02 Jan

kickingbear – Learn to X

Jalkut wrote this piece, Learn to Code. Read it, it’s well worth your time. Simmons linked to Jalkut’s piece adding this, “I’m reminded of Matt Mullenweg saying ‘Scripting is the new literacy.’ Matt’s right.”

I appreciate where they’re coming from. I can, from a certain perspective, agree with the argument. But, let’s not kid ourselves, literacy is the new literacy. The ability to read, comprehend, digest and come to rational conclusions — that’s what we need more of. We don’t, as a society, need more people who have the mechanical knowledge to turn RSS feeds into Twitter spam. We don’t need anything more posted to Facebook, we don’t need anything we photograph to appear on Instagram and Flickr. If “scripting” is the new literacy then we’ve failed. We’ve become Mario drowning on a Water Level.

Scripting isn’t the new literacy, it’s the new tinkering with the engine, the new re-wiring the house. The new DIY for the digital age. These sorts of skills are incredibly valuable, but they’re not now, and certainly won’t be in the future, anything close to being an art form that stirs our souls.

That’s what literature does — it communicates to humans by leveraging our understanding of words and our grasp of narrative. And, sometimes, it mixes them all up but we still get value from it. That’s not how writing code works. Writing code is a craft, we build upon the capabilities of the compiler, the libraries and the hardware. We don’t have the freedom to innovate, as an author would, unless we control the whole stack. And we don’t. We swim upon a shallow surface, we perform what amounts to an act of synchronized swimming. At times it’s beautiful, but we’re in a pool, and we can’t control how wide or deep it is.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late. I’ll say to you — don’t Learn To Code, just Learn. Whatever it is you’re good at, whatever it is that calls to you — do that. And do it again and again and again and again.

Learn to X.

via kickingbear – Learn to X. I really enjoy that line “Learn to X”. There’s a problem among programmers it’s the classic when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Programming/Coding is our hammer, perhaps a really advanced hammer but still just a hammer. I’m not going to predict that programming will never be a part of a basic grade school education, I will however be shocked if it ever occurs. There is a reason the tagline for this site isn’t something like “learning to be a better programmer ever day”, programming is a career choice but not the only thing I want to be skilled at.

20 Feb

Al Jazeera English – North Korea’s cinema of dreams

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s love of film is well-documented, but few outsiders know that he is revered as a genius of cinema by his own people.

Now, this groundbreaking film opens a window inside the world’s most secretive country and an elite academy, where young actors are hand-picked to serve a massive propaganda machine.

Filmmakers Lynn Lee and James Leong spent more than two years on this project, becoming the first foreigners to film inside Pyongyang’s University of Cinematic and Dramatic Arts.

via Al Jazeera English – North Korea’s cinema of dreams. This was an incredibly interesting 25 minutes.

12 Dec

Vitsoe – Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design

Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?

As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)

via Vitsoe – Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design. His ten principles for good industrial design plus ten drop dead gorgeous products to go along with each principle, what more could you want? These products are as much art as they are functional.

23 Mar

Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts – BBC News

The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger – in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts.

The Cornell University team studied 52 of the most famous paintings of the Biblical scene over the millennium and scrutinised the size of the feast.

They found the main courses, bread and plates put before Jesus and his disciples have progressively grown by up to two-thirds.

via BBC News – Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts. Not really surprising but interesting.