Computers, to be useful for any particular task, need software. The practice of creating that software, developing it, programming it, happens to be considered as a specialised one. That wasn’t always the case.
Ideas about non-linear ways of representing information […] precede the invention of the computer. But it was computer technology that enabled a blossoming of competing hypertext projects, various network protocols and commercial software products.
Long ago, as the design of the Unix file system was being worked out, the entries . and .. appeared, to make navigation easier. I’m not sure but I believe .. went in during the Version 2 rewrite, when the file system became hierarchical (it had a very different structure early on). Rob Pike —Continue reading “Non-hierarchical file system”
Many years ago (in 2015!) I published this listicle: Apps for super fast Web publishing. I became interested in Pastebin-like web services, and thought it’d be cool to list the ones I’d discovered, with some commentary. That’s 9 of them. Now, in late 2018, 5 of them have disappeared from the face of the web.Continue reading “Low-friction publishing”
Continued from part i Frequently-updated software is the norm. The frequency varies, of course, depending on the particular software. Generally, developers depend on it. Without updates, internet-connected (read: pretty much all) software would be increasingly vulnerable to hacking as security flaws are continually discovered. And without the ability to continually improve software through updates, aContinue reading “Software updates – part II”
This essay is about how the internet has accelerated aspects of software development. The net is a means for much faster, more widespread propagation of software and software updates than previously available. Before the net, when software was mainly distributed via physical media, updates could only be delivered via similar means: magnetic discs, CD-ROMs, printedContinue reading “Software updates – part I”
I don’t have a great reason for not having a Facebook account, for deleting mine, as I did, a couple of months ago. But I’m okay with that. I’m not particularly interested in convincing other people to follow my lead, at least not right now. But I do think Facebook is rather bad. Here’s someContinue reading “After Facebook”
How will the distributed network revolution impact online dating? Services like OKCupid, Tinder and Match.com operate on centralised, client-server models. Daters sign up to a service and give it some personal information: photos, biography text, age, sex, location, and preferences. The service stores the info, and gives the user an interface for checking out profilesContinue reading “Love in the age of decentralised personal computing”
Here’s an exciting player in the ascendant decentralised computing space: Holochain. It’s a ‘post-blockchain’ platform for apps that communicate peer-to-peer, with secure user identities and cryptographically-validated shared data. This week, key Holo people and creative collective darVOZ are running a sprint-athon in London. This is where I met them (people in both groups) for the firstContinue reading “Hacking on Holochain: first impressions”
Here’s the newest component of my little media empire, a chat room: chat.operatingspace.net (dead link removed) It runs on Urbit, which is a fascinating, complex project which I’ll sum up here as: a decentralised, programmable social network. This blog post is a tutorial for something I just learned how to do: set up nginx toContinue reading “Using nginx to give your Urbit page a nice URL”