Archive of January 2018

Legends of the Ancient Web

Another thought-provoking talk from Maciej Cegłowski, tracing the early history of radio from hobbyists to commercial success:

Like the Internet, radio technology was on the horizon for a long time before it arrived, and it arrived in a rudimentary form that didn’t strike anyone as a qualitatively new technology, let alone one that could upend politics.

The world that radio arrived in already had ways to communicate in real time over long distances—telegraphs and telephones. It wasn’t clear at the outset that Hertzian waves could be detected at distances much greater than a few hundred meters, let alone that they might become a practical method to transmit the human voice.

At best, they might prove a useful method for detecting lightning at a distance, or communicating with ships at sea.

The world that radio was born into had a group of telegraphy enthusiasts who ran their own little networks, the Usenet of their day. And there was also an assortment of thriving small-scale telephone networks, including rural ones where the telephone wires were run over barbed wire fencing, connecting thirty or forty farms on a circuit.

Some of these people became the first radio “hams”—amateur hobbyists.

Correspondence from Alan Kay

Socrates didn’t charge for “education” because when you are in business, the “customer starts to become right”. Whereas in education, the customer is generally “not right”. Marketeers are catering to what people want, educators are trying to deal with what they think people need (and this is often not at all what they want). Part of Montessori’s genius was to realize early that children want to get fluent in their surrounding environs and culture, and this can be really powerful if one embeds what they need in the environs and culture.

I want to believe this, but I don’t know how to escape the patriarchal implications of this line of reasoning. As soon as it’s the teacher’s job to know better what students need…

Amber Wilson on Learning

A refreshing take:

The Web is at a point where more of us need to be putting in some effort to get a broader view of the world and the people living here. The social effects of the Web are stretching further and further every day. More and more people are getting access to it. More than ever, we need to make sure it’s an accessible and secure place for everyone.

No, #MeToo Is Not a Witch Hunt

David M. Perry gets it:

This is all nonsense, but nonsense with a purpose. Powerful men, mostly white men, are not Jews in Nazi Germany, black Americans in pre-civil-rights U.S., heretics and witches before the Salem magistrates or the Inquisition, alleged Communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee, or political dissidents in Soviet Russia. Losing a job, losing screen time, losing influence—these are not equivalent to the loss of life or freedom. Every time the playing field tilts a bit toward level, the powerful start to cry, “Help, I’m being repressed!”

Rebuilding the social open web

Brent Simmons:

The period from 1995-2008 (roughly speaking) was fun. It seemed like everybody was coming up with new things, and people were experimenting, and we were finding new joys in new connections, both human and technological.

Robust Client-Side JavaScript

Mat​hia⁠s S​chäf⁠er offers up a wonderful and in-depth overview addressing the current state of affairs with practical advice and examples throughout.

I should probably add this to my list of web books.

cgit

This looks interesting (and deeply nerdy):

A hyperfast web frontend for git repositories written in C.

Honestly, it’s fun just poking around a codebase whose user interface is the project itself. For me, it’s especially fun to look through all this C code and realize that in most cases I kind of know what’s going on.