What Caught My Eye - Week 4

Bit of a single topic this week. Still, some interesting things.


  • Caught Like Insects

    [...] for many, it was liberating to find that, on the web, you could explore your true nature and find fellow travelers without shame.

    But as paranoia grows about the NSA reading our emails and Google tapping into our home thermostats, it’s increasingly clear that — rather than providing an identity-free playground — the web can just as easily capture and preserve aspects of our identities we would have preferred to keep hidden. What started as a metaphor to describe the complexly interconnected network has come to suggest a spider’s sticky trap.

  • Code is not Literature: An interesting disucssion of the notion of 'reading code', and how 'reading' is really the wrong way to look at it.

    It was sometime after that presentation that I finally realized the obvious: code is not literature. We don’t read code, we decode it. We examine it. A piece of code is not literature; it is a specimen.

    I've always been very curious about the idea of sitting down and reading code, since it's a common exhortation to those trying to improve their skills. However, my brief forays have always been fruitless, largely because I did try to understand the challenge as reading, not examination.

    My most successful and rewarding instances of 'reading code' have been delving deep into systems I don't understand with a debugger and a notebook. Debugging problems in code I've never seen before is often a part of my day-to-day, and lately, part of my leisure time too!

  • On the Matter of Why Bitcoin Matters: An interesting and measured take on bitcoin from Glenn Fleishman.

    Bitcoin shows a path for massively more secure, reliable, and sensible ways to store value and move it around. As a currency, I have little faith that it will become a replacement for dollars, euros, or renminbi. As a model for a future payment and transaction system, I believe it’s already shown its value.

  • The CS Mindset: A discussion on why we teach CS, and what we hope students will learn from their CS courses.

    With this skill comes something else, something even more important: a discipline of thinking and a clarity of thought that are hard to attain when you learn "how to think more methodically and how to solve problems more effectively" in the abstract or while doing almost any other activity.