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Posts tagged permacomputing

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of array programming, lightsabers and some thoughts on permacomputing

A bit of this and that, some kind of mishmosh.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot about array programming systems like J, K, Q, APL, and BQN. I’ve been intending to add a page to the wiki about them, but haven’t gotten to that yet. Consider this a little promise that I’ll do that sometime soon. I’m interested in array programming less because I think it’s particularly useful for me (it’s not) and more because I am captivated by the poetics it invites.

If I had a personal theory of programming (I don’t) it would be something like

programming is writing poetry that acts on input and data to cause a known effect.

Array programming systems invite a different sort of metre and verse to that poetry. They force ya towards something like haiku whereas most other languages want you to stick to a yawn inducing iambic pentameter.

Beyond that reading, I re-watched the original Star Wars movies — IV, V, VI — this past week with my older kid. Their reaction to them was skepticism, and being convinced that the Ewoks ate the dead Imperials after the Battle of Endor…which could be true?

A blog post I wrote a few months back at work got published. It is my attempt at sneaking in some thoughts on permacomputing into a more normal” setting. The timing of the post was oddly synchronous with a few things, one of which is my thinking a lot more about permacomputing:

A lot of the dialogue around permacomputing that I’ve seen seems intertwined with a certain aesthetic sensibility that is entangled with the demo scene and retro computing communities. While I think both these spaces are kinda rad, I think they’re specifically prone to a certain flavor of navel gazing…a flavor focused on specific tech stacks, and tooling, and apparent minimalism. It’s a flavor that leaves a gap in the conversation around what I’d call the why” of permacomputing.

Most of the conversations I see are hyper focused on the how” and what” of permacomputing. How” and what” cover the skeleton, we use X system running on Y reclaimed hardware.” The discussions that gesture at why” that I see tend to be like because it’s the more harmonious way to do computation given that we’re living amidst climate collapse.” And, while that is a great reason for choosing lower impact tools, I think the community generally misses what I see as the most important bit of permacomputing:

Let permacomputing be an invitation to question why and how much computation ought to be involved with a thing, and, if that computation is being used to increase or decrease the anomie between folks…and with what impact to the world?

My take on permacomputing is that it’s a way of approaching computation that’s further distanced from the goals of capitalism. It is an effort to re-imagine our tech landscape, and in so doing enchant it with values that support, for lack of a better word, balance.”

Thoughts on accessibility in smol computing

What follows is my attempt to spark a conversation in a few converging, but separate communities I lurk in.

I’ve already had a bunch of amazing conversations around this topic with a lot of people. Those conversations helped to shape what follows. Thanks to everyone who was willing to think this stuff through with me.

Before I get into it I want to say at the top this isn’t meant as an accusation against anyone in these communities, nor the goals of the various projects. This is intended to add a new layer to the existing considerations and to see if the goals of these projects can be expanded to include, or consider, accessibility.

I want to open a conversation about accessibility in this space.

I think it is an important consideration mostly left out of our community’s conversations.

I think it’s an important conversation for a variety of reasons —

Facet, ignoring it tacitly implies there isn’t space for folks who rely on assistive tech in our community, that they can’t contribute and aren’t imagined to matter in the future.

Facet, we often look back in time to older devices, implementations and implementers. For many of them the concerns of capitalism placed constraints on what they could achieve. We’re speculating about a post-capitalist ecosystem…as such, we have an opportunity to think outside of those confines. Thinking about accessibility invites us to look forward while also pulling inspiration from the past. We have constraints, they’re a different looking set than the ones on things like the apple 2, we needn’t let those constraints define our future.

Before I turn the conversation over I want to set a few core assumptions:

  • accessibility is more than screen readers
  • disability is something that takes a variety of forms, it is something some folks live with forever, it is something that visits some other folks briefly
  • disability can compound; sometimes we need to consider more than 1 disability at a time
  • disability can be visible, disability can be invisible

A first instinct may be to think of accessibility as a technical problem that needs a solution. I’d suggest that it might be an opportunity to reframe how we approach the idea itself; from accessibility to adaptability. Adaptability of methodology, problem solving, software, and devices.