Chosen links

Links - 5th May 2019

Hansei as a declarative logic programming language

Classical Prolog is an elegant language that concisely represents the fundamental concepts of term algebra, non-determinism, unification, counter-example driven search, and the separation of logic and control. The ability to run a program forwards and backwards is uncanny. However, real Prolog programs are replete with cuts, FFI calls, committed choice and unexpected divergence — defiling the Classical purity.

Classical Prolog is an enchanting misconception. It ought to be studied, for its ideas and lessons. One lesson is that guessing — non-determinism — is fundamental, but should not be the default mode of execution. One should guess, but guess lazily.

Your CS degree won’t prepare you for angry users, legacy code, or the whims of other

The tendency to want to “fix” things is sometimes part of the problem. It’s called lava flow pattern, and it’s when your codebase is programmed in waves of different guiding design and architecture. One of the best things you can do in an old codebase is just follow existing patterns and design, even if you don’t agree with them. If you’re going to refactor anyway, make it very obvious where the line is between old and new, so that others know which design to follow where. Preferably putting the new stuff into a separate namespace or even library.

Building Git

Every time multiple pieces of your program have an implicit agreement that’s not enforced, that’s an opportunity for a maintainer to change one piece of code without changing others that depend on it. This, rather than eliminating literal duplication of lines of code, is the essence of the DRY principle

“Fix my post-apocalypse”

In place of a world overflowing with or predestined to human meaning, Fallout 76 advances a more pessimistic view of post-catastrophe in which human significance is eroded. While humans continue to act in Fallout 76's post-future, their actions no longer correlate to transcendent purpose, but only occur in response to the immanent events and challenges of the post-apocalyptic milieu. This shift is important in that it rethinks survival as less “what we do to the world” than the more misanthropic question of “what the world does to us”.

The survivor of Fallout 76 is condemned to scavenge the detritus of civilizational ruin for resources in order to navigate and survive in a more strikingly ambivalent Fallout world. Withdrawing the unifying narrative figured elsewhere in the centralizing significance of “family” in Fallout 4, or the quest for “truth” in Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 76 postulates a horrific image of post-nuclear existence in which humanity no longer shapes the world, but in a more basic ontological mode of survival, reacts to it. Here, Fallout 76 touches upon the horror of surviving in an increasingly alien and antagonistic world by remitting the image of human superiority and presenting instead an ambivalent and strikingly nihilistic reality. Herein, the world of Fallout 76 displaces the image of human exceptionalism and so too, the idea that the fall of civilization will catalyze the rise of a new human civilization, or what Colebrook [1] calls the presupposition of the polis after-humans. Contrary to the idea that future will be a human one, Fallout 76 confronts the player with a posthuman after-future in which humans no longer figure as an ideological or causal center.

Isomorphism through algorithms: institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook

This paper underscores how efforts to increase accountability within algorithmically-mediated fields need to consider the organizational values and institutionalized mechanisms embedded within algorithms that have been driving organizational change across the news media industry. Part of the challenge for algorithmic accountability work is to understand how algorithms and data-driven technologies are both situated within larger macro-social trends, such as the increased privatization of public services in the current era of capitalism as well as changes in ownership structures of industries, and also influence a wide-range of actors and organizations that have become dependent on algorithmic and data-driven intermediaries.

As DiMaggio and Powell argue, modeling of one organization’s practices by another is “a response to uncertainty'” through the borrowing of practices that may enhance legitimacy or possibility for success, or to demonstrate to others that they are working to change their practices to be in-line with those of the dominant organization [2]. To that end, many of the practices that we now associate with “innovation”, such as the adoption of Big Data methods by the Tribune, is actually due to an uncertain environment which induces one organization to copy the practices of another.

1. Colebrook, C. (2013). The death of the posthuman: Essays on extinction, Vol. 1. Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press.
2. DiMaggio J and Powell W (1983) The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review 48: 147–160.