Read-Only Memory publishes high-quality books that document videogame history.

A web typography learning game

L.M. Sacasas:

“When I was a child,” the Apostle wrote, “I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” And, we may add, I looked like a child. Thus the appropriateness of my childishness was evident in my appearance. Yes, that was me as I was, but that is no longer me as I now am, and this critical difference was implicit in the evolution of my physical appearance, which signaled as much to all who saw me. No such signals are available to the self as it exists online.

Indeed, we might say that the self that exists online is in one important respect a very poor representation of the self precisely because of its tendency toward completeness of memory. Digital media, particularly social media platforms, condense the rich narrative of the self’s evolution over time into a chaotic and perpetual moment. We might think of it as the self stripped of its story.

The values change every time the universe changes, and that’s every time we redefine a big enough bit of it. Which we do all the time through the process of discovery that isn’t discovery: just the invention of another version of how things are.

Oona Räisänen:

If you ever connected to the Internet before the 2000s, you probably remember that it made a peculiar sound. But despite becoming so familiar, it remained a mystery for most of us. What do these sounds mean? […]

The first thing we hear in this example is a dial tone, the same tone you would hear when picking up your landline phone. The modem now knows it’s connected to a phone line and can dial a number. The number is signaled to the network using Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signaling, or DTMF, the same sounds a telephone makes when dialing a number.

The remote modem answers with a distinct tone that our calling modem can recognize. They then exchange short bursts of binary data to assess what kind of protocol is appropriate. This is called a V.8 bis transaction.

Arvind Narayanan:

I will focus the rest of my talk on this third category [predicting social outcomes], where there’s a lot of snake oil.

I already showed you tools that claim to predict job suitability. Similarly, bail decisions are being made based on an algorithmic prediction of recidivism. People are being turned away at the border based on an algorithm that analyzed their social media posts and predicted a terrorist risk. […]

Compared to manual scoring rules, the use of AI for prediction has many drawbacks. Perhaps the most significant is the lack of explainability. Instead of points on a driver’s license, imagine a system in which every time you get pulled over, the police officer enters your data into a computer. Most times you get to go free, but at some point the black box system tells you you’re no longer allowed to drive.

Anton Dubrau does a fascinating overview of existing tunnel boring machine technology:

People tend to think it’s the tunnels that are the most expensive part of underground systems like metros, but thanks to the already existing TBM technology, they often represent only a small portion of the overall cost. Sometimes as little as 10%.

The most expensive parts of subways are the stations. In my view, modern boring technology becomes interesting when we can use it not just for the tunnels in-between the stations, but to build the complete system, including the stations, cheaper.

Security UI does not work

A keynote slide from 2013. In a nutshell, why cookie banners are pointless and the GDPR is a mess.

Ethan Marcotte:

I want to suggest that web design has, as a practice, become industrialized, and I want to look at how that will change the nature of our work in the months and years to come. I want to talk about how the web has always excelled at creating new kinds of work, before rendering that work—and its workers—invisible. […]

As more people use a technology, standards are established, and infrastructures are put in place to support that new technology. There’s also a shift in the relationship between a technology, and the people who use it. In the first phase, the user is intimately involved with the technology, and may have a great deal of control over it; in this phase, however, that control is lessened, and the role of people—whether users or workers—is drastically reduced.