Science Fiction as a tool for planning (the view from 20 years ago)

I originally wrote and published this article on June 4, 1999 on this very site,, more than 20 years ago. I’m reposting it as-is, including some very dated references.

This is an idea that is gaining a great deal of currency lately, as many business leaders and entrepreneurs point out the key role […]

Things I have learned (part 2)

Here’s another batch:

When someone asks if you know something, a simple “yes” is rarely the best answer. Stating what you know and confirming it is better. Constraints increase creativity Doing things, however imperfectly, has an effect. Just thinking about things does not. Dessert recipes in English almost always benefit from halving the amount of […]

Things I have learned (part 1)

First in a series of things I have learned that are not immediately obvious.

People who know how to ask for help are more popular and successful than those who offer unsolicited help When someone is snoring, gently stroking their neck along the line of the carotid artery will silence them In an organization, misbehavior […]

Bringing life to old media, and the death of Kodachrome

The demise of Kodachrome last week did not surprise me – in fact, I thought Kodak had long ago ceased production. I have to say I regret it. I’ve recently been working on digitizing my grandfather’s collection of slides, taken on numerous exotic trips around the world, and the difference between the Kodachrome process slides […]

Art imitates life at Yucca Mountain

Artist Michael Heizer, known for his monumental earthworks, was recently in the news for his threat to demolish his current project, City, if the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump were to go ahead.

He had threatened to bulldoze the project if the transport route for nuclear waste was to pass near the project. Fortunately for […]

Björn Schülke at San Jose International Airport

When I worked on “Probe Swarm“, my Master’s thesis project, I was very much inspired by the work of Björn Schülke, a German artist who creates bizarre, interactive space probe-like installations.

I am delighted to see that San Jose International Airport has commissioned him to create a piece, a two-story high space observer with […]

The Culture Wars are back: bill to ban art funding

Peter over at Create Digital Music has an extremely important post on the ban on art funding tacked onto the stimulus bill. Basically, the proposed bill not only removes $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, it also explicitly bans any money for the arts, even from institutions that will still get stimulus […]

Google reality

Google Earth has just added a hugely detailed database of 3D buildings to a lot of cities, including New York. Careful examination suggests that they’ve used imagery from their Street View project to fill in a lot of the facades. However, at a broad scale, the results are impressive:

New York from Google Earth


There 10 types of people: those who can program and those who can't

Clay has posted on article over at BoingBoing on a test that can predict whether people will be able to learn programming or not. It’s been observed for many years, and I can attest from personal experience, that there are people who can learn computer programming, and people who can’t.

In certain cases, people […]

Economics is a mystery cult, not a science

The sudden (and inexplicable to a lot of people) collapse of the global economy has revealed that no-one really knows what’s going on, and as a result, people are turning to religion, directly pleading with supernatural entities to fix things.

I suppose, given that we’ve figured out the motion of heavenly bodies, and that weather […]