While I was away…

A quick round-up of things I’d have posted about while I was unable to post anything here:

  • Pioneering blogger and techie and general all-round good guy Dean Allen passed away. I didn’t know him personally, but to some degree I, like many others reading his posts at Textism over the years over the years, got a sense of him as someone who was on the right side of the argument about what this World Wide Web thing was for more often than not.Good rememberances of him from Jason Kottke and Om Malik and John Gruber.
  • Stephen Wolfram did a deep dive into the life and accomplishments of proto-programmer Ada Lovelace. Wolfram’s verdict:

    Today, with computers and software all around us, the notion of universal computation seems almost obvious: of course we can use software to compute anything we want. But in the abstract, things might not be that way. And I think one can fairly say that Ada Lovelace was the first person ever to glimpse with any clarity what has become a defining phenomenon of our technology and even our civilization: the notion of universal computation.

    It felt odd to read a piece on Ada Lovelace that failed to include a reference to Sydney Padua’s highly entertaining comics take on her partnership with Charles Babbage, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage. To be fair Wolfram’s focus is very much on assessing Lovelace’s position in the history of computing, rather than establishing her place in geek culture. 1

  • While I was away, we lost The Awl, a site that published pieces like this one about the career of actor-turned-jobbing-episodic-TV-director Keith Gordon. I know everyone tells us we’re in a golden age of TV, but compared to feature films there are very few TV directors who get to be well known to the general public. Partly that’s the nature of the job: TV is still mostly a producers/showrunners medium, and they primarily want a director who can walk onto a set and work with the show’s existing cast and crew to get the job done and turn the next episode over to the next director without leaving a visible mark on the show.
  • Speaking of those who’ve stopped what they were doing while I was away, Tony Zhou brought his video essay series Every Frame A Painting to an end and gave us a postmortem on the series and an insight into how far it was shaped by the constraints of putting the series up on YouTube.

Now that I’m back up and running, I’ll be hoping to post something more or less daily (until the next technical or medical failure steps in to silence me.)