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This wasn't actually for my students, and dates back to the early 90s. A number of people at Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) asked for my "top ten" books. This is not possible for anyone who reads extensively, so I came out with that list as a bare start. I should mention that reading lots of "poor books" is also part of literacy: they help the understanding and appreciation of "good books" considerably.



Alan, have you actually read all those books cover-to-cover ?

In general how do you read ? Do you finish a book even if you don't like the style or subject matter ?

Do you read sequentially - one book at a time cover to cover - or do you read several books in parallel ?

Any tips/tricks on how to choose the next book ?

Do you continue going deeper into the subject matter of the last book or do you jump to a completely different domain ?


Somewhat by accident I wound up a fluent reader before going to school, and read voraciously from then on. I'm not sure how many books I've read, but probably no more than 20,000 (I have some friends -- and have knowledge of some -- who have read quite a bit more).

Fluency really helps because there are fewer really worthwhile books than other kinds (this is similar to "most ideas are mediocre down to bad", in no small part because good ideas are a rarer set of insights, and they have to be formed in our not wonderful commonsense environment).

In third grade I started to put a lot more effort into really remembering what I read (it finally occurred to me that I'd have to reread most of the books if I didn't).

Because of efficiency, etc., I generally finish virtually all books. I often read several books at a time. I don't spend all day reading now, though I certainly often did when I was younger.

Reading often leads to other reading. I also read reviews of books. A really fun find ca 1970 was The Whole Earth Catalog, which listed thousands of "tools" including hundreds of books with small very useful reviews. Most of these were very worthwhile (and all the books in the WEC were the first books in the PARC library).

I sympathize with the writer below who wished for a little description for each book on my reading list (annotated bibliographies are very helpful).

I follow my nose (and try to use other dim senses when possible).


Thank you.

From what I've read, the idea for The Whole Earth Catalog came to Stewart Brand during an acid trip, so I'm going to try my luck with a deeper question on the subject...

The counterculture and the "psychedelic revolution" of the '60s has been a subject I've been very interested in, especially its impact on technology and computing.

You were there, you saw it with your own eyes, you helped move technology forward with your mind, you worked with all kinds of experimenters and bearded geniuses..

Do you think that psychedelic drugs had a big impact on how technology (and society) has evolved since the '60 ?

The reason I'm asking this, is because these substances and practices are making a major come back, now globally, and I'm very curious about how this will impact our society in the future, given the radical changes apparently spawned in the short period that people explored them, before becoming illegal..


"The 60s" was more than a backdrop, especially in California -- and it was about a variety of things all at once, including: equal rights and race, the Vietnam War, and thoughts less in the same groove. The "counter culture" was all around Palo Alto and the rest of the Bay Area, and provided another set of contexts.

And I think it had indirect influence -- kind of a glow -- on other things that were going on, such as changes in technology and computing. But I would call most of the top people there at that time -- including most of the researchers at PARC -- quite straight with regard to drugs. PARC was much more of an older drinking culture than a drugs culture. However, other kinds of non-drug mind-altering practices were experimented with (many kinds of meditation, self-hypnosis, isolation tanks, etc.)

A little goes a long way, for many reasons.


> A little goes a long way, for many reasons.

Hmm.


>probably no more than 20,000 (I have some friends -- and have knowledge of some -- who have read quite a bit more).

can you please verify that number? Assuming reading for that past 50 years, that is over a book/day (or 3 books / 4 days reading for 75 years). I'm a slow reader and generally enjoy taking my time reading, but that would be quite the volume.


I don't have any strong way to estimate -- I didn't bother counting them as I read (it wasn't a contest). There were many years where I read around 10 books a week (the library limit). They don't take long to read. I'm 76 and have been reading heavily for 73 years. My library at home has about 13,000 books and for the most part does not have books I read as a child. I still read roughly 4 books a week, etc.

So, as I estimated, probably not more than 20,000.


When I was a kid, I worked my way through our local library in an orderly fashion. I only had to be able to sign my name to get a card. When mom would drop us off for a few hours, we'd pick out our six books (the limit), she'd come get us, and before we got home, she'd chide us on already reading too many of them. We wouldn't make them last until the next visit.

It seemed an agonizing wait until 14, the required age for checking out books from the adult section. I'd read the entire children's section, so I had to wait until after school (pointless school) to read adult books at the library. By 18, I'd read about 20,000 books. Strangely, on turning 18, my reading rate dropped off a cliff.


I didn't get along very well with my sister, so when my mum went to work I went to the library instead of staying home. I was on a first name basis with most of the staff, but also revisited books many times if I particularly enjoyed them, so never got to a high number.

I became a librarian in the end. I rarely read anymore, my attention span and time just don't allow it.


How does one read that quickly with any degree of comprehension, particularly with regard to technical books?

I am a fairly intelligent person, with a large vocabulary, but forcing my "mind's voice" to read faster than a normal conversational pace dramatically reduces both enjoyment and retention of material. Doubly so for anything of technical content.


I believe the enabler to fast reading is to skip verbalization totally - i.e., not a "minds voice" that is speaking quickly, but going from seeing a sentence to getting the concept of that sentence without vocalizing, without ever having had a representation of how that sentence sounds, bypassing the hearing/speech centers of your brain, reading on an abstract purely visual level.

I feel a mental voice when reading e.g. poetry or when writing a draft for a presentation/speech, but all other content is purely visual. I tend to recall the visual location where a fact was written, e.g. that was on the right side of some page around the bottom part, but not how it sounded.


I have no idea how; I was a little kid. I do know I didn't read with an inner voice; I read silently.


How much do you read nowadays? What kind of stuff? (And have you got any recommendations in terms of fiction!?)


Nowadays most of my reading is online, I read about a paper book per week, like most of us. My fiction is mostly SF/Fantasy. My favorite non-fiction is history, entirely predictable. I just finished 1493 last night; it was excellent. Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk before that, also good, although Len Deighton is definitely opinionated.

I read HN with an eye to suggestions, which has worked out well for me.


Note: I have friends who claim to have read an similarly extraordinary number of books, although in their case it turns out they had actually been 'speed reading' them, which I wouldn't count as reading at all.[1] Some people would disagree with me, however...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_reading


As I mentioned in another place, the key is remembering what's important.


Sometimes when I get bored reading a piece it would be very nice to get over it fast. But especially when it is a recommended book I want to read the whole even if it feels like a chore. Then I'm looking for excuses not to read at all.


0 is no more than 20,000

100 is no more than 20,000

i don't think verification is needed...

[edited for carriage return]


> "... In third grade I started to put a lot more effort into really remembering what I read ..."

Do you have any tips, tricks, hacks that you would like to share that you may have developed in helping you to remember content. Did any techniques evolve over the years?


I've been asked this a few times. I'm not completely sure about all the keys for this. Looking back -- and also at the process today -- it seems to be a combination of things, and somewhat loosely connected.

The first thing to notice is what happens if you accidentally dial into the middle of a movie on TV you haven't seen for 20 years. How long does it take you to recognize the movie? And how often can you remember pretty much what is going to happen next? Then ponder that when you saw the movie the first time you didn't know you were going to be tested with just a few frames 20 years later!

There have been many studies over the years about just how good and detailed is visual recall. Much of the best recall is "prompted recall" usually via an image or some other sense (smell is a biggie).

You've also heard about Cicero's "mind palace" where when he was giving a speech in the Senate he would walk in his imagination around his villa and revisit parts of his speech that he'd associated with objects in his house.

This is also possible to do with ideas. It's a kind of relaxation from the parts of your brain that do general thinking (Kahneman's "System 2") and just letting the ideas be "configurational" (like images or sounds, where many can exist at the same time). A lot of the associations are kinds of analogies and metaphors.

In any case, we all have tremendous memories for some kinds of things, and it seems to be difficult to remember other kinds of things (perhaps things that are further from sense memories are more difficult). But it seems that a lot of the sense memory system is happy to remember enough "hybrid stuff" to then allow better recall of the more distant stuff.

One of the things I had discovered to a small extent in 3rd grade was that one can read "faster than actually thinking", and that a lot of the thinking would still be done. Looking back, I think this is like the kinds of background thinking we often do when we are working on a problem -- this seems to work also for reading. (It is also connected to how sight-reading in music is done (next comment).)

There's lots more, but one last thing here. Though I got to music early, I got to classical keyboards late -- in this case the organ -- and thus got a chance to watch myself learn to sight read three staves of music for hands and feet. (I found this quite a painful process for a few years, especially at my age.) But it has quite a bit in common with the mechanics of reading and remembering texts (with the addition of a lot of fine muscle memory that has to be taught what to do).

The essential transition is to gradually learn to detach from being "on the notes" to being able to see a few bars ahead (like what you do when you are reading aloud to someone), being able to perform with the meanings you just saw, while gleaning new meanings ahead and remembering them for the performance a few seconds later. It's basically a pipe-lined buffered process which anyone can learn to do, but which most do not learn easily (it was difficult for me).

If you can also tie the buffers to something that is in long term memory, you have a good chance of remembering it when something like it re-cues the memory. Most musicians wind up with a kind of double memory (they can remember the music more easily than the muscle movements). I think this also obtains in text reading and remembering.

The simple heuristic is "relax".


Do you make any notes during reading or make some sort of resume/recapitulation when you finish a book?

Are you a paper notebook fan?


I don't make notes while I'm reading or do a recap. However, I do use notebooks for "ideas" when I'm trying to get something done, or those that just show up. This is to not get trapped by the ideas -- basically to move them to a back burner, so more can happen. I sometimes look at the notes, but usually not. The writing down of the ideas seems to put them in a more useful place in the hairball.


I always wanted to ask you this: what's your opinion on Gregory Bateson's work on the intersection of anthropology, psychiatry, cybernetics and communication in general? Since this discussion is focusing on books, have you read "Steps to an Ecology of Mind"?

I hope it goes without saying: thank you very much for your contribution to the world, generally.


Another of many books I probably should have put on the list (but that's the problem with lists of "good books" in a world that has thousands of them). I knew Gregory slightly, and his daughter Mary Catherine more so. (And there are others from this circle that should be included: Gordon Pask, Heinz von Forester, etc.)

One way to think about this in the larger sense is that "an interesting person is one who is interesting whether you agree with them or not". This also goes for books. (This is the "it's about perspectives, not about relevance" point of view.)

It's worth it to try to understand what "interesting people" have thought -- it provides context for one's own thinking.


> It's worth it to try to understand what "interesting people" have thought -- it provides context for one's own thinking.

This is eventually the main reason why I mentioned Bateson's work in particular (besides the depth and orthogonality of his ideas).

I've read Watzlawick's work on interaction and pragmatics of communication before I've read Bateson's. I found Watzlawick's ideas easier to grasp (at least, I'm under that illusion), clearly presented with e.g. axioms. Then I read Bateson's work, and got this strange feeling of dwelling around the same underlying concepts, but without a clear understanding of his main argument.

I've read "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" quite a few times (I still re-read some chapters every once in a while) and always felt that a) I'm reading new material; and b) I'm not getting it all. Yet, I always get something new, and this is an extremely interesting insight on how my own perception changes over time.

Of course, this happens with other books and authors. Still, personally, I have a clear feeling that not to the same extent as it happens with Bateson's ideas. It's my own mirror, so to speak.


Well, Gregory missed some important ideas in that book (partly from his background I think, and partly from his personality). You might get some perspective from looking at his last book "Mind and Nature". And, in many ways, much more powerful looks at "mind" are Minsky's "Society of Mind" and "The Emotion Machine". There is also Kahneman's "Thinking: Fast and Slow" more recently ...


The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane is not really about the mind, but it is about the things that lead up to the contemporary mind and is consistently fascinating, even for me who has no biology / biochemistry background. I learned about it from the Bill Gates blog: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/The-Vital-Question.


I don't want to ding this book, if only because the topic is well chosen and important. I was quite surprised that I didn't warm to it.


Would you have a place in your list for António Damásio's work on consciousness and, generally, the embodied mind?


I don't know whether I would include this book on the list for the Anderson Consulting people. It's worth reading for the context, perhaps not so much for the specific content.


I forgot to consider your list as aimed towards the Anderson Consulting people.

Having that audience in mind, wouldn't Manuel Castells' work (mostly, the "The Information Age" trilogy) be a good reference? Probably a little too vast.


Interesting suggestion! I think it was around when I made the list but I hadn't read it yet.

I think it might be too long for the intended purpose (maybe a little too academic?). On the other hand Mumford also wrote a trilogy "Technics and Civilization" that I did hope they would read ...

And certainly the McLuhan books are more cryptic for most readers. On the other hand ...


Castells ideas are indeed presented in a very readable manner, most of the times complemented with figures and data. In my "academic" tradition (communication/media sciences meets IT, in continental Europe), Castells is essentially a mandatory reference (even more than McLuhan).

Thinking about it, from a practical perspective, I'd eventually suggest "The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society" instead of the trilogy. It should be more readable, definitely smaller, while still addressing most important concepts (for me, it was the spatial configuration in the information society: the space of flows).


A piggy-back on "Gutenberg Galaxy"? I just ordered it just for the heck of it -- I'll admit to a prejudice of "not high hopes" for this, but it's worth a look.

This prejudice is part of a larger one (which is partly a generalization) that it is rare when commentators -- whether philosophers of science or other -- come close to having a good view. Of course, so many in fields are also quite blind to what is going on. Still, most of the good commentaries I know on science are by scientists, and most of the good commentaries on computing are by computerists. And music ... etc.


After reading the trilogy, particularly the first book, I don't think "The Internet Galaxy" will add much. Even the following "big" one from Castells, "Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective", won't add much from a conceptual standpoint (although an amusing read, I think).

My perspective on Castells is biased because it was essentially the backbone of my academic training. I had teachers telling us explicitly that Castells' notion of information society was the framework (in the Kuhnian sense) on which we'd build upon. Having that in mind, I see Castells as a sociologist and his work (sociological) as a view on a society defined by information flows (not exactly computing, although computing and telecommunications are key enablers). Still, he keeps technological determinism at bay by considering the impact of geography, territory, matter - the physical (tangible?) dimension.

What I like quite much about his work is exactly this aspect: he presents a vision of a society dominated by the intangible, while still dedicating rather extensive chapters on the geographical asymmetries of the world. This avoidance of technological determinism, the "information is key but place and physicality still matter a lot, as evidenced by real-world data" notion is why I see Castells as a great reference.


Would you also consider then:

_The Laws of Form_ by George Spencer Brown,

Anything about logic by Gotthard Günther :) (He's a rare bird.)

_Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living_ by Maturana and Varela

Anything by Niklass Luhmann about social systems: the economy, mass media, art, functional differentiation, … He was a student of Talcott Parsons

Norbert Wiener, _Cybernetics: Or Control And Communication in the Animal and the Machine_ and _The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society_

_An Introduction to Cybernetics_ by W. Ross Ashby

McCullogh and Pitts (You mention Minsky but not these dudes.) _A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity_

Basically, most of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberneticist

? :)


Sure. Just to remind that the list was for people in business -- they were quite intelligent, had college degrees, but were not well read or "broad". They were very goal-oriented, and I think they did not use school or college for "general education". I tried to pick books that would be assessable and useful for them.

A lot of the books you mention were listed in the Whole Earth Catalog, and were favorites at PARC.

Especially "Laws of Form".

And some of the other "Cybernetics" circle books (Bateson et al was part of the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics, etc.) Both Maturana and Varela were around in those times as well.

Minsky was a huge fan of Warren McCullogh and Walter Pitts.


Life is too short for poor books :)

I couldn't vouch for the other topics but I can say that the section on Philosophy made me raise an eyebrow! Well, that and the section on Politics & Economy is obviously US/capitalist -centric but you know that. No Communist Manifesto? Really? :)

In case anyone happens to read the list you gave and also reads here, the following are not considered primary philosophical works:

The Passion of the Western Mind by RICHARD TARNAS

Ascent of Man by JACOB BRONOWSKI

Science and Sanity by COUNT KORZYBSKI

Science is not Enough by VANNEVAR BUSH

What I Believe by MARK BOOTH (Ed)

Zen Mind, Beginners' Mind by SHUNRYU SUZUKI

Also. While Plato's Republic is a master-work his Symposium far exceeds the Timeaus. Symposium (not Timeaus) is included in the brilliant _The Classics of Western Philosophy_ which is a decent source and one stop shop of Western Philosophical Works: http://www.hackettpublishing.com/classics-of-western-philoso....


Life is too short period!

Just to remind again that the list was for people in business -- they were quite intelligent, had college degrees, but were not well read or "broad". They were very goal-oriented, and I think they did not use school or college for "general education". I tried to pick books that would be assessable and useful for them.

So no "Das Kapital" or other political tracts. I would have put in Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention, and many other political writings for a different audience.

I didn't really include much if anything primary about Philosophy (again, that wasn't the point for this group).

And, now that we are discussing this, I now recall that the original list (it was an email) was not just expanded by I know not whom into the pictorial form on the web, but has also been edited a bit. The most important changes are from sentences like "Anything by Bertrand Russell" and "Anything by Jerome Bruner" etc. to the individual books (as subsets). However, I don't recall what I did say about Plato ...


any updated misses? i'd have to say, for that audience (or any really), "fooled by randomness" taleb is required.


There have been quite a few books since that would be good for this group to look at (I will avoid the trap of mentioning any). Why don't you have a crack at it?


free to choose (friedman), guns germs and steel (diamond), fooled by randomness (taleb). essential contemporary fiction: the road or blood meridian (mccarthy). everybody should read the widely read religious texts that have been circulating for millenia.


On the last point, as Sussmann says:

"Bible, Talmud, Koran Read them whether or not you believe them! Be sure to read between the lines, and you can discover what people were actually thinking back then. Very interesting documents! Bava Metzia 59b is an interesting story!"

http://aurellem.org/thoughts/html/sussman-reading-list.html


Did someone point you here or do you casually surf hacker news? I always find it fascinating who is potentially around here.


Google found a mention


Thanks for the list!

Also, I really liked your interview with Marissa Mayer at CHI.


He reads 3 or 4 books a week. No time for hacker news!


Alan, I am rereading

http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Machine-Licklider-Revolution-Com...

It was published in 2001. What do you think of its relevancy 15 years later in the context of our age of "big data" and "Machine Learning"?


I don't think I understand the question. This is by far the best book about how the major research funding and community happened in the 60s (Parc was one of the outgrowths). I would say that our "age" (or any age) could be enriched by understanding this book. For example, the real issues are not "big data" but "big understanding", not "Machine Learning" but "Machine Thinking". Some of the "Dream Machine" is about how the funders were willing to put forth considerable resources for "problem finding" not just "problem solving" -- a lot more of that needs to be done today.


Thank you Alan, your answer is the exact reason that I asked that question.


BTW, I did read the book about 10 years ago. Like what Alan commented below, I recognized some of the paragraphs and stories in the book with a kind of dream-like déjà vu. Very interesting feeling.


With your caveat that it is a point-in-time recommendation, perhaps you'd like to throw out an updated list?


I think there are any number of lists that would help getting started. The basic results are "multiple perspectives" and the sense that not all perspectives are equally powerful for given contexts. That list was for adult "business people". One would come up with other lists for children, etc.

An important idea about reading is that part of the pleasure (maybe even more than that) is one's choice of "this book, now". I had read many hundreds of books a year by the time I got to high school, but I balked at reading books chosen for me in a class. I suggested instead that the classes deal with themes and that there should be several thousand good books in the library that students could choose for themselves. This would make the discussions of the themes quite interesting, etc. But no go, so I wound up -- for their chosen books only -- reading "Classic Comics" like most of the rest of the students (I did get around to reading the "chosen books" later in life.)

The approach of lots of books and themes was used by Mortimer Adler in putting together "The Great Books of the Western World" (now 60 of them). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Books_of_the_Western_Wor... Besides these books he picked 102 "Great Ideas", wrote an essay on each one, cross indexed the ideas through the "Great Books", and published the essays as the two volume "Syntopicon".

In this sense, the reading list I came up with for Anderson Consulting was too short -- it wasn't a decent library size. And this is true of the "Great Books": it's too short as well.

Another idea is the "Oxbridge" approach: pick "4" important as orthogonal as possible large subjects, and go deep on them until they meet in "the good stuff".

Simplest heuristic: read a lot.


I've heard you say that Rocky's Boots was one of your favorite computer games. Please, off the top of your head, what's your top-n list of inspiring games that you think people learning to program should play?

I've been playing Factorio [1] [2], which I think would resonate with your love of Rocky's Boots, cellular automata, queuing theory, visual programming, system dynamics and distributed control systems. It's in the spirit of John von Neumann's 29 state cellular automata [3] and universal constructor. [4]

[1] Factorio: https://www.factorio.com/

[2] HN Factorio discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11266471

[3] John von Neumann's 29 state cellular automata: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_cellular_automaton

[4] JvN Universal Constructor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_universal_construc...


Hi Don

I think I'm so out of context wrt video games here and now that I can't come up with a worthwhile reply. I liked Rocky's Boots because of the brilliant combination of the content and the idea behind the game play -- and they were well matched up. I liked the idea of its successor "Robot Odyssey" a lot, but advised the TLC folks to use something like Logo for the robot language rather than the Rocky's circuit diagrams (which were now not well matched up to the needs). As you know I really tried to get the Maxis people to make "Sim City" a rule based system that children could program in so they could both understand the generators and to change them (no luck there).

If I were to look around today, I'd look for something where the underlying content was really "good" for children -- I doubt that cellular automata would be in my top 10 -- and then would also have good to great game play.


> I should mention that reading lots of "poor books" is also part of literacy

Thanks for mentioning that. I've been looking for a reason to read "poor books" for a long time (much to the frustration of people around me, who want me to "just read it, who cares"), and this makes sense to me.

(I'm not starstruck in the slightest, by the way...)


It's hard to tell if a book is "poor" until it's read. I just meant that "reading lots of books and 'taking percentages' " is a good approach. The ones that are not so good still help a bit.


Are there any particularly good books (including fiction) which you've read in the last year or two which you would recommend? (and if so, which?)


This is a reasonable question, but it is also the kind of question that led to the list we are discussing (and I'd like to respectfully avoid trying to generate another one).


Thanks Alan, that looks like a pretty fantastic list of books to get engaged with.

Definitely agree with this sentiment:

> I should mention that reading lots of "poor books" is also part of literacy: they help the understanding and appreciation of "good books" considerably.

I see parents bemoaning their children reading sort of simple formulaic series like The Hardy Boys but frankly that's how I started out and now those parents complaining consider me some kind of authority due to my collection of books and wide ranging reading habits.

It's ok to read spy/dective fiction or romance novels. As long as you make an attempt to explore outside those genres at some point it'll be fine.

It's like the three stage rocket leaving earth's gravity. The payload is supported by an immense amount of push from something that will be thrown away later (until Elon Musk came along). You don't necessarily get better readers by increasing the quantity of payload.


I quite agree with this. I don't think of "junk novels" as "poor" in that sense. A lot of getting fluent is just doing, so reading lots of junk fiction that is fun is generally good (I certainly did). To me a "poor" book is one that is not up to its subject and/or its intent. There are lots of great junk novels.


[sent an email]


There is also a lot of really important "high hanging fruit" that needs to be done (for example real education for the entire world).


Absolutely. There is no question that we're not even at the beginning of making a dent in the Education space. I think once we have fully immersive virtual reality we'll still just be at the start of understanding the inputs/outputs. The people studying transcranial simulation are a bit out there but the essential idea of understanding how our students understand is clearly vital. Having the ability to know when a student has truly grasped a problem or stumbled onto the solution, just that alone would be magnificent. Also the idea of a good pedagogue for each child, monitoring and helping the child's entire education cycle into adulthood and beyond would be a great thing. I'm sure you've read the Diamond Age and are familiar with The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

Thiel often says something to the effect of that when he worked out the value of Paypal, that the major value really came ten, twenty years later. So it would be important to focus on looking at those companies which could have a reasonable chance of having that kind of longevity and not worry so much about big spikes in valuations in the here and now i.e. sustainability was the major driver of returns vs the attraction of viewing investments as being lottery tickets.

The same thing is almost certainly true of the Net+Education. The major structural change the Net brings to advantage our lives probably doesn't exist yet or is in very nascent form. Either way the good stuff will take considerable time to mature to get us to that high hanging fruit.

Education in particular has so many sacred cows blocking the way to improving it. We do need some of your 'Whoosh' moments to break the conventional wisdom[s] that exist about Education though. It is more than possible that The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer and VR and transcranial monitoring/stimulation are the wrong paths.

We'll probably make horrible mistakes you know, but the Net is kind of like a giant Undo button that should allow us the ability to retrace our steps to where the initial error got made.

Whatever happens, a whole lot of ox is going to get gored! :-)


I forgot to ask. It's been circulating in the back of my mind for a while now.

What do you think about Urbit?

It seems to represent a fresh new start!


They have verve, and that's generally a good thing. In this case there are a lot of details that need to be grokked to make any reasonable comment. The use of combinators (a kind of dual of lambda calculus) harks back to an excellent thesis by Denis Seror at the University of Utah in the 70s that produced a safe, highly scalable and parallel implementation. I haven't looked at it more deeply (and probably should).


I'm sure Yarvin & the team will be delighted to hear it!



Hi Alan, sorry if this is a little off topic, but since we have you here I was wondering if you have any thoughts or opinions on the recently popular discussion surrounding object-oriented versus functional programming paradigms?


It is off topic here. But I'm happy to say something elsewhere.


That would be a very interesting opinion. Where could this discussion be arranged?


You could start a topic on HN for example.


Posted here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11808551 with a comment of mine soon to follow.


Up to you


If you could send me an email (in my profile) I'd love to get a comment on my ideas about the relationship between functional and OO.

Or you can post your own email and I will write you.


Please be sure to post what Alan says. Would be VERY interesting.


Of course I intended to do so but his idea of opening an HN thread (see above) is much better :)




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