Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Book: Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter

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Book: Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

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Book: The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef

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Book: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

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File Systems for Thought

Tools for Thought are all the rage these days. Unfortunately, most of these tools assume one corpus per tool, and the interoperability story is very poor. At the same time, it's pretty clear to me that no single app can serve as my second brain. What I need instead is a System for Thought that supports many different tools working seamlessly together.

The solution I have arrived at is a cloud-synchronized directory of plaintext files and images. Here's a visual summary of what's going on in my system for thought today:

File Systems for Thought 2021

This system has two key advantages:

  1. Tool choice: I can choose my favorite among multiple existing tools
  2. Hackability: I can build my own tools to support specific needs
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Book: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Book: Gardener & Carpenter by Alison Gopnik

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Book: Late Middle Ages

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Book: Medieval Technology and Social Change

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Book: Understanding Complexity by Scott Page

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Diffusion of Literacy in 19th Century Canada

The ancient Sumerians invented writing sometime around 3500 BCE. But how did writing get refined? How did it spread outside of Sumer? In general, tracking diffusion of ancient technology is hard. For tracking the spread of literacy, however, here's an interesting idea. Innumerate people may fudge their self-reported age to round or auspicious numbers. Individually, this leads to terrible earworms. In aggregate, this error is called age heaping and may be a decent proxy for literacy. In this post, I dig into the Province of Canada's 1852 census, scraped from automatedgenealogy.com. To whet your appetite, just look at these beautiful age heaps:

Age Heaps in Canada's 1852 census

Splitting the census data by demographics and calculating the ABCC Index on each, what can we infer about literacy in 19th Century Canada?

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Book: Emotional Life of the Toddler

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Book: High Middle Ages

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Evogami: evolution meets origami

In my latest side project, I borrow a couple of ideas from evolution and apply them to origami. Starting from a blank square apply a random crease, then again, and again, and again. The result is completely new, never before seen origami model! To make the process less random, pick your favorite next step from a set of possibilities. Try it out and see what you can come up with.

Here are a couple of resulting folds, presented in the viewer. See it live.

I'm looking forward to folding some of the best Evogamis out of real paper!

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Book: Early Middle Ages

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