There are two blogs I’ve recently begun reading (and they’ve recently begun writing). Most of the time I read a new blog, I found it because one of the posts was on Hacker News. If I like the post, I’ll look at the recent and archive posts on that same blog to see if I’d like to continue reading that author, or if they just had one good post on a topic I enjoy. If while reading the other posts I find that I find a high percentage of the posts interesting, I will subscribe to it in Google Reader so I can get the newest as it comes out. If I really, really enjoy it, I’ll go back and read through the archives. When I find someone whose writing, insights and topics I really enjoy, I try to read as much as I can from them because it gives me a more complete picture of the identity they’ve chosen to reveal. I want to get to know then, and reading their words is the best way available.
For these two, I went all the way back to their very first posts. (granted, they both started writing recently)
First, Danielle Fong from Berkely, CA. I discovered her during a recent discussion about female hackers on Hacker News. There were a lot of insightful (and a few ugly) comments in that discussion, and she was the first to come forward. Some people wondered if, since they were few in number, the female readers were valuable contributors. I went and looked at her comments were certainly valuable. She immediately jumped on my list of “comments I’ll take more seriously because they’re written by X”, and her blog is well written and thoughtful too. I recommend Third Places and Outliers: Why the Central Limit Theorem Is Typically Off. In just a month, she has talked about physics, computability, statistics, creativity and social interaction, and writing. If you enjoy quality writing about a variety of intelligent topics, don’t wait, just go subscribe to Danielle’s blog.
The other blog is by Hank Williams from NYC. He’s every bit as insightful but with a completely different flavor. His blog, Why Does Everything Suck? is a rapid fire attack on conventional wisdom, poor usability, and outdated or incorrect business models. He gives a hard reality check to the hype spouted in other parts of the internet. My list of draft blog posts is full of posts of his that I wanted to point out or comment on. I’ve come to realize that I’ll never keep with him because he keeps cranking out quality post after quality post. So here’s a rapid fire summary of some of my favorites:
Does it matter that New York is less techie than Silicon Valley? – Silicon Valley is good at making products, which he defines as solving a hard problem and making it really easy. New York is less interested (capable?) in solving hard problems, so there’s nothing to make easy. His solution is to make his startup as location agnostic as possible so he can work with the best possible people, regardless of where they are.
The Psychology of User Interface, Part I and Part II, and Part III – He outlines the concepts of spatial visualization, direct manipulation (as opposed to action at a distance), and there is no freedom without boundaries. It’s worth reading the whole series for a primer on the theories behind effective user interfaces.
Teaching Computer Science the Old Fashioned Way – in contrast to other opinions, Hank defends the traditional way of teaching computer science because it teaches students how to think, how to reason, as opposed just how to use the latest tools.
How to Create Great Ideas – generate, discuss, filter, internalize, repeat. Read it.
700 MHz Spectrum: Not so great for internet – low frequency = less data = few customers per tower. Strong signal = more interference = towers spaced out more. Two conflicting problems that make it seem like not such a great replacement for wifi. If what he says is true, this is a huge issue that has been completely overlooked by the media too busy fawning over Google’s openness requirements.
Will Technology Yield an Automated Economy? – many jobs that people used to do have been replaced by technology. Many jobs that people do will be replaced by technology. Are we running out of opportunities for profit and employment? I have a good answer in me that will take more than a few minutes to write. Look for it in the future (oh, dang, just when I cleared out my Hank backlog, I just put something back on it).
So, if what I think is reflected in what I write, and you like what I write, then you’ll probably like what Danielle and Hank write. If I could splice their posts into my feed I would, but for now, you can subscribe yourself.