Before leading the software project that put men on the moon, Margaret Hamilton worked on the equations that led to chaos theory, followed by Mount Holyoke graduate, Ellen Fetter.
Robin Sloan smushes the video game Fortnite Battle Royale together with Liu Cixin’s Three Body Problem trilogy and produces a perfect example of game theory, cooperation, and the prisoner’s dilemma.
Based on my experiments in the laboratory of Fortnite, I think Liu Cixin is wrong. Or at least, he’s not entirely right. Fortnite is more Dark Forest theory than not, and maybe that’s true of the universe, too. But sometimes, we have a lever against the vise of game theory, and in this case, it is a single bit of communication. I mean “bit” in the programmer’s sense: a flag with a designated meaning. Nothing more. My heart emote didn’t make Fortnite cuddly and collaborative, but it did allow me to communicate: “Hold up. Let’s do this a different way.”
The latest explainer/game from Nicky Case is an absolutely brilliant interactive piece on small world networks.
Go deep, deep down the rabbit hole of Rob’s brain in all its colourful glory. Seriously, this is simultaneously a great write-up of how he came up with his site’s lovely colour scheme(s), and it’s a terrific primer on colour theory and why the HSL value in CSS is so, so wonderful!
In this terrific essay by Marina Benjamin on the scientific and mathematical quest for ever-more dimensions, she offers this lovely insight into the mind-altering effects that the art of Giotto and Uccello must’ve had on their medieval audience:
By consciously exploring geometric principles, these painters gradually learned how to construct images of objects in three-dimensional space. In the process, they reprogrammed European minds to see space in a Euclidean fashion.
In a very literal fashion, perspectival representation was a form of virtual reality that, like today’s VR games, aimed to give viewers the illusion that they had been transported into geometrically coherent and psychologically convincing other worlds.
The transcript of a presentation on the intersection of ethics and accessibility.
Of course, information existed before Shannon, just as objects had inertia before Newton. But before Shannon, there was precious little sense of information as an idea, a measurable quantity, an object fitted out for hard science. Before Shannon, information was a telegram, a photograph, a paragraph, a song. After Shannon, information was entirely abstracted into bits. The sender no longer mattered, the intent no longer mattered, the medium no longer mattered, not even the meaning mattered: A phone conversation, a snatch of Morse telegraphy, a page from a detective novel were all brought under a common code. Just as geometers subjected a circle in the sand and the disk of the sun to the same laws, and as physicists subjected the sway of a pendulum and the orbits of the planets to the same laws, Claude Shannon made our world possible by getting at the essence of information.
Such a great primer on game theory—well worth half an hour of your time.
This is a really intriguing book that combines design theory and programming—learn about contrast, colour, and shapes, with each lesson supported by code examples.
It’s still a work in progress but the whole thing is online for free. Yay for web books!
A short film about Claude Shannon and Information Theory — not exactly as in-depth as James Gleick’s The Information, but it does a nice job of encapsulating the fundamental idea.
I like this theory!
Responding to Malcolm Gladwell's recent piece in the New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer argues that the strength of weak ties *does* extend to social activism.
This looks like being a thoroughly excellent event at The Royal Society, featuring Tim Berners-Lee and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.
An extremely addictive bit of fun with small world network theory as applied to music.
Six degrees of separation as applied to Wikipedia articles. Read on to find the Kevin Bacon of Wikipedia pages.
An examination of behavioural contagion in social networks.
It turns out that the brain is a scale-free small-world network in a state of self-organised criticality. Just like the internet.
The entire text of this seminal work is online in HTML, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
The spread of happiness, obesity and smoking habits through social networks.