April 20, 2007

Computers as Abstract Objects

"[The] highly abstractive quality of computers makes it easy to introduce mathematics in the study of their theory--and has led some to the erroneous conclusion that, as a computer science emerges, it will necessarily be a mathematical rather than empirical science."

Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, Third Edition, MIT Press, p.18. (First edition published in 1969)

April 13, 2007

The Past Can Never Be Again

"Gardens are fashioned for many purposes with many different tools, but all are collaborations with natural forces. Rarely do their makers claim to be restoring or rebuilding anything from the past; and they are never in full control of the results. Instead, using the best tools they have and all the knowledge that they can gather, they work to create future environments.

If there is a lesson it is that to think like the original inhabitants of these lands we should not set our sights on rebuilding an environment from the past but concentrate on shaping a world to live in for the future."

Charles C. Mann, 1491.

The Amazon Forest a Cultural Artifact

"Visitors are always amazed that you can walk in the forest here and pick fruit from trees. That's because people planted them. They're walking through old orchards."

Charles R. Clement, quoted by Charles C. Mann in 1491.

" [The new picture suggests that] for a long time clever people who knew tricks that we have yet to learn used big chunks of Amazonia nondestructively. Faced with an ecological problem, the Indians fixed it. Rather than adapt to Nature, they created it. They were in the midst of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up and ruined everything."

Charles C. Mann, 1491.

April 11, 2007

Stallman Philosophy

"Live cheaply. Don't buy a house, a car or have children. The problem is they're expensive and you have to spend all your time making money to pay for them."

Richard Stallman

April 06, 2007

Vision is a Dynamic Process

"Everything we see in space is observed as time advances. even the recording of a motionless black dot fixed in colorless three-dimensional space constitutes a movie, because the retina sees it continuously as time advances."

Frank Werblin and Botond Roska, "The Movies in Our Eyes," Scientific American, April 2007.