05 JUN 2017 by ideonexus

 Reading Fiction is to Temporarily Believe Nonsense

The weather bureau will tell you what next Tuesday will be like, and the Rand Corporation will tell you what the twenty-first century will be like. I don't recommend that you turn to the writers of fiction for such information. It's none of their business. All they're trying to do is tell you what they're like, and what you're like—what's going on—what the weather is now, today, this moment, the rain, the sunlight, look! Open your eyes; listen, listen. That is what the novelists say. But ...
Folksonomies: fiction truth lies
Folksonomies: fiction truth lies
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17 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Diderot on Information Overload

As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes. When that time comes, a project, until then neglected because the need for it was not felt,...
Folksonomies: information overload
Folksonomies: information overload
  1  notes
 
21 APR 2017 by ideonexus

 Code is Not Literature

Code is not literature and we are not readers. Rather, interesting pieces of code are specimens and we are naturalists. So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found: “Look at the antenna on this...
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
  1  notes

Seibel's observation that reading code is less like literature and more like science is dead on. No matter how readable the code is, when I'm confronted with 10,000 lines of it spread across numerous encapsulated functions, I must tackle it very differently from how I read prose. With a complex literary text, I can just read it in linear fashion with occasional segueing to look up words and concepts, with well-engineered code I must follow numerous cases into different flows of logic. These aren't the same at all.

I appreciate that he's trying to dispel the idea that we "read" code as we read for pleasure, I learn from code by experimenting with it. I open up the debugger and step through it, watch the variables change and see where it goes when I execute it. Most of all, I learn by changing that code and trying to build on it. I have enhanced my javascript skills immensely in recent years by cloning various projects on github and trying to expand on them or adopt them to my own purposes. I don't recommend opening up a code base and just reading it, actively engage it, break it, and enhance it.

29 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 Science Fiction Gave Literature New Frontiers

The shift in subject matter from westerns to science fiction was probably already underway when Burroughs began writing. The frontier, which had been such a key feature of American popular fiction, was rapidly disappearing, and writers had begun looking for new frontiers—hence, the increasing number of stories about lost civilizations in unexplored parts of the world. But even the unexplored parts of the world were shrinking rapidly, and as new technologies, such as aircraft and rocketry, b...
Folksonomies: history science fiction
Folksonomies: history science fiction
  1  notes

Burroughs "Princess of Mars" even has the protagonist go from the Western frontier to a Martian desert. Wastelands are frontiers as well.

27 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 History of the Concept of Art

Nowadays when someone speaks of "art" you probably think first of "fine arts" such as painting and sculpture, but before the twentieth century the word was generally used in quite a different sense. Since this older meaning of "art" still survives in many idioms, especially when we are contrasting art with science, I would like to spend the next few minutes talking about art in its classical sense. In medieval times, the first universities were established to teach the seven so-called "liber...
Folksonomies: science art humanities
Folksonomies: science art humanities
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