Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

09 Apr 2014, 0:29 a.m.

Some Short Reading

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2014 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

American Scientist is the good stuff. Accessible prose but not condescending, and covering a variety of biological, mathematical, physical, and social sciences. "Programming Your Quantum Computer", "The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs", and "Empirical Software Engineering" brought me much pleasure, as did Henry Petroski's engineering history column. In the March/April 2014 issue, Petroski goes on a tear regarding inaccurate graphical depictions of quadrupeds and sharpened pencils. For four angry pages. Whatever, it's Petroski, even his nerd rage is fun.

"Scalable Web Architecture and Distributed Systems" by Kate Matsudaira gives a general overview of web architecture; I found it helpful in understanding the context of "service-oriented architectures" and the challenges of big-scale web architecture in general. MediaWiki currently does NOT have a service-oriented architecture as Matsudaira describes it, but engineers are working on changing MediaWiki from a giant spaghetti ball into a more logical, convenient, and maintainable set of interfaces/services. (The overview also has a bit of humor; I especially laughed at Figure 1.6.)

"Little Ambushes" by Joanne Merriam portrays the thing I always want out of science fiction: making a real connection with the Other. Her "Harvest" and "Sundowning" tear my heart out, too. Her work reminds me of things I've loved in the work of Maureen McHugh, Nancy Kress, and Connie Willis.