Blog

Designing a Foreign-Language Course, Part 2

Following up on my last post about my philosophy for a language course for adult learners, in this blog post I wanted to talk a bit about the content for such a course. To start, I want to contrast how this curriculum is designed to work in contrast with “traditional” foreign-language instruction (at least, how I experienced it when I was learning Spanish). While traditional instruction is...

Knowledge Sharing

Because I’m a nerd, I end up frequently talking with people about what the biggest opportunity in the data space is. While there are tons of people working on the next git-for-data and different flavors of data catalogs the problem that I actually feel is most pressing but that very few people seem to be working on is a consistent means of publishing, reproducing, and iterating...

Designing a Foreign-Language Course, Part 1

I’m starting on a project to think more concretely about what I believe an ideal foreign language course would look like. While all of these thoughts are based on my own experience learning Spanish and may not work as well for people with different brain organizations, I thought it’d be worth at least writing down how I’d use modern technology to design a foreign language course that would be...

Gettin’ Goofy on Slack

I’ve been working remotely for the last two years, so I had the advantage of a decent period of adjustment before the COVID-19 crisis hit and forced the majority of tech workers into a fairly extended (and, perhaps, indefinite?) period of remote work. Lots of pixels have already been spilled with advice about how to make that adjustment, but I want to talk about an oft-overlooked angle that...

Funding Open Source Projects

I’ve been thinking a lot about better ways to fund open-source software development. Lots of software that underpins huge amounts of technology today is developed, essentially for free, by people who are super talented and who have a really high opportunity cost for their time. Frequently, valuable (or, at least potentially valuable) projects are started and then abandoned because the original...

Dynamic Super Computing in R

I have for a long time believed that it was a waste to spend a lot of money to have a powerful computer for home and office use because it’s more efficient to dynamically use cloud compute resources rather than rely on my local machine. However, I have also for a long time not actually done that and run all of my jobs on my local machine because I couldn’t actually figure out a good way to make...

White Noise

This year I re-read my favorite novel — White Noise by Don Delillo. It’s one of the very few novels I’ve read more than once, and I think this was my third or fourth time through. I won’t recommend it to you, because, and for good reason, there are very few other people who enjoy this novel as much as I do. Most people hate it. However, I’d like to write a bit about...

Book Notes: Against the Grain

This year I read both Seeing Like a State and Against the Grain, two books by anthropologist James C. Scott. Seeing Like a State showed how governments systematize and abstract information about a populace in order to make it visible, measurable, and above-all administrative — in particular, Scott talks a lot about how that process of abstraction necessarily loses important on-the-ground...

Tech Wages After Covid

In a few of the tech-oriented slacks I’m a member of there’s been a lot of back-and-forth about what might happen to tech wages in a post-COVID (and during-COVID) world where lots of tech jobs (prominently including more and more major players like Twitter and Facebook) are moving to fully remote. Before getting into this topic, I want to acknowledge what a privilege it is to...

Books: Dreamland

So I finally read the book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic and just as everyone had said: it’s very, very good. The book tells two stories in parallel: the first is the tale of the development and marketing of Oxycontin by the now-disgraced pharmaceutical giant Purdue and the second is the story of how a relatively unsophisticated (or at least loosely-organized)...