November 13, 2022

Universal healthcare, efficient unemployment agencies, free lunch for all kids, support for childcare… all of these make it easier to quit a bad job. It also makes letting people go less devastating. Humane separation of work and destitution is better for employees and employers.

November 12, 2022

Artists have periods. During these periods, they create a certain kind of project and it runs its course. Then after a time of exploration, they often being creating again, producing a very different kind of art. Sometimes, they never make art again.

That seems almost impossible as a “creator” online today. The business model is fundamentally about broadcasting, in volume, with consistency.

Maybe this is more specific to “influencers”, but I don’t think so. Think of educational video makers on YouTube. Think of podcasters on episode 500. Think of paid newsletter writers. Think most blogs.

I think these projects need to have an end, or at least ending needs to be an easier option. There needs to be a healthy way to transition away when a project is done and the creativity has been thoroughly wrung out. I am not even sure we know how to talk about these things ending and let folks move on in a healthy way.

I can think of some prominent projects (in my corner) that came to an end. Every Frame a Painting. Minimal Mac. Hypercritical. But ending is the exception, and not the rule.

Being able to mark some thing as complete and move on, much like creating ephemeral, feels counter to our current cultural technology on the web.

May have found my co-working spot in CDMX. Starting to get real.

Elsa has been cooking every meal lately in an attempt to empty our freezer in time for our long sojourn in Mexico. Tonight we’re, “on our own” for dinner, and of course all I want is to order in.

Today I felt almost normal. Pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve closed all three rings since surgery.

November 11, 2022

For years, large crypto-based companies have been living on a huge hype machine. Whenever folks tried to understand where exactly any value was being created it always came down to one thing.

You reach the point of saying, “That sounds like a total scam in these ways!” The response to this was always, “You just don’t understand this, it’s very complicated and incredibly smart people can see what’s going on. Just look at how much this coin1 is trading for!” Then you have to decide for yourself:

  • Am I smart enough to understand this?
  • The social proof is so significant, I may not understand this, or;
  • I believe the social proof above my own understanding, and I’m getting on board.

I am hear to tell you that the first choice was always right, regardless of the incredibly wealthy people who decided to put significant, personal financial interest into convincing you that the second or third option were correct.

It’s just that now, it seems everyone is finally coming around to seeing they were duped.

Unbelievable that FTX and Binance are valued on the basis of crypto assets they created with absolutely no use other than a speculative circle jerk.

  1. There’s always some *coin, and it is always traded, and it’s value is always supposed to be something other than trading for the coin, but no one can ever really tell you what that is. ↩︎

I have been unable to think of the phrase “software development life-cycle” for like a month.

Seems like a lot more people are talking about Mythic Quest and that makes me very happy. This show deserves a lot more buzz than it seems to get.

Good lord, S3E1 of For All Mankind.

I know it’s out of season so it’s very normal to not have access, but I want stone fruit so bad. Where in the world can I get great stone fruit year round? Just bring the apricots, plums, and peaches to me all the time.

November 10, 2022

How many people who were declared wunderkinds by a bunch of wealthy folks are elevated high enough to totally crash, ruin lives, and watch billions evaporate so that they can learn the lessons of hundreds of years of banking that their hubris blinded them from.

My current health target is oysters 🦪 and cocktails🍸 on November 18th. I’m really hoping that’s a thing I can do.

Feels increasingly likely that Matt Mullenweg will buy Twitter for $10M in 2 years.

November 9, 2022

I don’t really follow 538 for my mental health, but I just saw that Nate Silver wrote some pieces as Nathan Redd and Nathan Bleu to provide two different perspectives for how things might go. I think that’s a great way to help people understand the probabilistic nature of modeling.

Consumers of popular media still struggle with 538 or with NYTimes and their needles on election night. It’s not because this form of journalism is not valuable or capturing important information. It’s because thinking in models and probabilities is still deeply unnatural for most folks.

In the practice of data visualization, there’s been all manner of attempts to visualize uncertainty. We add error bars. We add shaded regions. We play with jittering, simulations, alpha channels, and drawing curves. Folks have built simulators to demonstrate drawing from distributions or the structure of joint-probabilities and such.

But as in the world of policy research, even the most sophisticated folks are drawn strongly to point estimates.

Unfortunately, the idea of “getting it right” based on the point estimate remains a strong measure of success in the eyes of many. And deviations are not meant with an academic curiosity, examination of the data, or consideration of our own failing heuristics. People are angry because they rely on their perceptions, even when their perceptions are filled with unearned certainty built on the back of common failed heuristics.

When the point estimates have disappointed, too many folks have run back to journalism and commentary built entirely on vibes or declared polling and data journalism a failure. The post-mortem analysis on election modeling, which has been fascinating, thorough, and revealing over the last few years, was fully recast (unnecessarily) as an apology tour and still, we cling to the certainty of point estimates.

So Redd versus Bleu is a great idea. All of visualizations and numbers and technical explanations in the world have not provided the average media consumer with strong enough skills to interpret data with uncertainty. Instead of going back to the vibes op-ed to understand what’s going on, experts with the right skills for statistical inference can model how to understand the data from differing perspectives. Sure, it might trigger feelings of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics, but uncertainty is the reality we live in and the muck we have to understand.

I don’t always love Nate Silver, and I don’t always love 538, and I don’t always love how data journalism has shaped coverage of elections. But I think modeling statistical inference and interpretation of uncertain data from multiple perspectives in narrative form is an important tool. I hope to see this expand into more policy discussion space.

I think we’ve taken visualization and simulation as far as we can go for helping people to understand data. The next frontier is making the narrative steel man argument, from data, for different possible interpretations.

Old Preferences: Software Updates list the software and release notes. New Settings: Click More Info. Click on the only update listed to highlight it. THEN you get release notes.

This sucks.

I forgot about the whackado Spanish conversation between Jeff and Pierce in episode 2 of Community. What a show.

November 8, 2022

Please vote today, and please do so for the folks who are not actively supporting subverting elections and taking power away from voting. This election should not be hard, and yet, I’m fairly confident it will be a dark day in history.

I want to live in a country that has everything buttoned up so well that I could be a single issue voter on education or transportation.

November 7, 2022

I think it’s somewhat surprising the degree to which all of Big Tech interpreted the effects of the pandemic as setting a new secular trend versus understanding it was likely a one-time shock.

Some people have a profound impact on seemingly everyone they come across and the ability to maintain those connections over time. I am learning to settle for generating care in a few people over a long period of time.

Some stats changes since surgery:

  • Walking heart rate up 16bpm
  • Walking distance down 2 miles a day
  • 47% fewer calories burned
  • 15% exercise minutes
  • 46% as many steps
  • 8 flight of stairs (v. 17)
November 6, 2022

Eight years ago today, 6 months into my Allovue journey, I came down to Baltimore for a party in our small office above a bar. The party started at 6, and Ted and I still hovered over a laptop at 6:15pm. We excitedly called Jess over to show her– we just fully loaded our first set of general ledger accounts and transactions into Balance. It was, I hope, her favorite birthday present that year.

I’d be lying if I said that I knew that day was a key milestone in a life-defining adventure and partnership. It just seemed like a cool problem we solved.