Discover more from Cabinet of Wonders
☞ The Garden of Computational Delights
Beneath the utilitarian purpose of computation, computing is also a source of delight and wonder. Software is not just databases and mail merges or SaaS and spreadsheets; it’s creative coding and simulated cities, code poetry and bulletin board systems. It’s websites that dazzle and iPhone apps that make the heart sing. And it’s sometimes even spreadsheets, coerced to dance and do all manner of weirdness.
All of these approaches to computing are what I am bundling under the term “garden of computational delights.” And since I am obsessed with making lists, I’ve collected this Garden of Computational Delights: a list of places that collect or catalyze sources for being enraptured by the web, programming, and the wider world of computing. Or, as per Tim Hwang and Omar Rizwan, this is a garden of all the different places you might discover where “the computer is a feeling.”
I am still figuring out what fits in this Garden. Do all computer games belong? What about Adobe Photoshop? Or emoticons and emoji? The boundaries of this garden are still fuzzy, highly personal, and idiosyncratic.
But go check out the Garden of Computational Delights. And please let me know of other examples of hubs or entries that I should include. ■
The Enchanted Systems Roundup
Here are some links worth checking out that touch on the complex systems of our world (both built and natural):
🝤 In the 17th Century, Leibniz Dreamed of a Machine That Could Calculate Ideas: “Leibniz’s central argument was that all human thoughts, no matter how complex, are combinations of basic and fundamental concepts, in much the same way that sentences are combinations of words, and words combinations of letters.”
🝖 How Many Dinosaurs Remain Undiscovered? “Fossil hunters are not just uncovering new dinosaur species—they’re revealing entirely new dinosaur groups that were unknown even ten years ago.”
🝳 What Did People Do Before Smartphones? Provocative: “Before smartphones, people didn’t invest their in-between time into forging social bonds or doing self-improvement. They mostly suffered through constant, endless boredom.”
This alternative approach to deep tech VC has the potential to marry the best of the old and new. On the day-to-day, doing consulting project work like that of MIT’s Technology Plan projects or Bell Labs-style assignments could bring in money and experience. This provides would-be deep tech founders runway to experiment and on-the-job industry know-how. In general, the goal of the org should be to produce profitable new companies in the long run while (at least) breaking even in the short run on its contracts. When they spin off, the companies would ideally be further along than many deep tech investments currently are — originating with a non-zero customer base and fewer technical risks.
🜹 How accurate is a Casio watch? Some fun video analysis.
🝊 Shining a Light on the Digital Dark Age: “Without maintenance, most digital information will be lost in just a few decades. How might we secure our data so that it survives for generations?”
🜚 Codifying a ChatGPT workflow into a malleable GUI: “Subjectively, the whole thing felt pretty effortless; it felt more like asking a friend to build an app for me than building it myself, and I never engaged my detailed programmer brain. I still haven’t looked very closely at the code.”
Until next time.