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28 October
2003

Whole Earth Musings

Tim Bray writes about meeting Stewart Brand of the Last Whole Earth Catalog editorial distinction and not being able to come up with a graceful way to tell him he appreciated his work. I think he makes up for it with his weblog posting.

Tim found Brand's Whole Catalog an appealing resource for people who think from his viewpoint as a "long haired hippie" type in the 1970s. At about the same time, I found it resonated with my military mind. It was really good stuff. The web now meets the need that the Whole Earth Catalogs did back then, but in a more diffuse and less organized manner. At least we have Google to help make sense of it.


Posted by Steve at 05:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 November
2003

NPR

Quagmire of State Sponsored Radio

I have a love/hate relationship with the NPR. Back in Oklahoma I listened to it a lot, mostly on my hour long commute to and from work. I have yet to find the local NPR station and programmed it into my car radio. Why is that?

For one thing, I haven't needed to look for it. Shorter commutes and my trip to Singapore haven't provided as much time in the car. I currently have a smooth jazz station dialed in, something not available in the OKC area for several years. Also, while NPR often has extensive, thoughtful coverage of issues and events that are not well covered by commercial media, it seems to be sinking ever farther into the left wing ghetto. The left wing ghetto is some consider the "core" of the Democratic party that is anti-business, anti-religious, and seeks statist solutions for environmental and social problems at the expense of individual freedom. These views are also prevalent in the European media, particularly the state supported media.

Jeff Jarvis comments on European exceptionalism in his weblog after hearing an NPR interview of a journalist from the Economist about a survey on exceptional America. He contends that it is really Europe that is exceptional in seeming to define itself in opposition to the Unite States which responded to 9/11 with an increased commitment to freedom and a willingness to defend it. The NPR interview puts an negative spin on the Economist's favorable view that the things that make America different are really good. Donald Sensing. counters with the observation that the United States is founded on the idea that the government derives it's legitimacy from the sovereignty of it's individual citizens. This really is different from the statist foundation of European countries.

NPR is largely donor sponsored as well a state sponsored. It's negative slant on America says something about it's listeners. What?


Posted by shrogers at 03:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 April
2004

A New Kind of Science and the Future of Mathematics

Is the universe a computer?

Stephen Wolfram gave a talk at the January 2004 Joint Mathematics Meetings on A New Kind of Science and the Future of Mathematics which summarizes the ideas in his book A New Kind of Science (aka NKS) with emphasis on the mathematical implications. I haven't read the book yet, but it's in the queue.

Wolfram considers NKS to be a 21st century Principia and in truth it may be, though I'll withhold judgment until I've read it and played with its propositions. NKS grew out of Wolfram's work with cellular automata in which simple rules can lead to complex behavior. Cellular automata are seen as an alternative to conventional mathematics for modeling physical phenomena. This is somewhat controversial, but is an interesting approach.


Posted by shrogers at 19:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 May
2004

Commoditized IT

Ted Leung asks: Will IT matter more after it's commoditized? and I think the answer is yes. Commoditized IT will foster new waves of innovation. How you use technology is often more important than the technology itself. The more accessible the technology is, the more it will be used, other things being equal. Greater use increases the probability that high value add applications will be realized, which creates wealth.

Open Source Software is one force pushing software commoditization. Companies like Jsoftware also contribute to IT commoditization. Jsoftware distributes J "free as in beer", but charges for consulting, training, and access to the C source code to J. They require you to register for a free J User Licence if you use J as a programmer, which no doubt provides them with some marketing information. As an Array Programming Language, J has a fairly steep learning for programmers used to scalar languages like C, C++, Java, or Python, and "free, as in beer" makes experimenting with it more attractive. Making it "free, as in speech" by open sourcing it might help, but I've seen the C code for an earlier version of J and I think it's beyond the reach of most C programmers. J seems to be doing well with the current model.


Posted by Steve at 20:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 May
2004

DIY IT

Do It Yourself Information Technology

Doc Searls has started a new weblog, IT Garage, for notes about people solving their own IT problems. This provides a different perspective from IT publications which focus on vendor solutions.


Posted by Steve at 04:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 May
2004

Feynman and Computing

I wasn't too surprised to discover the link between Richard Feynman and the Connection Machine. He was both a broad and deep thinker, and parallel computing is the sort of unique problem that would appeal to him. Stephen Wolfram, of Mathematica fame was also involved in the project.


Posted by Steve Rogers at 09:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)