Experimental feature: A round up of interesting links that have squirmed into my unwieldy bookmark collection this month. For reference and evangelism.
The mandatory interesting game videos, webcomics, and link-blog posts (like kottke.org) are appended to to the Feed Feed. The rest is custom:
A short write up about Neal Stephenson [wired.com] including a review of his latest, Anathem.
In every Neal Stephenson novel, there are characters who regard the world with an insatiable yet bemused curiosity; they are fascinated with the way things work and are forever eager to lay on hands, tinker, tweak, and obsess. In other words, they’re hackers. In Anathem, the narrator, Erasmas, though not a techie, shares this trait. So does the author.
Emacs v. vi is rooted in the love of Lisp. [stevengharms.com] Apparently, Emacs is a text editor underneath a Holodeck:
As one uses Emacs / learns to edit eLisp, it becomes apparent that you’re meddling with the powers of the Gods. You become aware, over time, that you’re messing with the powers that could create amazing web applications or make SkyNet.
Videogame Concept art books [sidtheturtle.co.uk]:
An infinite square grid of 1 Ohm resistors [geocities.com/frooha]. This one’s is a hard nut to crack. The only other way I’ve seen of solving this problem is on Archiv, and involves Lattice Green functions. (I don’t even know what that means.)
Engineer’s Dreams [edge.org], by George Dyson. A hard science fiction(?) piece detailing the rise of Internet sentience.
Only one third of a search engine is devoted to fulfilling search requests. The other two thirds are divided between crawling (sending a host of single-minded digital organisms out to gather information) and indexing (building data structures from the results). Ed’s job was to balance the resulting loads.
When Ed examined the traffic, he realized that Google was doing more than mapping the digital universe. Google doesn’t merely link or point to data. It moves data around. Data that are associated frequently by search requests are locally replicated—establishing physical proximity, in the real universe, that is manifested computationally as proximity in time. Google was more than a map. Google was becoming something else.
Where Are the Geniuses of Today? [alexpetrov.com] An excerpt from James Gleick’s Genius, positing that even as the human race grows smarter, the standard deviation’s going down; we’re not much smarter than each other.
Is it only nostalgia that makes geniuses seem to belong to the past? Giants did walk the earth — Shakespeare, Newton, Michelangelo, DiMaggio — and in their shadows the poets, scientists, artists, and baseball players of today crouch like pygmies. No one will ever again create a King Lear or hit safely in fifty-six consecutive games, it seems. Yet the raw material of genius — whatever combination of native talent and cultural opportunity that might be — can scarcely have disappeared. On a planet of five billion people, parcels of genes with Einsteinian potential must appear from time to time, and presumably more often than ever before. Some of those parcels must be as well nurtured as Einstein’s, in a world richer and better educated than ever before. Of course genius is exceptional and statistics-defying. Still, the modern would-be Mozart must contend with certain statistics: that the entire educated population of eighteenth-century Vienna would fit into a large New York apartment block; that in a given year the United States Copyright Office registers close to two hundred thousand “works of the performing arts,” from advertising jingles to epic tone poems.
Project Euler [projecteuler.net]:
Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.
I’m still looking for the right language. The Perl (familiar devil) vs Python (Unknown horror) battle rages in my head.
Gears of War: Destroyed Beauty [gearsofwarforum.net]
A concept art coffee table book for people who like detailed images of muscle-ripping locust hordes and macho soldiers on their coffee tables.
And now a touch of frivolty:
Save the earth. Don’t breed. (Brownie points for killing yourself). These folks are serious.
From the FAQ:
5. Do I have to kill myself?
Of course you don’t have to kill yourself! If you really want to, though, wait until after you’ve joined the Church. That way, you automatically become a saint, without any additional paperwork. Don’t forget to leave a note thanking and/or blaming the Church, and feel free to will us your estate, if you have one.
Where the Hell is Matt? [youtube.com]
Extra points for recognizing the lyrics in the background score.
Splendid, splendid score. And a cutesy game to go with it: Sunny Day
Roll over, September.