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{ Category Archives } social-science

Ratio

The web has a weird history with comments. I have a book called Zero Comments, a critique of blog culture from 2008. It opens by quoting from a 2005 post from a now defunct website, stodge.org. The Wayback Machine does not capture the original post, so here is the quote as lifted from the book: […]

How UX Practitioners Produce Findings in Usability Testing

The Paper How UX Practitioners Produce Findings in Usability Testing by Stuart Reeves, in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, January 2019. Notes Various features of this paper make it a shoe-in for Research Watch. It is about the intersection between academia and commercial practice. That is where the word “Labrary” comes from. It extends the […]

Two ways of thinking

I’ve used this idea in conversations for years, and can’t find a post on it, which I find surprising but there you go. There are, broadly speaking, two different ways to look at programming languages. And I think that these mean two different ways to select programming languages, which are asymmetric. However, they can lead […]

Linus’s Bystanders

For some reason, when Eric S. Raymond wanted to make a point about the “bazaar” model of open source software development, he named it after someone else. Thus we have Linus’s Law: Linus was directly aiming to maximize the number of person-hours thrown at debugging and development, even at the possible cost of instability in […]

Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans? Pretty interesting, and an often unmentioned aspect of diversity (probably because political leaning is supposed to be a secret in democratic countries, if not because it’s usually acceptable to display ingroup/outgroup bias politically). But it’s very relevant in the social sciences, especially if it means that particular political views […]

The Software Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes viewed society as a meta-person, a gigantic creature whose parts were human and which was in the service of those humans. Left to their own devices, people would not work well together as their notion of individualism and search for personal gain leads directly to conflict: strong government is needed to instil a […]

Software, Science?

Is there any science in software making? Does it make sense to think of software making as scientific? Would it help if we could? Hold on, just what is science anyway? Good question. The medieval French philosopher-monk Buridan said that the source of all knowledge is experience, and Richard Feynman paraphrased this as “the test […]

The First Flaw

As she left her desk at the grandiosely-named United States Robotics, Susan reflected on her relationship with the engineering team she was about to meet. Many of its members were juvenile and frivolous in her opinion, and she refused to play along with any of their jokes. Even the title they gave her was mocking. […]

The Ignoble Programmer

Two programmers are taking a break from their work, relaxing on a bench in the park across from their office. As they discuss their weekend plans, a group of people jog past, each carrying their laptop in a yoke around their neck and furiously typing as they go. “Oh, there goes the Smalltalk team,” says […]

How to answer questions the smart way

You may have read how to ask questions the smart way by Eric S. Raymond. You may have even quoted it when faced with a question you thought was badly-formed. I want you to take a look at a section near the end of the article. How to answer questions in a helpful way is […]