📑 Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) | Stephen Wolfram Blog

Annotated Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) by Stephen Wolfram (blog.stephenwolfram.com)

As it happens, he’d already done some work on coding theory—in the area of biology. The digital nature of DNA had been discovered by Jim Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, but it wasn’t yet clear just how sequences of the four possible base pairs encoded the 20 amino acids. In 1956, Max Delbrück—Jim Watson’s former postdoc advisor at Caltech—asked around at JPL if anyone could figure it out. Sol and two colleagues analyzed an idea of Francis Crick’s and came up with “comma-free codes” in which overlapping triples of base pairs could encode amino acids. The analysis showed that exactly 20 amino acids could be encoded this way. It seemed like an amazing explanation of what was seen—but unfortunately it isn’t how biology actually works (biology uses a more straightforward encoding, where some of the 64 possible triples just don’t represent anything).  

I recall talking to Sol about this very thing when I sat in on a course he taught at USC on combinatorics. He gave me his paper on it and a few related issues as I was very interested at the time about the applications of information theory and biology.

I’m glad I managed to sit in on the class and still have the audio recordings and notes. While I can’t say that Newton taught me calculus, I can say I learned combinatorics from Golomb.

📑 Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) | Stephen Wolfram Blog

Annotated Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) by Stephen Wolfram (blog.stephenwolfram.com)

Despite all his contributions to the infrastructure of the computational world, Sol himself basically never seriously used computers. He took particular pride in his own mental calculation capabilities. And he didn’t really use email until he was in his seventies, and never used a computer at home—though, yes, he did have a cellphone.  

Ha! I should take a little bit of pride here as I was the one that helped Sol to finally set up and get his email working. I’d have to look, but I suspect that it wasn’t until around 2004ish when I saw him somewhat regularly and frequented his and Bo’s annual Christmas parties.

📑 Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) | Stephen Wolfram Blog

Annotated Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) by Stephen Wolfram (blog.stephenwolfram.com)
in June 1955 he wrote his final report, “Sequences with Randomness Properties”—which would basically become the foundational document of the theory of shift register sequences.  

📑 Data sharing and how it can benefit your scientific career l Nature

Annotated Data sharing and how it can benefit your scientific career (Nature)
Crowther offered everyone who shared at least a certain volume of data with his forest initiative the chance to be a co-author of a study that he and a colleague led. Published in Science in 2016, the paper used more than 770,000 data points from 44 countries to determine that forests with more tree species are more productive.

I suspect a similar hypothesis holds for shared specs, code, and the broader idea of plurality within the IndieWeb. More interoperable systems makes the IndieWeb more productive.

📑 Data sharing and how it can benefit your scientific career l Nature

Annotated Data sharing and how it can benefit your scientific career (Nature)
High-level bodies such as the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the European Commission have called for science to become more open and endorsed a set of data-management standards known as the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) principles.

Something like this could be applied to IndieWeb ideas and principles as well.

📑 Maria Ressa, Zeynep Tufekci, and others on the growing disinformation war | Columbia Journalism Review

Annotated Maria Ressa, Zeynep Tufekci, and others on the growing disinformation war (Columbia Journalism Review)
Tufekci argued that, in the 21st century, a surfeit of information, rather than its absence, poses the biggest problem. “When I was growing up in Turkey, the way censorship occurred was there was one TV channel and they wouldn’t show you stuff. That was it,” she said. “Currently, in my conceptualization, the way censorship occurs is by information glut. It’s not that the relevant information isn’t out there. But it is buried in so much information of suspect credibility that it doesn’t mean anything.”  

Featured image “Vintage Television” by Sven Scheuermeier via CC on Unsplash

📑 Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin | Project Gutenberg

Annotated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (gutenberg.org)
About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator.[18] It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make me master of it. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method of the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious. My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, thought I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.  

Even the greats copied or loosely plagiarized the “masters” to learn how to write.The key is to continually work at it until you get to the point where it’s yours and it is no longer plagiarism.

This was also the general premise behind the plotline of the movie Finding Forrester.


Annotated as an example during a webinar when a teacher mentioned that students were sometimes plagiarizing work in a composition class. Sometimes starting with someone else’s words can actually help us. The key is getting to the core and eventually using our own words and thoughts.

📑 Dumb Twitter | Adam Croom

Annotated Dumb Twitter by Adam CroomAdam Croom (Adam Croom)
Here’s my pitch for a Dumb Twitter app: The app forces you to tweet at the original 140 character tweet length. You can reply. You can’t like or retweet. You most certainly can’t quote tweet. There is no private DMing. Linear tweet stream only.  

Perhaps he’s unaware of it, but this sounds a lot like the design decisions that micro.blog has made in it’s platform which is very similar to DoOO, but for the broader public.

📑 Dumb Twitter | Adam Croom

Annotated Dumb Twitter by Adam CroomAdam Croom (Adam Croom)
So far coming back to Twitter has felt like visiting your hometown: it’s great to visit but it’s also a reminder of how much you enjoy not living there anymore.  

📑 Dumb Twitter | Adam Croom

Annotated Dumb Twitter by Adam CroomAdam Croom (Adam Croom)
In fact, I’d argue this blog has been largely a collection of writings concentrated on me working through the thoughts of my own digital identity and the tools that help shape it. The whole bit is highly meta.  
Annotated Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike MonteiroMike Monteiro (Mule Books, March 2019, ISBN: 978-1090532084)

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

But if you want to wade into the murky waters of the tech industry; if you’re wanting to think more deeply about the power and ethical responsibility you have in this industry; if you’re perplexed but not in despair; if you’re ready to think about the direct impact our work has on the individuals and families exposed to the experiences and products you help create; if you’re ready to turn off the faucet; rip the plug out of the sink, and put your mop to use—this book is for you.

2:45 pm

The world is on its way to ruin and it’s happening by design.

2:44pm

The goal of this book is to help you do the right thing in environments designed to make it easier to do the wrong thing.

2:45 pm

We’re going to learn how being a designer is being a gatekeeper. We’re about to become humankind’s last line of defense against monsters.

2:46 pm

I intend to show you that design is a political act. What we choose to design and more importantly, what we choose not to design, and even more importantly, who we exclude from the design process—these are all political acts. Knowing this and ignoring it is also a political act, albeit a cowardly one. Understanding the power in our labor and how we choose to use it defines the type of people we are.

2:48 pm

Speaking of Victor Papanek, this book wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t read Design for the Real World as a young designer.

2:49 pm

In the words of the great Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

2:55 pm

Always a great quote and it reminds me of The West Wing (1999, Warner Bros.)

For years, the libertarian con artists of Silicon Valley have been telling us they want to change the world. But when the people at the top tell you they want to change the world, it’s generally because they’ve figured out how to profit even more from those below them.

2:56 pm

Our labor is what makes us special, and what gives us power. When we turn that labor into a force for making the world better for the largest number of people possible instead of using it to make a few people even richer than they already are? Then, and only then, we may be actually able to change the world. Then we get to go home and live ordinary lives.

2:57 pm

Most professions worth their while, and capable of inflicting harm, have ethical codes of some sort. It’s a sign of maturity and responsibility, and there’s a price paid for not following it, which may include losing your license to practice.

3:00 pm

The internet is a harassment and abuse factory in part because designers implemented things they shouldn’t.

3:02 pm

About a year ago, I decided to write a code of ethics. It’s open-sourced. Take it. Make it better. Treat it like a living document:
A designer is first and foremost a human being.

3:06 pm

These were part of a Medium post from 2017 entitled Dear Design Student.

When you do work that depends on a need for income disparity or class distinctions to succeed, you are failing at your job as a human being, and therefore as a designer.

3:07 pm

A designer is responsible for the work they put into the world.

3:08 pm

When we ignorantly produce work that harms others because we didn’t consider the full ramifications of that work, we are doubly guilty.

3:09 pm

A designer values impact over form.

3:10 pm

A designer owes the people who hire them not just their labor, but their counsel.

3:11 pm

A designer uses their expertise in the service of others without being a servant. Saying no is a design skill. Asking why is a design skill. Rolling your eyes and staying quiet is not. Asking ourselves why we are making something is an infinitely better question than asking ourselves whether we can make it.

3:13 pm

A designer welcomes criticism.

3:13 pm

A designer strives to know their audience.

3:14 pm

What about empathy? Empathy is a pretty word for exclusion.

3:15 pm

A designer does not believe in edge cases.

3:16 pm

A designer is part of a professional community.

3:17 pm

A designer seeks to build their professional community, not divide it

3:19 pm

A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.

3:19 pm

A designer takes time for self-reflection.

3:44 pm

No one wakes up one day designing to throw their ethics out the window

3:45 pm

We are not hired hands, we are not pixelpushers, we are not order-takers. We are gatekeepers.

3:46 pm

On November 6, 2016, Donald Trump received 2.9 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College—originally designed by elite white men to entice agrarian, slave-owning states to join the union—handed the election to the candidate with fewer votes, who also happened to be a white supremacist. It was designed to work that way.

3:52 pm

The world isn’t broken. It’s working exactly as it was designed to work. And we’re the ones who designed it. Which means we fucked up.

3:53 pm

There are two words every designer needs to feel comfortable saying: “no” and “why.” These words are the foundation of what we do. They’re the foundation of our ethical framework. If we cannot ask “why,” we lose the ability to judge whether the work we’re doing is ethical. If we cannot say “no,” we lose the ability to stand and fight. We lose the ability to help shape the thing we’re responsible for.

3:54 pm

Sure, everyone remembers Frankenstein’s monster, but they call it by his maker’s name.

3:55 pm

Excessive speed gets products through that gate before anyone notices what they are and how foul they smell.

3:56 pm

We need to measure more than profit. We need to slow down and measure what our work is doing out there in the world.

3:59 pm

People don’t see the things they’re rewarded for as problems to fix.

4:01 pm

A good algorithm is the equivalent of breaking up with someone over a text message and then turning your phone off. It’s cowardly. Good leaders should aspire to have their fingerprints all over hard decisions.

4:05 pm

When you hire me as a designer, I do not work for you. I may practice my craft at your service, but you haven’t earned the right to shape how I practice that craft.

4:08 pm

Those of us who grew up designing things online need to realize the repercussions of the work we do. We’re no longer pushing pixels around a screen. We’re building complex systems that touch people’s lives, destroy their personal relationships, broadcast words of both support and hate, and undeniably mess with their mental health. When we do our jobs well, we improve people’s lives. When we don’t, people die.

4:12 pm

👓 Bob Gallager on Shannon’s tips for research | An Ergodic Walk

Annotated Bob Gallager on Shannon’s tips for research (An Ergodic Walk)

Gallager gave a nice concise summary of what he learned from Shannon about how to do good theory work:

  1. Simplify the problem
  2. Relate it to other problems
  3. Restate the problem in as many ways as possible
  4. Break the problem into pieces
  5. Avoid getting locked into thinking ruts
  6. Generalize

As he said, “it’s a process of doing research… each one [step] gives you a little insight.” It’s tempting, as a theorist, to claim that at the end of this process you’ve solved the “fundamental” problem, but Gallager admonished us to remember that the first step is to simplify, often dramatically. As Alfred North Whitehead said, we should “seek simplicity and distrust it.”

I know I’ve read this before, but it deserves a re-read/review every now and then.

📑 Why you should say HTML classes, CSS class selectors, or CSS pseudo-classes, but not CSS classes | Tantek

Annotated Why you should say HTML classes, CSS class selectors, or CSS pseudo-classes, but not CSS classes by Tantek ÇelikTantek Çelik (tantek.com)
Ah for a decent world wide blog posts search engine.  

Ha! Look who’s talking. 🙂