In Praise of the Dark - Into the Morn

Up early this morning, before the dawn, and unable to get back to sleep. By inclination I’m a night person. On weekends I sleep in late, sometimes into the afternoon. Today I was to bed early and up early as well. And the dawn was beautiful. I’ve often thought that an essay or book in praise of the dark would be interesting to write. Most of the synonyms and connotations of the dark are bad, but to me the night seems like the best time of the day.

Late Night Insomniac (Work) Thoughts

Can’t sleep, mind is working overtime on some work thoughts. Technical support shop talk ahead. One of the major problems we face at work is getting information out of the call tracking system we use. In two years we’ve generated almost 60,000 tickets but trying to find trends or related incidents inside of that lump is almost impossible. In part it may be because of the system we are using, Magic.

Learning About Optics

I was at volunteer training for the Experiment Gallery at the Science Museum of Minnesota tonight. We went through a series of demonstrations and experiments about optics. To cap it off I thought I might collect some links on optics for future reference. Google Directory on Physics and Optics Optics topic at Wikipedia. This has some nice diagrams and outlines of all the common lens shapes. Physics Web Education Resources on Optics Optics.

Experiments in Linux

I’ve finally had some success in getting my Debian Linux box working. I wanted to use it as a test bed for some of the other blogging tools I’ve encountered such as blosxom and pyblosxom. What I’m really trying to accomplish is an integration of the blog with a wiki a la Decafbad.

Studying Emotions in History

From Chronicle of Higher Education comes this intriguing piece: Getting Emotional The study of feelings, once the province of psychology, is now spreading to history, literature, and other fields. Mr. Miller’s [author of Humiliation and The Anatomy of Disgust] more general point is that we are accustomed to understanding emotion as an essentially personal experience – something that occurs “inside” someone and that may or may not be expressed to others.

Information Age Intelligence

Julian Baggini writes about “Information Age Intelligence.” He raises a couple of the objections made by critics of technological society. First that we are losing our memory for information and becoming dependent on the ability to search for information and.. The second concerns the actual way we deal intellectually with problems. Jason L Frand in his seminal paper “The Information Age Mindset” captures this in the memorable phrase “Nintendo over logic”.

On Nerds

Simon Brunning pointed me to this essay by Paul Graham “Why Nerds are Unpopular.” There were a lot of passages that seemed familiar but this one particularly struck home: Because I didn’t fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me. I didn’t realize that the reason we nerds didn’t fit in was that we were a step ahead. We were already thinking about the kind of things that matter in the real world, instead of spending all our time playing an exacting but mostly pointless game like the others.

We need to see the power law over time

Clay Shirky started the ball rolling recently when he wrote about Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality, saying that the the more popular sites such as Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan get the largest proportion of the traffic today and the gap will probably continue to widen in the future. The best reactions I’ve seen so far are by Steven Johnson and Liz Lawley. Johnson says: But the most interesting thing to me about Clay’s essay – and the subsequent response – is that the active participants in the power law system are having a conversation about the distribution and what it means, and whether they want their little ecosystem to look like that.

On Tied Knowledge in Academia and Business

I found this interesting book via a link that is too hazy to describe earlier this morning. I think it involved moving from Flemming Funch to Kieran Healy and Elizabeth Lane Lawley. The book, Tied Knowledge: Power in Higher Education by Brian Martin, is about the power structures of academic life and reminds me of one of the an interesting essay I read by Phil Agre on ‘Networking on the Network.

Taming the Internet via the Desktop

One of the funny things about my surfing on the internet is that too often I forget the connections that got me from one page to another. When I keep moving back and forth between my browser, news aggregator, text editor, and bookmark manager. Although a lot of people are working on integrating these applications my biggest complaint is with the one that seems to be most moribund in today’s world: the browser.