1976 was a good year for text editors. At MIT, Richard Stallman and Guy Steele wrote the first version of Emacs. And over at Berkeley, Bill Joy wrote vi (though it wouldn’t be called that for a few years yet). It’s reductionist to say that these two editors were each built around one big idea, but what the hell, let’s be reductionist. Because what stands out in 2014, looking at modern editors like Sublime Text and Atom, is how Emacs’ big idea has been thoroughly learned — and how vi’s big idea hasn’t.
This neural network—which you can read about here, basically it’s a computing network modeled on animal nervous systems—has eleven layers of neurons, which makes it possible to ID millions of house numbers a day from the Street View raw image data. “We can, for example, transcribe all the views we have of street numbers in France in less than an hour using our Google infrastructure,” write the engineers in a new Arxiv paper about the project. What about the numbers that are too blurry for this giant brain to make sense of? No prob—those are identified by humans as part of a second generation CAPTCHA program. So you may have already contributed to the cause, without even realizing it.
Reading a Delany novel, exploring distant nebulas—kind of the same thing, right?
Nine Delany ebooks are now available here:
Laurie Spiegel plays Alles synth
Spiegel imagines the emergence of “public archives”: databases “bi-directionally accessible from home computers over the telephone lines.” And she thinks through the implications of a new mode of music distribution where “the act (work and cost) of making copies becomes the responsibilities of the consumer.” It is remarkable how Spiegel identified, over 30 years ago, several areas of concern that currently bedevil us: the problem of filtering the overload, the need for new mechanisms for compensating culture-workers and the content-producing class.
It is especially tempting to name your first computer after yourself, but think about it. Do you name any of your other possessions after yourself? No. Your dog has its own name, as do your children. If you are one of those who feel so inclined to name your car and other objects, you certainly don’t reuse your own name. Otherwise you would have a great deal of trouble distinguishing between them in speech.
True Detective is a compelling show. People love the acting and are thrilled by the mystery. No arguments there. But two recent interviews with people who worked on it highlight another reason the show works: the petrochemical landscape of Louisiana.
We got Gnarr!
I’m proud to announce that this June, we’re publishing a memoir by Jon Gnarr, mayor of Reykjavik. Don’t know Gnarr?
Noam Chomsky called him “my favorite mayor.”
Lady Gaga said “more mayors should be like Jon Gnarr.”
He’s a comedian, a cross dresser, an anarchist, and the best mayor you’ve ever seen. Imagine if Stephen Colbert had run for mayor of New York and won, and then was actually really great at the job.
That’s Jon Gnarr.