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Saturday 2nd September, 2023 - A Bit of a Trip (Issue #130)
We are entering into an era of very long timescales. This week we go on a bit of a journey in space and time to try and get handle on what this might mean exactly.
Hello and welcome to my newsletter!
Another season 2 instalment…
I’ve spent much of yesterday evening and this morning merging in all the links, notes, and blog posts I wrote during last week’s coding hiatus caused by running out of build minutes. I think mostly it’s all merged. There were a lot of annoying typos from not being able to render the templates, but at least it wasn’t a narly 25 branch merge extravaganza.
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After I rebuilt the site with the new content, there was a frenzy of social media auto posts, with all the latest stuff being posted all in one go. Not the end of the world but a bit annoying. I had mentioned that was a possibility, not much I could do about it. I think the website is mostly caught up now.
This week’s issue is a bit chaotic, a giant cauldron of oddities if you will, reflecting how much of my week has been, but there is the unmistakable undercurrent theme of very long timescales. That’s something that many of us in the software industry are going to have to be thinking about increasingly going forward.
I continued experimenting writing notes this past week. You can see those here:
I’m finding the notes feature very useful, and indeed it has given rise to several blog posts on a variety of subjects. Hopefully some of you out there will find my writing interesting. Feel free to click through, read and share:
Very long timescales - A new era is begining where we need to consider very long timescales when building software. Lots of strange things to consider, especially in free and open source software. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/29/very-long-timescales
Double meanings across cultures and languages - Some notes, thoughts and observations, based on personal experience, about languages and cultures. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/28/double-meanings-across-cultures-and-languages
UK politics cognitive disonance - Some observations about UK politics. We have such a rich history, but is that causing our politicians to be out of touch with the current reality of the people? https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/26/uk-politics-cognitive-disonance
The real Vision Pro opportunity - What if the Vision Pro isn't destined for mainstream user adoption? Would that be so bad? Could there be even cooler use cases? https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/22/the-real-vision-pro-opportunity
I ran out of build minutes - Writeup of the latest github build minutes situation, and some thoughts and observations about static sites being reliant on build systems being operational. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/22/i-ran-out-of-build-minutes
Text template rendering should be standard in all operating systems - Thinking about how one would implement a system wide template rendering for text feature. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/08/21/text-template-rendering-should-be-standard-in-all-operating-systems
My Keen On honeymoon that started in last week’s issue continues. It’s a re-occurring pattern, you find a new podcast that you like, they are the flavour of the month, and then slowly they get integrated into the background. If you go back through the newsletter archives you’ll see that pattern occurring several times. Parasocial relationships are so odd. Rather than fight it, for this week at least, the special Andrew Keen section remains.
Jonathan Taplin: Silicon Valley’s Destruction of Reality Ep#1685 (Keen On Podcast) https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hamtlZW4ubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/ZGUyMjMyMGUtNDVmMi0xMWVlLThmMGQtYWYzMWVmZjM3YzM0?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjYm5OvjYuBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQNg
Mustafa Suleyman: Containing and Controlling AI Ep#1686 (Keen On Podcast) https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hamtlZW4ubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/YTIzYzA0MDQtNDY4My0xMWVlLTkzYWUtMzM4ZTkxN2NjNmE5?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjYm5OvjYuBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQNg
Rachel O'Dwyer: Trust and the Tokenisation of Value Ep#1687 (Keen On Podcast) https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hamtlZW4ubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/OTZhOTA1NGMtNDY4ZC0xMWVlLWIzNGEtZDM1ODU0MGM2OWJh?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjYm5OvjYuBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQNg
There’s another special section this week. It’s the Anything But Tech section. It was an odd week, with no coding, only podcast listening and writing. The weather was also really terrible, and towards the end of the week I was totally tech’d out. So I very consciously decided to give tech and programming a total break. These were the podcasts that I listened to:
Sixties Fashion: The Teenage Revolution (The Rest is History Podcast) - Context is the period following war austerity, rules about etiquette and clothes, what you can and can’t wear, mods vs rockers, classless and emphasis on youth, color, disposable fashion, magazines, Tv pop shows. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9yc3MuYWNhc3QuY29tL3RoZS1yZXN0LWlzLWhpc3RvcnktcG9kY2FzdA/episode/ZjdiNjEyMDItNDRmOS0xMWVlLTg1ODYtZGZjNWZkOTgyNGU2?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahgKEwjYm5OvjYuBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQuAQ
Sixties Fashion: Swinging London (The Rest is History Podcast) - The invention of the mini skirt, brevity being the soul of fashion, famous cult photographers, Hendrix, the Beatles, hippies, clothes of the future, boutiques replacing manufacturing, surrealism, Austin Powers, Carnaby Street, King’s Road, Portobello Road. During this period of enormous and fast paced change, London became the world wide capital of fashion. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9yc3MuYWNhc3QuY29tL3RoZS1yZXN0LWlzLWhpc3RvcnktcG9kY2FzdA/episode/MjFiNDU1NDYtNDc1Mi0xMWVlLWE4OTctMmZhOTc5MGY5NTBi?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahgKEwjYm5OvjYuBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQuAQ
Dark Star by the Gratefull Dead Ep#165 (A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs Podcast) - I like the early blue grass stuff and the later sound they developed, not too into some of the middle years. But the thing that makes this a phenomenal episode are the insane stories, the business side of things, the crazy business models they pioneered, and their intersection with art and culture of the time. Their long term influence on culture was arguably similar to the Beatles, they just did it in a very very different, some would say improbable way. https://500songs.com/podcast/episode-165-dark-star-by-the-grateful-dead
It was really refreshing to hear stories about the colourful 60s and listen to some music! It’s been so long since I listened to some music.
As luck would have it these podcasts look at similar time periods but from different angles. And the universe must have a bit of a sense of humour because, as you’ll find out if you listen to these, you’ll notice that in fact they are all in their own way related to tech and programming in a big way. The events portrayed were the basis for what became the culture of Silicon Valley.
I really recommend taking the time to listen to these. Not in a take-lots-of-notes way but just letting the stories wash over you, they might not seem all that relevant initially, but you’ll probably find yourself absorbing some of the deep ambient and ancient culture of the tech industry by osmosis. Come back to this section when you have a few spare hours, it’s a bit of a trip.
On with the regular programming…
Threads big moment, and Sony’s big controller (Vergecast Podcast) - Threads macdonald french fries approach to software development, social media is bar hoping from the 90s, Twitter vs Threads during presidential debate, gaming, headphone jacks, NFL football broadcasters tech, the AI training and web scraping apocalypse, DVDs are still pretty cool. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vdmVyZ2VjYXN0/episode/NzZmZGRhYTYtMzUwZS0xMWVkLWFjNmUtZmIzYzhjZGU0MjMz?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahcKEwiAov-aj4uBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQNw
Nvidia smashed earnings, Arm walks the plank, M&A market, Vivek dominates GOP debate and more Ep#143 (All-in Podcast) - Just an all round good episode, nice feel good piece talking to actual astronauts while they are in space, how about if we made some tequila segment, current state of tech with analysis of Nvidia, Arm, IPO market and VC metrics to keep an eye on, and some actually quite insightful commentary on US politics. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbGxpbmNoYW1hdGhqYXNvbi5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/ZGRlNDZhMzQtNTkyYi00YTdhLWFhYjItNDc2YzhmMjRlZmJk?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahgKEwiAov-aj4uBAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQzwQ
Mitch Horowitz (Duncan Trussell Podcast) - I thought this episode was very timely given this week’s focus on very long timescales. Mitch is a massive history / occult nerd but he says ‘Digg this’ a lot, and amazingly it does actually make him kind of cooler. He’s really perfected that turn of phrase. I think it’s great. However you feel about coolness, this episode is full of fascinating stuff, history and background of the occult, the foundation of modern western civilisation, grenoirs, our connection to the ancient world, birth of modernity, suppression of the ancient world, science’s connections to the occult, the materialists, who controls consensus reality, ancient cultures being technologies, non human intelligences throughout history. The ‘prior art’ at long timescales is kind of out there, but it’s fun, and there might just be some important lessons buried in there somewhere. Digg this. https://www.duncantrussell.com/episodes/2023/8/27/mitch-horowitz
Chen Hui Jing and the State of CSS Survey for 2023 Ep#580 (Shop Talk Show Podcast) - We are at an inflection point in CSS, it’s becoming more and more clear that a new modern era is beginning, where a large collection of new very powerful primitives are in place and supported across browsers. Many things that were previously hard noes are now maybes. Interesting nuances of layout design and typography in non western languages. Also: non majority users, less interest in frameworks, color spectrums and communication between designers and developers, a lot of folks don’t listen to podcasts! Who are these philistines? And there’s a bit about pooping pots of gold becoming the norm, but I might have misunderstood that part. https://shoptalkshow.com/580
The Superchain Explained with Jesse Pollock & Ben Jones Ep#185 (Bankless Podcast) - This was a pretty fascinating episode, though I fell asleep a couple of times because of motorbike gang stalker sleep depravation the night before. Bit of a shame because I could tell that it’s an important level up in the crypto space. It’s how we will scale to billions of users. And so it goes. The parts I did listen to were very intriguing indeed. https://www.bankless.com/the-superchain-explained-with-jesse-pollock-ben-jones
How Central Banks Broke Money with Matthew Mežinskis (What Bitcoin Did Podcast) - What I like about Matthew’s take is that he approaches his analysis in a very scientific way, using a lot of mathematical and visualisation tools. The situation is appalling, the poor don’t have access to any of the financial tools, so they get hit the hardest by inflation. You can see it in the data. With central banks, total base money grows 7 times faster than total number of people. That’s mental. https://www.whatbitcoindid.com/podcast/how-central-banks-broke-money
The new economics of Twitter outrage - The twisted economics that are playing out on Twitter with Elon Musk's new rules. It has changed the "main character" dynamic from something that could benefit people that fitted into existing structures of business, politics and media to one where "you’re just paid directly by a billionaire -- though only if you can afford to pay him first". I'm not sure what it is exactly but some things in this article ring true to real life for me.
Wordpress: The 100-Year Plan - "The 100-Year Plan ensures that your stories, achievements, and memories are preserved for generations to come. One payment. One hundred years of legacy. US$38,000." - It just so happens to be $1 per day, which means even if you only had 1 customer you might just be able to pull it off. What a curious price, don't you think? https://wordpress.com/100-year
There are loads more interesting links in the linkblog, feel free to check them out and share:
That’s all from me…
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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!