Alberto's weekly email: What Technology Wants, Vim, and more!  🚀

Hi All!

What I am reading 📚

This week I’m reading What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly). It is one of those books so packed with good stuff that it is almost inevitable to underline every single passage ✏️!

The book is about what Kelly calls the Technium, “the global interconnected system of technology”. A system, Kelly claims, that shows characteristics of a primitive life form: it is subject to evolution, it is almost autonomous and self-replicating. In what I’ve read so far Kelly attempts to back up his claims by tracing the history of evolution and, along the way, tries to explain how technology got to where it stands today.

Up to now, one of the best parts has been to read about the role of language in our evolution. In fact, plenty of experts claim this to be one of the single most important developments in the evolution of humankind: “No transition in technology has affected our species, or the world at large, more than the first one, the creation of language. Language enabled information to be stored in a memory greater than an individual’s recall. A language-based culture accumulated stories and oral wisdom to disseminate to future generations. The learning of individuals, even if they died before reproducing, would be remembered. From a systems point of view, language enabled humans to adapt and transmit learning faster than genes.”

Nerd Corner 🤓

This week we go really deep into Nerdland. Based on my latest metrics (yes, I log all my computer-related activity), I spend most of my working day inside Vim, a terminal-based text editor. So much so that I’ve learned a few things about it through the years and I decided to write a blogpost about it!

Also interesting 🤯

  • You’ve probably heard or read everything about the grounding of the Boeing 737-Max after two of those airplanes crashed earlier this year. A lot has been said about Boeing’s negligence but some of us still had a lot of questions about the specifics of the accidents. This NYT article paints a pretty objective and complete picture. It is a long read but worth the while.

  • Global Greening. In the face of so much paranoia about global warming, it is always reassuring to read positive news. This report shows that because of more CO2 in the atmosphere plants are growing faster than before and consuming less water. As a result even very dry areas are seeing an increase in vegetation.

  • Carl Sagan is my favorite science popularizer of all time. He made science fun and clear as this short video shows. He also wrote science books, my favorite one being The Demon-Haunted World.

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Have an awesome week!