TITLE: At the Penumbra of Intersections AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 18, 2011 4:44 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Three comments on my previous post, Intersections, 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. This article 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 local maximum. But then we miss out on the chance to rach our full potential. 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? Keller McBride's color spray artwork 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. -----