It has occurred to me that if people really knew how software got written, I'm not sure they'd give their money to a bank or get on an airplane ever again.
Internet voting is surely coming. Though online ballots cannot be made secure, though the problems of voter authentication and privacy will remain unsolvable, I suspect we'll go ahead and do it anyway.
Before the advent of the Web, if you wanted to sustain a belief in far-fetched ideas, you had to go out into the desert, or live on a compound in the mountains, or move from one badly furnished room to another in a series of safe houses.
Technology does not run backward. Once a technical capability is out there, it is out there for good.
Human thinking can skip over a great deal, leap over small misunderstandings, can contain ifs and buts in untroubled corners of the mind. But the machine has no corners. Despite all the attempts to see the computer as a brain, the machine has no foreground or background.
If you've ever watched someone who is a mother talk on the phone, feed the dog, bounce the baby, it's just astounding to see someone manage, more or less well, to do all those things. But on a computer, multitasking is really binary. The task is either in the foreground, or it's not.
Through the miracle of natural genetic recombination, each child, with the sole exception of an identical twin, is conceived as a unique being. Even the atmosphere of the womb works its subtle changes, and by the time we emerge into the light, we are our own persons.
I'm in no way saying that women can't take a tough code review. I'm saying that no one should have to take one in a boy-puerile atmosphere.
A computer is a general-purpose machine with which we engage to do some of our deepest thinking and analyzing. This tool brings with it assumptions about structuredness, about defined interfaces being better. Computers abhor error.
Programming is the art of algorithm design and the craft of debugging errant code.
When I am writing, and occasionally achieve single focus and presence, I finally feel that is where I'm supposed to be. Everything else is kind of anxiety.
Staring prejudice in the face imposes a cruel discipline: to structure your anger, to achieve a certain dignity, an angry dignity.
Has Google appropriated the word 'search?' If so, I find it sad. Search is a deep human yearning, an ancient trope in the recorded history of human life.
I think storytelling in general is how we really deeply know things. It's ancient.
Computer systems could not work without standards - an agreement among programs and systems about how they will exchange information.
All things change, but we always have to think: what are we leaving behind?
Reading code is like reading all things written: You have to scribble, make a mess, remind yourself that the work comes to you through trial and error and revision.
I like the little semi-competencies of human beings, I realize. Governance, after all, is a messy business, a world of demi-solutions and compromise, where ideals are tarnished regularly.
With every advance, you have to look over your shoulder and know what you're giving up - look over your shoulder and look at what falls away.
'I am not adopted; I have mysterious origins.' I have said that sentence many times in the course of my life as an adopted person.
When I am around people I most admire, I tend to hug the wall.
The web is just another stunning point in the two-hundred-thousand-year history of human beings on earth. The taming of fire; the discovery of penicillin; the publication of 'Jane Eyre' - add anything you like.
It's possible to let technology absorb what we know and then re-express it in intricate mechanisms - parts and circuit boards and software objects - mechanisms we can use but do not understand in crucial ways. This not-knowing is fine while everything works as we expected.