What thinkers or groups not related to mathematics...
# present-company
What thinkers or groups not related to mathematics or computer science most influence your thinking about programming and computers?
Foucault’s thinking on power and politics manifest in a lot of how I approach designing systems, and programming. Different, I also find that descriptions of surface area, and edges from permaculture design show up in my head a lot. I always imagine functions in pipelines like characters in a book by Djuna Barnes or Virginia Woolf.
Also, whenever I post stuff like this I can’t decide if it’s a better fit for #thinking-together, here, or just shutting up 😂 Feel free to let me know which among those is the correct choice.
Getting in Christopher Alexander before anyone else. (I think this would be a fine topic for #thinking-together!)
The Sleepwalkers - Arthur Koestler (esp. the word “epicycles”) The Design of Everyday Things - Norman (UX, horribly ignored in today’s software) Consciousness Explained, & Darwin’s Dangerous Idea - Daniel Dennett
My partner is fairly involved in city planning via cycling advocacy, city planning’s recent history is very interesting in how specifically large parts of our society took a turn for the worst with car centric design. But what’s interesting to me is: They are in a similar position of trying to propose advancements to a very stubborn social group. Notably, while you can make endless factual moral claims about how cycling & walking can help prevent climate change, the effective strategy is to factually point out that walkable, bikable & transit friendly cities are just a much better way to live - see “not just bikes” on YouTube. — easy sells better than simple. Being stuck in 1 paradigm (driving is the best mode of transportation for all tasks) is really harmful & generally makes things worse for everyone. You need a bunch of good ideas (walking, biking, driving, bus, train, etc) that have their optimized spots in the city & sane ways to work within & between each mode.
Following up on @Eli Mellen's reference to Foucault: anarchism. I don't consider myself an anarchist because I don't believe in anarchism as a universally valid/possible/desirable approach to governance. But looking at today's world, I believe we need more anarchism (for various reasons I won't go into here and now).
Another one: the citizen science movement. I think we also need a "citizen computing" movement, with the long-term goal of replacing the current two strata (tech experts and "mere" users) by a continuum in which many different levels of expertise co-exist and where there are clear paths for everyone to increase their level of expertise if they are motivated to do so.
Things that teach “what it is to be a human being” also teach us useful things about constructing software (or any other tool/affordance, especially when building in collaboration with others): history, philosophy, anthropology, ethnomethodology, &c. Note that some lessons in this category are best transmitted by literature, theatre, poetry. A parallel: in medical literature one eventually notices that almost every ailment or complaint is improved by making the organism more healthy (diet, exercise, sleep, &c). In the same sense, everything one does to become a more compete person improves outcomes over a wide field of potential activities.
Fun fact about Christopher Alexander: he actually had no idea that he was such a big deal in our community until well after it happened. He arguably had more influence on software than he did in his own field.
Star Trek: what stands out to me as most fictional there are not FTL flight, transporters etc. but the ability of engineers there to reconfigure any hardware to entirely novel uses within minutes-hours (rather than months-years). Motivates me to think what forms of malleable infrastructure it could take...