Boris Smus

interaction engineering

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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Book: Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned

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Book: How to Take Smart Notes

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Book: Thinking in Systems: A Primer

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Book: Sid Meier's Memoir!

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Article highlights of 2020

It's the most wonderful time of the year again! Following last year's summary, here were my top reads for 2020. Last year I vowed to read fewer articles because they felt way more junky than books do. I haven't changed my mind on this matter, but I was compelled to try to understand this especially unusual year.

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Book: Profiles of the Future by Arthur C. Clarke

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Book: Dune by Frank Herbert

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Book: Night by Elie Wiesel

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Book: Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich

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Book: Frank Herbert by Tim O’Reilly

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