It’s been a great week, full of catch-ups and chats and down-time and up-time. With more to come, today and tomorrow!
Some links for your weekend reading:
- Hannah Ritchie with an interesting data-informed look at low-emissions behaviour—which often, paradoxically, doesn’t jive with other “morally good” advice like “eat local” (the emissions costs of transporting most food is so negligible that it doesn’t make a huge impact; the food you choose to eat, though, does have significant environmental ramifications). I also enjoyed Leo Barasi’s nuaunced reply about the environmental costs of plastic vs cotton bags (it doesn’t take 20,000 re-uses of the latter to match the emissions cost of a plastic bag, that’s a worst-case scenario). Both, I think, point to the importance (and difficulty!) of understanding the many inputs (including counterintuitive technologies!) to the complex systems that enable our world.
- A great deep-dive into multi-factor authentication, following the Uber hack. The level of detail here is great, as is the format (a conversation on the internet!).
- Huge kudos to the folks at the US Library of Congress for the release of the Congress.gov API. It’s a great, modern, detailed API For those curious, Canada’s equivalent would be the House of Commons open data initiative, though it only covers one of the two Houses of Parliament, doesn’t have a great API setup, and is mostly only available in XML (as opposed to JSON).
- Everest Pipkin shares the experience of watching a million 3-second videos, gathered originally to train AI systems. I particularly appreciated Pipkin’s reflection on the work that went into tagging these videos—performed by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers—and how reductive those categories can become. (via Matt Webb on the “awkward sourcing” of contemporary large language model AIs)
- Greatly enjoyed the Fat Gold Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olive oil, it’s so great! (I arrived here through a circuitous route—the best of routes on the web—that included Robin Sloan’s site. Some other fun pieces from Robin: programming as home cooking, which resonates really well with my experience; “Specifying Spring ‘83”, a draft for a new protocol for the internet; Robin shares the “assumed audience” for each newsletter and, just before that, delightfully explains why he refers to people by first name, something I’ve long grappled with.)
All the best for the week ahead!