Edit Scheme on your iPad via the Parse Tree

touchscreen coding, programming, metaphor, scheme, app, lisp, ipad

Anyone who has tried to edit code on the iPad through a traditional textview knows that it doesn’t work well. Editing source code character by character is a concept wedded to the keyboard and it is inappropriate for the iPad, a device with no keyboard. Lisping abandons this model and allows you to edit your code via the parse tree. Rather than manipulating ranges of characters Lisping focusses on selecting, creating and moving syntax elements, a task ideally suited to the iPad’s touchscreen interface, and also - more than a little bit fun.


EnemyGraph Facebook Application

social media, social graph, critique, anti-social, social, enemy, socialmedia, facebook

For the past six months my research group has been looking into an app that explores social dissonance on Facebook. Today we are announcing the public release of EnemyGraph. The project was developed principally by graduate student Bradley Griffith with invaluable help from undergraduate Harrison Massey.

EnemyGraph is an application that allows you to list your “enemies”. Any Facebook friend or user of the app can be an enemy. More importantly, you can also make any page or group on Facebook an “enemy”. This covers almost everything including people, places and things. During our testing testing triangles and q-tips were trending, along with politicians, music groups, and math.


The Milkman’s Robot Helper

2000s, 1970s, 1920s, milkman, logistics, history, milk, paleofuture

In 2007, I moved into an apartment building in St. Paul that was built during the early 1920s. I remember asking the building manager what the small, two-foot tall doors attached to the outside of each apartment were for. The doors had long been painted shut and no longer opened to the inside of the apartments, as it looked like they should. The manager explained that the doors were used decades ago by milkmen who would make deliveries during the day while people were at work.

In the 1920s virtually all milk consumed in the United States was delivered directly to the home. By the early 1970s, it was only about 15%. By the 1990s, it was less than 1%. Whither the man of milk?


Death of a data haven: cypherpunks, WikiLeaks, and the world’s smallest nation

micronations, cypherpunks, havenco, seasteading, uk, dataheaven, sealand, technology, politics

HavenCo’s failure—and make no mistake about it, HavenCo did fail—shows how hard it is to get out from under government’s thumb. HavenCo built it, but no one came. For a host of reasons, ranging from its physical vulnerability to the fact that The Man doesn’t care where you store your data if he can get his hands on you, Sealand was never able to offer the kind of immunity from law that digital rebels sought. And, paradoxically, by seeking to avoid government, HavenCo made itself exquisitely vulnerable to one government in particular: Sealand’s. It found that out the hard way in 2003 when Sealand “nationalized” the company.

For the last two years, I’ve researched the history of Sealand and HavenCo. I used the Wayback Machine to reconstruct long-since-vanished webpages. I dug through microfilm of newspapers back to the 1960s. I pored over thousands of pages of documents, only recently unsealed, from the United Kingdom’s National Archives.


The Ultimate Migration

rocketry, rocket, goddard, 1918, migration, space travel

Reader Fred Becker has asked about a ‘paper’ written by rocket pioneer Robert H Goddard on 14 January 1918, sealed in an envelope on the outside of which he wrote: The Last Migration. The notes should be read thoroughly only by an optimist! Goddard was 35 years old and the notes were written more than six years before he would conduct the world’s first rocket flight using liquid propellants. It is a prescient reminder of just how far and grand were the visions of this quiet, elusive man who laid the foundation for so much that would follow. Later that day same day he wrote a condensed version and titled it The Ultimate Migration, which we are delighted to reproduce here in full and in the form in which it was written, uncorrected for grammar:


Mathematics, movement, music and Leonardo

movement, jazz, mathematics, music

I’ve always been intrigued by the sensation of movement in music.  And it is fair to say that it was my first calculus class that led me to graduate study in mathematics because, for the first time, I saw movement in mathematics.  My fascination with each of these was nudged again by an interview with jazz pianist Vijay Iyer that I heard on NPR’s All Things Considered.


zero aut0mat

(currently de.automated from 201112)

Audiovisual Crop Circles

Graphic designer Alexander Peterhaensel gets a little fancy on all yer collective faces with a project which mathematically graphictastically translates some recordings of some music by JSBach. Note…

Audiovisual Crop Circles


Lytro lets you take pictures like never before. Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling…


On The Science Of Cooking

As soon as I started reading Modernist Cuisine, I realized that I was wrong. Nathan and his team have created a lasting contribution human culture. This is not just a cookbook; it is the culinary…

On The Science Of Cooking

“Here is something that, as a philosopher, I have always found both fascinating and deeply puzzling: A complete scientific…


“Here is something that, as a philosopher, I have always found both fascinating and deeply puzzling: A complete scientific description of the physical universe would not contain the information as to what time is “now.” Indeed, such a description would be free of what philosophers can “indexical terms.” There would be no pointers or little red arrows to tell you “You are here!” or “Right now!” In real life, this is the job of the conscious brain: It constantly tells the organism harboring it what place is here and what time is now. This experiential Now is the second big problem for a modern theory of consciousness.”

Metzinger, Thomas. The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

Substroke Design Dump

Substroke was a research language for drawing dynamic (data-dependent) pictures. The description given here was intended as a brain-dump of a work-in-progress. The work-in-progress is no longer in…

Substroke Design Dump

OpenLab NETWORK » OpenLab

The OpenLab Network is a new research initiative which targets a complex education issue of national significance regarding the ability of art and science researchers to collaborate on research…

OpenLab NETWORK » OpenLab

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

The full legacy of Steve Jobs will not be sorted out for a very long time. When employees first talked about Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” it was a pejorative — they were referring to the way…

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

Peers, review your actions

Twenty years ago, academic publishers provided a valuable service to researchers. By printing articles, binding them into issues and sending them out into the world, they provided the only means then…

Peers, review your actions

What am I missing?

A possible weird development: Machine Precognition, named in the tradition of machine vision, machine learning, etc. In the general case, predicting the future is absurdly difficult. Predicting the…

What am I missing?



acronym [“when you think about it”] a feature of modern society that suddenly strikes you as absurd and grotesque—from zoos and milk-drinking to organ transplants, life insurance and fiction—part of the faint background noise of absurdity that reverberates from the moment our ancestors first crawled out of the slime but could not for the life of them remember what they got up to do.

Rewilding Etiquette

Imagine a future where the most revolutionary changes in our world have not come from nanotech, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence or even space development–but from cognitive science and…

Rewilding Etiquette