Early days

Last night I was invited to a dinner party where I got to mingle with some old friends who had started out in computer graphics back when I was starting out In computer graphics. Some had actually started out a decade or so earlier.

We reminisced over old times, old colleagues, and old algorithms. At one point one of my friends remarked about how easy it was back when we were starting out. Nobody had invented anything yet, so we got to be there first. Now, she said, it’s all already been invented.

I found myself strongly disagreeing. The really interesting problems have yet to be solved, I said. We still aren’t at the point where a great artist or designer, a primary creator, can comfortably use digital tools to create the worlds they want to create. Yhey still need to have a team of people who know how to wrangle computers.

When Steven Spielberg feels as comfortable designing on a computer as he now feels when he moves a chair on a miniature set, then I will know that we’ve gotten somewhere. Until then, these are still early days.


Juneteenth is interesting for many reasons. One of those reasons is in the way it differs from a celebration of emancipation.

It is not a celebration of emancipation, or in fact a celebration of any act by an oppressor culture. Instead, it commemorates the fact that if you are an oppressed group, you cannot rely on your oppressor to give you a square deal.

In that sense, it is very particularly a celebration of, for and by this particular historically oppressed group. The attempts by everybody else to join in, however well meaning, maybe misguided.

If you are not part of an historically oppressed group, this distinction might not make sense to you. But if you are, it will seem obvious.

Bad grammar

When I read online opinion pieces, I am very tolerant of wildly different points of view. I figure I can always learn from the way someone else thinks, even if I disagree with their conclusions.

But I’ve noticed that as soon as I encounter bad grammar, I immediately stop reading. My thinking, more or less, is this: If you don’t know how to put together an English sentence properly, you should at least have the good sense to ask someone to check your work.

And if you really don’t care about proper communication, then don’t expect me to care about what you have to say. People, let’s at least use the language properly. Without language, where would we be?

New look

I’ve decided, after fifteen and a half years, that this blog needed a fresh look, which you are seeing now. While I try different things out, I am going to keep things very minimal, and then gradually add features if they seem right.

So you can consider what you are looking at as a work in progress. I am reminded of a Website I once visited that showed just a simple yet elegant haiku:

It is a website,
yet it is not a website.
Under construction.

Future face to face conversation

There are all sorts of interesting questions around embodied telecommunication, which until now have remained largely theoretical. But with the advent of the Apple Vision Pro, which brings us significantly closer to that capability, this might be a good time to revisit those questions.

Forgetting for the moment how the technology works, let’s look forward to some time in the coming decade when people will just be able to put on a pair of lightweight sunglasses and have an in-person face-to-face conversation with anyone anywhere else who’s also wearing XR sunglasses. What effect Will that have on social interaction?

There are many questions to ask about this, but here’s one to begin with: Will it be good or bad for the airline industry?

To my thinking, it could go either way. On the one hand, people won’t need to physically move their bodies to have a face to face That makes them feel like they are in the same room. On the other hand, the increase in social connection might produce a greater motivation to meet in the flesh.


There is a theme in literature of a “death list”. The idea is that the act of adding someone’s name to a list in a book or on a piece of parchment condemns that person to death.

This idea pops up in works as disparate as Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note. But today it occurred to me that there could be interesting variations.

For example, this afternoon I went on Wikipedia to see what famous people were born on this day. I got to one entry in particular, and found that I had a strong urge to delete it.

“Imagine,” I thought to myself, “If I could just remove this one name from the list, then that particularly destructive person would never have been born. Think how much better off we would all be right now.”

Alas, as far as I know there is no such superpower. But it would make a great idea for an operetta or a Japanese manga, wouldn’t it?

Out of this world

Today is the fortieth anniversary of a very important day in human history. On June 13, 1983, Pioneer 10 passed beyond Neptune.

In that moment it became the first human-made object to leave our modern Solar System. Although the story is more complicated than that.

Because in 1983, Pluto was still considered a planet. Pluto didn’t stop being considered a planet for another quarter century — in 2006 in fact.

So Neptune did not yet mark the edge of our solar system in 1983. But in the intervening decades, the rules changed.

40 years ago our human reach got bigger. Since then, our solar system got smaller.

A.I. in education

We’ve been through this kind of transition before. Photography went from being “the death of art” to being a respected profession and a skill taught in school. Recorded music went from being perceived as an enemy of live performance to being an important complement to it.

There are many similar examples. And now here we are with A.I. At some point, the skills needed to make the most of this powerful tool will become part of the standard school curriculum, and new professions will emerge that are based on the expert use of A.I.

I wonder how we can best get a jump on understanding how to structure that curriculum. Maybe part of that should be encouraging kids to use ChatGPT, Bard, MidJourney and similar offerings, and learn from the creative ways that they use it.

Kids tend to be better at this stuff than grownups. I’m guessing that we could do worse than to follow their lead.