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He doesn't know what 'temporal' means and doesn't write that well. He would benefit from more English instruction.

There are many problems with how kids are taught in school. However, it's arrogant to think that you won't benefit from further instruction at 15 - regardless of how well you think you're doing.

I've known many smart autodidacts, but they're often unaware of their weaknesses. They tend to be less 'well rounded' than those with academically trained minds.


I don't know what temporal means? It means that something is time sensitive I.E. my computer is temporal, because it will only exist in it's current working state for a certain period of time.

And I would agree that I'm not the best writer, but are there not people who are far worse at constructing a proper sentence that have graduated high-school AND college?

I don't think that I won't benefit from further instruction. What I'm saying is it's MORE beneficial to focus my efforts in more practical learning. I WANT to learn, but I don't want to learn stuff that will waste my time. I have nothing wrong with the subject, the problem is that we're not seeing how to apply it. I can learn math all I want through doing complex programming and creation of algorithms, however, sitting in class isn't getting me the same practical knowledge that that would.


"Temporal" means either "relating directly to time" or, idiomatically, "relating to the affairs of life on this earth instead of the afterlife". You meant "transitory".

Your situation is fascinating. You are simultaneously me (although substitute software exploit development for Minecraft hosting and subtract a lot of dollars) at Jesuit school in the '90s and, from what I can see coming, my son (now 13).

Can I offer you some more advice?

* Find some honest, worldly adults, preferably some affiliated with colleges, to lock down the advice you're getting about going GED instead of finishing school. I'm finding it jarring and disquieting; on the one hand, if the people advocating GEDs are wrong, you could be making your life much more annoying by complicating your entrance into college; on the other hand, if they're right, sticking out school is actually going to make college harder because your grades are going to suck.

* Read fiction, and get a book on writing (check out _Style: Towards Clarity And Grace_ --- it approaches writing the way K&R approaches C), and take writing seriously. You write like a very smart teenager; you don't edit, and you choose puffy words, but you also write like someone who doesn't hate writing. The world cares very much about this. Writing clearly and confidently will get you a long way in your career. You won't find many successful adults who will tell you otherwise. Participate in forums and, when you do, try to be mindful of how you're writing; there's no better way to learn than to practice, and no easier way to practice than to yell at people (gracefully) on forums.

* If you're serious today about a future in technology, learn to code. I know a lot of people who dropped out of college early for careers in systems/networking who never learned to program, and it hamstrung them later in life. High school won't teach you anything about programming, but the first few semesters of a good college CS program are a forcing function that does. Don't settle for PHP! If you're already doing this, congratulations, and keep on it. Software development is the fissile core of the whole industry.

* I'm probably the 1000th person to tell you this, but that's because it's very true: you will not necessarily want the same things when you're 30 as you do now at 15. The world is full of talented technologists now working as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and teachers. Screwing up college doesn't close many doors in technology, but it does almost everywhere else. As you get older, your degrees of freedom diminish, and obstacles you create for yourself now can become forbidding later. Keep the doors open.

Let us know how all this goes!


I strongly second the last point.

I was a lot like you (I'm addressing this post at the person the whole thread is about, not Thomas) for the second half of high school. I had a lot of fun hacking on various projects, was quite sure that CS was my future, and thought my classes--though I did find parts of most of them interesting--were mostly wasting my time. I talked about wanting to quit, and if I had a successful project that started bringing money in the door, I might have.

One trick is that I did care very much about my grades. So after some wavering about whether I wanted to go to college or push it off indefinitely, I decided to go to Stanford. And for reasons that I can't entirely explain, I signed up for a program where I spent freshman year reading a sizable portion of the important Western writers of the past 2500 years. And I realized that I actually really like the humanities when done well.

But I was still pretty set on a career in tech startups, took mainly CS aside from that program, and flirted with dropping out a couple times.

Now it's my junior year, and I've slowly realized that there are a lot more options out there that interest me. I gained an appreciation for the academic side of CS. And I realized that I really do like and care about thinking and writing about social issues, philosophy, and some other things.

I've pretty much determined that my dream job is professor because it would let me do everything I like doing (innovate technically, communicate, teach people, mentor people). However, I'm also probably not going to go down that track because of the hazing (grad school + difficulty of finding academic jobs afterward) and inflexibility (in the good case, you probably only have one great job offer in one place, and you'll pretty much be there for life), but if you had asked me freshman year, I would have said I had no interest in research.

I'm also not sure that I want to stay in tech forever. There are a lot of interesting problems, one person's contributions can be meaningful in some settings, and it's very flexible and well-compensated. However, a lot of what people are doing is pretty boring to me on most levels (most companies don't need innovative technology, and even most of the ones that are innovating aren't particularly doing anything for society that I care about). After a decade or two, there's a good chance I'll want to do something more interdisciplinary and with more social value. I definitely am not convinced startups are the thing for me; the vast majority of startups just seem banal at this point, though there are some gems.

This also ties into the fact that I expect the world to change a lot in my lifetime. Tech is important to me now, but as the world changes, that could change too, and the more freedom I have to do that, the happier I'll be.

I've learned a lot about what there is in the world and what I care about in the last five years thanks to being in school. And I have a great foundation that will make it easier for me to follow my interests as they develop.

As a side note, college has been an extremely important time for me as a person. I felt pretty adult as a senior in high school, and in many ways, I was; I was far more responsible and better at avoiding stupid decisions than most of my classmates. But I still had a lot of growing up to do, especially socially. I don't think college is necessarily the optimal environment for that development, but it's a very good one. Make sure that you have friends about your age, whom you frequently see in person, and spend significant time with. Get close to some of them.

Finally, writing well is extremely important and useful no matter what you do. It is worth the investment, and the earlier you invest, the more it will pay off.


To inject a bit of treacle, here... man am I ever glad I chose you as the father of my children. :-)


Thank you for your advice in regards to writing.

I'd also like to note that I currently can program well in the following languages: PHP, JavaScript, Java, C#, Python, Lua, etc... and I most certainly enjoy doing so.

Thank you for your input.


This can't be understated, and I'm glad you see that. Also, about the programming languages-- you may think you can program well in them, but you most certainly can't. By virtue of the the fact that knowing a syntax (or idioms) is far different from having domain knowledge, not to mention your age. The fact that you can type the correct syntax for those languages is irrelevant--You have no real-world knowledge about how this is used, which greatly impacts how you build software. That's one of the many reasons why young, "bright" developers will never surpass experienced developers-- it's more than "coding."


what makes you think that he "most certainly can't" program well in the listed languages?

he's solving real world problems in those languages!


What fiction do you recommend? A comment of yours from a few years ago describes how I feel about fiction now: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=917882.


it's MORE beneficial to focus my efforts in more practical learning

No. Not because "practical learning" is bad - indeed, it's as great as you say - but because the "practical learning" that you can find for yourself is available forever. Especially if you're naturally good at it. At this point, or at any other point in your life, all you need is Ramen noodles, a cheap laptop, a solid Internet connection and a credit card.

Indeed, self-administered practical learning just gets easier with time, because you can move around and buy hardware and rent machine shops and own your own garage.

But there are things you can't easily replicate outside school, or that are a lot easier to enjoy if you have credentials and go through channels. My personal favorite example is: Science labs. Colleges have real science labs! Which are really fun for practical learning! And which you can use as a student. I mean, I won't go so far as to argue that you should spend twelve years doing a Ph.D. and a postdoc just to get your hands on the femtosecond-pulsed UV lasers, the bounteous supplies of liquid nitrogen, the fully-equipped biochemistry labs, the cell-culture hoods and incubators, the specially-bred laboratory mice, they mysterious bottles of colorful liquids, the nanotechnology laboratory, the electron microscopes, or the particle accelerators. But I did. And I don't regret any of that!

Yeah, I don't "use" my little pile of academic credentials at the moment. But there is more to life than just being "useful". Otherwise nobody would ever bother to, say, play Minecraft.

I can learn math all I want through doing complex programming and creation of algorithms...

So, are you one of those geniuses who has already aced the U.S. Mathematical Olympiad and then gotten bored with it? I have to ask, because such people exist, and if you are one I can't help you. But otherwise: Please tell me you've taken a serious high-school mathematics competition and been bored by it, because otherwise I'm not yet convinced that you know what you're missing. There is a lot of math that is not encompassed by "complex programming" or "creation of algorithms". A whole lot. More than I can understand. Not to mention the physics. Physics! In the hands of the right teacher, who is admittedly not easy to find, it's really a lot of fun.


He's using 'temporal' correctly; one of its connotations is 'temporary' or 'transitory'. See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/temporal


He writes better then a lot of the people that I've dealt with in my 23 years in the computer industry


This is why women often wonder why the world has become less 'nice' as they grow older.

In fact, the world hasn't changed. It's just that the extra consideration they got because of their looks goes away as they grow old.

In contrast men often spend their early years not being taken very seriously. They often have to fight to get noticed.


Anonymity is not the same as privacy. Tor is more about anonymity than about privacy.

That exit notes can sniff traffic has been known for a long time. Compromised exit nodes do not compromise anonymity as long as you don't give up personally identifiable information in traffic that gets routed via exit nodes.

More problematic is that compromised exit nodes could inject or run man in the middle attacks on your outbound traffic. These could then make you give up your real IP. This is why you shouldn't run exploitable protocols when exiting via Tor (ie. don't use javascript, flash, etc. if you want to remain anonymous).


If you're engaging in sensitive escapades via Tor to conceal your true identity, shouldn't the intentions and identity of who you're tunneling all your traffic through be one of your top priorities?

How do you know if that node with the pretty flag saying it's in Switzerland isn't logging all IPs, DNS requests, and packet headers straight to another Room 641A?

I just dislike when people suggest things like Tor without having used it themselves and seen the glaring issues and essential deficiencies with the tool.

Especially when there are such better and faster solutions available.


Because of Tor's design there's no need for trust at the exit node. Plus, you hop between exit nodes at 10 minute intervals, giving any one node at best a scrappy picture of your activities. You can also blacklist exit nodes that you consider suspicious.

Even if an exit node's logs are compromised an adversary wouldn't know your identity if you haven't given it up in the compromised traffic.

What better solutions are available? As far as I know Tor is still the most resilient option out there.


I'm not sure why Anonymous does not fit the article's definition.


They do, explicitly:

Contrary to this, CHAN-culture (imageboards, fast communication channels) and the ANON-meme (crowd orientated cyber actions) try different ways in waging real mass-based cyberwars, they reach this point by being more punk again, punk as in: deviant subculture that parents are afraid of.

I read this as saying that Anonymous and 4chan (and friends) have reached the point of being punk again, in that sense.


Between Anonymous and Wikileaks, I feel like we're practically living in a cyberpunk story. We're just the blissfully uninvolved citizens who don't live in the seedy underbelly.


I'm not sure we at Hacker News are blissfully uninvolved; we're busy building tomorrow's sinister megacorporations. Or Mr Lee's Greater Hong Kong.


At what point do you realize what you're building is what your protagonist heros always fought against?

And does that realization make you stop?


Videoconferencing and telepresence is big business. I expect those applications will lead the way, with the technology being adapted for entertainment purposes soon after.


Yes, I agree here too, telepresence would be a pretty good reason. But even then, that's probably actually less useful than just a videoconferencing system, since you could continue to have your hands/eyes free for other things like taking notes or whatever at the same time.


I don't agree it'll be less useful. Actual telepresence has a lot more possibilities than just a video stream.

You could interact with people in the virtual environment, build or design something together, brainstorm in new ways (For example, imagine architects designing a building while walking in it in realtime), and take notes digitally. Once you can do everything in the virtual "world", you don't need your hands/eyes free for other things.

(and I'm sure there will be a pop-up HUD interface in which you can do other things if you really want to be distracted like browsing HN during a meeting :).


What is the difference, if any, between alternate reality and augmented reality?


As I understand it, an alternate reality doesn't need to correspond with the primary reality (the metaverse, the grid, the matrix, etc) whereas an augmented reality is essentially a HUD type setup for the primary reality.


As far as I can really tell, none. So I kind of use the terms interchangeably. Both are about layering virtual information over top of reality, as far as I know. I guess augmented is the superior term.


Augmented reality is an overlay onto what is truly there.

Alternate reality or Virtual Reality is a simulation of an entirely new universe.


Spot on.

Also, browsing pages on Tor and similar networks reminds me a lot of exploring the internet in the early '90s. It's messy, there are lots of abandoned, hastily put together pages. There are weird rants.

The internet that the author misses is still out there. It's just not as close to the surface as it was in the early days of the internet or BBS.


"It's just not as close to the surface as it was in the early days of the internet or BBS."

Precisely. I'll add that today that 'underground' is a very small (yet important, if not critical to its future) part of the whole internet whereas in the early days it was most of it; hence the appearance of it being farther from the surface.

No need to reach for Tor, take HN whose volume is certainly much lower than those Facebook streams and various LOLcats, yet it is certainly pivotal to what's actually built on the internet. The next Facebook won't come from its users, it will come from one of you.

Human-Computer interaction as envisioned is at its peak. Dare you tell me that Second Life, World of Warcraft, or Eve Online are not quite akin to the metaverse that was envisioned in Snowcrash. Tell me that those robotic prosthetic limbs are not close to what you see in Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita in the US). All those eyes, ears, and even memory prosthetic devices (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6574) seen in Ghost in the Shell and Johnny Mnemonic are not dreamt of anymore, they are very real and useful to many (although admittedly they did not reach such levels of advancement, but that's a matter of time). Tell me those efforts to control and monitor everything including the internet "for the safety of everyone and his dog" are not dystopian in many ways, and get a look at how the third and fourth world are manipulating technology in ad-hoc, cheap, creative and dangerous ways to try and follow us in our first-world countries steps.

Of course there is some error correction to apply with regard to what was envisioned before all of that was even remotely possible; it is no wonder that fiction varies from reality.

Cyberpunk lives, for the best and the worst, today.


Interestingly, Gibson's latest book - Pattern Recognition - is set in the present. It's very good.


It's not the same dystopian future he envisioned in the 1990s. But his keen eye draws out the darker sides.


He's written two books since then, Spook Country and Zero History which are also set in the present. I haven't read them but supposedly they constitute a sort of informal trilogy.

I agree that Pattern Recognition is very good. Although I will always have a soft spot for Neuromancer and his related books and stories.


Read those other two - they're as good, if not a little bit better. Nothing stunningly different.

As a long-time neuromancer and Gibson fan, I can say his writing has changed and approached the modern day just as it should. Neuromancer made sense at the time it was published - the net wasn't around, it was a far out concept - lots of room for imagination. If it were only released today, it would just seem like really bad sci-fi because the net exists, now, and it's not quite what Gibson wrote about.

I'd the pattern recognition/spook/zero set are not so much current day as very near-future. They're entirely plausible with current technology, with a few inventions along the way that don't currently exist, but probably could. PLus they're a good read.


I think WG has always said that writing sci fi for him and many SF authors was always really about the present. And if you read Neuromancer again, it really does bear out.


This piece reads awfully. I haven't seen anything like this since trying to understand inscrutable postmodernist literary criticism at college.

I am very interested in this, but I'm having a lot of trouble understanding it. What's he trying to say?

Todays market of representations means that we exchange images that are valued by statements without consequence, statements whose only value is the one of attention, something we have learned from the advertising process, which has become the key process of culture. This cultural praxis fails to find a history of the human faces. The faces tried to break the boundaries of word and image, they were processes of conscious creation of speaking images for the feelings that words fail to describe.


I have to confess, I've got a sort of fondness for this writing style. It's got a certain rythm that makes everything seem more... impactful than it really is.

edit: of course, what I meant to say was:

While aesthetically confusing on a surface level, the subcurrent of ryhtmic tonality in these disquisitions impacts the reader's thought process in subliminal ways. Hitherto the paragon of collegiate studies, these textual discourses nowadays propagate freely in the super-plebeian fantasy-made-reality cyber-utopia that is the infosphere. The parentally linked-to hypertext is a two-fold example of not only the skillfull mastery of the avant-poetic style, but also the post-print arrangement common in todays socioeconomic conditions.


Congratulations, I have not read text like that since my philosophy courses in college.


You need to break apart the statements and translate it into normal english. If you enjoy this stuff, I recommend reading some philosophy texts from your local university.

> Todays market of representations means that we exchange images that are valued by statements without consequence, statements whose only value is the one of attention, something we have learned from the advertising process, which has become the key process of culture.

Our current culture communicates and understands ideas in the form of sound bites. This is because advertisements have become important in shaping our culture.

> This cultural praxis fails to find a history of the human faces. The faces tried to break the boundaries of word and image, they were processes of conscious creation of speaking images for the feelings that words fail to describe.

We are trying to find a new way to communicate but we are failing at it and becoming irrelevant. (I might be losing something in the translation here.)


EdiX's comment "I interpret it as 'kids this days like them lolcats'" is right on target. It captures the angst of the writer bemoaning the loss of culture of our current generation.

On another note, I find this snippet to be strangely ironic. It complains about a failure to redefine the way we communicate. The writer is attempting to precisely define their ideas in language that reminds me of a lawyer trying to write a bulletproof contract. The end result is nearly impenetrable and risks losing the entire message because no one can understand it.


I interpret it as "kids this days like them lolcats".


I have a hunch this was written by a non-native English speaker (see the quote usage near the beginning).

Anyway, I think he's saying that our faces, which allow us to communicate without words (the last sentence of your quote), are now nothing more than static images/advertisements (e.g., profile pictures). Communication on social networks has been reduced to using advertising techniques to gain attention.


See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair


asmallworld.net was started by a Swedish aristocrat, and retains a largely upper-class feel to this day.

How networks start out matters.



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