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March 28, 2006

assigning something to yourself

What is the word (if any) for the action of assigning a task to yourself? Any language will do :)

"Have you seen that bug?"
"Yeah, I just assigned it to myself"
"Yeah, I just ________"

March 22, 2006

" build a thing of beauty and..."

"But isn't this what always happens? You build a thing of beauty and in time the peasants storm the castle wall, hooting and chanting because they've decided you're a heretic. Which is true, of course."

---Vic Sussman

It was 1998 (I think) and Vic was talking about his decision to leave He was extremely frustrated, and he detailed his frustrations at length. And then he sighed, and said what's printed above.

I thought that was a perfect statement of Vic's work ethic; so I went and wrote it down as soon as he hung up the phone :)

March 21, 2006

"it would have taxed the resources of his kingdom to have fashioned the thousands of parts for a single car"

"Had a Pharaoh been given detailed and explicit designs of an automobile, and had he understood them completely, it would have taxed the resources of his kingdom to have fashioned the thousands of parts for a single car, and that car would have broken down on the first trip to Giza.

"Machines with interchangeable parts can now be constructed with great economy of effort... the thermionic tube of radio sets, is made by the hundred million, tossed about in packages, plugged into sockets - and it works! Its gossamer parts, the precise location and alignment involved in its construction, would have occupied a master craftsman of the guild for months; now it is built for thirty cents."

--Vannevar Bush, 1945

March 19, 2006

"the alleys are the footnotes of the avenues" --David Berman

March 16, 2006

Browser as Filter

In the 90's we referred to browsers as members of a class of "Agents." The hope was for that class to grow and eventually include "Intelligent Agents."

But today the browser is more and more a of "Sensitive Filter." That is, the application has become better able to sense its environment. And the function of the browser is now to keep the Web out as much as to facilitate the completion of tasks on the Web.

That's why I'm interested in Greasemonkey.

March 07, 2006

Deleting tags from

Today I deleted some tags from my profile. I removed the tags: WebDesign, Portal, Tutorial, Application, and Torrent.

Now that I am done deleting, there is (as far as I know) no record in that I have ever used those tags. Will the applications of the future track what we discard, as well as what we use? Right now the storage costs are too high to log every deleted tag from every user. But it is easy to envision a time when storage is so cheap that such tracking is possible.

What would that mean for privacy? What if I assign, and later delete, the tag kiddie.pr0n? If the NSA does a sweep of users, do they flag my account or not, since I'm obviously no longer using that tag?

For usability though, keeping track of everything I've discarded would be a huge win. Imagine after years of using a Web service, being able to view statistics not only of my usage of that service, but also of all the mistakes I've made with that service. I would be able to determine what mistakes I make most often, for one thing.

And wouldn't it be interesting, assuming several years of using a service like, to be able to see what tags I've repeatedly deleted and then added again? I might not even remember, but the system could track it for me. I might be able to identify trends in my own behavior that I myself had missed.