Drawing of a computer logic loop by John von Neumann in a 1947 manual
Above, a logic loop drawn by John von Neumann in his 1947 manual on how to program an “electronic computing instrument”. Why are ticks so prevalent in 2017? Because of the ecological domino effects of a 2015 surge in acorns. Gripping photos of food from the famine surrounding a vanishing Lake Chad. A study of Google searches suggests that Americans are way more racist than they generally admit; it also finds an ominous surge in searches for DIY home abortions. “Neural networks for hackers”, a cool new MOOC by @sknthla. How Russia has been using Ukraine as a testbed for cyberattacks. And … a maglev elevator that can move both vertically and horizontally!

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  1. Aaron Davis

    I really enjoyed the podcast Clive. It really has me rethinking the way I write, both fast and slow. So agree about getting the idea down and then worrying about the sentences. Not spoken about enough, especially strategies to support it.

    Also really enjoying your random dump of links. I seem to find at least one link that send me off exploring each time.

    Reply
    1. Clive Post author

      Glad you dig the link dumps! This originally began as a way to preserve, in one place, what I’ve been tweeting …. because tweets quickly vanish down the memory hole. I tried doing this in the spring, but kept on forgetting to do it. So a few weeks ago I wrote a Python script that, every day at 8:30, scrapes my twitter activity for the last 24 hours, extracts the links I’ve posted, and emails them to me. It works, so far, as a nice daily reminder!

      Which podcast are you speaking of? I think it might have been linked in a different post than the one we’re commenting on here …

      Reply
      1. Aaron Davis

        I just saw a ‘Pending’ in my WordPress subscriptions and noticed I had never subscribed to the comments so missed this response. Interestingly though, your ‘headerless’ posts don’t actually provide a ‘link’ for the actual post which is weird (see image in this Tweet https://twitter.com/mrkrndvs/status/913165648846479360). Has me down another WordPress rabbit hole.

        I realised after the fact that it was a different post that you mentioned the podcast, it was the Non-Fiction Podcast (http://www.nonfictionpodcast.com/2016/07/28/minecraft-generation-clive-thompson/). I have gone back and listened a few times to be honest. Really has me respecting time and the development of narratives and stories.

        In regards to scraping Twitter, I have tried different things, whether it be Martin Hawksey’s backup (https://mashe.hawksey.info/2016/08/keeping-your-twitter-archive-fresh-and-freely-hosted-on-github-pages/) or Dave Winer’s Radio3 linkblog. I know many do the whole IFTTT thing (which I guess the Python script is in-lieu of). The challenge I find the hardest is making sense of all the links etc. That is why I turned to writing a (digital) newsletter as I find it forces me to actively curate. I guess this is why your link posts caught my eye.

        Reply
        1. Clive Post author

          Hey Aaron — thank you for pointing out the problem of my headerless linkfest postings! I am pondering how to deal with it. One option is just to title each one “linkfest”, maybe with the date, i.e. “linkfest sept. 29, 2017”. The other is to figure out whether I can tinker with the CSS/HTML template for each page, so that I could put a title on each post that would show up in RSS but not on the actual page. I like the clean aesthetic of having no title above the linkfest posts, but I’m also heavily in favor usability for things like RSS!

          Glad you enjoyed the Minecraft podcast discussion of long-form research! My favorite stories of my whole career have, indeed, been years in the baking, and then months and months in the active research and reporting.

          Reply

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