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I have seen things (muratbuffalo.blogspot.com)
577 points by ingve 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 315 comments

I liked that. I am am 68 and although I 'retired' last year (from managing a deep learning team at Capital One), I stay active. Currently I am writing a combined iOS and macOS app (so I needed to spin up on Swift and SwiftUI, and how to use built in support for building deep learning models, instead TensorFlow which is what I am used to). I recently published a book on the very cool Hy Lisp programming language (you can read it free at https://leanpub.com/hy-lisp-python).

I get inspiration from my father. He is 98 and has taught himself 3D animation and video editing, and keeps himself very busy creating videos for the international right to die organization. (He was a physicist and is still a member of the National Academy of Sciences.)

So, for all you young 50 year olds, I say to you: it is not over until it is over :-)

This is a breath of fresh air. I was born the same year as the author so I'm nearing 45. I'm so glad to hear that you retired and then continued to work on software projects you love.

I adopted a lot of things earlier than OP, thanks to my Mom, who purchased my first computer, a used Tandy CoCo 64K when I was just 10 years old. Thanks Mom.

It's absolutely incredible to think that the age difference between you and the author of the comment you replied to is greater than the number of years I've been alive.

I had a similar moment this morning while reading a book to my son. I told him "You remember this book? Your grandmother got this book for you when you were 10 months old, less than half your current age."

And it just occurred to me that my son's entire lifetime is less than half the time I've been married to my wife. The time I've been married to my wife is less than half the time I've lived in the Bay Area. The time I've lived in the Bay Area is less than a third of my total lifetime.

We all live multiple lifetimes. Some moments just remind us of that more than others.

You'll really have your mind blown reading the history of the early earth then. For a couple hundred million years, there was no liquid water. A few hundred million years after that, single celled life appeared. It took yet another few hundred million years for there to be any oxygen in the atmosphere. Fast forward another 3500 million years for something resembling modern humans to appear, a few hundred thousand years ago. Recorded history is only about 5000 years. So, if you live to 100 years old, you will have been around for 2% of recorded history but only 0.000002% as long as the earth.


Why is that absolutely incredible?

The wording of the original author may have been imprecise, but I’m in a similar place so I’ll try to translate my feelings as well.

It is a certain form of awe, to realise that one’s life so far will likely just be a small fragment of the whole. It isn’t intuitive aside from mathematically — it is a thought that only at a certain age becomes apparent and then drifts off to be forgotten again.

Realising that the journey is so much longer, it both storms and calms the soul. The calm from the meditative “I still have time to become”, the storm from a similar “But I only have time to become”.

Beautiful clarification

Maybe it's a personality thing? When I retire I plan to put my computer and my cell phone in a box and then bury it in the ground.

When I was young I never quite understood why old fogies would spend so much time working on their roses and hanging out with their grand kids. Now I get it.

you should do what you love today, don't wait

I’m 37 and as such doesn’t qualify as old, but I recently got into the Blood Bowl hobby. I haven’t done miniatures since I was a little kid, but some of my real world friends picked it up and I was quick to jump on the wagon as I had been looking for a non-digital hobby.

Anyway, being 37 my purchasing power is obviously a lot greater than it was the last time I was into miniatures, and that has lead me down a rabbit hole of hobbyists who enjoy miniature war/board games (not really sure what to call them yet). A lot of these people are well into their 60ies, yet they attend weekly brawls at local libraries. They hold weekend tournaments. Have lively Facebook groups to organise their different leagues and everyone is welcome.

It’s really been inspiring to see that old age can be a lot different than what it’s been for my own family members.

Blood Bowl is outstanding. I used to play with friends in high school (I had a dark elf team) and still have my miniatures and board.

If you play PC games there is an equally excellent PC version, Blood Bowl 2.

Blood Bowl is a great game, I wish there was a mobile game version of it, it’d be nice to have a long term turn based game to play with friends during random downtime’s during the day.

Correspondence chess. With lichess it's never been easier to play online.

Yeah, I want that, but not chess :)

I prefer games that have a randomness element.

You can afford a 3d sla resin printer and paying artists to make custom designs.

Try underworlds ;)

My grandpa retired with a pension, and was well on the way to an early grave until they got a new house and he started building things. He ended up working a part time job for another 10-15 years until the big C got him. Most of the money went to savings or to supporting my uncle who didn’t grow up until he was thirty, and then lost his house to an electrical fire not of his creation.

I’ve just sort of resigned myself to the idea of working less when I “retire” and have been starting to more seriously engage in some hobbies so I have more “range” and thus more options for what that looks like.

I have been saying for years that what the world needs now is not more programmers but programmers with more varied backgrounds. Write me some software for model airplane meetups, volunteer management, seed swaps, or sewing instructions.

Salute to you. I wrote my first code the year the author of the article was born, on an HP-3000 using a teletype :). I'll be 60 next year, and currently work as a sr. devops engineer building infrastructure and toolchains on google cloud platform/GKE. It's a great gift to be able to do something you love to put food on the table, and to be able to keep doing it as long as the brain is up to the task.

May I ask what you did previously in your career, was it related, sys admin or similar, or did you move to devops more recently?

I'm getting close to 50 and I have to admit, I'm wondering what employment looks like after 50 for people in our industry.

I started professionally as a c++ programmer, and have worked in a few different languages, on a few different platforms since. This job is my first devops position and I wasn't actually looking for devops roles when it was offered to me. I was interviewing for a back end engineering position and the head of the devops/SRE group saw some things in my profile that he was looking for and reached out. Fwiw I'm almost through the "after 50" part and getting close to the "after 60" part and I haven't had a problem finding things to do. The key is to stay engaged and learning all the time.

great info thanks, happy to see that people like you, who are not afraid to learn new stuff and integrate that into their long experience is still valuated.

> I get inspiration from my father. He is 98 and has taught himself 3D animation and video editing, and keeps himself very busy creating videos for the international right to die organization.

Very inspiring to hear that he has taught himself 3D animation and video editing, but if I have the grace to live until 98 or longer and with my mind in order – as my own grandmother – I am 100% sure that working for the 'right to die' wouldn't get me up in the morning. But if it was to live bountifully and blissfully – as my own grandmother – I would leap, as gracefully a 98-year-old would leap, out of bed!

You never know.

In the same way that people who witness a lot of civil rights abuses might get into fighting for civil rights, a person that witness a lot of end of life suffering might be inclined to work on right to die issues.

FWIW: I got my second Master's degree at age 56, got Udacity MOOC nano-degree at 58, and am now developing deep learning apps. Keep on carrying on!

Great! :-) Curious: What was your second Master's degree in?

Thanks for your interest. My first was in Electrical Engineering (as was my BS) and then I went for Computer Science. I later did the Artificial Intelligence nano-degree at Udacity (MOOC). I continue to take online courses here and there.

Okay, intereresting!

Your book is great. Finally someone writes a book for Hy on top of some very great examples. I will purchase your book and work through it. Thanks a ton for your efforts, this book makes my day.

Thanks! I usually write on niche topics, but as long as I have some enthusiastic readers I will keep writing.

I am very biased in favor of Lisp languages, but I have been getting into Swift because: easier iOS and macOS development, exciting possibilities with TensorFlow in Swift, and except for not being a lazy language, it reminds me a little of Haskell development (another language I like).

I have material for updating my Hy and Common Lisp books and when I finish updating these two books (always free updates for my books on leanpub) in the next month or two, I might write a Swift book based on my experience developing my product (which is a combination of a tool for training the effective use of SPARQL with Knowledge Graphs, and a tool for browsing Knowledge Graphs). I will float this idea to people who follow me on Twitter (@mark_l_watson) to see if there might be interest.

That's so inspiring. Our father of 71 just started to learn programming. He does not have any programming background, however, I love his motivation and enthusiasm at his age. Something that is to admire, it's never too late when you have the right attitude.

The nice thing about being an academic economist is that it's not hard to find people older than 68 still doing quite complicated technical research. I'm older than the author of the post, but still somewhat young by academic standards.

Wow, this is so inspiring.

I’m a lot younger, but this is something I’m going to try to remember and keep in mind going forward.

My aim is to be creative and productive through my nineties, to the age of 100.

I'm 57, and am not treated will by the people here at Hacker News, who frequently "ok boomer" me. I'm glad to see I'm not the only active "senior" around.

I still write code every day. In C++/CUDA and Erlang.

Could you link to the organization? I'm extremely thankful for what https://www.deathwithdignity.org did in Oregon.

You could also take inspiration from all the age 70+ candidates interviewing for the most important job in the world :-)

To me, the most important job in the world is my bus driver.

I’m just using the colloquialism “most important job” for POTUS

I love this. Making videos for right to die organization. Wow! That’s making a difference until the end.

I’m gonna bookmark this.

If you're interested, there are some Swift Tensorflow tools, lead by a few people, including Chris Lattner


Chris Lattner is now at SiFive, FWIW.

Very cool about your dad. My grandpa is 93 and uses his iPad all day to watch YouTube and post on Facebook. He's a little hooked. :)

you are such an inspiration sir!


Popular culture is always both smaller and larger than you expect. Especially in music, where particular events loom huge in the canonical history but then you realise that there can only have been a tiny number of people actually there (e.g. the famous Manchester Free Trade Hall Sex Pistols gig). But conversely it's possible to stumble across a vibrant, long-lasting, close scene of people that you've never heard of, with its own memes and legends.

But the big era of a single, national popular culture was very much a product of the TV age. The easy identification of a decade with a single music genre and clothing style is over. We're fragmented now; Game of Thrones feels big but has a narrower reach than the big pop culture movements of the mid-20th century.

Find your niche. It's OK. But don't mock the niches of others.

The "decade with a single music genre" is much more a US thing than (say) a UK thing. The popular music scene in the UK since the 1950s at least was always divided into different genres and subcultures, many of them substantial in size and frequently with only a plurality for the largest. But I'm not even sure that the US really matches this description either. It's mostly a fiction created by mass media rather than reflecting the situation on the ground.

I was around when two "major" popular music "moments" happened (punk in London in the 1970s, and grunge in Seattle in the 1990s). It has always been striking to me just how few people were involved in these subcultures, and how hidden they were until one day they weren't. Punks in London in 1977 were a tiny, wierd, shunned group that got a lot of attention. Grunge fans in Seattle in the early 1990s had a handful of venues and a lot of people wondering why these people were wearing second hand plaid shirts.

It's even true of the hippies/counterculture at the end of 1960s/1970s. There were always far more "squares" among their generational cohort than there ever were members of that "group", which is why I get irritated with people who think that "hippies grew up and went to wall street". Not really. Maybe a few, but wall st. got populated in the 1980s by people who never were and never would have been hippies - which is to say, most of the population.

> a lot of people wondering why these people were wearing second hand plaid shirts.

When grunge spread outside of Seattle, yes. I was in New Orleans in the 90s when grunge got big and seeing people in 90°F wearing flannel was definitely odd. But in Seattle, plaid flannel has always been a thing and continues to be for entirely logical reasons: it's fucking cold and flannel is cozy and warm.

You're absolutely right that at any point in time there has never been a single monolithic popular culture. Even the 60s had Burt Bacharach, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and Otis Redding. It does feel to me that the transition to streaming means the genres have splintered into finer and finer subdivisions with people less and less aware of what's outside of their own personal recommendation bubble.

If you listened to new wave exclusively in the 80s, you still knew about hair metal. You'd hear snatches of it as you scanned the radio. But, today, I literally have no idea what other people are listening to and I'm fairly certain no one around me knows about all the weird niche stuff I listen to all day.

Seattle is rarely "fucking cold". It is damp in the winter, but trust me, in 1991 (say), very few people were wearing flannel (plaid or otherwise) as a main clothing choice. Fleece: check. Goretex (or equivalent): check. Flannel: bed sheets!

> Find your niche. It's OK. But don't mock the niches of others.

I couldn't agree more and wish people would approach niches of others with curiosity rather than derision. I'm sure plenty of us on the coasts of the U.S. look at something like auto racing and say "No that's not a thing, who cares about people driving cars around in a circle. And burning all that fuel is bad for the environment, so feh."

Well 250,000 people show up to the Indy 500 so yes, it actually is a thing, and a thing that a lot of people are very passionate about.

Is it over? Hipsters, for example, were a large, identifiable group that I would say is only just fading now. In a decade or so the 2010s will be thought of as the hipster fashion generation with full body tats, beards, etc., even though the vast majority of people didn't dress like that.

I was watching some teeny, zombie show on Netflix a few months ago that still clearly delineated teens into identifiable groups, though nerds are cool, and the group that would have been the actual nerds in times past identified themselves as just 'awkward'.

AFAIK, tribality is built into our DNA, I can't see it ever disappearing, people want to belong.

You can even point to some TV series like 'Russian Doll' that capture the fashion style and the 'essence' of this era.

When the internet took off in the late 90's, the information bandwidth allowed everyone to access "the long tail" of available culture and interests, and find their precise niche. This lasted about a minute, in generational terms. Now we're all living in the long tail. Now, the long tail is all there is. THIS is why music companies have suffered; not piracy. And news; not because of ads. Business based on scarcity and promotion are dead or dying. This is why popular culture peaked in the 80's. There will NEVER be a time where the majority of the population is caught up in the same thing, where one fashion trend or one genre of music dominates.

The everyone-knows-the-same-stuff thing was every bit as strong in the 90s as the 80s. Remember, the Internet was just mostly-text message boards and low-media websites until the very end of that decade, and most people, even in the US, didn’t use the Web much until the 2000s.

Except that more or less nobody in the 1990s thought that "popular culture peaked in the 80s". Most people were glad that that cursed decade was over and we could move on from its absurdities and cultural lows.

Are you sure your assessment is not just some sort of cylical 40 retrospective nostalgia?

Things everyone considered terrible in the 90s, almost universally: disco, and by association much of the 70s; 80s fashion across the board. The music and movies and such of the 80s were still regarded as OK.

Sorry, but this just seems utterly wrong, certainly for music. The 1970's gave us band after band, performer after performer who are still revered today. Who is the 1980's example of, say, Led Zeppelin? Or the Mahavishnu Orchestra?

Now, I will concede that in the 90s people did not see the 70s in this way (at least not in general) - not long enough had passed, I think. That's why I suspect that any notion of the 80s being a culturally rich decade comes from the fact that it is now 30-40 years ago, rather than just 10 as it was at the start of the 90s.

This sort of view doesn't have much to do with anyone's experience of the decade as it happened, and I think it doesn't have a lot to do with what actually happened, because in any given decade, there will always be a rich and diverse set of amazing cultural creativity. It comes mostly from time passing, and a new assessment blending with nostalgia for the culture that surrounded as we reach certain ages.

> The 1970's gave us band after band, performer after performer who are still revered today. Who is the 1980's example of, say, Led Zeppelin? Or the Mahavishnu Orchestra?

I think the hint is in the examples you're giving : the 1970s were the heyday of progressive and what is now called "classic" rock, and that particular genre seems to be your frame of reference.

Whereas for us Euro synth folks, the 70s was the age of early pioneers like Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre (I suppose that's where rock music was in the 50s)

And the 80s are THE golden age of synthpop explosion that put us on the map, with legends like : New Order, Yazoo, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Bronski Beats, Eurythmics, Jean-Michel Jarre, a-ha, Tears for Fears. Our 80s are rock music's 60s (think Beatles & Rolling Stones).

The 80s are so revered that for the past 5-10 years there's been a whole music genre ("Synthwave") dedicated to reproducing its aesthetics with a contemporary twist. It's even been preempted by mainstream pop recently with The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" single.

Our own Led Zeppelins are 90s kids Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy, Fatboy Slim.

In the 2000s, we took over for good and mostly killed any remnants of rock music's mindshare in Europe, and the US followed in the 2010s with the "EDM" mainstream pop flavor of our stuff.

In other words, it's all a matter of which bubble you're living in !

I was a Euro-synth person. I never liked classic rock (which to my chagrin I am (re)discovering in my 50s and thinking that the best of it is really pretty amazing).

It's true that the 80's "gave us" synthpop, and although I'm aware of the new level of reverence for some of it, I don't detect the more critical younger minds regarding it with the same level of awe that is now accorded to what happened to rock in the 1970s. My sense is that people like the sound, find it sort of fun-nostalgic, and are recreating it. Nobody views any of the bands you mentioned (I have the first singles by all of them, by the way, on vinyl) as truly ground breaking.

I could be wrong.

Personally, I went from Euro-synth stuff into ECM, improvised music, indian classical, progressive house and downtempo :)

Of course, the music of the 70s was much stronger than the 80s so far as rock and related genres go. There’s a big ol’ lull in high-quality recordings until the tail end of the decade. Very noticeable. But if you mentioned 70s culture during the 90s people’d reliably go “ugh disco what were they thinking?”

The Led Zeppelin of the 80s? IDK, any of Guns and Roses, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, RHCP, etc...

I'm in my late 40s. My son is driving-age. It's hard to explain certain things like "Michael Jackson" to him. I agree with this.

> Especially in music

... for some definitions of 'music.'

When you miss a lot of things in popular culture, you may start to become irrelevant. But I think missing a couple things is OK.

I always thought there should be some form of yearly bootcamp for nerds. Drop out of larger society for most of the year, doing your thing, then for a week each year you get indoctrinated in all of the crap everybody else is doing and thinking. That way you can stay mostly culturally-relevant without spending huge hunks of your time becoming the master of the intricate details of things like Game of Thrones. Just know the general themes, be able to tell some jokes and create metaphors and illusions.

I don't know who would run this bootcamp. I assume teenagers. Your teenage years are a time where it is very important to stay with the group, establish social ranking, be the master of conversation about various widespread cultural events. Those feelings never go away, but for many of us they die off as we get older, have families, and absorb ourselves in work we find important.

There are some very weird things about getting older. First off, you only are old on the outside. While people, especially some younger folks, may look at you as if you were an alien that just arrived from Mars, inside you're the same old kid you always was. Just the outside has changed. When presented with a new situation, you may appear to decide more slowly, but you're also thinking about a lot of different things and options you wouldn't have thought of in your youth, and you realize that unless you're driving a racecar, most times it's better to take a minute and decide and get it right than it is deciding in two seconds and getting it wrong.

You see a lot of stuff. Hopefully you learn from it!

> Just know the general themes, be able to tell some jokes and create metaphors and illusions.

Did you see that ludicrous display last night?

In an effort to cut through this meta-irony, here is a link to the reference: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gWJIQm9qH-w

Maybe it should be included in the bootcamp!

Thing about Arsenal is they always try and walk it in.

This is at least 5 years out of date.

It's an older meme, sir, but it checks out.

Ah. Memes. I should have googled IT.

At least they managed to eke out a one-nil win over West Ham, in spite of a really poor performance.

Overall though, I really like what Arteta is doing with the club.

you can stay mostly culturally-relevant

What for? Good thing about being un-junior is that you can ignore the relevance score and be your regular yourself at all times.

Agreed. As a 42 year old, more often than not I find myself to be the oldest person on any given team. My advice is to take advantage of it. You get a free pass to opt out of the inane pop-culture discussions. You also inherit a default "guru" status on most teams as long as you don't screw it up.

>You also inherit a default "guru" status on most teams as long as you don't screw it up.

Your entire post, seems to be describing Nathan Barley (British TV Series). It is evergreen content and a hidden gem, with a then unknown, all-star cast and co-written by Charlie Brooker of Black Mirror fame. I will not link anything, in case you decide to seek it out; you will laugh and/or cringe, at least once!

Tragically, Trashbat.co.ck Has recently disappeared from the net

Yeah not screwing up is hard.

Plus, as long as you don't make it a point to not watch things ("I'm too cool for the-latest-fad"), nobody cares.

Maybe I'm culturally irrelevant & just don't realize it, but IMO the banal movie star pop culture isn't significant, it's other things like the VW scandal, train delays in our town, city planning, energy planning, Tesla, e-mountain bikes, local snow trends, etc that I talk with people about. That stuff isn't just crap and it's worth paying attention to.

I teach. The students keep me up to to date with what's important.. Turns out, not that much and apparently a revolution is coming but they don't more than I do about that.

There are a lot of folks commenting on my post, asking why it is important. I think you understand it. You want a wide palette of cultural idioms and metaphors in order to find better ways of connecting with your students. Otherwise it doesn't matter. People learn through taking patterns they already have and extending them. That means as a teacher you need an understanding of the common patterns your students carry around.

I envy you. Must be cool to get immediate, day-to-day feedback on your work, even if it wears on a person after a while.

> You want a wide palette of cultural idioms and metaphors in order to find better ways of connecting with your students.

Some of my (law) students barely know what the TV show Seinfeld was — and one semester a couple of them, native-born Americans no less, weren't familiar with Friends.

Oddly enough, my 14 year old daughter has just binge-watched the whole thing on Netflix UK.

My own now-adult daughter and her BFF were such Friends fanatics that they could tell you what episode it is just from hearing a line of dialog quoted.

I'm 26 and I've heard of friends, but I couldn't differentiate it from cheer if you played a random episode for me. sorry.

Is this the same old revolution, or a completely new one? Also I supposed it will be streamed not televised.

Or you could just read Twitter.

The only thing I miss about being young is being physically fit. Which I could fix relatively easily, if I really cared a lot. Otherwise, it sucked. No money. Terrible job. No kids and family. No idea what I wanted. I don't feel young anymore. I feel in control of my own life.

Physical fitness definitely gets harder with age, but the good news is that if you keep fit habits, it's not hard to maintain.

Basically, you're going to need to care a whole lot more as time passes if you really do want to get fit, so better to start now!

Yes it’s a little harder but it’s SO MUCH BETTER than being unhealthy/ unfit. I’m not necessarily a natural athlete but I’ve almost always stayed in shape... until a few years ago. I was running long distance trail runs and I injured my leg. I had to cancel a few races and I slipped into a bit of a depression.

It took me a few years to get the courage and gumption up to get active again. Now that I’m older, it’s been much harder to get back in shape. And my recoveries (post- run or post-weights) take longer. But on the whole I feel so much better, all the time. My mood and my close relationships have all improved. And my work performance has improved too.

The mild discomfort has been well worth the pay off.

"Memes" are themselves a meme. At some point - probably soon - we'll get a different non-meme meme social activity attractor, which will confuse everyone who grew up with cat videos and random images captioned with Impact.

For me, the worst thing about getting older is realising that I'm now older than the people who used to be on TV.

They seemed ancient when I was in my teens - at least 35. Some of them may even have been over 50. (!)

Back in the day (the 80's) we already had memes, but they looked like other things.

The movie Robocop came out in 1987 but the gag about "I'd Buy That For a Dollar" was indicative that meme culture was enough of a thing to be worthy of satire.

Back when SNL was in its 80's prime it seemed like every skit turned into a meme. For example the Jon Lovitz "pathological liar" skit was pretty big for a while.

It's unfortunate the NBC keeps such a tight grip on all the SNL content. Lot's of 80's cultural history is locked up like that.

In the UK show The Thick Of It, for this they used a Zeitgeist Tape.

> First off, you only are old on the outside. ... most times it's better to take a minute and decide and get it right than it is deciding in two seconds and getting it wrong.

you’ve just described being old on the inside. it’s not curiosity or hunger for new things that’s makes you young, it’s acting without considering consequences. it’s not being able to draw inferences from one situation to another.

being old on the inside is desirable to the extreme. it’s called wisdom. do not knock it.

Staying culturally relevant is an overrated farce.

You guys are swinging way too hard the other way in this thread. Being part of a society is generally pretty cool.

Shitposting (and consuming shitposts) over the dumpster fire that was Game of Thrones was pointless, culturally relevant, and also a lot of stupid fun.

> Just the outside has changed.

People think that, but it's an illusion. The appearance affects self-perception and, eventually, behavior. And, normally, you become different by getting wiser, and that's not a small thing. You talk different. You do your work differently. (On the other hand, people who try to appear younger than they are look creepy.)

What has been very strange for me, is the main streaming of comic book culture has made much of my decades old knowledge hip and current again. But when I was reading comic books as a teenager, it wasn't culturally relevant at all to my peer group.

Take all those things that you said and then apply it to someone who never ages on the outside and that's me I will forever look like a teenager this presents some unique situations in itself let alone other teenagers thinking I talk their lingo.

How well would this work if it was only once a year? Many pop culture references and memes change on a monthly, if not weekly, basis

I don't have to keep up on the meme-of-the-week. Next week it will be gone.

In fact, I don't have to keep up on any of it. I have some interest in (at least some of) the stuff that lasts. But the ephemeral stuff... why should I care?

Perhaps we could get by with just a set of cheat sheets? I do think these would be useful, maybe even insightful.

Unfortunately, it requires selflessness to submerge oneself in the mainstream in order to write such things. AI perhaps?

I'm sure we could find a way for it to involve a blockchain too.

This is definitely a VC attractor

Are you referring to the dynamical systems object and saying that this is a thought process that eventually ends up VC-like?

> Drop out of larger society for most of the year, doing your thing, then for a week each year you get indoctrinated in all of the crap everybody else is doing and thinking.

Why do you think that getting that indoctrination is in any way whatsoever valuable? I don't watch television or listen to the radio, and don't read or watch the news. I don't miss any of it at all, and I am not in any way whatsoever harmed by it.

Most of that stuff is just distraction from the things in life that are actually important, like the people around you, or the fact that our society is explicitly designed to rob and oppress billions of people.

Getting all of that stuff out of your face and head really lets you think and focus on the things you can actually do to enrich yourself, those around you, and the world/future generations. Reject mass media and focus.

Oh sweet memories. I was born in 1967, so I'm older than the author, but the memories are somehow the same. I started with a Sinclair ZX Spectrum clone, called HC85, and with Basic as first language. I discovered the Mosaic browser in 1994 at Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, and understood that the future of research, publication, collaboration will be very different than the past. I'm a mathematician. I installed my first Linux in 1995. All in all in my life I bought exactly 0 bits of proprietary programs.

I had for a very short time a FB account, which I deleted. I deleted my Twitter account about two years ago. I was hooked by Google+ and I had a popular collection about artificial life (now is public again). But I deleted my g+account before they closed it.

All my family has smartphones, but I can't stand the limitations. When the smartphones will be liberated I'll have one.

My overall impression is that, some details excepted, now that everybody has a computer in the pocket, people pass through the same learning process as we nerds did some years ago. Today is harder, because less freedom. On the other side, the new thing is that today everybody is online.

I'd love to hear more about what a "liberated" smartphone looks like to you.

Do you mean more like normal computers where you're free to do just about whatever (only in the smartphone form factor)?

Yes, like linux liberated the pc from windows. Now is much more complicated, because a liberated harware is needed as well. Sigh, this is too much, but at least as you say: a normal computer in the smartphone form factor, where I can install the anti-android OS, including the game where you replace the android logo with the ...? Of course the anti-android would allow me to access anything from the android world, but easier.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'd like to see something like that too.

Super, grand-père !

I upvoted this, but it is not accurate. If you're French then you may be misled by the combination of two signals: "Ecole Polytechnique (X)" (aka "social status") and birth date (aka "old"). This gives "boomer" hence the sarcasm.

Now that memories are mentioned, I'm not a grand-pere, nor French. Grand-peres are proud of their '69 youth. Yes, they stopped the social elevator and I share your opinion about them. "X" was relevant only for the availability of (mostly empty) rooms full of "unix workstations" and the friends I made in Paris. During this time, your grand-pere probably was vaguely proud about the minitel and a bit disturbed about the fact that people like me are allowed to study at X.

Same age as author.

Through procrastinating with digg, reddit, and HN over the years, and just being a tech enthusiast before that (reading Industry Standard, Business 2.0 magazines, Web Magazine etc) -

I've been on the leading edge of seeing all the new services come and go.

- started using Google in early 1999 (few months after they launched)

- first 30K users on LinkedIn

- first day user of YouTube

- first 100K users of Twitter

- first 100K users of Instagram

- first 30K subscriber of Casey Niestat Vlog

- knew about bitcoin at 10 cents (didn't buy thanks to HN saying it was a scam/bubble)

The most confusing and frustrating thing for me has been SnapChat by far. That's when I realized I'm getting old.

I feel the same way about Musical.ly/TikTok, but I look at it more as a time/value proposition.

I think the hallmark of being “old” on the internet is embracing the technologies that actually enhance the use of your time and talent and forego or ignore the ones that do not.

I’m sure my 11 year-old daughter disagrees that TikTok is a waste of time and I respect that. But it doesn’t mean I have to understand it. My parents probably felt the same way about BBSes.

I just have to make sure she’s safe and that’s all. She’ll figure out the rest.

I have to say, TikTok really impressed me which was really surprising. It wasn't until I created a Tiktok video that I "got it". The mobile video editing tools they created are really top notch.

As I get older I find myself more and more looking for utility. When I was younger, I’d early-adopt everything without regard to whether it added anything important to my life or whether it was fundamentally useful. As I get older and notice time catching up, I am more ruthless about cutting things that “everyone does” but don’t add any value. Pop culture, sports, social media, gossip, dozens of chat apps. They don’t really add more than they take away in terms of time.

My kid is bored and has all the time in the world. She’ll do the early adopting for now.

same! i was thinking about tiktok the whole time.

i suppose i should, but i... just don't get it. too fast, too furious. you only get a second or two for a breather between videos that are too short. you are constantly bombarded with new ones.

it's like playing a rhythm video game. it's build for fast reaction. no deep analysis or thinking. but it obviously seems to work for many people.

i have to say, i still don't have an account. maybe things are different and you get more choices when you actually sign up.

I’ve talked to other parents that tell me their kids use TikTok as a messaging platform.

Why TikTok and not the other 1,000 choices? Who knows. Maybe the fact that the olds won’t use it / don’t know about it is hugely appealing. Grown ups wreck everything, right?

But the “olds” are using it.

sssh they don’t know that yet

I’m 48 with childhood story similar to the author. I do like TikTok for some reason.

2 years younger than you and the author, and I too have had a front row seat to many of these developments : home computers in the 80s, the Internet from 1994, Linux from 1996, Google in 1999, blogging in the early 2000s, podcasts in 2005, Bitcoin in 2011...

On the positive side, my BS radar is well tuned, I'm pretty good at putting tech trends in perspective and identifying the ones that have a good chance to be game changers. This is useful wisdom in my career as an engineer.

But I haven't really managed so far to switch from being a spectator into acting decisively & quickly to convert those insights into something valuable : the ROHMO (regret of having missed out) gets heavier the more of these trains I've seen come and go !

Bitcoin is the obvious (and trivial) one : I read the Satoshi paper a few weeks after its release, spent a few evenings understanding blockchain, downloaded a miner.. but never bothered leaving it running for a few days, for fear my computers would run hot for something intellectually interesting but of questionable monetary value :)

Any of you old timers want to share how they have turned "having seen things" into a valuable career or entrepreunarial edge ?

Don't let SnapChat make you feel like you're old.

It's a crap UI.

> didn't buy thanks to HN saying it was a scam/bubble

Didn't buy because, like most people, you didn't bother. When bitcoin was @ 10 cents it was not that expensive to mine.

>knew about bitcoin at 10 cents (didn't buy thanks to HN saying it was a scam/bubble)

they still say its a scam/bubble

I am a believer now:

It solves inflation problem, so government will soon be smaller.

It doesn't solve the problems that led to the embrace of inflationary currencies at all. These are among others price inelasticity and the very powerful psychological "number going up is good" factor.

Try explaining to an employee that their paycheck is smaller because currency has appreciated in value, or to a bank that the principal of a loan should be written down for the same reason. "But number go down bad!"

Inflation hides these things. It's a hack around these problems.

Am employee would have her paycheck in bitcoins. Same quantity every paycheck.

Inflation is an emission problem and Bitcoin solves it.

> Same quantity every paycheck

Not with deflation. As the value of Bitcoin rises (in terms of food, cars and vacations), the number on your paycheck will go down.

It's already happening these days. Besides housing and healthcare, inflation is practically zero. Wages are staying flat as well and people are low-key freaking out, even though they can buy more food, cars and vacations than ever.

> didn't buy thanks to HN saying it was a scam/bubble

This is a good lesson about the oft-repeated wisdom of crowds. It's just not there. (Please don't link me to the thing about how crowds converge on the number of jellybeans in the jar and suchlike due to the law of large numbers.)

"If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one." —Heinlein

I think it's important to understand that SnapChat is intentionally confusing.

The UI is designed to be opaque so that some amount of effort, or asking your friends, is required to figure it out.

Then, once you have, you feel invested in it, and are less likely to abandon it.

What's yer slashdot ID?

haha, I forgot about that one. I went to that site here and there, but I wasn't a developer, so I felt lost. I actually finally learned to program last year.

Also same age. I was big into Quantum Link in the 80s. Remember Mosaic and Gopher. Very late to Facebook and ended up deleting. Never joined Instagram or Twitter. Or MySpace. Who is Casey Niestat?

Oh yeah, Facebook I knew about super early, couldn't join because it was only allowing Harvard students. I thought Mark Zuckerberg was super arrogant because he was known to meet with investors wearing sandals and he had a business card that said "I'm CEO, bitch"

Casey Niestat is the father of modern daily vlogging. Many of today's vloggers copy his style. He's got over 10 million subscribers now, he's not a HUGE youtuber, but like I said, very influential.

What's the next big thing?

Looks like Kevin James' youtube channel will blow up to at least 1 million subscribers soon. Get in before it hits 100K subscribers now:


I also think there's a vacuum that needs to be filled when it comes to Youtube and the creator community. There is way too much frustration from creators about demonetizing, and having to walk on eggshells so they don't trigger warnings and red flags. I don't know what it will be, but I wouldn't be surprised if something blows up in this space.

> I Have Seen Things

It can be a funny experience coming late to pivotal work of popular culture, I somehow managed to miss out on Blade Runner until quite recently, and watching it felt like a putting a missing jigsaw piece into place.

Another one I came late to was Anchorman. Suddenly a lifetime's worth of people's odd remarks and affected mannerisms fell into their proper place.

This is getting a bit worse, I think, but it's always been that way.

Go further back than your ancient 2004 Anchorman references and you'll get Blade Runner, Star Wars, Princess Bride, etc.

One step further and you'll get 2001 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra / Blue Danube / Hal quotes), Citizen Kane ("Rosebud"), Gone with The Wind ("Frankly My Dear...") etc.

Sometime after that you'll get people quoting from Shakespeare without seeing the plays (still happens, of course), and soon we'll end at Bible quotes (naturally, as practically no one could even read it), or Roman authors. And I bet someone can point me at writings by those exact Romans where they complain about the youths not being up to par with Plato.

I rarely feel odd about a lack of knowledge, as there's just too much to know. Also, you've got the two issues where this is a) just used for meaningless gatekeeping anyway or b) a "cargo cult" meme already.

The latter will get more and more common: Quotes and references, where the reference binds you together, not the shared knowledge of the original source.

> The latter will get more and more common: Quotes and references, where the reference binds you together, not the shared knowledge of the original source.

This opens up the possibility of altering the meaning of the reference. As long as you refer to the original, errors in the reference can be detected by others who also know the reference. They can then point out the error and you can discuss it, or directly check the original source.

Hence, since an objective original source exists, it is always possible to recalibrate your references via feedback from reality.

So one step of increasing distance from reality may be two people exchanging Shakespeare quotes, who have both not actually read the play it is from, but who still know that it is from a Shakespeare play, and could look up the original source if they cared. In other words, they know of the existence of the original source.

Another, further step away from reality would be if those people also lacked the knowledge of the original source (e.g. the Shakespeare play it is from), or even worse, who do not know (or even ask themselves whether) there is an original source. They then take the reference as idiomatic, leaving wide open the possibility of others to attach arbitrary meaning to that reference, without an easy possibility to defend against such distortions of meaning.

Another interesting point is that if you know a reference from an original source, you most likely have additional relevant knowledge and context for its interpretation. Whereas if you have only "learned" the reference from others, detached from the context needed for correct interpretation, you risk misinterpreting the reference, basically mutating its meaning.

Sorry for going on a tangent here, but I couldn't resist this opportunity to apply some ideas from [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation

>And I bet someone can point me at writings by those exact Romans where they complain about the youths not being up to par with Plato.

Well, you asked for it.

O tempora, o mores has become a common use Latin phrase (Cicero, 63 or maybe 70 BC)


That's not specifically about the young not knowing their cultural references anymore, though. People complaining about their offspring in general is as old as time. Although, ironically, a surprising amount of quotes about that aren't sourced properly or dubious in general.

That is just awesome.

One of the things i like about listening to old jazz etc records is that sometimes, you suddenly hear a moment you've heard a thousand times in a hundred hip-hop records, and now you know where that came from.

I just listened to a 99PI episode that goes into the epistemology of song with Who Let the Dogs Out that is a fantastic listen: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/99-invisible/id3947753...

I thought the article was a pop culture reference to the Bladerunner film, specifically, the "Tears in the Rain" speech:

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."


It doesn't has to be "young peoples stuff", it's enough that you weren't interested in it decades years ago.

"A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Max Planck.

The great Max Planck was indeed right. But there's a flip side to this aphorism that is just as relevant (if not more) to our computer systems society. Our problem is that the new generation seems to want to re-invent what our forebears had taken great pain to describe and find theoretical and practical answers to (relational databases, data formats, UI theory etc). Our problem is that the modern computer system society suffers from a generational memory gap. Amnesia of solved problems.

One of the things I find interesting is this:

In computer programming, a “solution” to a problem is in essence, a structured framework of thought.

As an example, why are there many different programming languages? Well in addition to various other reasons, for the sake of solving problems in a new or different way of thinking.

Is youth constantly reinventing solutions to already solved problems due to amnesia, or are they perhaps creating new ways to reason about already identified problems?

Just because you saw the problem first doesn’t buy you the right to providing the only solution.

Computer science is unique in that it is art as much as science. Allowing for multiple frameworks of thought on a solution allows for the best solution to rise to the top.

If we are still seeing an influx of new and interesting solutions to existing problems, perhaps our field isn’t as mature as we’d like to think it is.

Is youth constantly reinventing solutions to already solved problems due to amnesia, or are they perhaps creating new ways to reason about already identified problems?

I believe the commonly accepted viewpoint is simply that the established generations have too many accumulated biases or baggage, too much at stake, or dug themselves in too deep of a hole to consider new facts or new approaches to old problems. E.g. the famous quote:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

The commonly accepted viewpoint of the young, maybe.

But after you've seen the same things re-invented several times only for each effort to run into the same brick wall, at some point you want off the merry-go-round.

> Just because you saw the problem first doesn’t buy you the right to providing the only solution.

Of course. But if you're going to provide a new solution to a problem, you'd better be able to compare and contrast your solution to the old one. If you can't do that, there's no reason to take your solution seriously because you haven't done your homework.

For example let's say you come up with an ingenious solution to tracking a moving object in the presence of uncertainty. Here's what you can say and be taken seriously:

"My solution uses an improved version of a Type X Kalman filter that works as follows."


"My solution does not use a Kalman filter because Kalman filters won't work for this problem for the following reasons."

Here's what you should not say if you want to be taken seriously:

"What's a Kalman filter?"

It's ironic to me that the post starts with a twitter poll, because I don't get twitter either, and I've tried. And I'm even a bit younger than the poster.

Twitter is emotional contangion machine. It's supposed to be used to spread marketing hype, but now it mostly spreads hate. And cat pictures.

It's billed as a way to be able to contact famous people.

Just unfollow those accounts. There are a lot of great people spreading interesting stuff, constructive critique and so on.

Jokes on you, I just follow shit posters and NSFW artits.

I classify those as interesting and constructive ;>

Especially compared to the hyperpartisan uberpolarized shit-tier level insults that people try to hurl at "them".

Although to be fair, I also follow Mark Blyth. He has interesting comments now and then.

Good summary.

I was going to reply with exactly the same sentiment. Born in '79, have never understood the appeal of Twitter or why the news media wants it to be so important.

I think Twitter makes the most sense if you are involved in a fast moving community with a large presence on Twitter. I signed up for Twitter early and followed some devs but lost interest. Years later I got heavily involved in esports and found it helpful both in keeping up with the industry, friends I have made and promoting events/tournaments.

I use twitter (too much), rather than IG or facebook, because I prefer the emphasis on short bites of written text (mainly jokes). Ultimately, I'm still getting sucked into this infinite-scroll-timeline thing. I just don't like pictures that much, so Twitter is the poison I've picked.

Seems like a good way to reach people interested in your ideas. I need to try it one day :D

I don't use Twitter. The investment far outweighs the returns. Like spitting in the wind.

The “I am old” trope is just so uninteresting. To me, it’s a sort of humblebrag - because I’m older than you, my opinions are more valuable.

There are infinite things I don’t understand, some because I’m too young, some too old, but mostly just because I haven’t yet gone down that path in life. For what it’s worth, I was born in 1982.

It is interesting. Young people can consume just about anything and it still makes them... better? I guess that's the word.

One day you notice that you circle around in brownian motion. I should have started to learn more discrimination techniques years ago. It is so terribly hard to navigate the sea of interesting stuff and find the droplets that are also interesting, but that also have ability to change your mind (think LW and the likes).

That's like... the ultimate skill. If it isn't ultimately interesting, then what is?

> To me, it’s a sort of humblebrag - because I’m older than you, my opinions are more valuable.

I am getting older too, but I’m constantly learning things from people younger than me - increasingly more so than those older than me. And that’s okay.

Sure I’ve done more and seen more but how much of it is actually relevant? Some for sure, but this world changes so fast. Are my opinions valuable? Yes. More so simply because of my age? No.

I’m about a year younger than the author of the blog post and I agree with you. This is something that has been scaring me a little in the last year: getting older does not mean life as a whole gets easier. There are just more advanced things that keep you up at night. And yes, the world changes so quickly that you soon realize that you too are becoming irrelevant. What a curse to feel the optimism and specialness of youth only to see it slowly fade away.

I’m not sure that things are actually changing all that quickly. Instead, we’re just watching a pendulum swing from one extreme (control) to another extreme (freedom).

And its this repeated movement between the two extremes which are providing our incremental improvements, since we keep the good parts from each end, and use those as the foundation for what the next extreme will look like.

Programming provides an interesting microcosm of this, if you look at overall attitudes towards variable typing.

What have I learned? Nothing new; “this too shall pass” is a phrase much older than I am. But I’m able to accept it, and take advantage of the gains of the wild pendulum’s swing without being caught up in it myself.

Ageism cuts in both directions and it's one of the few forms of prejudice society still tolerates for some reason.

Imagine this guy's post if you substitute "too old" with "black" or "female" (or "male"). It would be cut down quickly and yet here we are expected to laugh at things.

What I hate about ageism most of all is it makes it impossible to have any kind of discussion about the real merits and demerits of things if there's some kind of new versus established nature to it. In certain circles, there seems to be a false, pervasive assumption that what's new and popular among the young is better, and that uptake is just inhibited by creaky old folks; in other circles there seems to be an assumption that's what's old and established among the older crowd is that way because it's superior.

The reality is that some established products are established because they are so great; and other products are great because they address limitations of existing products. But once you bring age of critics or advocates into the mix, it's all over because someone starts slyly looking at their pals over their shoulder and dismissing the discourse as due to youth or age.

I've been on both sides of this, as someone the same age as the author, and it's infuriating. There are products that my generation grew that I never adopted because of concerns, and now it's the young trendy thing to do to abandon them. There are new products that are overhyped imho because they solve problems that never really existed, but the wheel gets reinvented anyway because of the constant need for people to brand themselves as innovators. On the other hand, there are new products that finally exist that I wish everyone would take up, but don't because of old products that should have never become as popular as they did, or because of the vagaries of network effects, fads, and so on.

So this person doesn't get Facebook Stories or whatever the hell it is. Fine. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Can't we talk about that? Why does it have to become about age, even if he's doing it through self-deprecating (humblebragging?) humor?

I disagree. I think of it in terms of lives lived within a life. I'd break mine down into:

1) 0-5 Coming into self-awareness (this is like waking up while still drunk or coming down from recreational drugs, as your consciousness reassembles from wherever it was)

2) 6-11 The universe provides for you (mom and dad are god, your needs are mostly provided for and you should do what you're told)

3) 12-17 The face of humanity (you witness the very best and worst that humankind has to offer, through the trials and tribulations of junior high and high school)

4) 18-21 College (thanks I needed that)

5) 22-29 The narcissistic years (I am so miserable, why can't I say no?)

6) 30-39 The long now (how long have I been alive?)

7) 40-49 Death begins at 40 (how could I have just been born?)

8) 50-64 I should feel older (so I've heard)

9) 65+ Unknown (are you me?)

There are probably more. All I am saying is that when I hit 40, I realized that I was more than one time period removed from the young graduates just starting their careers around me. I wasn't really their brother anymore, I was their dad or weird uncle at the very least. No more getting invited to parties, no more fashion for me. Just loafers and nutritional supplements to keep me on life support until 2040 when I enter The Matrix or get reincarnated, whichever comes first.

For me it's more a case of, I was much older at 18 than I am now, so when young people don't want to hear it from their elders, that's a form of conservative or elderly behavior. It's sophomoric.

65+: there are only a few years left, very little matters, it's wonderfully liberating.

> The “I am old” trope is just so uninteresting. To me, it’s a sort of humblebrag

I assure you, it isn't. I mean, I'm sure it's uninteresting, but it isn't intended to be a humblebrag. I practically cheered when the OP indicated that they don't understand "stories" because I legitimately don't, but I also have this realization that the reason I don't understand stories is that I'm just kind of inflexible and grumpy about new things at times. That's not admirable. That's not useful. But it's the truth. I truly don't understand why some pictures are shown at the very tippy top of my facebook feed, but I only get to look at them for 10 seconds. Is there a reason for this? Does someone find it beneficial? Do the kids laugh at me for even stopping to think about it? (Yes. Yes they do.) This is not a badge of honor.

Just want to add that I'm 28 and have never figured out snapchat/stories. Personally, I'm not sure how to use them, and from other people, I find them SUPER boring.

Meh, I am +/- 2 years within the author's age, and although I grumble here and there about young people practices (latinx?? yikes) I think I have an OK understanding of popular culture, including Internet things. Come on: memes, dabbing, dubs,tik tok,fortnite dances, Pewdiepie.Most of them are silly and funny things, not the exact solution of GR for 2 neutron stars colliding.

I will admit that there are things I believe, but I am not 100% sure if they are true because of my age. For example, although I hate nostalgia, I am convinced that modern mainstream music, let's say after the 2000s is severely lacking compared to what happened in the previous 60 or so years. There always be great musicians, doing great music, but right now the current popular stuff have been homogenized and sterilized to make it pallatable worlwide.

You really are pretty mistaken on the music (I'm 35). I'm guessing you are just exposed to bad pop acts like Mylie Cyrus. Keep in mind that most popular music in the 1960's and 1970's sucked too. For every Beatles there was 10 Monkees.

There's been an incredible amount of innovation in music in the last few years (except rock. It's dead). Creation has been democratized, so there's more people making music than ever before. You just have to know where to look. I listen to KEXP Seattle [0] quite a bit, which is a community-supported station.

[0] https://www.kexp.org/

> For every Beatles there was 10 Monkees.

Hey, wait a minute! The Monkees were pretty good for what they were (mass-production pop) — at least in the early days when they were doing Boyce & Hart compositions.

There is a shedload of good music out there, but the distribution mechanism has changed. If you actively look on Spotify, you'll start to find things. That is unless it's a simple case of the music in [decade I was 13-23] was the best!

Yeh, fk "Stories", whatever they are. Actually, also, fk Facebook too.

It's not admirable or useful, no. But, I find it's kind of relaxing to have a near total lack of FOMO. I've become the guy I never thought I'd become, but I'm totally comfortable with that. Is this a humblebrag? I have no idea, but it's definitely calming to not have to give a shit about all the new things.

I'm 47 (1972) so relate a lot to this guy.

I would not say that I don't understand "stories", but I dislike. The worst thing, there are no stories in "stories".

> but I only get to look at them for 10 seconds

You can touch the screen and hold to keep the picture there for longer. If it's like Instagram stories you can tap the far left side of the screen to go backwards as well.

As a diversion, JFYI:


... kids today ...

> "I still don't have any idea what Instagram or Facebook stories is."

Since the author is familiar with Twitter, one can imagine it like a tweet that self-deletes after 24h, except with Facebook's and Instagram's version of a "tweet", i.e. post.

Core concept is to get people to return to the platform (daily) because of FOMO.

Calling it "stories" is quite misleading actually, one (or at least I) would expect a story to be rather something permanent compared to a post, but it's exactly the other way around.

it's a story because you are encouraged to post several in a row that tell a story of your day. You can tell stories IRL without writing them down so why would something need to be in a durable medium to be a story?

core concept is to give people a way to share something that doesn't have to be a perfect, a picture of cheetos or a license plate rather than a wedding or Yosemite, because it won't stick around on your profile forever. This is a good thing because otherwise what you see on there can make it seem like everyone else is having a much more exciting life than you (as you sit on the couch after work) and causes depression.

Why is unbridled cynicism towards sm so prevalent here?

> Why is unbridled cynicism towards sm so prevalent here?

I open Facebook. I click on someone's story. I see a static image and try to read it, but it disappears after a few seconds. Often it's promoting an event, so I'd like to click for more info. But I can't. Sometimes it's a short video but I can't stop it or easily replay it. So my reaction is the same as it is when I encounter a website that shows an auto-playing slideshow that I can't stop. "This is stupid." And I hit the back button and don't return. Now I see FB stories as merely a thing to ignore that takes up 30% of my screen real estate when I visit FB.

> "Why is unbridled cynicism towards sm so prevalent here? "

You could argue it's an interpolation of the events surrounding the companies behind those platforms...

From a user perspective: why do you want to participate in this kind of thing?

I get why this is good for the platform. For me (1985) it seems to have zero value. I feel old more and more.

What do you mean it has zero value? It's probably the most pure form of self expression available on social media because it's free of consequences (in theory at least).

And the "return to the platform daily" thing is overstated - that's like saying a chat program makes people return to it regularly by delivering messages. It's technically right but shows a complete misunderstanding of how and why it's used.

1975. But very immature.

My friend in his 20s said to me 'You are old, but useful', and I responded with a gee thanks. At this point he realized I misheard him, and claims he said 'You are old, but youthful'. Anyway, it's now a joke between us and perhaps it is the best we can do: Old, but youthful and by intention or accident - useful.

For me to understand Instagram stories, it's important to kinda understand the Instagram culture. Normal posts (not stories) are pretty "high-effort" (in terms of shooting and editing) and are posted not so often, maybe every two days at max for your average teen. This left a gap for short-lived stuff (I'm currently eating in this 5* restaurant, I'm currently hiking, I'm on this "cool" party etc.) you wanted to share to a large group of your "friends" (so DM like whatsapp is not a real option because it feels attention-whoring to write it to everyone).

This was mostly filled by Snapchat stories, where you could share exactly that without having to fear to spam people because it's time-limited, everyone does it and it's a very casual format. This feature was basically copied by instagram and is a success for the same reasons, expect nobody uses snapchat stories anymore.

Source: I have young siblings and I kinda use that stuff as well, although not that much.

I get this. My problem seems to be one level deeper. I do not want to share my current plate or the hiking track I'm on. Neither am I interested in this kind of news of my friends. I'm ok with the youngsters doing that for fun.

But where is the serious conversation gone? Did we share our latest meal in the forums back then? No. Where do the young people get their information when they are serious about sth?

What is this "the young people" thing you are talking about? I've got a bunch of friends around my age (40+) who use stories heavily.

Serious conversation happens on FB or here or Reddit.

If you seriously think this is bad or something, then think of it as roughly analogous to the old finger command, where we'd all put random status things and ASCII art in our .plan files.

Stories is pretty much this feature, just done much better.

I'm not sure what you mean with serious in this context? Do you mean invested?

I'm not really into sharing this info either, but I find it refreshing to see what my friends far away are currently doing and often use it as a possibility to connect with them.

>Core concept is to get people to return to the platform (daily) because of FOMO.

Is that how it works?

Hell, this is a whole new darkness level in abusing human behavior patterns. How far is it from an actual drug dealing?

This is written by someone who doesn't seem to like the feature, and doesn't really get it.

As I said elsewhere in this thread: the "return to the platform daily" thing is overstated - that's like saying a chat program makes people return to it regularly by delivering messages. It's technically right but shows a complete misunderstanding of how and why it's used.

Pretty happy I've detached a bit. I completely quit news a year ago. Actively change the radio station when any mention of politics comes up. To the point that I didn't know there was an impeachment trial until a couple months in. I don't know or even want to know at this point whether that is over or what the outcome was. Same for brexit, the muller investigation, etc. And I feel much better about life now.

Finally unblocked some news sites to follow the covid story, and a year away really worked. It's so nice to see all the political headlines and not be interested any more than if they were Hollywood or whatever else I'm not into.

It sounds like you're making good choices for your mental health. It also seems like taking that approach to the extreme by checking out of politics entirely (e.g. not voting, or uninformed voting) is a great way to delegate really important decisions about your life and things you find important to people who you may not trust to make those decisions.

For instance, I don't believe the people who vote the most often in the US (wealthier, older individuals) are best suited to choosing legislators, executives, and laws. Those individuals tend to prefer:

- fewer environmental protections (I like swimming and fishing in clean rivers and oceans)

-lower education funding (I wish everyone who wanted to learn about fisheries, welding, nursing, biology, etc. could afford to do so)

- subsidies for themselves at the expense of younger generations (second mortgage interest deductions, elimination of estate taxes, country club tax exemptions, California's 1978 Proposition 13)

- legislation based on bad science or religious faith (no guaranteed paid sick leave, backdoor encryption bills, violent video game bans, book bans, corporal punishment support, for-profit prisons, abstinence-only sex education)

Calling your legislators and telling them to support or oppose legislation or impeachment isn't for everyone, similarly reading story after story about incurious individuals legislating emerging technology might be unhealthy in general. That said, voting for and against candidates and issues at election time is really a very, very inexpensive way to attempt to make your life more into what you want it to be (for either the betterment or detriment to humanity).

But I'm an older, wealthier individual, so....

Sarcasm aside though, seriously most of us know which party we identify with and can go to the polls with a reasonable idea who best represents our interests without reading a single news article. And if there's an exception or an event that is that overwhelmingly glaring and/or actionable, presumably we'll hear about it through other means. So to me (and I'd argue that to most people) it's not worth the mental health to even follow.

One could go farther and say a passive following of the issues is actually worse because most (all?) news sites are just trying to get eyeballs rather than inform you.

Media misinformations issues aside and I mean no disrespect but this kind of reliance on intuition, uninformed biases, and your own (perhaps siloed) social circles is exactly what's wrong with politics - the non-diligent electorate.

To play devil's advocate:

Is there a time when detailed research caused you to vote in a way that is counter to what you would have voted given your own innate instincts? If not, then?

I'm going to guess that most people investigate issues to validate their pre-existing opinions, not to form them.

Erm, as an oldish wealthyish liberal, with oldish wealthyish friends across the spectrum, I find the above classification disturbing. You sound like someone who means well, but please think before you start pigeonholing people.

I'm sorry you feel pigeonholed and disturbed. My "tend to prefer" statement seemed like a pretty accurate way to describe the increased proportion of more conservative individuals in older generations. I don't know how else to describe that difference. Younger individuals (who vote at a much lower rate than older individuals) are more progressive in aggregate than older individuals. That's not pejorative, those are as-measured demographics.

I'd guess it's more the "demographic X is not suited to vote because they tend to disagree with my interests", rather than any singular position you aligned with the demographic, that was viewed as disturbing.

I agree. It's not even the innate prejudice that's the problem here. It's the devaluing of another person's experience and opinion. Pretty slippery slope you're arguing for.

Oh, sure I can see how my comment can be read that way. I'd add some strikethroughs and edits to clarify, but that's not an option.

My point wasn't trying to be "as soon as someone hits some age they should no longer be able to vote because Olds have no value and should be put out to sea on an ice floe". I meant to be pointing out that younger voting age individuals (in aggregate) are ceding the outcome of elections to people who (in aggregate) don't share their political beliefs.

You can see the lack of engagement elsewhere in the replies to my parent comment. For instance "just pay attention every four years, problem solved", as if there's never a ballot measure or public office which would affect voters when there isn't a presidential election

So you vote once every 4 years. Just spend some time before voting, learning the subject and decide. Shouldn't take very long.

I vote every year. Local and state politics tend to affect me more directly than national politics.

Thanks for your opinions. Please have a good participation in the political system.

For a type of feature/product/concept like what Stories is, merely googling is a bad way to understand it. You have to use it to get its value. Being a data nerd at first I hated the idea of posting short ephemeral content and I thought this is a cold, isolated direction for social networks. But I do have to admit I post more, knowing this doesn't add up to the "vanity" nature of my profile. And the historical stories are still available through data takeout.

Also be prepared to get into it nevertheless, Twitter will introduce a similar feat called "fleets" soon.

The ephemeral siloed web contradicts everything people who grew up with the internet thought it stands for, and for people who still do phone calls, there is no real need for sharing pseudo-fleeting messages, that what whatsapp is for.

And from what I understand, the period where you need to be in constant contact or broadcast to more than 10 people is pretty limited to school and early higher ed for most people in my experience.

So unless stories become a way to keep in touch with your offsprings, I don't see a need or near normalness of these communication methods among people born before '85.

> for people who still do phone calls, there is no real need for sharing pseudo-fleeting messages, that what whatsapp is for

WhatsApp is for chats; they're not fleeting. Phone calls are fairly inconvenient to take and incomparable with "true" fleeting messages.

Sorry was unclear about this. But that's what I meant, I rather have searchable conversations with the option to delete things, non-ephemeral by default. And whatsapp is the app older people adapted to and get along with. It's what they now.

I am around the same age as this guy and so much of it is mindset. My dad worked in a university computer lab for 30 years but at some point gave up learning new technologies. He doesn't own a smartphone. Barely uses email. I set up his Roku but he won't use it, just watching whatever is on TV.

Meanwhile, my neighbor is 90+ and recently asked me deep historical questions about the internet, like about ARPA, protocols, DNS... stuff many software engineers never bother learning about. He pushed until I couldn't go any deeper, then he was disappointed.

It really just comes down to being more curious than lazy. And also changing how you learn what is worth learning - asking people who invest energy into what is good is a great way to save yourself time.

Getting older means you recognize patterns in things, so you stop digging past the surface in a way you used to. Any time I watch an old music video on YouTube inevitably someone says "musicians today are garbage compared to this" without ever looking past (or even at) the most vanilla Top 40 music . But music is awesome right now, collaborative and unchained, whole careers spanning and unfolding on YouTube.

Those same people who are posting about how great Bob Dylan is weren't listening to The Archies on Top 40 radio, they dug past it when they were young but no longer put in the effort. You need to find new ways to find the good stuff - spend energy when you are young learning how to be more efficient with your curiosity!

Our generation is the last one who knew the world without internet. Now that was something to behold!

It’s not inconceivable though that there will be another generation/location combination who will experience this (see for example how entire countries have the internet turned off for longer and longer periods).

Yeah... We had two world wars.

Same story, am 1 year older than OP. I started with ZX Spectrum though.

My father was a programmer. Back then he was using punch cards (when I was a few years old), then tapes, then he got a 60MB hard drive the size of a washing machine which took one minute to spin up. A full drawer in the rack contained 256K ram. A 2400 baud modem was the size of a PC grey box.

ZX-81 here ! I burned all my birthday savings in one shot for it.

And learned Z80 assembler (only way to have some (relative) speed with it)

I win (but I am older) ZX-80!

(and yes you had to actually solder components to get the thingy be able to run a sort of pong in 1 KB).

The thing that remained stuck in my memory (common to all Sinclair users) is the sound of the cassette loading and (many years later) that of modems trying to connect to this or that BBS.

Fun times! Space invaders in 1k Z80 assembly, stored in a BASIC REM statement, using the display memory as "internal state"... Later I added 16k RAM, eventually the "HighRes" Graphics card and last but not least the thermo printer.

Never had the printer, but that big tall black box graphic card yes!

Like the author I'm also 68 years old I'm a contributor to the open source of TensorFlow and dozens of other code projects that the youngsters today often take for granted

I'm still very active I build cities for a living and I'm about to publish a new paper that bills a form of mathematics that more closely models the structure of our universe

I'm a co-author on a paper recently published on a practical form of quantum communications

In my youth I solved dozens of mathematical problems that others considered unsolvable

The world and the universe is an amazing place and age is really just part of our imagination

I also stay active everyday and contribute to my community

This is a great story and a reminder of how valuable our ancestors are to our everyday lives

Consider for a moment the reverence the typical first Nation communities have for the experience and wisdom of their elders

"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."

I really like this balanced sentiment at the end of the article. It's easier to feel different or weird or out of touch when you affirm for yourself that you're being weird by your own choice - to the extent that you _want_ to be different to everyone else.

It's a nice mean between the two extremes of going full conformist or going full hipster.

I once attended a small lecture about an experiment where researchers trained elderly participants new skills; namely Spanish, painting, and using iPads.

It was a somewhat challenging course. It required a lot of work and a few dropped out because of it. But the participants that stayed developed their skills and after a few weeks, surprised themselves and much of their friends and family with their progress.

You can imagine how stunning it would be to know someone all your life and then at the ripe age of 82, watch them do something you've never seen before. Grandma went from not knowing about iPads to using them better than some 20 year olds. And Grandpa now draws and sketches figures like an artist. Who knew they had such potential?

The reaction of people who didn't know them was quite interesting too. "You have such talent" (as if what they had learned was something they were blessed with). The researchers made a point to emphasize how people would phrase their compliments; it was surprisingly common (as if they had been given God-given talents, instead of raw skill through focus and training).

And the participants were just as surprised about their growth. They didn't believe they could still learn something new (it wasn't a real possibility in their mind). Over the years, they had built an image of who they were, what they could and couldn't do, staying within the confines of their self-imposed limits, unconscious as they were.

Listening to those researchers left me with some reflections about my own life, the trajectory of it, the things I'd choose to become.

Part of me suspects there's some truth to wisdom and old age—the younger generation doesn't always step forward in the right direction. Cynicism of the youth is rightly justified. Choosing not to participate in the popular culture leaves some room for your own personal interests. What people call "weirdness".

So be it. True expression sometimes leads you down unfamiliar roads.

But some days, my pride and lack of knowledge feels like an excuse to stay inside hidden doors, lamenting about the change of the world, because I couldn't keep up with it.

I try not to become that person. I try not to cut off too many branches. I don't know where they'll lead, what I can become.

It would be a shame to grow old, to abandon all paths, because they seemed too distant.

> I was born in 1976. I understand that in the eyes of millennials 1976 is around the same time period as 1796

Just to nitpick a little, the millennial generation starts with 1980-1982 depending on who you ask, so 1976 isn't that old.

"Millennial" has come to mean "young people", even though the oldest gen z are graduating college now.

I always have trouble seeing millenials born in the 80s as such. I feel that as a cultural block, you need to bisect the definition between 80s millenials, and 90s millenials.

80s millenials (personally I call them Gen Y or Michael Moore Millenials) came of age in the 90s, could remember the Soviet Union (if only hazily), experienced its unique cultural excesses on a more conscious level, and directly shaped the technology that would later form the digital substrate of new millenium.

They participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from their onset, and were also old enough to viscerally experience 9/11.

Their generation helped develop activist-consumerism when it was still counter-culture, tend to embrace the idea of a more global society, and came of college age just as the internet began to gain ubiquity. Even though they had to directly weather the financial crisis, they seem to have a more optimistic view of the future, and human potential in general, even if they often see progress as being stymied by bad people.

The second group, (90s millenials or just millenials) have no collective memory of the Soviet Union, and entered the world as consumers of the digital transition, even if they were too old to truly be considered digital natives as their successors in Gen Z are. By the tine they were of age to join the military, the US had been at war for nearly a decade, and no one was quite sure why it still continued. The economy took a dive, and they were too young to experience it the same way as Gen Y did.

Their early experiences of the internet were when it was still heavily decentralized, but had also become accessible to the technically illiterate. They were culture producers more than they were developers in the oughties, and they grew up alongside surveillance capitalism. Their view of the world is a bit more mixed, and they're also who the author is referring to, I think.

I count myself among the latter group, if that offers some context to my perception.

This is apparently an unpopular view, but after thinking a bit about it, I agree with your premise.

Splitting older millenials with gen X, and younger millenials with gen Z makes sense, because instead of an arbitrary characteristics like "being 20 in the new century", this splits seem to better match some cultural changes that are not perfectly aligned with round dates.

Anyone using these terms (Gen X,Y,Z, boomer, millenial, etc) in a serious conversation/post without defining it is part of the problem. And maybe even just trying to somehow lump together hundreds of millions of people just because they are around the same age makes less and less sense. (Especially the anthropomorphization, that all X are lazy/dumb/entitled/etc.)

I was born in 1987. Where do I fit?

I think what defines a generation is what people saw and remember, not directly years.

From a European perspective, Boomers saw the first step on the Moon and May 68 events, their children ("Gen X") saw Chernobyl, the end of the Cold War and grew up with the Oil crisis and the constant warnings that pollution is going to be a serious problem if we don't do something (or rather, if we don't stop doing certain things). Their children ("Millenials") saw the second Gulf War and the collapse of the WTC.

I've heard the generation that straddles X and Millennial, which the author and I belong to, referred as X-ennial. More important that the name, everything from Chernobyl to WTC are strong memories for me.

come on. He is way more close to being a boomer rather than a millennial.

The cutoff for Baby Boomers is 1962. The first Millennials were born in 1982.

you basically assume that generation division is based on uniform distribution on years. But, I don't think that is the way it is.

GenX are closer to millennials than boomers IMO, at least the stereotypes in my head.

The Baby Boomer generation is for those born from 1946 to 1964.

The author of this article was born the year the Apple I was launched he's not old!

What’s the point of these labels? I know 16 year olds that talk like the stereotype of “boomers”, and 70 year olds that talk like “generation z”.

Imagine we were making the same kind of generalisations about your gender, skin colour, choice of programming language - what would it add to the conversation? We may as well say “Scorpios like partying where sagitarians prefer reading books”

> What’s the point of these labels?

To dehumanise those they're applied to so you can say bad things about them without feeling guilty.

While there may not be much value in stereotypes like that, with generations at least we are all somewhat interconnected by historical events. WWII defined one generation, and their kids. 911 defined another. Those things that change us as a society do have some impact.

Do you mean that we all lived through it, or that we were at a similar stage in life when it happened?

We all lived through it. Though we had different experiences of those events, and processed them all in our own way, they still shaped us as a society.

We do make generalizations about all the categories you mentioned. Some are harmless some are hurtful. This doesn't mean that demographics are irrelevant or that characteristics are randomly distributed. We are influenced dramatically by the environment we grow up in and nothing is quite so stable as the past. So, your exceptions do not discount the rule.

I'll take my generation vs gen Z as an example. I clearly remember 9/11, blowing NES cartridges to get my games to work, rewinding video tapes, making phone calls to friends on a shared line using a corded phone, having to listen to a radio station for 3 hours to hear the one song I liked and then rush to hit record so I could save it for replay, and on and on. I cannot share these experiences with gen Z. They won't ever have that. I can talk about it but it's just like a Boomer telling me about going to Woodstock or making 10 cents an hour bagging groceries, or dodging minefields in Vietnam, or using punch cards to program. Sure I can hear those stories and be amused, shocked or whatever by them...but I'll never know precisely what it was like to go through all that, with the mood of the time.

I think you forget gen X, which are the kids of the boomers.

The first rule of Gen X is that you don't talk about Gen X. Not because it's forbidden or anything (or because they all watched Fight Club), but because everybody just forgets Gen X.

The second rule is whatever, man.

GenX, not boomer.

Same age as the author and his timeline is a lot like mine, albeit with advanced degrees I don’t have. I used to have all of those social media accounts and found that in my case I’m happier not having them. By all means try it out and see if it works for you, but you may prefer actually seeing things.

4 years older than the author, learned to program on a Philips P2000. Was impressed when my dad told me how they punched cards and he could read punched tape quickly.

Now I'm finally getting old apparently because I don't use VR stuff, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok (don't use Twitter because it's such a waste of precious time).

By the way, computer UIs are still too slow. Fix your web pages / networks.

Punched a number of cards in pursuit of natural science, never did get to Fortran77 since it wasn't 1977 yet.

On a new W98 PC after reverting to a more optimized W95 install without including Windows Networking, using a top hardware modem on a clean POTS line having full 56K performance, the snappy user response sometimes seen today with broadband at sites like Ebay, Amazon & Yahoo, was usually outmatched by almost all sites at the time, and that was with only a 100MHz Pentium, 32MB memory, and less than 1GB HDD.

You could generally browse faster on dial-up (once logged in) than you can on broadband today.

Downloads OTOH were dramatically slower with such a limited data rate.

Nice MIDI was also standard on all consumer PC's, without USB latency.

I don’t get the idea of acclaimed non-understanding.

Posting live (or recent) random photos that I don’t want permanently on my wall, isn’t a difficult phenomenon to grasp. Trying to maintain social connections by updating and reminding friends and family what you’re doing seems pretty normal.

Wanting to chat dangerously or explicitly or just not wanting to torture yourself by seeing all your old Facebook Messenger chats explains the need for Snapchat rather well (and Signal).

Making goofy hyper-kinetic short videos makes sense. (What doesn’t make sense to me is using TikTok over Thriller considering the social-implications of an authoritarian-owned app for free expression.)

I don’t believe people when they say they don’t understand kids today or only young founders can build the tools for the next generation.

What I don’t get is playing video games for 12-hours a day and immersing yourself in a digital word, with all synthetic friends so to speak. But I understand why people do it.

It’s as unhealthy as any other digital obsession or anything that isolates us from the most innovation and rejuvenating social app and video game: reality.

I'm 57. I was a manager for many years, but kept my tech chops up by doing side projects in the open-source world for a long time. Some of those projects have become pretty intense and big.

Nowadays, I'm working on becoming one of the best Swift programmers around. It's progressing. I'm fairly good at picking up on things, and I've been programming Swift with release-level code since the day it was announced (not 100-line Stack Overflow answer code. Full-fat App Store release code).

My latest learning gig is Bluetooth. I've already written a pretty powerful OBD driver (still has more to go, but it already beats a lot of what's out there. Did I mention that I'm not bad at this stuff?). I've taken a break from that in order to write up an open series on implementing Core Bluetooth as a cross-platform (Apple Platforms) SDK.

But, according to a lot of folks, I just need to walk out into the desert to die.

Wow. Incredibly cool. Would love to see your projects. Got a GitHub link ?

For anyone that's interested, I have it pretty much done. I'll probably take the wraps off officially, tomorrow:


Check my HN handle. I have links to everything there.


The Core Bluetooth thing is still very much a WIP. If you want to peek at it before it's ready, drop me an email.

I will also say that writing a teaching series on this is quite humbling. If I were to implement this SDK on my own, I'd probably get it done in a day or two; but stopping to make sure that I do things in digestible chunks, and explaining what I'm doing at each step, is dragging it out a lot. It may take a couple of weeks for me to write this up.

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