I went to see a movie, and instead I saw the future
This is the future, I’m afraid. A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Because computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work.
Book Cover Archive
Covers of books.
Visual Information Theory
Information theory gives us precise language for describing a lot of things. How uncertain am I? How much does knowing the answer to question A tell me about the answer to question B? How similar is one set of beliefs to another? I’ve had informal versions of these ideas since I was a young child, but information theory crystallizes them into precise, powerful ideas. These ideas have an enormous variety of applications, from the compression of data, to quantum physics, to machine learning, and vast fields in between.
Unfortunately, information theory can seem kind of intimidating. I don’t think there’s any reason it should be. In fact, many core ideas can be explained completely visually!
The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway
There is a commonly held belief that Helvetica is the signage typeface of the New York City subway system, a belief reinforced by Helvetica, Gary Hustwit’s popular 2007 documentary about the typeface. But it is not true—or rather, it is only somewhat true. Helvetica is the official typeface of the MTA today, but it was not the typeface specified by Unimark International when it created a new signage system at the end of the 1960s. Why was Helvetica not chosen originally? What was chosen in its place? Why is Helvetica used now, and when did the changeover occur? To answer those questions this essay explores several important histories: of the New York City subway system, transportation signage in the 1960s, Unimark International and, of course, Helvetica. These four strands are woven together, over nine pages, to tell a story that ultimately transcends the simple issue of Helvetica and the subway.
Lots of articles and links about design of shared urban spaces and their affect on behavior.
How to Design Interruptions
We’re alerted hundreds of times per day. Some are useful and non-invasive, like an oven burner turning orange when it’s hot. Some are needed, like a critical security update, while others are just generally helpful, like a feature suggesting something new. But when they appear at inopportune moments, even the most useful notifications often have detrimental results like anxiety, frustration, and reduced productivity. While a pop-up might be nearly invisible to one person, to another it might stop a critical task completely for hours. We must examine when our communications are helpful vs. harmful.
DROB (Dynamic Rewriter and Optimizer of Binary code)
This library implements application-guided rewriting of binary functions at runtime. Binary functions can be optimized and specialized based on runtime information. In contrast to transparent binary optimization, only selected binary functions are rewritten. No metadata (e.g. debug information) is required.
“Building Meaningfully”: Burroughs Wellcome Corporate Headquarters, 1972
In 1969, pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome commissioned renowned modernist architect Paul Rudolph to design its new corporate headquarters and research facility in Durham, North Carolina. The result was a visionary modular complex whose geometries created a futuristic melding of spaces and forms.
The 18-month fence hop, the six-day chair, and why video games are so hard to make
Whether or not a player notices, appreciates, or is able to see these details, everything from a pen on a desk to a chair in a room has to be meticulously made, scrutinized, and tested. But at what cost? How does a developer decide how much time to allocate to set dressing a small room versus a game’s main character? How many polygons should an asset in the corner of a players eye get versus something directly in their face?