I suppose I understand the perspective of these engineers, though I don’t think their fear is of abstraction. It is a fear of improper abstraction, which is often the product of trying to create an abstraction before you even understand the problem; you know sit around and talk aimlessly for a couple of hours driven development. Good abstractions start very simple and evolve overtime to become useful mental models for a particular problem.

Abstraction - A Tool For Collective Thought

I’ve been wanting for awhile now to write a post about programmatic abstractions that would be very much along these lines. I think this is a really important insight that separates great abstractions that hold up over time from lousy ones that are fashionable for a season until people start to understand their limitations. Good abstractions start simply—often close to the minimal solution possible—and evolve over time in a way that is always informed by specific use cases encountered in the wild. Abstractions that start out as monolithic, seamless, end-all-be-all solutions tend to break down very quickly when exposed to anything but the textbook use cases their creators anticipated, whereas more humble efforts, judiciously managed, tend to grow more organically into true general purpose tools with real staying power.

caseyj
caseyj:

Things that are more expensive than a tablet now:
Most t shirts
A hardcover book 
A case of beer 
A $15 Seamless minimum order plus tax and tip
A romantic dinner for two at McDonalds
A moleskine notebook and a pen
A Chromecast
Old navy jeans
A roll of film, bought and developed
A large bag of cat food 
A tank of gas
Just enough Cheetos to embarrass yourself

Also: wait, there’s a Micro Center in Brooklyn? Also: wait, Micro Center still exists?

caseyj:

Things that are more expensive than a tablet now:
Most t shirts
A hardcover book
A case of beer
A $15 Seamless minimum order plus tax and tip
A romantic dinner for two at McDonalds
A moleskine notebook and a pen
A Chromecast
Old navy jeans
A roll of film, bought and developed
A large bag of cat food
A tank of gas
Just enough Cheetos to embarrass yourself

Also: wait, there’s a Micro Center in Brooklyn? Also: wait, Micro Center still exists?

barbook

When I headed to Osaka a few months ago, my friend Nick Coldicott, who lives in Tokyo, urged me to visit what he contends is the best bourbon bar in the world: Rogin’s Tavern. Knowing Nick’s command of the spirits universe, I take a commuter train out to Moriguchi, an obscure little town about half an hour from the center of Osaka. When I emerge from the station I can see a neon light spelling “Rogin’s” in English. Inside it is dim, with a long wooden bar backed by hundreds of bottles. American jazz comes from an ancient-looking jukebox in the rear.

Nearly every bottle is bourbon, though there is a smattering of rye and sour mash. I can see bottles from the 1800s next to obscure export bottlings of Jim Beam next to standard-issue Jack Daniel’s. Seiichiro Tatsumi, an older man dressed elegantly in bartender’s attire, emerges from the shadows and says hello in English. I tell him I am a friend of Nick’s, and he reaches for a bottle nestled behind the register. “You want to try a 1904?” he asks.

He tenderly unscrews the top and pours a shot for me and another for himself. I take a sip. It is a brand I’ve never heard of, once made, Tatsumi says, especially for a hotel in Kentucky. It is highly alcoholic but silky smooth. Unlike wine or vintage port, bourbon is not supposed to change much in the bottle over time. And so I think of this as a chance to taste the past and experience, almost exactly, what drinkers were sipping a hundred years ago.

“I tasted my first bourbon in the basement bar of the Rihga Royal Hotel, a famous old place in Osaka,” Tatsumi says. “Then I spent years reading everything I could about bourbon at the American cultural center. I sent letters to Kentucky and Tennessee trying to set up visits to the distilleries. I even asked for help at the American consulate. And then I finally got to visit in 1984. I fell in love with America then. I’ve been back a hundred times since. I now own a house in Lexington, and I’ve even been named a colonel in Kentucky.”

I ask him how he found all these old bottles of bourbon. “I drive across America, only on the back roads and especially at night, when you can see the lit-up liquor-store signs in the distance,” he says. “I stop at every place I pass, and I don’t just look on the shelves: I ask the clerk to comb the cellar and check the storeroom for anything old. I can’t tell you how many cases of ancient bottles I’ve found that way. I’ll try any bourbon once, and if I like it I buy more.”

roomthily

You once referred to computing as pop culture.

It is. Complete pop culture. I’m not against pop culture. Developed music, for instance, needs a pop culture. There’s a tendency to over-develop. Brahms and Dvorak needed gypsy music badly by the end of the 19th century. The big problem with our culture is that it’s being dominated, because the electronic media we have is so much better suited for transmitting pop-culture content than it is for high-culture content. I consider jazz to be a developed part of high culture. Anything that’s been worked on and developed and you [can] go to the next couple levels.

One thing about jazz aficionados is that they take deep pleasure in knowing the history of jazz.

Yes! Classical music is like that, too. But pop culture holds a disdain for history. Pop culture is all about identity and feeling like you’re participating. It has nothing to do with cooperation, the past or the future — it’s living in the present. I think the same is true of most people who write code for money. They have no idea where [their culture came from] — and the Internet was done so well that most people think of it as a natural resource like the Pacific Ocean, rather than something that was man-made. When was the last time a technology with a scale like that was so error-free? The Web, in comparison, is a joke. The Web was done by amateurs.

From Interview with Alan Kay, the second grumpiest programmer in the world. (The first is Ted Nelson). (via programmingisterrible)

alan kay, everyone.

(via roomthily)

iamdanw
This is as good a time as any to point out that Bush painted his portraits, not just from photographs—a common enough practice as well as a long-established conceptual strategy, though I think only the former pertains here—but from the top search result on Google Images. Many photos were taken from the subject’s Wikipedia entry. Bush based his paintings on the literally first-to-surface, easiest-to-find photos of his subjects.

Art Of The Bush School | greg.org: the making of, by greg allen (via iamdanw)

If some hipster painter had done this, people would be calling it brilliant!

Whereas it took a few years for Office Space and Idiocracy to feel more like nonfiction than parody, the pace of the real-life Silicon Valley is such that Silicon Valley is in constant danger of being overtaken by events, especially with the shortness of its season (there are just eight episodes). Judge and the other writers are always emailing each other the latest headlines, like when venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared the Bay Area backlash against tech billionaires and companies to—no kidding—the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.

“It’s, like, are you guys doing press for our show?” says Nanjiani. “Because you’re saying the craziest shit right now.”