This is my last newsletter of 2020! I started my newsletter this year as a way to both share cool things that I’d found on the internet and as a way for me to remember what the heck I’d been reading. Now I’m 20 weeks deep and have no plans on slowing down in 2021. However, I’m not going to be posting another one for the rest of the year; I want to take some time to reflect and recharge before next year. Enjoy this week, and happy holidays!
My Favorite Link
We read the paper that forced Timnit Gebru out of Google. Here’s what it says.. I don’t have enough data to make a comprehensive opinion on the Timnit Gebru situation, but from what I’ve seen so far it I’m definitely not siding with Google, especially not after reading the pathetic “apology” that stank of gaslighting. However, the paper that Timnit worked on is very interesting, since the main thesis is that much of our ML research is pointed at the wrong problems. It’s worth checking it out in detail.
Small tech. Tech companies that are useful without being bloated and overwrought. Aspirational.
2020 In Photos: A Year Like No Other. I think this year is a sign of wild years to come, but until we have data for that, here’s a picture history of the craziest year of my lifetime.
Blob Opera. Any project where Jacob Collier is involved is a good project IMO. But seriously this is an incredible bit of tech. I played around with it for way too long.
Defund the Crime Beat. Crime coverage is terrible – it’s racist, classist, fear-based clickbait masking as journalism. It creates lasting harm for the communities that newsrooms are supposed to serve. And because it so rarely meets the public’s needs, it’s almost never newsworthy. If we weren’t so addicted to gory details as a population, we’d have no need for it. We should get rid of it.
Haskell: The Bad Parts, part 3. I love Snoyberg’s Haskell posts; his deep knowledge and passion for improving the language come through in every post, and they’re full of detail and insights. One of the bad parts he references in this post is pattern matching, which he has a follow-up post for here: Pattern matching.
Izuna: Show Haskell type annotations when doing code review on Github. Haskell has type inference, which is a useful feature when coding but sometimes makes it more complicated when code reviewing to see which types are being used if you’re reviewing a part of the code that doesn’t directly reference. This tool basically does the same thing as most IDEs do, only in the browser. Super useful!
2020 in review.. Nathan Larson is an excellent technical writer and someone who I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on some of my technical pieces in the latter half of this year. His year in review is particular interesting because it’s so metrics-driven; I’d encourage any data junkie to check it out :)
Writing a book: is it worth it?. h/t @lethain for recommending this piece: it’s a well-written deep dive into the meta work that goes into writing a technical book. In Martin’s case, his book is wildly successful, so it’s an inspirational (if aspirational) read.
I found this cool site: Hystoria, that only shares links from over 5 years ago. It’s a nice change of pace from the frenetic news cycles of most current “news” outlets and Twitter, and full of some interesting (and dated) content. Here’s a piece I liked from it: DNA seen through the eyes of a coder
Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming. I also found this piece on Hystoria – I think the overall conclusion reaches a bit, but I did appreciate the data-driven approach to attempting to quantify intelligence across multiple axes.