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📚 Instadeq Reading List October 2021

Here is a list of content we found interesting this month.

The Ongoing Computer Revolution

Most people thought it was crazy to devote a whole computer to the needs of one person—after all, machines are fast and people are slow. But that’s true only if the person has to play on the machine’s terms. If the machine has to make things comfortable for the person, it’s the other way around. No machine, even today, can yet keep up with a person’s speech and vision.

Today’s PC is about 10,000 times as big and fast as an Alto. But the PC doesn’t do 10,000 times as much, or do it 10,000 times as fast, or even 100 x of either. Where did all the bytes and cycles go? They went into visual fidelity and elegance, integration, backward compatibility, bigger objects (whole books instead of memos), and most of all, time to market.

Im constantly amazed at the number of people who think that there’s not much more to do with computers. Actually, the computer revolution has only just begun.

👤 Butler Lampson

📝 The Ongoing Computer Revolution

Some Thoughts on Interfaces

We want to instantly grasp how to use interfaces without any instruction, even as we hope to be able to solve increasingly complex problems. One of the great myths of interface design is that all interfaces must be simple, and that everything should be immediately intuitive. But these aims are often contradictory - just because something is simple in its visual layout does not mean it will be intuitive! Intuitiveness also is extremely culturally relative - something that may be visually intuitive in one culture, for example, may not be in another; because of everything from language layout, to the role of color, and even the way different cultures process the passing of time.

If we are to empower users to accomplish complex tasks through software, the interface itself may have to be complex. That is not to say that the interface has to be difficult to use! Complex interfaces should, instead, guide the user to an understanding of their capabilities and operation while still keeping them in a flow state. Regardless of how complex the interface is, or the point in the path when the user is learning to use it, they should still be actively engaged in the process, and not become discouraged or feel overwhelmed by the complexity. Interfaces should not shy away from complexity, but should instead guide and assist the user in understanding the complexity.

Why does software not support learning how to use the software inside the software itself?

Why don’t we allow software to teach its users how to use it, without having to rely on these external sources? What would allow for this change to occur?

🐦 @nickarner

📝 Some Thoughts on Interfaces

New Kind of Paper

This new kind of paper understands what you are writing and try to be smart about what you want.

Are there any programming languages that were designed for pen and paper? Yes, there was. A Programming Language, also known as APL. A language that started as a notation that was designed for human-to-human communication of computer programs, usualy written with pen on a paper, or chalk on a blackboard. To be fair, even APL suffered the transition from blackboard to keyboard. Original notation had sub-/superscripts and flow of the program was depicted with lines. When APL became a programming language, it was linearized, lost its flowchart-like visual, but kept its exotic glyphs.

So, if we throw out boxes-and-arrows, i.e. visual programming stuff, what's left? What is the essence of what we are trying do here? Is there a place for a more symbolic, but visually-enriched approach?

Mathematical ideas are conventionally expressed using notation and terminology developed using static media. Suppose, however, that mathematics had been invented after modern computers. This is perhaps difficult to imagine – after all, mathematics helped lead to computers – but let's do the thought experiment anyway. Might mathematical notation have developed in a different way? Would we instead have developed a dynamic, interactive notation more powerful than the static mathematical and linguistic notations in common use today?

🌐 Milan Lajtoš

📝 New Kind of Paper Part 1

📝 New Kind of Paper Part 2

📝 New Kind of Paper Part 3

BI is dead

How an integration between Looker and Tableau fundamentally alters the data landscape.

This could be the beginning of the bifurcation of traditional BI into two worlds: One for data governance and modeling applications, and one for the visualization and analytics applications.”

“If you split Looker into LookML and a visualization tool, which one would be BI?” Or, in the terms of this integration, if you have both Looker and Tableau, which one is your BI tool?

My blunt answer is Tableau. You answer your questions in Tableau; BI tools are, above all, where questions get answered.

In this world, the cloud service providers become the major combatants in the market for data infrastructure, while data consumption products designed for end-users and sold on a per-seat basis—including exploration tools, a reconstituted BI, and data apps—are built by the rest of the ecosystem.

🐦 Benn Stancil

📝 BI is dead

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