TITLE: At the Penumbra of Intersections
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: April 18, 2011 4:44 PM
Three comments on my previous post,
in decreasing order of interest to most readers.
On Mediocrity. Mediocitry is a risk if we add
so many skills to our portfolio that we don't have the
ability or energy to be good at all of them.
talks about start-ups companies, but I think its lesson
applies more broadly to the idea of carving out one's
niche. For start-ups as in life, mediocrity is often a
worse outcome than failure. When we fail, we know to
move on and do. When we achieve mediocrity, sometimes
we are just good enough to feel comfortable. It's hard
to come up with the willingness to give up the security,
or the energy it takes to push ourselves out of the
But then we miss out on the chance to rach our full
Who Is "Non-Technical"? My post said, "my talk
considered the role of programming in the future of
people who study human communication, history, and other
so-called non-technical fields". I qualified
"non-technical", but still I wonder: How many
disciplines are non-technical these days, in the era of
big data and computation everywhere? How many of these
disciplines will be non-technical in the same way 20
years from now?
Yak Shaving. I went looking for Venn diagrams
to illustrate my post, and then realized I should just
create my own. As I played with a couple of tools, I
remembered a cool CS 1 assignment I
used several years
and one student's solution in particular. Suddenly I
was obsessed with using my own homegrown tool. That
meant finding the course archive and Keller's solution.
Then finding my own solution, which had a couple of
extra features. Then digging out Dr. Java and making
it work with a current version of the media comp tools.
Then extending the simple graphics language we used, and
refactoring my code, and... The good news is that I now
have running again a nice, very simple tool for drawing
simple graphics, one that can be used to annotate existing
images. And I got to have fun tickereing with code for a\
while on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.