spite but by the belief that the end justifies the means—that it is fine to play fast and loose with the facts if doing so will put a dangerous criminal behind bars.

That same reasoning, with the opposite aims, seems to govern “Making a Murderer.” But while people nearly always think that they are on the side of the angels, what finally matters is that they act that way. The point of being scrupulous about your means is to help insure accurate ends, whether you are trying to convict a man or exonerate him. Ricciardi and Demos instead stack the deck to support their case for Avery, and, as a result, wind up mirroring the entity that they are trying to discredit. (Source)

Conviction Integrity Units and Actual Innocence are two possible responses to issues raised by Making a Murderer.

CRISPR Credit [...]

Less than four years after breaking onto the gene-editing scene, virtually all molecular biology labs are either using, or planning to use, CRISPR in their research. And amidst this explosion of interest, fights have erupted over who deserves the accolades that usually follow such scientific advances, and perhaps more importantly, who owns the intellectual property on the use of CRISPR in gene editing. (Link)

Geomythology [...]

In 1966, the scientist Dorothy Vitaliano coined a name for the discipline: geomythology. It is, she said, the science of “seeking to find the real geological event underlying a myth or legend to which it has given rise”.

“Myths are largely event-based, in that they are triggered to a large part by an event, or combination of events, that catastrophically impact society,” says Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist, who co-edited a volume on the subject. “Then these myths provide a window upon those events that can be recovered, retrieved and even dated.” (Link)

Your Job Is Probably Non-Essential Too [...]

When storms hit or shutdowns happen, the U.S. Government sends “non-essential” employees home, and the pundits wonder “Why are we employing non-essential people?”

The best way to think of this is to think of your own job. Assume a parent died, or that you became ill for a week. Could your office find a way to limp along without you for a week? Could they make do without hiring someone else?

For the most part, that’s all non-essential means — the people who can be let go for a little bit where other people wouldn’t have to be hired to take their place.

Exceptions to this rule might include security guards, and people processing payments. In these jobs, if you called in sick, they would have to find someone to replace you for the day. They are “essential”. They are not more important — they just need to be executed on a daily basis.

On the other hand, if you’ve taken sick leave for more than a day or two and your office hasn’t had to hire someone to replace you, congratulations — you’re non-essential too!


Fore-edge Painting [...]

Some books have paintings which can only be seen when the pages are shifted slightly.

According to Carter, fore-edge painting can refer to any decoration found on the fore-edge of a book. Carter goes on to say “The term is most commonly used, however, for an English technique quite widely practiced in the second half of the 17th century in London and Edinburgh, and popularized in the 18th by John Brindley and (in particular) Edwards of Halifax, whereby the fore-edge of the book, very slightly fanned out and then held fast, is decorated with painted views or conversation pieces. The edges are then squared up and gilded in the ordinary way, so that the painting remains concealed (and protected) while the book is closed: fan out the edges and it reappears.” (Source)

Fixing the WP REST API content_raw Problem [...]

I think I figured out how to fix the problem where the REST API in WordPress is applying filters to my content.

It seems to be on line 1089 of class-wp-rest-posts-controller in plugins/rest-api/lib/endpoints. The apply_filters line there executes it.

class-wp-rest-post-controllers (in endpoints)

I can’t change the authentication without making a whole big mess, but I think if I just set this from the apply_filters version to

‘raw’ => $post->post_content,
/** This filter is documented in wp-includes/post-template.php */
‘rendered’ => $post->post_content,

This will work. I don’t need any server rendering, so for my purposes this is fine.

It does make it hard to distribute this though — every update potentially overwrites this change. Plus asking people to change a line in the core distribution just seems wrong.

But maybe this is a workaround until WordPress makes aversion of content_raw available to unauthenticated users.

Ransomware Going Small [...]

As Ransomware gets more automated, the ability to make money by hitting many small targets increases. People must begin thinking about their own personal files as potential targets of unwanted encryption.

Less than a week ago, Webroot Threat Blog discovered CoinVault, a new breed of ransomware. “This is the first encrypting ransomware that I’ve seen which actually gives you a free decrypt,” Moffitt wrote.

Victims infected with CoinVault are asked to pay 0.5 bitcoins, which is currently equal to about $188, for the decryption key. Every 24 hours that pass without the victim paying, the cost increases. Victims can select any one file to be decrypted for free. (Source)

Not Paying the Ransom [...]

Ransomware is a new trend where hackers encrypt a corporate or public database and demand money for the key to decrypt it. Detroit got hit, and decided to not pay.

At the North American International Cyber Summit, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan admitted that Detroit’s entire city database was encrypted and held for a ransom of 2,000 bitcoins worth about $800,000. No, Detroit didn’t pay back in April, as the database wasn’t needed by the city, but Duggan described the wake up to ransomware as a “good warning sign for us.” (Link)

Robot Revolted [...]

A new WEF report claims that 5.1 million jobs in 15 major economies will be displaced by robots by 2020:

Over the next five years, automation and robots will cause 5.1 million job losses, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The findings are based on a survey of 15 economies that account for about 65 percent of the world’s total workforce. (Source)

Goldilocks Has a Temporal Dimension [...]

There are many Goldilocks planets, perfect for sustaining life, but yet no signs of intelligent life have been found. The Gaian Bottleneck hypothesis asserts that the temporal aspect of habitability is the bigger hurdle:

Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable.”

About four billion years ago, Earth, Venus, and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.

Early microbial life on Venus and Mars, if there was any, failed to stabilize the rapidly changing environment, said Charley Lineweaver from ANU.

“Life on Earth probably played a leading role in stabilizing the planet’s climate,” he said. (Link)

Vannevar Bush’s Turkish Bow Question [...]

Vannevar Bush wants (in his scenario) to understand why the Turkish short bow was better in the Crusades than the long bow:

Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him. (Source)

Lack of Longbow Adoption [...]

A theory of why the French never adopted the longbow, based on institutional constraints.

Our theory resolves the longbow puzzle by recognizing that military technol-
ogy adoption is often constrained by institutional context. We argue that, unlike
the crossbow, the longbow had three critical features that, in combination, con-
strained its widespread adoption. First, the longbow required large numbers of
archers to be effective, and the number of individuals privately willing to develop
longbow skills was never sufficient to meet this demand. Second, as a result, a
ruler who wanted to adopt the longbow had to create and enforce a culture of
archery through tournaments, financial incentives, and laws supporting longbow
use to ensure sufficient numbers of archers. Third, the longbow was cheap and
easy to make—in fact, many archers made their own bows—and because of this,
where there was a large number of citizens who had been trained in proficient
use of the bow, there was a potential army of archers.
A ruler who adopted the
longbow by creating a culture of archery thus effectively armed a large segment
of his population, which in turn created an opportunity that a usurping noble
with an eye on the Crown could exploit. Such a noble could organize effective re-
bellion against his ruler by utilizing the large number of citizens with the human
capital required for proficient use of the cheap and easy-to-produce weapon. (Source)

Booming for Newspapers [...]

End of article on the NYT entry onto the Web on January 22, 1996. The NYT had previously offered services through America Online only.

With its entry on the Web, The Times is hoping to become a primary information provider in the computer age and to cut costs for newsprint, delivery and labor. Companies that have established Web-based information sites include television networks, computer companies, on-line information services, magazines and even individuals creating electronic newspapers of their own.

“The New York Times name will get people to look at the product once or maybe twice, and the fact that The New York Times has the kind of reach and credibility it does may persuade people to look three or four times,” said John F. Kelsey 3d, president of the Kelsey Group, a consultancy running a conference on interactive newspapers next month.

“The market is booming for newspapers on the World Wide Web,” Mr. Kelsey said.

Also of interest, a bit about copying:

Subscribers will have limited access to archives of Times articles and features dating to 1980, and will be able to copy articles to their own computers for $1.95 each, Mr. Nisenholtz said.

Once upon a Time, 1962 [...]

Once upon a Time, 1962. By Eduardo Vilches. Collection: MOMA.(Link)

Spanish page on his life.°

Born in Concepción on September 12, 1932, he worked primarily as an engraver, but began painting as well in 1984.°

He studied with Gregorio de la Fuente, and later entered the Taller 99, led by Nemesio Antúnez .°

He earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Engraving at the Catholic University and then traveled to the US, where he continued specialization courses in engraving and color, at Yale University.°

He has taught at the Catholic University, between 1962 and 1976, and until 1974 was in charge of woodcut workshop at the University of Chile.°

From 1982 to 1987 he taught at the School of Graphic Design Professional Institute of the Pacific.°

Later he became a professor at the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.°

One Day Exhibition of One Work [...]

Was this the original online painting a day project?

One year of photos.

The last and most impressive of Bakhchanyan’s time-based projects, “One Day Exhibition of One Work,” lasted from 1993 to 2008. Every morning the artist made a new 8 x 11 drawing and displayed it in his studio and online. The retrospective includes one annual cycle of the project: the 365 drawings made between July 28, 2007 and July 27th, 2008. This colorful mosaic of images is among the most appealing parts of the show. Some images are purely abstract compositions, others feature human figures and faces, and many include magazine and newspaper clippings, Russian product labels, and other small traces of daily life. Unlike most of Bakhchanyan’s works — marked by agonized self-reflexivity and somewhat forced drollery — these drawings appear both playful and confident, with an irresistible spontaneous humor. (Link)

From Notre Dame libraries:

Vagrich Akopovich Bakhchanyan was born in 1938 to an ethnic Armenian family in Kharkov, Ukraine. Bakhchanyan studied art in the studio of Vasilii Ermilov, a friend of Vladimir Tatlin and Velimir Khlebnikov, where he became interested in the Russian avant-garde movement. He attended classes at Kharkov Studio of Decorative and Applied Arts and together with Eduard Limonov became a leading member of non-official Kharkov artistic and literary circles. In the mid-1960s Bakhchanyan moved to Moscow where he continued to participate in the alternative art movement with such nonconformist artists as Ilya Kabakov and Ullo Sooster. His innovative collages and graphic works regularly appeared in the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta where he worked for a number of years before immigrating to the United States in 1974. After settling in New York, Bakhchanyan joined the vibrant artistic life in the city and collaborated with a wide-range of American and Russian émigré artists and writers on many projects pertaining to mail-art, performance art, graphic design, and conceptual art. He participated in many one-man and group shows, authored a dozen books, and invented new techniques and trends in art and literature. Bakhchanyan died in New York in 2009. (Link)

America’s Real Criminal Element [...]

Kevin Drum argues in Mother Jones that lead was responsible for the explosion of crime in the 1970s and 80s.

Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?

Well, here’s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4. [ source]

If lead really was the cause of the wave, broken windows Broken Windows Theory Broken.

For a taste of the time, see Bernhard Goetz Incident

Per Capita School Age Population Is Shrinking in U.S. [...]

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 10.18.55 AM

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 10.14.35 AM

School Age population (ages 5-17) considered as a total bottomed out in the 1990s and recently recovered. But as a per capita measure, the school age population has been shrinking since at least 1970.

Lead Blood Levels Against Unleaded Gasoline [...]

Lead Levels

Lead levels in the U.S. declined quickly after the banning of lead in gasoline.  The year 1976 represented a peak for lead, after which followed a steep decline. Children from 1979 onward grew up with a fraction of the exposure to lead that their older siblings would have had.

If the lead theory is correct, what we should see then is a decline starting about 1993 or so, as lead-free young males move into the 16-24 demographic associated with violent crime. (Source)

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 7.36.35 PM

Cai Lead Study [...]

A 2007 study of the effects of lead on behavior found significant increases in aggressiveness correlated with increases in lead levels in children. The study also suggested that blood lead levels might produce such an effect not only in the early years of life (on development) but on concurrent behavior of seven year olds.

For every increase of 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, children scored about five points worse on a 100-point scale that measures “externalizing” behavior problems, such as aggression and acting out.

Also, for every 10-microgram increase, the children were nearly 11/2 times more likely to exhibit these types of problems. (Source)


The study was published in Pediatrics and is available through NIH public access. (Link)

Flint vs. 1976 [...]

Flint, Michigan recently called a state of emergency because the use of water from the Flint river as a public water source had caused a dangerous spike in blood lead levels.° It’s anticipated that this public policy disaster will cause cognitive impairment and possible behavioral problems in the kids affected; lawsuits are underway. But how does the amount of lead in children’s blood in Flint compare to what Generation X was exposed as a result of tailpipe emissions?

The answer is a bit shocking. The Flint emergency has been declared because for a brief period of time (a few months) over 7 percent of Flint’s children had levels in excess of 5µg/dL. That’s three times the current national rate.

Blood Lead Levels in Flint Michigan.
Blood Lead Levels in Flint Michigan. (Source)

Children under the age of five tend to have higher blood lead levels than other groups, as their bodies absorb much more of it.° The damage can last a lifetime, which is why in 2012, based on a review of recent research, the CDC set 5µg/dL as the level at which children should be entered into case management to prevent further exposure. About 2.5% of children nationally had this level of exposure from 2007 to 2010, although this level has decreased a bit since then.°

How do these Flint emergency levels (7% of children above the 5µg/dL level) compare to historical levels? Well, in 1970 the average preschooler had blood lead levels of 23µg/dL, four to five times above the danger level:

Lead Levels and Crime

Moreover, these were not levels that children were exposed to for a month or two: this would have been exposure to lead at levels 4 to 5 times the recommended maximum over the child’s entire childhood.

Comparison with average rates (vs. dangerous level rates) is perhaps even more striking. The average blood lead level in a 1970 preschooler was about 10 times the average blood lead level today.

Flynn Effect [...]

The “Flynn effect” refers to the observed rise in IQ scores over time, resulting in norms obsolescence. In other words, as the 20th century progressed, IQ tests had to be recalibrated, because on average people did better on them.

And not just a little bit better. A lot better:

In the 1980s, social scientist James Flynn made a startling discovery: Real IQ scores had been going up, on average, three points every decade since the early 20th century. The existence of this increase had been masked by the fact that the test gets updated and renormed every generation or so, pushing the average score back to 100.

The implications of the eponymous “Flynn effect” are astonishing. A person of average intelligence today would have registered a full two standard deviations higher a century ago, giving him a “very superior” score of 130. We’re getting smarter. A lot smarter. (Source)

When looked at closely, the gains have not been in mathematics or vocabulary, but specifically on the portions of the test most dedicated to abstract reasoning.

Flynn discusses his findings in this TED Talk:

Flynn talks here about Taking the Hypothetical Seriously.

IQ Advanced Like Height and responded to environmental conditions.

Lead in Soil [...]

From Vox:

The main thing we know about non-catastrophic lead in the United States is that the biggest problem is inner-city soil contaminated by decades-old gasoline. Gas went unleaded in the mid-1970s, but all the old lead burned in the past was dumped into the air and then fell back to earth. The tiny lead particles don’t biodegrade. They mix in with the soil, get tracked into houses, and, most of all, end up on the hands and toys of little kids, who have a marked tendency to stick anything and everything into their mouths, leading to the ingestion of lead.

This lead is everywhere, but it’s most heavily concentrated in places that were close to a lot of vehicle traffic during the leaded gasoline days — in other words, the centers of big cities. (Link)

Not a Free Speech Zone [...]

Dave Winer’s policy on comments makes explicit what many people refuse to get: a personal blog is a personal site with some community goals, and comments are welcomed only as much as they advance those goals. (Link)

Snippets from his comment guidelines:

Not a free speech zone
It’s not a free speech zone. It’s not a place for you to be heard.
Don’t argue
I’m not interested in debates here on my blog.
If you want a debate, host it somewhere else, and if I’m interested in participating I will.
If not, I won’t. (I probably won’t, I don’t enjoy debates.)

No blog posts
Keep your comments short. If you find you need to post more than two or three sentences that’s a clue that you are really writing an blog post, which is great, not a comment. Go get a blog if you don’t already have one and post your ideas there, along with a link to this post so people know what it’s in reference to. You may send me a link via email if you want me to read it. (Link)

Speed of K [...]

Speed of K is a term I saw in a programmers forum. Standing for “speed of keyboard” it asserts that most things can be accomplished faster if you learn to do them from the keyboard instead of through the use of other input devices such as mouse, touch, and voice.

There is a long history in this debate. The mouse was chosen over light pens, for example, partially because task switching from the keyboard was expensive.

There’s perhaps another rule here as well — the Speed of T, or Text. All these years into the evolution of the web, text still remains the quickest way to transmit and receive information.

Stack Fallacy [...]

The trap that companies fall into in thinking that it’s trivial to build the layers above their product. (Link)

Apple thinks it built the app infrastructure, so building apps must be easy. Windows builds the equipment and software that play and distribute music, so surely they can build a music service. Chip makers make chips — how hard could a computer be. Physicists work with the fundamental laws of the universe: surely biology is a cinch.

The problem is that while technical expertise is relatively easy to find, a knowledge of what the pressing problems are in a market or discipline (in all their complexity) is much more rare and harder to purchase.

Heckler’s veto [...]

From Wikipedia

A heckler’s veto occurs when an acting party’s right to freedom of speech is curtailed or restricted by the government in order to prevent a reacting party’s behavior. The common example is the termination of a speech or demonstration in the interest of maintaining the public peace based on the anticipated negative reaction of someone opposed to that speech or demonstration.

The term was coined by University of Chicago professor of law Harry Kalven. (Source)

Disappearing John Wayne Controversy [...]

A number of pages on the web talk about John Wayne’s controversial statements to Playboy Magazine in 1971 on the issue of race and the conquest of the Americas. They cite Wikipedia which used to have a section in the John Wayne article on this issue, but that section has long since been removed.

The remarks require some context, but did have disturbing elements; Wayne says that he believes in “white supremacy” until “the blacks” are educated to a point of responsibility and claims that Europeans were right in seizing Native American land because they were “selfishly” keeping it all to themselves.

The quotes seem like something that might belong on a Wikipedia page about someone considered to be an icon of the American spirit.

Or not. He was, after all, an actor, and actors say stupid things all the time. His comments don’t seem to have had any direct political impact, and were not that different from what many people expressed at the time.

The problem, again, is that what should be on the page depends what reason brought you to it. In a history of American acting style, the comments are peripheral at best. In a history of the “cowboy iconography” of the American film these quotes are central. You need two different pages; one won’t suffice.

Create and Edit Walkthrough [...]

Work through this process step by step in your groups or with partners.

Make a Page about yourself

Go to ____

Log in using test account.

Here is the login button. Click it, then use these credentials:

User: Guest
Password: fch2016

The page will reload. If you are logged in the “Log In” link should change to a “Log Out” link, and a box with a Title field and a Content field should appear.

Put your full name in the title field.

In the content field, you are going to write a bit about yourself. This wiki uses a syntax called “Markdown” which is widely used on the web. If you ever want to remind yourself of how to do format something in the box, just Google “Markdown Help” or something similar.

Bolding, Italics, links and line breaks

Here we are going to write a short bit about ourselves. We use the syntax of two asterisks on each side of something to bold a word or phrase. Type the following exactly into the content area, then edit it to match your own taste (remove space around the word “link” though),

**A Song I Like:** "Where No Cars Go", by Arcade Fire
**A Guilty Pleasure Film:** _Zoolander_
**A Website I Read:** Kevin Drum's blog [ link ](

You can probably figure out how to modify this text to say and link to the things you want it to say and link to. If you can’t, Google “Markdown Cheatsheet” and grab a sheet to help you out (the one from is good, but any will do).

Saving and Viewing

Now we will test your knowledge. Click the “Create” button and it should create a page. You’ll see the page pop up in card format. Click the title of the page to view.

You should see three lines of text, with bolded text on the left and unbolded answers on the right. Your film title should be italicized. Next to the name of the blog you like there should be a linked word say “link”. Clicking it should bring you to that page.

It hopefully looks like this:

A Song I Like: “Where No Cars Go”, by Arcade Fire
A Guilty Pleasure Film: Zoolander
A Website I Read: Kevin Drum’s blog (Link)

Getting Back to Card View, Searching and Editing Old Posts

To get back to the “card view” of your stack, look on the left side menu on your page and click “Return to Card Stack”.

Look through the cards in your stack for the one you just edited. There’s going to be a lot of them if you did this in a class, because everyone just did them. (If you’re doing this on your own, you’ll probably see your card as the most recent).

To find your card, go into the search box and type the name of the Guilty Pleasure Film you just entered. Hit return.

To edit the content of the card, click on the text of the card and it will open up the editor.

Changing the names of pages in wiki is bad, and should be done with caution, so you can’t edit the title. If you really need to edit the title, you will need to make a new page with the new title.

Add paragraphs, add a video

Hit “enter” a couple times to get a new paragraph. Then type:

Here's a song you might like.

Hit “enter” twice. Then open another tab and search YouTube for a video of your “Song I Like”. (If it is a lewd or offensive song or video, maybe reconsider the choice). When you find the video, copy the URL from the location bar of your browser, then paste it into your document on it’s own line, like so:

Now let’s check this again. Click the “Update” button. Find your card by searching for it. Click the title.

You should see a YouTube video embedded in your document.

Incidentally, if you are doing this in a class with others, it might be a little crazy finding your stuff, because everybody is posting at the exact same time. The site might also be slow or unresponsive if everyone happens to post at the exact same time or browse at the exact same time. This won’t usually be the case.

Also, if at any time the smallness of the textbox feels confining, you can copy the text, paste it into a text editor, work with it there, then paste it back in when done.

Add an Image

There’s an easy and a hard way to add images. The hard way involves going into the WordPress Dashboard, which is clunky and a bit overwhelming to newbies. So try this easy way first.

We’re going to edit your bio again and add a picture of an antique French game about empire. Adding images is very similar to adding links, but we use an exclamation mark to show we want an image.

![Vichy Board Game]( "Image Copyright Nicolas Danforth, used under fair use. See Works Cited")

It should look like this when you are done:

Vichy Board Game

If you want to check, hit update, and click the title to view, like you did last time.

A note on images: When you reference an image, the software goes out and grabs a copy of the image and uploads it to our server. This works well in most cases, but in some cases it fails. The reasons?

  • Some images are too big to upload (over 1MB)
  • Some servers, when we try to grab a copy of the image, won’t let us do that, or take too long to respond
  • Sometimes you might be putting in the URL of the page the image is on, and not the URL of the image.
  • Sometimes you’ve got the image syntax wrong. (For this to work you must use the full syntax as shown).

In these cases the program fails silently, and you end up with a little “x” where your image should be. It doesn’t happen often, and usually you can solve it by finding another copy of the image somewhere on the web. If that doesn’t work, there are other options as well, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Add a Related Resources section

OK, so let’s add a related resources section to link to Nicolas Danforth’s blog and give him credit for the image.

Headings are made by putting hashmarks in front of things a the beginning of a line.

# First Level Heading (Huge!)
## Second Level Heading (Still Big!)
### Third Level Heading (Large-ish)
#### Fourth Level Heading (Medium)
##### Fifth Level Heading (Medium)

These look like this:

First Level Heading (Huge!)

Second Level Heading (Still Big!)

Third Level Heading (Large-ish)

Fourth Level Heading (Medium)

Fifth Level Heading (Medium, all caps)

Your page title is displayed as a first level heading, so generally you want to start your page headings as either second or third level. In general you want to use headings sparingly in wiki, and break long treatments into separate wiki pages.

Here, we’ll add a related resources heading at the bottom of our page with a link to the resource.

## Related Resources and Credits

The game board photograph is copyright Nicolas Danforth and used under fair use. You can see Nick's blog and the original here. [ link ](

Which comes out like this:

Related Resources and Credits

The game board photograph is copyright Nicolas Danforth and used under fair use. You can see Nick’s blog and the original here. (Link)

Wiki Links

We’ll not go through every bit of Markdown here — if you want to do blockquotes or bullet points or tables or anything else, you can look it up on the Web.

Internal wiki links (links to another page on our wiki site) are a bit different in that they use non-Markdown syntax, and instead use the standard wiki link syntax one finds places like Wikipedia.

The way you make a wiki link is to put double brackets around the title of the wiki link. So, for example, a wiki link that looked like this

Wiki Link demo

Would look like this on the page

and clic

FAFSA Tradeoff [...]

Security and access are often opposed goals. A recent change to the FAFSA demonstrates this.

[O]ne change — switching from a four-digit PIN for online access to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to a more standard and secure log-in identification and password — may be having the opposite effect. (Link)

The changes are in line (somewhat) with bank log in security and the like. But a host of problems can result. Here area few:

  • The process overall takes longer
  • Security questions can’t be changed easily
  • Email confirmations force you to stop the process just when you have momentum.
  • Sometimes the email confirmations get lost
  • “Students often use and subsequently lose access to their high school email addresses, and some high schools prohibit students from using personal email accounts on campus.”
  • Accounts lock after multiple failed attempts to log in and the help-line wait can be hours.

As usual, these barriers are not equally felt:

The problem, however, is that for low-income students, “Every additional barrier you erect between them and financial aid makes it more likely they will drop out of the process,” Kantrowitz said.

Cheap Regex for Image in Markdown [...]

Took me too long to find this info online, had to make one up myself. It’s not watertight but this regex should pull markdown images and return an array of alt text, image url, and title.

!\[([^\]]*)]\(([^\)]*)\) *"([^"]*)"

Always weird to look at a regex like the one above and think — wow, that was a half hour’s work….

Rose Mary Woods [...]


Rose Woods took the blame for the gap on the Nixon tapes that most believe had contained incriminating evidence of NIxon’s Watergate involvement.

From Wikipedia:

Fiercely loyal to Nixon, Woods claimed responsibility in a 1974 grand jury testimony for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes of the 181⁄2 minute gap in a June 20, 1972, audio tape. Her demonstration of how this might have occurred – which depended upon her stretching to simultaneously press controls several feet apart (what the press dubbed the “Rose Mary Stretch”) – was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain a mystery. (Source)

Lust for Life Rhythm [...]

The rhythm of the Iggy Pop song “Lust for Life” came from a beep pattern from Armed Forces Radio. The New York Times explains:

Mr. Pop and Mr. Bowie, seated on the floor — they had decided chairs were not natural — were waiting for the Armed Forces Network telecast of “Starsky & Hutch.” The network started shows with a call signal that, Mr. Pop said, went “beep beep beep, beep beep beep beep, beep beep beep,” the rhythm, which is also like a Motown beat, that was the foundation for “Lust for Life.” Mr. Pop recalled, “He wrote the [chord] progression on ukulele, and he said, ‘Call it “Lust for Life,” write something up.’” (Source)

A much older Iggy Pop lip syncs the song below:

Holacracy Exodus [...]

The radical, non-hierarchal system Holocracy was adopted at online retailer Zappos in 2015. Results have been mixed at best, and many employees are leaving the company.

In a post on the company’s website, Arun Rajan, the chief operating officer, said 18 percent of the company, or some 260 people, had left the company since March.

The exodus began after the chief executive, Tony Hsieh, announced that the company was going to adopt Holacracy, which is supposed to promote collaboration and abolish hierarchy. Anyone who did not accept the change could take a generous buyout, Mr. Hsieh said at the time. Within weeks, about 14 percent of the company, or 210 employees, had left the company, an Amazon subsidiary known for its playful corporate culture, convivial atmosphere and ample perks. (Source)

Fan Love [...]

Being a true fan is about loving for the sake of loving.

For Brownstein, “to be a fan is to know that loving trumps being loved.” Fisher beautifully observes, “Brownstein finds words for the particular quality of feeling that is love for the stranger who compels you, who has somehow formed you, and who may but more likely will not answer you back.” (Source)

Pronunciation Gets Serious [...]

A description from the National Post of a fight over the pronunciation of Newfoundland that ended in death. (Link)

Mill workers in the frontier town of Larkspur, Colo., saw two men enter a cabin in search of a dictionary. Seconds later, they heard a gunshot.

The Webster’s had not even been thumbed through when mill worker William Atcheson, 23, threw a punch. Teamster John P. Davis recovered and, “true to his Texan breeding and education,” drew a revolver and fired point-blank into his assailant’s abdomen.

The year was 1876 and Davis and Atcheson had just drawn first blood in a dispute that has divided Newfoundlanders ever since.

“One wanted to put the accent on ‘found,’ and the other on ‘land,’ ” said the Rocky Mountain News, which reported on the unusual brawl in its March 29, 1876 edition.

Tuition Covers More Costs Post-Recession [...]

Between 2008 and 2012, as states dramatically cut higher education budgets, the percentage of costs borne by tuition increased sharply.

In 2008, net tuition at public research universities covered 50.5 percent of educational costs, on average. That figure has since ballooned to 62.4 percent in 2013, up just slightly (0.3 percent) from 2012. At public master’s institutions it was 56.7 percent (up from 47 percent in 2008) and at public bachelor’s institutions, it was 49.4 percent (up from 41.4 percent in 2008).

And at community colleges, tuition covered 37.3 percent of educational costs in 2013, up from 30.3 percent in 2008 (but down slightly from 38.3 percent in 2012). (Source)

Privacy Products [...]

Most people claim that they wouldn’t engage in behaviors around privacy that they are most definitely engaging in. Is the disconnect based on a lack of understanding, or a gap between thought and action?

As an example, consider this scenario people were asked about in a recent Pew Report:

Personal details on a new social media site will be used to deliver advertising to you: 33 percent would find this trade-off acceptable, 51 percent would not. This one shows a stark difference by age, with 40 percent of those under 50 say it would be acceptable but only 24 percent of those over 50. (Source)

Anyway you slice this data, it’s clear that there are many people saying this would be unacceptable who are nonetheless engaging in such behavior.

The Laptop Is Over, 1985 Edition [...]

From the New York Times, December 1985, a screed against portable technology:

WHATEVER happened to the laptop computer? Two years ago, on my flight to Las Vegas for Comdex, the annual microcomputer trade show, every second or third passenger pulled out a portable, ostensibly to work, but more likely to demonstrate an ability to keep up with the latest fad. Last year, only a couple of these computers could be seen on the fold-down trays. This year, every one of them had been replaced by the more traditional mixed drink or beer.

The author goes on to note that:

But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can’t imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing. (Source)

Gradually, then Suddenly describes the pattern whereby many inventions get slow starts in a market, only to see growth explode when the environment, infrastructure and capabilities improve.

Hugo’s Closet [...]

Victor Hugo locked away all his coats so he couldn’t go outside, in order to force him to stay inside and finish The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The story has been exaggerated over the years, but the heart of it is true.

By the summer of 1830, Victor Hugo was facing an impossible deadline. Twelve months earlier, the famous French author had made an agreement with his publisher that he would write a new book titled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Instead of writing the book, Hugo spent the next year pursuing other projects, entertaining guests, and delaying his work on the text. Hugo’s publisher had become frustrated by his repeated procrastination and responded by setting a formidable deadline. The publisher demanded that Hugo finish the book by February of 1831—less than 6 months away.

Hugo developed a plan to beat his procrastination. He collected all of his clothes, removed them from his chambers, and locked them away. He was left with nothing to wear except a large shawl. Lacking any suitable clothing to go outdoors, Hugo was no longer tempted to leave the house and get distracted. Staying inside and writing was his only option. (Source)

We find that this is a bit exaggerated, at least according to translations available of Hugo’s wife’s biography of him. Here is what she actually says:

He could now hope for no further delay; he must be punctual to the hour. He bought a bottle of ink and a coarse knit garment of grey woolen which enveloped him from neck to toe, put his coats under key so that he should have no temptation to go out, and entered into his romance as into a prison. He was very melancholy.

From that time he left his desk only to eat and sleep. His only re-creation was an hour of conversation after dinner with some friends who came to see him, and to whom he read at times the pages which he. had written during the day. He read the chapter entitled Les Cloches to M. Pierre Leroux, who thought that sort of literature entirely superfluous.
After the first chapters he became more cheerful ; his creation took possession of him ; he felt neither fatigue, nor the cold of winter, which’ had come ; in December he worked with open windows.

He left his bear-skin but once. On the morning of the 20th of December, the Prince de Crean came and offered to take him to the trial of the Ministers of Charles X. He went, was present at the trial, and saw the tumult which assailed it.

During the night of the 7th of January, a brilliant light made him suddenly look towards his window, which was always open : it was an aurora borealis.

On the 14th of January, the book was finished. The bottle of ink which be had bought on the first day was also finished ; he had come at the same time to the last line and the last drop; this led him for a moment-to think of changing the title of his romance to : ” What there is in a bottle of ink.” Some years afterwards he related this before Alphonse Karr, who thought the title charming, and asked him for it as he had done nothing with it. M. Alphonse Karr published under that collective name several romances, among others that master-piece of spirit and emotion, Genevieve. (Source)

Evgeny Morozov does something like this with his wifi card to increase productivity. (Source)

The Image that Still Haunts Her [...]

Even in the early days YouTube used humans to filter content, and the shape of content moderation (as well as the problems of unmoderated content) appeared early.

Videos arrived on their screens in a never-ending queue. After watching a couple seconds apiece, SQUAD members clicked one of four buttons that appeared in the upper right hand corner of their screens: “Approve” — let the video stand; “Racy” — mark video as 18-plus; “Reject” — remove video without penalty; “Strike” — remove video with a penalty to the account. Click, click, click. But that day Mora-Blanco came across something that stopped her in her tracks.

“Oh, God,” she said.

Mora-Blanco won’t describe what she saw that morning. For everyone’s sake, she says, she won’t conjure the staggeringly violent images which, she recalls, involved a toddler and a dimly lit hotel room.

Ewing-Davis calmly walked Mora-Blanco through her next steps: hit “Strike,” suspend the user, and forward the person’s account details and the video to the SQUAD team’s supervisor. From there, the information would travel to the CyberTipline, a reporting system launched by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 1998. Footage of child exploitation was the only black-and-white zone of the job, with protocols outlined and explicitly enforced by law since the late 1990s.

The video disappeared from Mora-Blanco’s screen. The next one appeared.

Ewing-Davis said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

Okay. This is what you’re doing, Mora-Blanco remembers thinking as they paced up and down the street. You’re going to be seeing bad stuff.

Almost a decade later, the video and the child in it still haunt her. “In the back of my head, of all the images, I still see that one,” she said when we spoke recently. “I really didn’t have a job description to review or a full understanding of what I’d be doing. I was a young 25-year-old and just excited to be getting paid more money. I got to bring a computer home!” Mora-Blanco’s voice caught as she paused to collect herself. “I haven’t talked about this in a long time.”

Mora-Blanco is one of more than a dozen current and former employees and contractors of major internet platforms from YouTube to Facebook who spoke to us candidly about the dawn of content moderation. Many of these individuals are going public with their experiences for the first time. Their stories reveal how the boundaries of free speech were drawn during a period of explosive growth for a high-stakes public domain, one that did not exist for most of human history. As law professor Jeffrey Rosen first said many years ago of Facebook, these platforms have “more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president.” (Source)

Spurious Narrative [...]

Tyler Vigen finds spurious correlations. The weird thing about them is that your mind can’t help but make a narrative, even when you know there is no connection. Your mind craves narrative even when the basis for narrative is demonstrably wrong.

As an example, here’s a correlation between cheese consumption and death through bedsheet tangling, from Vigen’s book of spurious correlations:

CYtBxHKWMAAwVR5.jpg large

We dare you to try and not think of a reason these two things would rise together, even though there is no reason to think there is any connection at all.

Stories can help us understand, but they also deceive. See Stories and Deception

Conway’s Law [...]

From The Mythical Man-month, a description of a law first described by Mel Conway. Effective designs require flexible organizations.

Because the design that occurs first is almost never the best possible, the prevailing system concept may need to change. Therefore, flexibility of organization is important to effective design. (Link)

There are other things to take away as well — for instance, an effective design team is always biased from day one: the organization of the team pre-determines the range of options for the product.

Given any design team organization, there is a class of design alternatives which cannot be effectively pursued by such an organization because the necessary communication paths do not exist. Therefore, there is no such thing as a design group which is both organized and unbiased. (Source)

VR vs. AR [...]

If virtual reality is “The Matrix”, then augmented reality is “The Terminator”. As the name suggests, the point of VR is to persuade users that they have entered an entirely new reality. The headsets—such as Sony’s Morpheus, or Facebook’s Oculus Rift—block out the surrounding world and, making use of an old trick called stereoscopy, show slightly different images of each to a user’s eyes. That fools his brain into creating an illusion of depth, transforming the pair of images into a single experience of a fully three-dimensional world. Motion trackers, either mounted on the headset or externally, keep track of the users head, updating the view as he moves it around; optional hand controllers allow him to interact with virtual objects. The result is a reasonably convincing illusion of being somewhere else entirely. Augmented reality, by contrast, does not dispense with the real world, but uses computers to improve it in various ways. In “The Terminator”, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer robot sees a constant stream of useful information laid over his view of the world, a bit like the heads-up displays used by fighter pilots. 

So AR and VR are close cousins, and rely on similar technology. But the two technologies have one fundamental difference. VR is immersive: the headsets must, by necessity, block out the external world. Putting one on is tricky enough to ensure that glancing away, as one might do when watching television, is not really possible. The first wave of applications, therefore, are in video games and films, where users (the companies hope) will prove willing to lock themselves into their virtual worlds. 

AR, by design, maintains its users’ connection with the real world, and that means that a headset is not necessary. Heads-up displays are an early example of AR, but there are others: VeinViewer, for instance, is a medical device that projects images of a patients veins onto his skin, to help doctors aim injections. Many existing smartphone apps also make use of AR. Word Lens, for instance, translates between languages by looking at the world through a smartphone camera, recognising text, and then presenting the user with a real-time image in which that text has been replaced by its equivalent in another language. (Source)

Vis-o-matic [...]

The Vis-o-matic was a short-lived teletype shopping system introduced in Ontario, Canada in 1950.

Picture from LIFEmagazine
Picture from life magazine demonstrating the Vis-o-matic. From LIFE Magazine. Used under fair use.

UI Influence on Interpretation [...]

A writer pastes the same messages into a Facebook Chat UI, an email, and a plain text message and receives significantly different interpretations of the messagers personality and state of mind. (Link)

Discourse norms are defined by interface and culture as well. See Before Posting to NetNews

The Gates Ajar [...]

Modern conceptions of heaven feature a reunion with loved ones prominently, and posit an afterlife where people retain their bodily forms and personalities. This version of heaven, at least in in America, was heavily influenced by the 1868 religious novel The Gates Ajar by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (later Elizabeth Phelps Ward)

The second best-selling religious novel of the 19th century, it sold 80,000 copies in America by 1900; a and 100,000 were in England during the same time period.

The New York Times describes the novel as follows:

It’s about a young woman named Mary Cabot whose brother Roy was killed in the Civil War. The bereaved Mary knows that she is supposed to be consoled by her Calvinist faith (personified by a minister with the unsubtle name Bland), but she finds her church’s teachings about the afterlife cold comfort. She does not like picturing her brother single-mindedly adoring God. Mary thinks this sounds dull, and she is horrified by the thought that Roy, in his rapturous concentration on God’s splendor, might forget her, his beloved sister. Through the ministrations of a widowed aunt, Mary ultimately adopts a new vision of heaven — one in which people’s primary end is not union with God, but being reunited with loved ones.

Interestingly, her departed Roy is not only looking forward to a reunion, but is with her at all times:

” Then you think, you really think, that Roy remembers and loves and takes care of me ; that he has been listening, perhaps, and is —why, you don’t think he may be here?”

“Yes, I do. Here, close beside you all this time, trying to speak to you through the bless-ed sunshine and the flowers, trying to help you, and sure to love you,— right here, dear. I do not believe God means to send him away from you, either.” (Source)

John Bunyan’s 17th century conception of heaven makes a quick mention of reunion with family and friends, but only in passing. (Link)

Letter from Anne Aldrich to Emily Dickinson [...]

Copy of a letter sent by the poet Anne Aldrich, two years before her death, to an Emily Dickinson, though likely not the Emily Dickinson given the date. Transcribed from the photographic version in the ASU archives. The note on that item reads:

Original manuscript is tipped in to a copy of the author’s book “The Feet of Love” Local Call Number PS 1019.A7 F4. Bookplate inside the book reads “The Edward Bliss Hill and Clara Hood Hill Memorial Collection of Literature given to the Matthews Library Arizona State College at Tempe by their Daughter Gertrude Francis Hill.(Link)

Letter follows.

354 W 20th St
New York City
July 4, 1890

My dear Miss Dickinson,

Your kind note both touched and gratified me. And I should be most happy to send you a photograph myself, but for the reason that so many, who have been good enough to come for my book, and who are unknown to me have asked for it that I have been obliged to make it a rule not to give any away except to personal friends. I think you can claim one by applying to Seo[??] Rickword[??] Photography [at] Union Square, New York.

A life of [???] suffering, such as I am sure you must be, dear Miss Dickinson, is a better poem in itself than we can any of us write, and I believe it is only through the [???] of suffering, either mental or physical, that we can [???] into that tender sympathy with the griefs of all mankind which it ought to be the ideal of every [????] to attain.

Believe me, dear Miss Dickinson with every kind wish

Very faithfully yours
Anne Reeve Aldrich

Anne Reeve Aldrich [...]

Anne Reeve Aldrich (born & died New York City; April 25, 1866 – June 28, 1892) was an American poet and novelist. Her works include The Rose and Flame and Other Poems and The Feet of Love.

Her father died when she was eight, and her mother moved her to the country where she was home-schooled, first by her mother, and then by tutors. She wrote constantly from a young age, and at the age of 17 she was published in Lippincott’s magazine. Poems in other periodicals followed and eventually led to published colllections of poems.

False Memories are Common [...]

Memories are not stored the way an event is stored in a video or audio file. For something to be remembered, it must be recreated. Furthermore, each time we remember something, we alter our memory of it. In the case of remembering events, the more we remember an event, the more we are likely to have distorted it. Surprisingly, the most-remembered events can sometimes be the least reliable.° See The Least Contaminated Memory

The psychologist Jean Piaget had a particularly interesting false memory. He believed he was the victim of an attempted kidnapping:

… one of my first memories would date, if it were true, from my second year. I can still see, most clearly, the following scene, in which I believed until I was about fifteen. I was sitting in my pram, which my nurse was pushing in the Champs Elysees, when a man tried to kidnap me. I was held in by the strap fastened round me while my nurse bravely tried to stand between me and the thief. She received various scratches, and I can still see vaguely those on her face. … When I was about fifteen, my parent received a letter from my former nurse … she wanted to confess her past faults, and in particular to return the watch she had been given as a reward. … She had made up the whole story. … I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account of this story, which my parents believed, and projected into the past in the form of a visual memory. (Source)

False identification of criminals from victim and eyewitness testimony presents a similar problem (Link)

Reconsolidation theory provides insight into why this happens. See Engram Lifecycle

Engram Lifecycle [...]

An engram is a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored. It forms a prominent role in Consolidation Theory.

The perils of reconsolidation suggests why False Memories are Common

Stories and Deception [...]

Maria Konnikova discusses how memory can fool us, even leading us to believe ideas that are not our own are ours.

That’s precisely why they can be such a powerful tool of deception. When we’re immersed in a story, we let down our guard. We focus in a way we wouldn’t if someone were just trying to catch us with a random phrase or picture or interaction. (“He has a secret” makes for a far more intriguing proposition than “He has a bicycle.”) In those moments of fully immersed attention, we may absorb things, under the radar, that would normally pass us by or put us on high alert. Later, we may find ourselves thinking that some idea or concept is coming from our own brilliant, fertile minds, when, in reality, it was planted there by the story we just heard or read. (Source)

Donald Spence has noted differences between Historical Truth and Narrative Truth

Engram Lifecycle shows how reconsolidation corrupts memories.

Historical Truth and Narrative Truth [...]

Donald Spence, writing in 1982, argues that there are two models of truth, serving two different functions. Author Ruth E. Ray summarizes the difference in her book on nostalgia and story-telling:

 As defined by psychologist Donald Spence, historical truth involves concrete objects and events; a memory is historically true if it can be factually verified. Narrative truth involves the connections between events, which are not verifiable because they are based on values, interpretations, and emotions. A memory has narrative truth when it captures an experience to the satisfaction of those telling and listening to it. Narrators who focus on historical truth see themselves as “archivists,” guarding original records and trying to keep them pristine, while those who focus on narrative truth are “mythmakers,” cre-ating a story “that speaks to the heart as well as the mind” and “seeks to know the truth and generate conviction about the self.”

Oliver Sacks, writing in 2011, notes our inability to distinguish the “real” historical truth from the narrative truth we create:

What is clear in all these cases — whether of imagined or real abuse in childhood, of genuine or experimentally implanted memories, of misled witnesses and brainwashed prisoners, of unconscious plagiarism, and of the false memories we probably all have based on misattribution or source confusion — is that, in the absence of outside confirmation, there is no easy way of distinguishing a genuine memory or inspiration, felt as such, from those that have been borrowed or suggested, between what the psychoanalyst Donald Spence calls ‘historical truth’ and ‘narrative truth.’ [(Source)](

Other writers and researchers have questioned whether narrative truth truly qualifies as truth. Feminist scholars have often embraced narrative truth as a way to capture marginalized experience.

Nomentum shows how narrative can warp a stable reality into a dynamic narrative.

The Least Contaminated Memory [...]

“The least contaminated memory might exist in the brain of a patient with amnesia — in the brain of someone who cannot contaminate it by remembering it.” (Link)

See also False Memories are Common and Engram Lifecycle

Kenbak-1 [...]

The Kenbak-1 is widely considered to be the world’s first “personal computer”. Designed and invented by John Blankenbaker of Kenbak Corporation in 1970, and was first sold in early 1971.


Blankenbaker notes one of his big mistakes was trying to sell into schools instead of to hobbyists (as Apple would later do). See PO Death

Others consider the Programma 101 to be the first personal computer, though the cost of that machine was significantly greater, and marketing was targeted at businesses.

The Recommender’s Paradox [...]

A recent-ish study looked at film recommendation systems and found an interesting result: perceived novelty of the recommendations was negatively correlated with user satisfaction, and user satisfaction was correlated adoption.

One of the most striking things we found is that the novelty of recommended items has a significant negative impact on users’ perception of a recommender’s ability to satisfactorily meet their information needs. This effect was particularly strong in its impact on the user’s first impression of an algorithm, and was present even though we restricted the depth of the long tail into which our algorithms could reach.

And so you end up with what I’ll call the recommender’s paradox. People turn to recommendation systems to find things they wouldn’t have thought of themselves, but they choose recommendation systems that largely provide them choices that don’t surprise them. Aspects of trust in the recommender relationship undermine efficacy.

One approach to the paradox is that novelty might be introduced slowly, after trust is built, but there’s some bad news there as well:

Increasing the novelty of recommendations as the user gains more experience with the system and has had more time to consider its ability to meet their needs may provide benefit, but our results cannot confirm or deny this. The users in our study are experienced with movie recommendation in general and MovieLens in particular (the median user has rated 473 movies), and their first impressions were still heavily influenced by novelty.

One other way to think of this is that people think they want new films recommended to them but actually they really want to be reminded of films they had already been thinking about seeing but had forgotten about. My guess is the most successful engine would probably provide you with a wide range of films by directors and actors you know you like but had forgotten about, in genres that you know work for you.  These results would seem tailored to you, but at the same time be things you would not have found yourself.

Obvious implication here on Open Educational Resource recommendation algorithms, Big Data, the Filter Bubble, and the problem of novelty in education more generally.

Lewy Body Dementia [...]

Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. (html)


People with Lewy body disease have Lewy bodies in the mid-brain region (like those with Parkinson’s disease) and in the cortex of the brain. It’s believed that they usually also have the “plaques and tangles” of the brain that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, it’s believed that many people with Alzheimer’s disease also have cortical Lewy bodies. Because of the overlap, it’s likely that many people with Lewy body disease are misdiagnosed (at least initially) as having either Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. A big factor in the misdiagnosis might be that Lewy body disease is relatively unknown. (html)

The incidence of the disease is largely unknown. Studies have pointed to over a hundred new cases per 100,000 for those over 65 to estimates less than five new cases per 100,000 over 65 a year.

VideoSync [...]

VideoSync: Watch videos synchronized at the same frame with your friends, anywhere around the world. So that you all can enjoy a bunny eating raspberries.
Together. (Link)

Morality and Gun Violence [...]

We tend to think that gun violence is committed primarily by people acting immorally for selfish reasons. But what if that had the problem backwards? Tage Rai of MIT’s Sloan School of Management went through records of violence trying to find new patterns in why people choose to maim and kill.

The result?

The commonality was that the primary motivations were moral. This means that the perpetrators of violence felt like what they are doing was morally right. In fact, when they were committing the act, they perceived that not acting would be morally wrong. It wasn’t about a breakdown in moral sensibilities, but more that their sense of morality was different. They viewed violence as the fundamentally right thing to do even if no one else could see any possible justification for it. (Source)

(He could have just watched a couple seasons of The Wire to figure this out, but we appreciate the methodology).

He continues:

So how does this knowledge that violence is morally motivated help in our efforts to reduce it? It shows that we need to carefully reconsider our strategies. For example, we’ve been trying to decrease gun violence for years with increased mental health checks. While that is a good thing, it will not significantly decrease gun violence because most gun violence is not committed by people with mental health problems. Rather, it is committed by people who feel they are morally right in committing that act. [ source]

Philippa Foot was one of the 20th century’s premier moral philosophers.

Camera Bump-down [...]

On a camera industry podcast, industry expert Heino Hibig talks about the sudden “bump-down” of the digital camera market in 2009, and argues it is not about the adoption of cameraphones. Why does he think that, and if it is not about the cameraphone, then what is about then? (Link)

Hibig claims a deep statistical dive into the data shows there is no correlation between smartphone growth and camera decline. It is not about technology being replaced.

His argument is that the curve does not resemble a saturation curve and does not follow smartphone adoption either.

Instead, he argues, it is about the way that smartphones have changed user expectations around devices. Consumers find cameras and SmartTVs too complex and counterintuitive. He talks about the lack of a standardized “roll format”, for example, and the persistent use of camera-specific management software.

If this is true, then the path forward, he argues, is to stop saying “the smartphone took our business” and look at the ways that cameras can start falling in line with consumer expectations and also investigate the ways that the industry can work together on standardization. As an example of something in the past that worked he cites the move in the 1990s to computer readable SD cards which suddenly made digital cameras easy to use compared to lengthy custom import processes. Cooperation of this type could change the prospects of the industry.






Whisk and a Blender [...]

Sometimes people have multiple tools that do roughly the same thing. Why does this happen, and what can we learn from it?

If you’re an adult with a moderately stocked kitchen, chances are you have both a whisk and an electric mixer. You might have a blender too.

You can probably accomplish most things you do with the whisk with the electric mixer, and most things you do with the electric mixer with the blender. The blender probably does some other things as well, like nicely crush ice and get the spinach flakes out of your green smoothies.

So why keep the whisk? A couple reasons:

  • It’s faster for a lot of things. You pull it out and quickly whisk something in the bowl it’s already in.
  • It’s small. It really doesn’t take up any space.
  • There’s a peacefulness to it.
  • It’s cheap.

You see the whisk and a blender pattern in technology a lot. People have Kindles while they have cell phones and computers, for example. People have Notepad and Word.

Your kitchen, on the whole, probably has more devices (not less) than it did 10 years ago.

Of course, mobile is the fly in the ointment here. Your kitchen has space for more devices, your pocket does not. See The Best Camera Is the One That’s With You