I am thinking that starting in January I will institute “Widget Wednesdays” on this blog. The first one will be posted on Wednesday January 5, and I will plan to post one widget every Wednesday thereafter.

The idea is to present some idea not in words, but as an interactive graphical thing that people can play with. Like some guy never said, “A widget is worth a thousand words.”

I might use the days before and after to discuss related ideas. But Wednesdays will be for Widgets.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Fashionable research

For the last several years, the “fashionable” area in computer science research was Machine Learning. This makes sense from an economic point of view, since the rise of on-line giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon has very much been precipitated by their ability to serve advertisers through better data analysis.

But now that Facebook is rebranding itself, I wonder whether the fashions might shift. Experiential Computing might become the new Machine Learning. As its potential for economic transformation becomes understood, funding for EC might start flowing more readily, and be easier to come by.

We shall see.

Chocolate day

I am glad that today is national chocolate day. I don’t really understand exactly what it means, but it makes me happy.

If you’re going to pick one thing for a day in celebration of, that’s a pretty darn good one right there.

Now I think I’m going to go eat some chocolate.


when I was in Kindergarten I had a crush on a very beautiful girl in our class. She was very nice, and we got along really well, and I was very happy when the teacher seated us next to each other.

There was another little girl who was a “problem child”. She would get angry and throw tantrums, and would often take the scissors and crayons away from whoever was sitting next to her.

The teacher saw that I was the only student who had the patience to be with her without getting angry. So I was reassigned to sit next to her.

I was very sad about this, because I could no longer sit next to the girl I had a crush on. But it was probably much better for the other little girl, and maybe for the whole class.

There is a lesson here somewhere. I’m just not sure what it is.

Profits over people

I was surprised to see an editorial on the TV news recently in which someone was decrying the fact that Facebook seems to be putting profits over people. But I can’t understand why anyone thinks Facebook would do anything else.

That is, after all, what its customers expect. Facebook’s customers don’t pay for ads on Facebook so that Facebook will be nice to people. Customers pay for ads so that people will watch their ads.

That is Facebook’s entire business model. In fact, as a publicly traded company, it is legally obligated to serve the interests of its shareholders, and therefore the needs of its customers.

I am not saying that this is a good thing. It might be a very bad thing. But it is, after all, the entire economic basis of Facebook.

If there is a consensus that all of this should be regulated, then sure, let’s regulate it. But why act surprised when it turns out that a dog barks or an elephant has a trunk?


When it’s Winter I love Summer
When it is Summer I love freezing
When the season is a bummer
Another can seem rather pleasing
When Summer is so very hot
And Winter can become too cold
I love the season it is not
(This is common, I am told)
Each season makes me want the other
Winter, Summer, not my thing
I want neither one. Oh brother
Give me a good Fall or Spring

Waking up early

For good reasons, people look at the weekend as a time to sleep in. This is understandable. We all work really hard during the week, and we deserve a break.

But there is something wonderful about waking up early on a Sunday morning, getting out of the house, and enjoying a beautiful day without too many people about. It is a magical time, when you feel that the world is new and you have that new world all to yourself.

I hope some people will take this recommendation, but not everybody. If everybody did it, that would kind of ruin it, wouldn’t it? 😅

Life stream

When we do finally reach the point where everybody has those wearables, a very strange phenomenon will occur. Some people will start to post their life stream as a matter of course, and other people will start to become addicted to the moment by moment experience of being somebody else.

For some people with weak egos, this will result in a loosening of the sense of identity itself. Rather than being themselves, they will start to have the illusion of being somebody else.

I do not think that this will be a good thing.


At a project meeting this week, we were discussing the future of mixed reality. At one point somebody wondered whether at some point we would no longer know the difference between real and virtual.

I replied that humans started blurring the distinction between real and virtual when we developed the instinct for language. “For example,” I said, “If I say the word ‘elephant’, you all picture an elephant in your heads. We need only words to slip into a virtual space. No computers required.”

One of the grad students said “Wow, mind blown. I am going to spend the whole weekend wrapping my head around that.”

But for me, this is not profound — it’s simply the basis of all communication technologies since the dawn of time. We develop successive technologies — written language, books, movie, radio, the internet, VR, and whatever comes next — as natural outgrowths of our instinctive capability of abstract language.

Whether it’s prose on papyrus or VR on a Vive, the details are not what’s important. What is important is that we are the species that embraces the virtual. And we do it so easily that we don’t quite notice that this is just exactly what we have always done.