☞ Digital Humanism + Quines

Ever since I read Tim Carmody’s post in 2017 about digital humanism, I couldn’t get his ideas around preserving information out of my head:

In the metaphor of the all-in-one machine, Humanists were first and foremost scanners. They translated knowledge from one technology, and its attendant modes of thinking, into another. They took old things and made them new.

In the spirit of this (and Carmody’s whole post is well worth reading!), I recently built digitalhumanism.org, my small attempt to contribute to this idea: a little site that displays a randomly chosen page from some old computer magazines from the Internet Archive (reload the page to see more). It's pretty simple and currently only shows pages from a few older issues of MacUser, but has actually been quite delightful for me to discover these old pages and the tech that they discuss, especially as seen through the lens of only a few decades of distance.

For example, through this project, I discovered an old example of software for algorithmically generating poetry (in MacUser’s November 1985 issue):

The field of computational creativity feels new, but it obviously has a long history (at least in computer science terms). And through digital humanism, we can see this more clearly.

There’s an about page with some more philosophical thinking behind this project, as well as a list at the bottom that could act as a potential clearinghouse for other projects in this space. Please go check out digitalhumanism.org. And I would love to hear your feedback on this.

I love quines: pieces of code that, when run, output themselves. Delightfully circular and elegant. That’s why I was excited when I discovered a website that is essentially a quine: it displays its own HTML source as the page itself.

From the page, including the source:

<p>Finally, because I believe brutalist design, even when applied to truly naked brutal html quines, is about function, not about deliberate ugliness, I'd like to apply these humble styles that improve the readability of this brutiful missive.</p>

Check it out.

A few articles worth taking a look at:

Until next time.

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