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Sun sneezing, infrastructure moderation, and why bikes are better than tricycles

Last updated Apr 20, 2021 Edit Source

Hello there and welcome back to another issue of some mildly coherent ramblings. It’s been yet another couple busy weeks, but I’ve just wrapped up my second decade on this crazy planet! I have a lot of really exciting life updates that I want to share with all of you soon, but without further ado: the content you subscribed for.

# 3 things I’ve found interesting

  1. Context Collapse. Follow up to last issue’s ‘What’s not in the frame’ question, I was finally able to put a name to a concept I’ve had floating around! The TLDR is the experience when all your different personalities or frames from different contexts (e.g. work, friend group, family) all intermingle. In a place where so many of your social groups intersect, it becomes difficult to decide how to behave or ‘be yourself’.
  2. Emergent Behaviour and Cellular Automata. Mesmerizing video by Sebastian Lague on how complex (and beautiful) behaviour can arise out of simple rules. I’ve been wanting to get into experimenting with shaders and graphics stuff and this might just be the slight nudge I needed.
  3. Sun Sneezing. When people ask me what I’m allergic to, my two answers are 1) pollen and 2) the sun. Yes, I sneeze when I look at the sun.

# 2 things I’ve been wondering about

  1. Moderation in Infrastructure. I’ve been thinking a lot about infrastructure. How do we draw the line between an end product and infrastructure? How should infrastructure regulate usage on its platform (if at all)? Been thinking about AWS’s decision to remove Parler recently and whether it was warranted for AWS to do so. At what level of infrastructure should something become a ‘ public good’? As more and more of our digital infrastructure is built out under private companies, does it change how we govern content on top of it?
  2. Are ’easy-to-use’ products always better? Interesting read about the ‘seductive, destructive appeal of ease of use’: the belief that “ease of use” is somehow conflated with better products. I always hear that complex tools and apps being not implemented because user research proved that it was ’too difficult to use’ but is this costing us in the long run? One great example the article talks about is the tricycle/bicycle analogy. “It is clear that for an unskilled user, the tricycle is much easier to use. But, as we know, the payoff from investing in learning to ride on two wheels is enormous.” Related: building tools around workflows

# 1 thing I’ve done

I spent some time last weekend rewriting the frontend of ctrl-v, my open-source Pastebin clone to use Next.js instead of React + React Router! Wrote up a blog post on my process here: https://blog.jzhao.xyz/posts/ctrlv-next/. The weather has been nice in Vancouver the past couple of days so I’ve had the chance to just go outside and read in a park which has been a really nice change of pace from my usual go-go-go-get-shit-done daily schedule. Looking forward to finishing up this semester, I have a lot of really cool projects I want to work in the next month and a bit!

Until next time, don’t forget to be awesome :)