Permaweb

Data objects are different than physical objects. Data files can be fragmented and distributed across storage locations, then re-assembled instantly as needed. Even on my laptop, files are stored in different parts of a hard disk (or flash drive) as fragments. Networks of personal computers can also host distributed file fragments. The most recent innovation…More

History is my witness

Independent Russian news website Meduza has operated in Latvia since 2014. It aims to provide independent reporting and commentary about Russia for Russians. It is inevitably critical of Putin’s government. Since launching its attack on Ukraine the Russian government blocked Meduza in a raft of measures to silence criticism. Meduza is blocked from its main…More

Primary research

Researchers in the humanities and social sciences like to compare, contrast, synthesise, critique build and dissect theories, ideas and preconceptions. We attempt to formulate compelling arguments and narratives, drawing on relevant literature, reflections and insights from our intellectual communities. We sometimes encroach across borders between communities and frameworks to encounter otherness that challenges our own…More

Wordle secrets: from CAULK to CYNIC

There’s a pleasant sociable aspect to the online puzzle Wordle. Every day there’s a new word challenge, where you have to guess a new hidden five letter word. Every player has the same secret word to guess. So the puzzle encourages low grade rivalry and serves as a conversation starter amongst players — as long…More

Advise, advocate, lobby, conspire

Terms people associate with the intellect are often grounded in the material world of everyday experience: sight, sound, space and breath. Terms that contribute to communicating truths are no exception, as a browse through the ever-accommodating online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) attests — supplemented by excursions into http://www.etymonline.com. Advise To advise is to offer an…More

The advocate

It is common in professional life to advocate on behalf of a client (student, patient, customer, group, special interest, idea). I recall as an architect in practice advocating for planning permission for a white corrugated iron clad holiday home. Whereas the local council wanted “natural” colours (olive green and brown) to blend in with the…More

It’s just a performance

However much I disagree with the sentiments, I think I get political conservatism: putting high value on the status quo, small government, individualism, minimally regulated free enterprise, nostalgia for a reconstructed past. I’ve read Ayn Rand. Beyond that it’s performance: as Laura Ingraham and other Fox News Channel media presenters scoff, look bemused, chuckle, deride…More

Designed to confuse

The article “The Dark (Patterns) Side of UX Design” by Colin Gray et al provides a compendium of techniques designed to induce online consumers to make purchases, commit to regular subscription payments, pay more than the initial price, prevent consumers from considering competitor offerings, and that enable platforms to use consumers’ private information or monitor…More

Dark patterns

Most design practitioners think they are on the side of the good. Design training typically elevates positive values. Architecture for example harbours a strong sense that it is supporting the public good. It is never comfortable if aligned with enabling corporate greed. HCI (human computer interaction) and UXD (user experience design) are disciplines similarly founded…More

Hash blogs

Hash is a prominent term in computing and cryptography, according to the OED, “so called because it consists of small pieces of code arranged in an apparently jumbled and fragmented way.” See posts tagged hash. To hash is to chop up, to hack, a term applied readily to food (recooked and chopped meat), narcotic dried…More