Somehow, I made it through a BS in engineering without learning the math behind Fourier transforms. This visualization explains them really well, and shows how you can use them to decompose very complex shapes.
A cool data visualization that tries to explain how travel infrastructure distorts our perceptions of geography. I thought about this a lot after getting my bicycle in San Francisco, and considerably expanding my effective radius.
“Neglect is undervalued” - a good short piece. This idea applies to family life, to office productivity, and even urban design. If a space is too controlled, there’s no room for emergent behavior.
An amazing procedural generation piece. The fact that it is both 3D, and animated, makes it all the more interesting.
Lately, Roman Mars and his friends at 99PI have been doing great work explaining the evolution of cities, urban planning, and state sponsored development projects. This one on CIAM’s Bijlmer project reveals a lot of the problems of modernist architecture. Having just read Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, and Scott’s Seeing Like a State, made this extra interesting. Don’t miss part two.
This one, about Henry Ford’s failed project in Brazil was also fascinating. It’s packed with great tid bits of economics, culture, and incentives management. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something similar happening with American corporations setting out for a modern equivalent in China today.
I’ve been on a Sam Harris binge lately, and it all started from this podcast episode. I’ve been meaning to read Ferguson’s work for years, and this discussion of his latest book gave me an even stronger reason to do so. At first I was interested because of the analysis of power networks and institutions throughout history, but when I realized that the use of the word network was not casual, but actually referring to network science, I was totally sold. I’ll make a big effort to read it this year.
The fact that anything works is crazy. Making pencils is nearly impossible, and yet, there is probably a store within a couple of blocks from you where you can get one, along with N other more complex items.
In this interview wit Joel Mokyr, Sonal Chokshi and the a16z team bring historical perspective into today’s economic environment. Building new things is easier when you have an understanding of the past. The episode reminded me of why I should have taken Mokyr’s class at NU, instead of signing up for an awful data structures course.