Archive for October, 2021


Thursday, October 21st, 2021

I am becoming ever more convinced that when we emerge from this pandemic, there will be a new appreciation for hybrid forms of meeting. Meeting in person will no longer be the gold standard for everything. Instead, partly because of all of the tools that are being developed now to make online meeting both productive and enjoyable, we will more often choose to meet online even when we could have met in person.

It is not that one will replace the other, but rather that they will be seen as two perfectly valid and complementary ways of meeting. The hybrid that will emerge will likely be, in many ways, greater than the sum of its parts.

Good day’s work

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of putting in a good day’s work. Today was one of those good days.

I’m going to savor it.

Redefining words

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

I remember back when Microsoft was first pushing the Hololens, they redefined the word “hologram” to mean something different from hologram. Because there was a big marketing push behind it, a lot of people started to call things holograms that were not holograms.

Now something similar is happening with the word “metaverse”. The word has a very specific meaning, dating back to when Neil Stephenson coined it in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.

But now Facebook is rebranding it to mean something different. I wonder whether the original meaning will become lost as the word is, um, “borrowed” for commercial purposes.

That would be a shame. In its original sense, “metaverse” was a word of great power and vision. I hope we don’t end up losing that.

Dealing with reality through unreality

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Maybe one of the reasons that we indulge so much, as a species, in various forms of fiction, is that reality itself can be so difficult. We give ourselves permission to experience the intense shocks that fate can hand us through the agency of people who don’t exist.

Perhaps in this way we train ourselves to deal with the real thing when it inevitably comes our way.

This is only a theory. But maybe not a bad one.

The end of trivia contests

Sunday, October 17th, 2021

There will come a point — I don’t know when — after which everyone you know will have a direct brain interface to the Cloud. We will all have instant and effortless access to all human knowledge That moment will mark a kind of transition in the human species.

How do we know when that moment has arrived? I think it will be precisely when the very idea of trivia contests will seem absurd.

Troll Hunters

Saturday, October 16th, 2021

Troll Hunters: The best thing ever to come out of Netflix.

Is that too controversial?


Friday, October 15th, 2021

I have been battling bureaucracy in the place where I work. It has not been pleasant.

I am gaining a new appreciation for the power of bureaucracy. In particular, for the power of systems that are designed around rules for the sake of saying “see, we have rules”, without regard to the fact that reality does not conform to rules and real people are not interchangeable bodies or countable heads.

Unfortunately, knowing that does not help in battling the bureaucracy. It just helps me be even more motivated to overcome it in the end.

The long lens of history

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Today, in 1066, was the beginning of the Norman conquest. The Battle of Hastings, the one that started it all, began on October 14.

Today is also the day in history — in the year 1322 –- when Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeated King Edward II of England.

It is not clear whether, through the long lens of history, the second event was as momentous as the first. But I am including it anyway.

Why? Because I really really enjoy saying “Robert the Bruce”.

Student demos

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

I have been attending the UIST (User Interface Software and Technology) conference, which is entirely virtual and on-line this year. I was just now attending the breakout rooms where students at various universities are showing their latest research demos.

In one breakout room the students showed their current work, and then explained what they intended to do for future work. I realized that the future approach they were describing could not work, because it would be mechanically unstable.

So I told them a better way to do it, talking it through with them step by step. The students thanked me, and I left the breakout room.

So now I am wondering — am I a collaborator?

Thoughts while coding

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

There’s a wondrous sense of elation
That comes from the act of creation.
But even when we’re at our best
The body will still need its rest.
Should I push through while I am inspired,
Or take a break when I’m too tired?
Fatigue might be sapping my thunder
But I am too busy coding to wonder.
Still, taking a break could be fun.
I will get to that, soon as I’m done.