Lessons from the past for “The Future of Programming”

August 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Watch Bret Victor – The Future of Programming and then read his notes.

Bret Victor – The Future of Programming from Bret Victor on Vimeo.

In his notes there’s a link to a 1987 Alan Kay video in which Kay narrates footage of a demo Sketchpad around 4:14. It’s from 1962. Whoa.

My previous exposure to Victor came reading and later re-reading his Learnable Programming manifesto, which is radically practical and completely re-shaped my perception of how programming should work.

As someone who is basically self-taught in code, The Future of Programming video stands as similar shift in mindset for me. It also rekindled my interest in reading The Early History of Smalltalk by Kay (h/t Jeff Larson).

Update: Here’s the Hacker News comment thread

#newsfoo 2012 highlights captured from afar

December 2nd, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

NewsFoo just wrapped up its third event. I haven’t been since 2010, but I followed along on Twitter again this year. Below are some good bits from the unconference (in chronological order).
» Read the rest of this entry «

Quantifying impact: A better metric for measuring journalism

January 14th, 2012 § 31 comments § permalink

Before Isaac Newton, words like mass and force were general descriptors, as James Gleick writes in The Information:

“the new discipline of physics could not proceed until Isaac Newton appropriated words that were ancient and vague—force, mass, motion, and even time—and gave them new meanings. Newton made these terms into quantities, suitable for use in mathematical formulas.”

The term information was similarly amorphous until Claude Shannon, while working at Bell Labs, quantified the concept in bits.

* * *

The journalism goals and business goals for news organizations are out of sync.

Pageviews. Unique visitors. Time on site.

Some journalism might be best quantified partly or wholly by one or more of those ways, but we need to explore deeper beyond these fairly simplistic metrics.

We know how these terms are defined, but what do they really mean? What do they help us achieve?

In creating a theory of information and quantifying information in bits, Shannon aimed to remove meaning. “Shannon had utterly abstracted the message from its physical details,” Gleick says.

For journalism, the goal should be to add more meaning to the information we use to measure our work. Granted, our current metrics aren’t meaningless. We use them because they do have meaning: views, comments, shares, etc. each has a meaning and can be measured based on that one-dimensional measure. The quantities of metrics increase because the works of journalism they describe are meaningful. Or, put another way, impactful.

So, what if we measured journalism by its impact?

» Read the rest of this entry «

Steve Jobs’ legacy and a lesson

October 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A few minutes ago — a few hours after news of Steve Jobs’s death became public — I tweeted the following:

Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy is not the products he created, but what they enabled and who they inspired.

Soon after that, I thought of a lesson for journalism: we shouldn’t focus so much on what we do as much as what we enable, who we impact and what comes from all that. » Read the rest of this entry «

Rushkoff challenges Gleick’s idea

September 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Browsing my Google Reader on Sunday, I found a Q&A on Wired with Douglas Rushkoff discussing Program or be Programmed, a book I’d recommend to everyone.

Now before you leave because you don’t care about programming (you should care) or you think this will be too technical (it’s not), I need to clarify that the book is not so much about computer programming as it is about the more general concept of programming, plus understanding the biases of digital technology. As Rushkoff says, you either use the software or you are the software; you’re either the passenger or the driver, but not necessarily the mechanic. » Read the rest of this entry «

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