$1 Million

Enterprise is a loaded term among hackers. It's time that we started to think bigger about our role in shaping the digital world.

Open Source & Commercial Support

Several authors of open source libraries have recently expressed their discouragement about the expectation to provide free support to users. This is written in response to all of this, to fellow open source developers.

Creativity and Terror

Deep within anyone who creates, you will find a lingering terror that one day, they will be outed as a fraud... Or maybe it's just me.

"Because We're All Persons": Empathy and Open Source

By the time you read this, or maybe as I write this now, last week's drama in the Ruby community has likely been, in large part, forgotten. This is not an article about which is better, or what you should use, or why someone is right, or why someone is wrong. This is about something more universal, and infinitely more interesting: us.

Lost Recordings of _why's Last Lecture

Of all of the presenters at art&&code, there was one who perfectly captured the spirit of it all. His name was _why. He wore a blue flower on his lapel, and carried an autoharp around with him. He was and remains a hero and source of inspiration for me, and I was lucky enough to be his student (at least for a few hours).

Achievement Unlocked! Human Morality When Life Becomes A Videogame

Loved by some and derided by others, achievement systems are nonetheless as essential to the fabric of videogaming today as power-ups were from the days of Contra, Super Mario Bros., and MegaMan. It is a trend unlikely to go away anytime soon, given not only its commercial viability, but—perhaps more importantly—its grounding in human nature. It's not just fun and games, though. I believe that this is a matter of immense significance to the role of technology in our daily lives, with far-reaching implications into human morality in this brave new century.

Designing an IPA keyboard for the iPad

With the iPhone, iPad, and similar devices, we are seeing a transition into a new paradigm of touch screen interfaces, wherein the physical interface becomes virtual, able to dynamically adapt as needed to fit any context. Imagine what that could do for a classically difficult problem of Linguistics: typing IPA

Tell Me a Story

As a product of evolution, we humans are cognitively endowed with the ability to make sense of nature. Yet, we are a pre-historic being in a post-modern world. So how do we make sense of everything? Well, among other things, we tell stories.

Forgetting to Remember

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve describes the way humans retain knowledge. Learning is, in a way, just a process of continually not forgetting things.

Chroma-Hash, Revisited

Based on a resurgence of interest in Chroma-Hash, I thought it’d be useful to revisit this oft-misunderstood project.

Chroma-Hash: A Belated Introduction

Yesterday, I posted Chroma-Hash, an experiment in how to visualize the live-input of secure fields, such as a password on a login screen. So far, I’ve received a lot of great feedback, as well as a number of questions that I thought deserved a proper response.

Game Over: Learning From Failure In Videogames

Thinking through the contingencies of failure for an interaction is an exercise of empathy with the user. Whether in videogames or more traditional UIs, framing development in a mindset of failure allows you to get in the head of the typical user and design accordingly.


Earlier in the year, as is the tradition at Carnegie Mellon, there was an open contest to be the class speaker at commencement. As someone who never identified strongly as a student qua student, I knew my submission would be a long shot. It was, but how much better to have tried and failed.

Computational / Poetry Thesis Blog Post / Stanza 三: Haiku

A wise man once said, that if you train an n-gram model with too much data, it will hurt. Bad. We’re talking Kurzweilian singularity ➡ grey goo ➡ ??? ➡ profit! kind of hurt. That’s the way I’ve felt over the last month or so, thinking about my thesis; there were so many directions I could go in, so many theoretically intriguing and clever avenues to venture.

What Can "Left 4 Dead" Teach Us About The Social Web?

Valve's implementation of achievements in Left 4 Dead demonstrate 4 primary uses of the achievement framework: to be Instructive, to be Prescriptive, to be Demarcative, and to act as Incentive. Looking at how achievements shape the gameplay experience, there's a lot that can be applied in the context of social web applications, too.

The Magical Tale of My Computational Poetry Thesis, First Stanza

In order to complete my BA Linguistics, I have to write a Thesis. My goal for this project is to develop a programmatic module that, given a subject — be it love, Paris, or Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle—can produce a valid (and ideally tear-jerking or awe-inspiring) poem in the forms of Haiku, Limerick, and Fib.

10,000 Resolutions

Every January 1st, as is the custom for millions of Americans, we enter into a collective delusion to commit ourselves to vague truisms that we already know to be good for us. This time around, I'm ditching resolutions for simple accounting.