jueves, 29 de octubre de 2020

Systems, Fun, Code, Dread, Drag, Chaos, GOTO 10

Here's a weird post (the links are good though).

While usual ups and downs in life and work, I try to keep my information intake as regular as I can. When I keep reading and learning from the sources I know do bring me balance, I'm giving the opportunity to get back to my regular ok-state.

 Mood is a reinforcing feedback loop (self-optimizing machine), and if you don't cut it, it can tilt the system and change the equilibrium to a completely different point. And picking the right inputs help me slowing or reverting the feedback loop.

  Few weeks ago, by a friend's recommendation I watched this talk by Jens Mönig , and today this one from _why. And talk about learning, and the fun, and the big ideas that make our profession something like explorers, tinkerers. They both question some of the pains we take for granted as inherent complexity of programming, when they are mostly incidental.

  And it's "funny" I'm taking _why's inspiration, because at some point, he disappeared from the scene. Not sure about the reasons, but probably burnout? And we go to a grey-ish article about Surviving disillusionment.

  The Soul of A New Machine, we see a case of engineering, business, pressure, people enjoying their craft at the same time that they are suffering the extreme contraints of time, tech, decisions made from upwards. But they thrive. And thriving is also a reinforcing feedback loop.

  An internet person that helped me get up in a bump I had a few months ago is Jeremy Howard and his fastai courses and code. I saw him and I could easily take him as a model for how to code, approach problems, teach people, communicate, research (APL!), and even use vim! :) And it's very sad that he got bit by today's off-the-charts Code of Conduct policies and wrong-handling-gone-out-of-hand. I feel extremely sorry for him.

  Another thing that happened recently to me is reading CHAOS by James Gleick. And again, patterns from randomness. Learning about chaos in order and order in chaos. They are part of what we are.

  We like seeing patterns, seeing patterns when others just see noise. It's listening to jazz. And it takes time to teach your ear or eye on seeing those patterns.*

  You see a series of numbers, and there's interference. or the series does not stabilize anywhere. First thing you try to do is find a pattern. Do the numbers grow always? Do they alternate between positive and negative? Maybe they are converging?

  When things do not line up yet, you try to add a dimension there. Do they move faster every time (no matter if up or down)? Can I imagine the derivative of it being constant? or, is it the derivative of something that might have a pattern?

  Can, that derivative be seen as a series, and try to apply the first analysis again? is it always growing? more extreme?.....  (That feels like the enhanced optimization algorithm in "Why Functional Programming Matters").

  So, ups and downs come in patterns, and sometimes their ups and downs come from very concrete explainable things, and sometimes they form out of a small disruption, or they start a turbulence of crazy chaotic ups-downs.

  If not understanding it, can we foresee the chaos coming from a pattern of ups and downs? do we see a pattern, a f'(x), f''(x)? Are we approaching a singularity?

  Fuck if I know.


  * If we apply the learning lessons from _why and Jens, even if there has to be a basic intuition, it shouldn't be hard to see those patterns. But it is.

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