Blog posts tagged "refactoring"

Notes on Notes

January 3rd, 2008

Twitter tells my story tonight, “Online for the first time in 8 days with anything ‘richer; then a mobile phone.” Followed shortly by, “Feeling like a junkie who fell off the band wagon. Sleep pushed aside to catch up on the Web.”

And part of catching up on the Web, is reading Webb’s wrapping up 2007. These are my notes towards imaginary blog posts that I felt compelled to scrawl down reading his notes toward imaginary essays. Most of them are contrary, even though I’m a known Matt Webb fan.


Physical metaphors are problematic in a hyper-linked space. Pages don’t act like molecules in a protein, they acts more like waves whose super positions haven’t collapsed.

The possible range of pages may be finite. But the finite number of creations speaks more to the limited number of participants in our study, and the power of a cultural hegemony to which all but a statistically insignificant few are part of.

When Matt says “micro/macro structures” I hear “decentralized pattern discovery” but thats my own filters/hopes/desires.

2, 3

Ultrastability and collapse are good lenses to talk about the “desire to survive” which complex organization seem to manifest. Fits better conceptually for me when applied to corporations then states, the state monopoly on violence brings its own drive to maintain centralization. Additionally I wonder if ultrastables aren’t really as stable as they seem, but rather better at hiding whatever tradeoffs/sacrifice are being made to pump energy into their orbit to keep the wobbles from showing up.


Refactoring isn’t about removing code, its about providing coherency to your metaphors. The story you were telling has changed, and while many of the symbols will remain the same (wicked step mother, dark woods, prince) others will change (dwarves, and bramble bracket, ditched for updated concepts of self determinism and midnight balls). Code is symbol manipulation, programming is narrative construction, and refactoring is editing for sense, clarity, and pronoun agreement now that you’ve changed your protagonists gender.

I think Matt is actually talking about specialization which is orthogonal. Also not sure you can compare evolution’s refactoring to the refactoring us code monkeys are doing. Evolution has got the unit, regression, and integration tests to prove its case.

Additionally we’re in no danger of attempting to write programs which are comprehensible to the human mind. Our work already exists in a culture, without that culture our narratives are useless, the culture provides a framework that allow us to work at vast scopes, providing useful narratives to build upon like operating systems, formal logic, and Turing/von Neumann machines.

I had dinner with a Google engineer working on the Google intranet, and her claim was that her job of cataloging, and making sense of the Google grid was essentially undoable as the grid had already evolved to the point where it was its own self reinforcing culture that grows without further input, and growing exponentially with input. The job of documenting it was a Zeno’s paradox.


Flocking cars have been refactored to extract driving decisions we make over and over again, and to address the bad smells of grid lock.


My response vs. Matt’s could all be the anarcho-syndicalist vs communist interpretation of trends. I’d confess to that.


Making ideas a thing is an idea I think I’m going spend a chunk of 2008 thinking about.


Social software is getting better at groups already. Love Matt’s ideas of common knowledge/shared culture as credentials for accessing capabilities. Already playing with a bit of this in casual privacy hacking side project, going to look at it harder now for Web2Expo casual privacy talk.

That said group forming is already a irreducible part of what makes social software successful, when it is successful. (are Andy’s slides on the importance of out of band spaces and groups available anywhere?)

Lately been thinking about groups online in the context of “trim tabbing”. They only work for a subset of people for any given topic/activity/context but those people are the owns who lends a bit of their own humanity to imbue your non-existent place with meaningfulness, gravity, and inevitability. (online spaces are either inevitable, or non-existent)

One approach, try it for couples first, move on to families. Tight bonds are going to be easier to model then weak ones.


I’ve got more to say on Flickr’s playfulness, real soon, but am waiting for right moment.


Can’t websites be operators, gates, sub-components in the program?


Tend to blame our lack of drugs to make us superheroes on the puritans, but living in San Francisco is likely to color this perception.

And a medical industry cancerous with an outdated reductionism understanding of the human body. Free market failure is side effect of larger information failure. (which is clearly a failure on the part of some programmer to write the superior wiki)

Side note: living in SF has also made me want to discuss sports with random strangers. A desire I’ve largely resisted to date.

“Why”, I keep resisting interrupting strangers to ask, “should we care if he used steroids. Professional sports is already entirely rigged, the competitors are already transhuman in a number of meaningful ways. Sports would be so much more interesting if everyone playing was a steroid popping cyborg. That would be an interesting meaningful contest, anything else other then teams of randomly conscripted just in time civilians is an unstable and silly balancing act half way down the slippery slope.”


See “Solace” by Jeff Noon.