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Platonic Ideals in Anathem and The Atrocity Archives

2009 Apr 7, 11:58
The Atrocity ArchivesThe Jennifer MorgueAnathem

This past week I finished Anathem and despite the intimidating physical size of the book (difficult to take and read on the bus) I became very engrossed and was able to finish it in several orders of magnitude less time than what I spent on the Baroque Cycle. Whereas reading the Baroque Cycle you can imagine Neal Stephenson sifting through giant economic tomes (or at least that's where my mind went whenever the characters began to explain macro-economics to one another), in Anathem you can see Neal Stephenson staying up late pouring over philosophy of mathematics. When not exploring philosophy, Anathem has an appropriate amount of humor, love interests, nuclear bombs, etc. as you might hope from reading Snow Crash or Diamond Age. I thoroughly enjoyed Anathem.

On the topic of made up words: I get made up words for made up things, but there's already a name for cell-phone in English: its "cell-phone". The narrator notes that the book has been translated into English so I guess I'll blame the fictional translator. Anyway, I wasn't bothered by the made up words nearly as much as some folk. Its a good thing I'm long out of college because I can easily imagine confusing the names of actual concepts and people with those from the book, like Hemn space for Hamming distance. Towards the beginning, the description of slines and the post-post-apocalyptic setting reminded me briefly of Idiocracy.

Recently, I've been reading everything of Charles Stross that I can, including about a month ago, The Jennifer Morgue from the surprisingly awesome amalgamation genre of spy thriller and Lovecraft horror. Its the second in a series set in a universe in which magic exists as a form of mathematics and follows Bob Howard programmer/hacker, cube dweller, and begrudging spy who works for a government agency tasked to suppress this knowledge and protect the world from its use. For a taste, try a short story from the series that's freely available on Tor's website, Down on the Farm.

Coincidentally, both Anathem and the Bob Howard series take an interest in the world of Platonic ideals. In the case of Anathem (without spoiling anything) the universe of Platonic ideals, under a different name of course, is debated by the characters to be either just a concept or an actual separate universe and later becomes the underpinning of major events in the book. In the Bob Howard series, magic is applied mathematics that through particular proofs or computations awakens/disturbs/provokes unnamed horrors in the universe of Platonic ideals to produce some desired effect in Bob's universe.

PermalinkCommentsatrocity archives neal stephenson jennifer morgue plato bob howard anathem

Thoughts on registerProtocolHandler in HTML 5

2009 Apr 7, 9:02

I'm a big fan of the concept of registerProtocolHandler in HTML 5 and in FireFox 3, but not quite the implementation. From a high level, it allows web apps to register themselves as handlers of an URL scheme so for (the canonical) example, GMail can register for the mailto URL scheme. I like the concept:

However, the way its currently spec'ed out I don't like the following: PermalinkCommentsurl template registerprotocolhandler firefox technical url scheme protocol boring html5 uri urn

Tag Metadata in Feeds

2008 Aug 25, 10:13PermalinkCommentsfeed media delicious technical atom youtube yahoo rss tag

Finally finished Baroque Cycle Novels

2008 May 2, 10:20
[The cover of Cryptonomicon][The cover of Quicksilver][The cover of The Confusion][The cover of The System of the World]

I've finally finished the Baroque Cycle, a historical fiction series set in the 17th and 18th centuries by Neal Stephenson whose work I always enjoy. There were often delays where I'd forget about the books until I had to take plane somewhere, or get discouraged reading about the character's thoughts on economics, or have difficulty finding the next volume, or become more engrossed in other books, projects or video games, and leave the Baroque Cycle books untouched for many months at a time. Consequently, my reading of this series has, I'm ashamed to say, spanned years. After finishing some books which I enjoy I end up hungry for just a bit more to read. For this series I don't need a bit more to read, I'm done with that, but I do want a badge or maybe a medal. Or barring that, college credit in European History and Macro Economics. I can recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Neal Stephenson's other work and has a few years of free time to kill.

PermalinkCommentshistory neal stephenson baroque cycle book nontechnical

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Event Video/Audio) | Berkman Center

2008 Mar 31, 2:33Clay Shirky gives a talk about how the Internet changes everything via organization and collaboration.PermalinkCommentsvideo book clay-shirky via:librarythingblog social talk research internet

LibraryThing Developers are Responsive

2008 Jan 31, 10:47

[Many books in large bookcase. Photo creator http://flickr.com/people/babblingdweeb/]I use my recently added books feed from LibraryThing, a site I've mentioned before where you track, review, recommend, and share your books, and I put the recently added books on my page. I thought it might be nice to include the book covers so I suggested adding book covers to RSS feeds in LibraryThings 'Recommend Site Improvements' group. The next day I had a response from the founder and lead developer Tim Spalding who had started implementing the feature. I noticed a few bugs, reported them on the same thread, and he fixed them soon after. Fantastic! It makes me want to upgrade to a paying account.

Incidentally, if you notice the Ghost in the Shell book appear multiple times in my RSS feed its due to the previously mentioned iterative bug fixes. The same item appeared multiple times slightly differently with each bug fix and your RSS aggregator may have picked them up as distinct items.

PermalinkCommentstim-spalding librarything rss homepage

LibraryThing: A Social Cataloging Web Site Webcast (Library of Congress)

2007 Nov 15, 4:12Tim Spalding founder of LibraryThing gives a talk to the Library of Congress folks about his website LibraryThing. Focus on tagging vs taxonomy. Some humorous things in the talk as well.PermalinkCommentslibrary-of-congress library librarything books tagging video ontology tim-spalding taxonomy

LibraryThing blogs (combined feed)

2007 Jul 25, 11:25An interesting blog from Tim of LibraryThingPermalinkCommentsblog librarything metadata folksonomy library taxonomy book books tagging monthly

Moved to Server-Side Scripting

2007 Jan 19, 9:15I've moved my homepage to server-side scripting. Previously I've mentioned that I was using client side scripting to interpret and sort my livejournal and delicious entries together. Now I'm using PHP and XSLTs to process and sort my livejournal, delicious, flickr, and librarything entries. See my homepage for the finished result.
LibraryThing is pretty cool despite being pretty niche. Its like flickr but for books. I display a random sampling of the covers of books I have listed in librarything on my page. I've also hooked the display of the covers of my book up to the corner image. Now when you hover over the cover of a book a bigger picture of its cover appears in the corner of the webpage. Also, flickr entries in the main section how have the same on hover behavior.
This may not be the best use of my time, but its still fun.PermalinkCommentslibrarything xslt delicious homepage flickr technical php livejournal script

LibraryThing User: sequelguy

2006 Dec 27, 3:07My profile on LibraryThing.PermalinkCommentsprofile library librarything book books social me

LibraryThing UnSuggester | Don't read THIS

2006 Dec 13, 3:49UnSuggester is the converse of Amazon's 'You may also like...' tool. You tell it what books you've read and it tells you what books you won't like. So far its done alright with me.PermalinkCommentsbooks unsuggester suggester humor social tools tool book amazon advice library librarything
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