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Explaining Code using ASCII Art

People tend to be visual: we use pictures to understand problems. Mainstream programming languages, on the other hand, operate in an almost completely different kind of abstract space, leaving a big gap between programs and pictures.

Cyberfeminism ~1990s - present, Cyberfeminist Index by Mindy Seu

I’m currently working on a printed publication, a la the Whole Earth Catalog and the New Woman’s Survival Catalog, that will provide an overview of cyberfeminism and its evolution into networked feminism (like social media activism), xenofeminism (gender-abolition), and posthumanism/bio-hacktivism. It will be a resource guide: a sampling of books, essays, collectives, online communities, hackerspaces, etc.”

This article does a bonkers good job laying out how quickly and how much China’s urban and suburban areas are growing.

Networking - 🚂 Choo Documentation

I’ve been exploring alternatives to React lately, and keep coming back to Choo. I very much like this bit from its documentation:

A fun way to think about browsers, is as a standardized Virtual Machine (VM) that includes high-level APIs to do networking, sandboxed code execution and disk access. It runs on almost every platform, behaves similarly everywhere, and is always kept backwards compatible.

What if JavaScript Wins?

Technology has always existed in a social context, and evaluations of the risk or reliability of a tech platform have always relied on social indicators. But the acceleration of these patterns, and the extending of the social networks around code to include the majority of working coders, means that institutional indicators (like which company funds its development?”) now come second to community-based signals.

Similarly, top-down indications of technical maturity like documentation (often an artifact of outside investment in making a technology accessible to a new audience) are complemented, or even eclipsed, by bottoms-up indicators like how many people have bookmarked a framework, or how many people answer comments about a toolkit.

Tbh, I wasn’t all that interested in this pieces discussion of the pros and cons of JavaScript, but the author, Anil Dash of Glitch does an excellent job articulating the squishier side of why this and such system prevails over that and which thing-a-ma-bob that may be technically” better.

The piece reminds me of something I recently heard John Siracusa talk about on a podcast — he speculated that software may be the most complicated non-biological thing that humans have ever built. At first I thought it was hubris, but then, as he continued to make his point and draw a line from software to hardware to physics and the physicality of computing I was swayed.

What we often think of as being ethereal and digital” is, at the end of the day, still in meatspace…

See also Being Popular” by Paul Graham.

Why I Write CSS in JavaScript

I’m skeptical of CSS in JS for a few reasons, but this article softened my views. I still don’t love it, but my reasons for not loving it aren’t technical, really.

Pragmatic rules of web accessibility that will stick to your mind

Good high-level intro. I could see this being valuable for someone trying to convince management” of accessibilities value.”

Time to Panic. The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us.

Our little brown rat’: first climate change-caused mammal extinction

RIP. Expecting more news of this sort in the coming years is terrifying, but also, hopefully, key to catalyzing change.

A Journey Into the Animal Mind

Crows are among the most sophisticated avian technologists.

That is a solid sentence. I read it allowed to myself a few times when I came across it.

Cisco Trash Map, On railroads, oil rigs, uranium mines, 7-11 pizzas, Thelma and Louise, ruination, salvage, and the limits of the garbage gaze.

…I absorbed the common critique of ruin porn — that it tends to erase history and inspire myth. It’s true that as a high schooler I had a pretty vague sense of the politics that made Milwaukee’s ruins. But mythmaking has always shaped the U.S. landscape…

…Ruins are the idealized structures of a vaguely defined past; rubble is the aftermath of specific events that people live in, reuse, and form material relationships to…

Medieval trade networks v.4

A map of ancient trade networks

A detailed map of medieval trade routes. I always find this sort of thing fascinating and, in my experience lacking from contemporary historical education in the U.S. History is often presented as vignettes, as specific narratives, that are disjointed from a large context. I love how a map like this helps to contextualize the ecology, or maybe society? of history.

Five Lessons From Seven Years of Research Into Buttons

The first point is interesting, and click bait-y 1. Buttons Aren’t Actually Easy to Use”

I think it may be better presented as buttons require context.”

Or, perhaps The value of a good label.”

In reply to: A Map of Radical Bewilderment

At the root of each dispute over the river’s water was an argument over the meaning of improvement and its near cousin, progress…Yet even then the word was diverging from its agrarian roots, developing something of its current flavor: economic advancement enabled by new technologies.