📖 Read pages 16-55 of A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

📖 Read pages 16-55 of A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

Knowing that I’ve read a lot about Shannon and even Vannevar Bush over the years, I’m pleasantly surprised to read some interesting tidbits about them that I’ve not previously come across.  I was a bit worried that this text wouldn’t provide me with much or anything new on the subjects at hand.

I’m really appreciating some of the prose and writing structure, particularly given that it’s a collaborative work between two authors. At times there are some really nonstandard sentence structures, but they’re wonderful in their rule breaking.

They’re doing an excellent job so far of explaining the more difficult pieces of science relating to information theory. In fact, some of the intro was as good as I think I’ve ever seen simple explanations of what is going on within the topic. I’m also pleased that they’ve made some interesting forays into topics like eugenics and the background role it played in the story for Shannon.

They had a chance to do a broader view of the history of computing, but opted against it, or at least must have made a conscious choice to leave out Babbage/Lovelace within the greater pantheon. I can see narratively why they may have done this knowing what is to come later in the text, but a few sentences as a nod would have been welcome.

The book does, however, get on my nerves with one of my personal pet peeves in popular science and biographical works like this: while there are reasonable notes at the end, absolutely no proper footnotes appear at the bottoms of pages or even indicators within the text other than pieces of text with quotation marks. I’m glad the notes even exist in the back, but it just drives me crazy that publishers blatantly hide them this way. The text could at least have had markers indicating where to find the notes. What are we? Animals?

Nota bene: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of this; the book won’t be out until mid-July 2017.

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📗 Started reading A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

📖 Read pages i-16 of A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

A great little introduction and start to what portends to be the science biography of the year. The book opens up with a story I’d heard Sol Golomb tell several times. It was actually a bittersweet memory as the last time I heard a recounting, it appeared on the occasion of Shannon’s 100th Birthday celebration in the New Yorker:

In 1985, at the International Symposium in Brighton, England, the Shannon Award went to the University of Southern California’s Solomon Golomb. As the story goes, Golomb began his lecture by recounting a terrifying nightmare from the night before: he’d dreamed that he was about deliver his presentation, and who should turn up in the front row but Claude Shannon. And then, there before Golomb in the flesh, and in the front row, was Shannon. His reappearance (including a bit of juggling at the banquet) was the talk of the symposium, but he never attended again.

I had emailed Sol about the story, and became concerned when I didn’t hear back. I discovered shortly after that he had passed away the following day.

nota bene: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of this; the book won’t be out until mid-July 2017.

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Valerie Alexander on How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”)

This morning, at the Friday morning coffee meetup of Innovate Pasadena held at Cross Campus, I saw one of the singularly best and most valuable talks I’ve heard in a long time. Many of these types of speakers, while engaging or even entertaining, are telling the same tired stories and at best you learn one sentence’s worth of value. Definitively not the case this morning!!!

How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) by Valerie Alexander

Entitled How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) writer and speaker Valerie Alexander presented a brief discussion of human evolutionary history (a topic I’ve studied closely for several decades) that featured the difference in development of male and female human brains. Based on this and with a clearer picture of what broadly differentiates the sexes, Valerie then gave a multitude of highly relate-able examples from her professional life highlighting how women can simply take back control in the workplace to not only better succeed for themselves, but to also help their companies see their true value and succeed simultaneously.

Further, she also included some simple and very actionable advice (for men and women) to be able to make a better space within corporations so that they’re able to extract more of the value women bring to the workplace. Hint: Women bring a HUGE amount of value, and a majority of companies are not only undervaluing it, but they are literally throwing it away.

Not only were the messages tremendously valuable and imminently actionable by both women AND men, but she delivered it with fantastic confidence, grace, wit, charm, and warmth. In fact, I’d say it was not only strikingly informative, but it was also very entertaining. If you’re in the corporate space and looking to turn around your antediluvian or even pre-historic work culture (I’m looking ominously at you Uber and similar Silicon Valley brogrammer cultures), then jump in line as quickly as you can to book up what I can only expect is the diminishing time in her speaking and travel schedule.

Innovate Pasadena recorded the talk and I’ll try to post it here as soon as it’s available. Until then I will highly recommend purchasing her book How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”), which I’m sure has not only the content of her lecture, but assuredly includes a whole lot more detail and additional examples than one could fit into such a short time frame. I also suspect it’s the type of book one would want to refer back to frequently as well. I’ve already got a half a dozen copies of it on their way to me to share with friends and family. I’m willing to make a substantial bet that for uncovering inherent value, this book and her overall message will eventually stand in the pantheon of texts and work of those like those of Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lillian Gilbreth, Frank Gilbreth, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, J.M. Juran, and W. Edwards Deming.


Psst… If the good folks at TED need some fantastic content, I saw a shortened 25 minute version of her hour-long talk. It could be tightened a hair for content and length, but it’s got exactly the tone, tempo and has the high level of presentation skills for which you’re known. Most importantly, it’s definitively an “Idea worth spreading.”

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Checkin Cross Campus Old Pasadena

Cross Campus Old Pasadena

Innovate Pasadena: Valerie Alexander on “How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace”

Sadly, based on the general attendance in comparison to typical weeks and someone who asked new people to raise their hands, there was a terrible turnout of the “regulars” and the majority of those there were first-timers. I’m not sure if it was the timing with the beginning of Summer or perhaps the title of the topic that scared the usual crowds away, but one thing is clear. THEY REALLY MISSED OUT! I’ve been to half a dozen or so of these coffees, and hundreds of presentations in this genre and this was easily one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I’ve written a separate post on some of the detais… It was that good!

Valerie Alexander at Innovate Pasadena

Cross Campus, Pasadena, California, United States of America

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🔖 A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni, Rob Goodman

A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman (Simon & Schuster)
The life and times of one of the foremost intellects of the twentieth century: Claude Shannon—the neglected architect of the Information Age, whose insights stand behind every computer built, email sent, video streamed, and webpage loaded. Claude Shannon was a groundbreaking polymath, a brilliant tinkerer, and a digital pioneer. He constructed a fleet of customized unicycles and a flamethrowing trumpet, outfoxed Vegas casinos, and built juggling robots. He also wrote the seminal text of the digital revolution, which has been called “the Magna Carta of the Information Age.” His discoveries would lead contemporaries to compare him to Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. His work anticipated by decades the world we’d be living in today—and gave mathematicians and engineers the tools to bring that world to pass. In this elegantly written, exhaustively researched biography, Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman reveal Claude Shannon’s full story for the first time. It’s the story of a small-town Michigan boy whose career stretched from the era of room-sized computers powered by gears and string to the age of Apple. It’s the story of the origins of our digital world in the tunnels of MIT and the “idea factory” of Bell Labs, in the “scientists’ war” with Nazi Germany, and in the work of Shannon’s collaborators and rivals, thinkers like Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Vannevar Bush, and Norbert Wiener. And it’s the story of Shannon’s life as an often reclusive, always playful genius. With access to Shannon’s family and friends, A Mind at Play brings this singular innovator and creative genius to life.

I can’t wait to read this new biography about Claude Shannon! The bio/summer read I’ve been waiting for.

With any luck an advanced reader copy is speeding it way to me! (Sorry you can’t surprise me with a belated copy for my birthday.) A review is forthcoming.

You have to love the cover art by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

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👓 The democratized social podcasting platform that never existed.

The democratized social podcasting platform that never existed. by Kim Hansen (Kim Hansen | Medium)
One social place to record podcast audio, with any number of hosts, from anywhere in the world, on any device, for live audiences…and one place for that audio to live, for it to be listened to, curated and shared. Socially. It seemed obvious that just solving for existing podcasters was a waste of time. A democratized social podcasting platform implies, well, democracy. Besides, when it comes to podcasters; there aren’t very many of them, and they don’t have any money. So, we spent most of a year building it...
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👓 Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say | Washington Post

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say by Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz (Washington Post)
Mueller is interviewing senior intelligence officials as the Russia probe widens.
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👓 Fox News Is Dropping Its ‘Fair & Balanced’ Slogan | NYMag

Fox News Is Dropping Its ‘Fair & Balanced’ Slogan by Gabriel Sherman (Daily Intelligencer)
It was too closely associated with Roger Ailes and had become a target for mockery, say insiders.
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👓 James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington | New Yorker

James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington by Dexter Filkins (The New Yorker)
The former Marine Corps general spent four decades on the front lines. How will he lead the Department of Defense?

A long read to be sure, but some great in-depth background and some analysis to put the United States’ position in world affairs into perspective. Even better the writer has been following Mattis’ career for a while, so there’s better contextualization.

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👓 Layoffs & Tumblr the Centipede | BlueChooChoo

Layoffs & Tumblr the Centipede by Andréa López‏ (Casual Information)
A hazy day for Tumblr. A shoe dropped. After a year of dancing around, the Yahoo (Tumblr owner)/Verizon deal closed. There were immediate layoffs across their new Frankenstein org, “Oath.” Some of these layoffs hit inside Tumblr, and that’s bad. In addition to the real life talented human beings impacted by these layoffs, the move is a warning and reminder- Tumblr is no longer in the protective purgatory of pre-Verizon Yahoo.

I know that bluechoochoo has hit the nail on the head when she previously saw people leaving Tumblr for Medium right before they pivoted this past January. Her prognostications on Tumblr are always worth reading.

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👓 WordPress.com Announces New Importer for Medium Posts | WP Tavern

WordPress.com Announces New Importer for Medium Posts by Sarah Gooding (WP Tavern)
Medium started 2017 on uncertain footing, laying off a third of its staff in January after admitting that its ad-based business model was not working.
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📺 The Bridge S1, E3-5 (FX)

The Bridge, Season 1 Episodes 3 - 5 from FX
When a body is found on the bridge connecting El Paso and Juarez, two detectives, one from the United States and one from Mexico, must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the border.

Things have gotten a bit better in these next few episodes. Some of the characters still seem awfully disjointed and I’m still waiting to see where it goes.

There are a few interesting plot points, so I suppose I may as well continue on, but I’m really hoping for some great pay-off in the final two episodes.

I’ve also just noticed the production years, so I can’t hold out too much hope for a series that went two years and disappeared.