Category Archives: Opinion

For Harry and Carie on their Wedding Day

Marriage is part of humanity. As Alain de Botton reflected, “[…] the impulse to cluster into small familial groups within which to safely propagate the next generation, is a project that has been known to the largest share of humanity since our earliest upright days in East Africa’s Rift Valley.” And although today Harry and Carie are engaged in this ancient tradition, they are also alternative people that create their own history. Alternative people who appreciate a form of never-ending play, which was has been so well described for myself and our couple in the book Finite and Infinite Games. I’d like to read to you it’s philosophy on marriage, the family project and their choiceful natures:

Infinite lovers may or may not have a family.

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Flavours of Ethanol: Not That Different

I spent a weekend with my friend riding 30 miles between Minneapolis breweries.  We learned some important lessons.

  1. The modern consumer elects to understand arbitrary differences in item-classes.
  2. The corporation co-opts leisure time of the individual to construct an aesthetic.
  3. Even if thebeers are not that different, they will say they are.
  4. This is similar to the divided political “spectrum”, that is, not a spectrum at all.
  5. As a test case take the IPA, the least versatile “acquired” taste.
  6. Once the consumer has developed a false consciousness and accepts  the objectionable and anti-rational quality of IPA ethanol, that consumer has joined the in-group.
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U and Y. Part 1

Intro

In this Ceephax Acid Crew Live youtube video there’s a comment which says “Love that one guy going nuts.” And it’s true, there is a guy in the front of the crowd feeling the music and letting his body follow. That’s not a particularly amazing fact to many people, but to me its a revelation on a virality with which I’m infected. Because just 24 hours earlier, I was that person in the front.

24 hours even before I was going nuts, I was getting nervous. Ceephax was playing at the Science Museum in San Francisco, and this would be my first opportunity to see him in the flesh.… Read the rest

Dried and True

I didn’t like the Dyson Airblade at first. Its slick futuristic form with neon yellow striping gives the visual indication that it will instantly dry your hands, which it doesn’t. It takes 12 seconds. Still, I claim this represents a revolution. The watch-a-microwave-tick-down waiting time is a small price to pay for leaving the tiled room with hands truly free of water, rather than the less-wet state my whole life prior to this invention taught me was normal.

The Dyson Airblade. Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dyson_Airblade_Transparent_BG.png

To understand why the Airblade represents such a leap forward in hand-drying technology, we have to understand the past that Dyson was trying to escape.… Read the rest

The Universal Empathy Machine: Nonviolent Communication Explained with Mathematics and Computer Science

0. The Universal Empathy Machine

Empathy is not sympathy. What’s the difference? Think of the Universal Turing Machine. It is a machine that accepts a program and data, and runs that program on that data. In this way it can simulate all programs on all data. Let us think of a human as a program and human experience as data. Sympathy then, is running your program on someone else’s data. Empathy is running their program on their data. As you can see the results of the sympathy and empathy computations are not guaranteed to be identical. In a nutshell Nonviolent Communication is about becoming the Universal Empathy Machine, to be able to emulate the architecture of an arbitrary person given an arbitrary experience.… Read the rest

Asking Ever Bigger Questions With Wikidata

This is a Guest-Blog I wrote for Wikimedia Deutschland: copied here:

German summary: Maximilian Klein benutzt Wikidata als als Datenfundus für statistische Auswertungen über das Wissen der Welt. In seinem Artikel beschreibt er, wie er in Wikidata nach Antworten auf die großen Fragen sucht.

Asking Ever Bigger Questions with Wikidata

Guest post by Maximilian Klein

A New Era

Simultaneous discovery can sometimes be considered an indication for a paradigm shift in knowledge, and last month Magnus Manske and I seemed to have both had a very similar idea at the same time. Our ideas were to look at gender statistics in Wikidata and to slice them up by date of birth, citizenship, and langauge.… Read the rest

The best part of soup is that soup doesn’t have parts.

This is a piece I wrote for Bulbes, a zine about soup.
The concept of  “smooth” versus “striated” spaces  (striated means lined or striped) by Deleuze and Guattari, is a stream of philosophy with a missing interpretation through soup.
Depending on your choice of violent conflict, the smooth/striated dichotomy has popularly been depicted in the film “Die Hard” and the 2002 Israeli Operation in Nablus. In those scenarios parties moved not through the striated spaces of elevators, stairs, streets and squares, but through smooth and direct routes like air ducts and holes cut in walls.
I prefer a more pastoral example to grasp the notion of seeing a smooth space under a striated one.… Read the rest

What Part of “School” Don’t You Understand?

I received an apologetic email from HackerSchool an hour ago, that was sorry to tell me they couldn’t admit me this fall – quizzically I was not gutted. HackerSchool is part of the wave of “Hacker Education,” where you exchange something with a company for programming education. HackerSchool differentiates in that you don’t pay them upfront, or necessarily at all – they just want a cut of a potential recruiting bonus when they pawn you to another company. They also have good perspectives on lightweight social rules and gender equality which piqued me.  Still, let us not mince, this is private education.… Read the rest

Morten’s Rule of Airports

This is Morten’s Rule of Airports, it’s history, and some of its benefits. The rule states:

If [the length of your layover] minus [the time it would take to comfortably get to the city centre and back] is greater than or equal to one hour, then you should exit the airport.

Or for those of you who read nerd:

morten_math

Origins

During an expedition to see my friend Morten in British Colombia, in which I was struggling with travel-stress, I was struck by a story of enlightened travelling genius. Morten told of a tale where a flight of his was delayed at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris by several hours.… Read the rest

Profiles of Inspiring Wikimedians I Met at Wikiconference USA 2014

Wikiconference USA 2014, in New York, just finished, and more than usual this conference instilled in me a lot of motivating social energy. Yes, I did present there, twice, on “Answering Big Questions With Wikidata“, and “Signalling Open Access References,” but more so than usual I enjoyed attending other presentations. On reflecting why that was, I came to realize it was the earnest authentic effort of other Wikimedians, that shone so brightly. These are some of the more inspiring characters from the conference, but by no means a complete list.

Sumana Harihareswara

Sumana gave the opening keynote wherein she talked about implicit versus explicit exclusion.… Read the rest