Week of October 22, 2018

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Obsolete

From my perspective, Jupyter is everywhere and Mathematica is almost nowhere 🤷🏼‍♂️

Which, who knows, might well be true—maybe computational notebooks will only take root if they’re backed by a single super-language, or by a company with deep pockets and a vested interest in making them work. But it seems just as likely that the opposite is true. A federated effort, while more chaotic, might also be more robust—and the only way to win the trust of the scientific community. Wolfram has a hard time seeing outside Wolfram, and perhaps that’s the reason that the Mathematica notebook has remained relatively obscure while a rival system—derivative, yes, and simplistic, but open—looks to be taking over the world.

Hard

Making the world better is hard and it takes work. Barry Yeoman details what’s needed to build a more equitable city.

If Durham’s history is proof of anything, it stands for the idea that building community is an all-hands effort that requires buy-in from everybody—elected officials, civic organizations, religious leaders, artists, and businesses. And it can only be built by lowering barriers—to owning a home, to exhibiting your paintings, to launching a startup, to gaining a voice in public policy, to feeling like you belong in the town square.

Bye

Steven Levy goes way behind the scenes at Blue Origin.

Bezos buys none of this. He sees humanity’s move to space as the only option. He sees it with the certainty of mathematics. So we might as well get started, long before we exceed the energy resources available to us and face catastrophe. “I’m just building the infrastructure so it’ll be there when people realize they need it,” he says. How will we know it’s time to blast off—will it be in one generation, or 10? “It will become incredibly obvious,” he says.

Beginnings

Nick Paumgarten with a great, in-depth, early history of Ethereum.

Now and then, legacy titans voiced their scorn. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of J. P. Morgan, labelled crypto “a fraud”; Warren Buffett used the phrase “rat poison squared.” Legions of skeptics and technophobes, out of envy, ignorance, or wisdom, savored such pronouncements, while the true believers and the vertiginously invested mostly brushed it aside. They had faith that a new order was nigh. They pumped but did not dump.