Turing’s Cathedral

Posted by Jon Crowcroft

Am about 1/3 the way through the new excellent book by George Dyson, on the history of computing - its a bit revisionist, but it is very detailed and interesting. One thing he glosses over is how Cathode Ray Tubes are used for Random Access Memory in the early work in Princeton (and in the UK by Kilburn et al) - I never stopped to think, but how do you readback from a cathode ray tube? The answer is obvious, and its interesting that the ideas of DRAM (with strobing, refresh, and destructive writes) all just re-echo this weird choice of technology which was just lying around (lots of radar screens going begging at the end of the 2nd world war), and was so much easier than building a lot of RAM out of Valves/Tubes, which would have required an insane interconnect (and been very much slower too)....

local luminaries (Wilkes and Wheeler) get quotes (not just namechecked) so its not such a landgrab as I had thought from reading reviews....and he's really captured the excitement, plus it goes on to look at the wider vision, which is really impressive...

available from an eBookstore near you right now... ... ...

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

must read more (widely)

Posted by Jon Crowcroft

So lunchtime conversation yesterday, two books came up (actually some others, but they triggered my memory of these two, which are a bit left field, hence I will mention them here)

1. Greg Bateson's extraordinary Steps to an Ecology of mind
which certainly made me think:)

2. George Lakoff's wacky, but seminar Women, Fire and Dangerous Things
which is oft-times cited as the origin of OO-thinking (I think it influenced the Smalltalk folks)

so there:)

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Precautionary, Cautionary, and Post-Cautionary @ CSAP event….

Posted by Jon Crowcroft

Am sitting at CSAP event on RIsk and Uncertainty in London - three very interesting talks about medical precautionary principles and when not to use them in vaccination programmes, about EU politics and failure to agree, and about risk and planning and trhe Japanese earthquake zone...very chilling stuff...

0. surprising no-one used the Cheney "known unknowns v. unknown unknowns" when discussing difference between risk and uncertainty:)

1. great comment from the audience that "good science == good democracy" - of course, hubs in social nets have unfair advantages both in politics and in science (think reputation:)

2. science understanding needs to permeate society - essentially CSAP's job isn't done when we re-educate all of government in STEM subjects - we need to re-educate journalists and judiciary too - the journalism case is nice coz data journalists are a start already...

BTW, where's the blogs for ASPLOS, and its workshops? didn't anyone there take notes????

Filed under: Conference No Comments