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Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Silicon Valley, California
I study how people and technologies shape each other.
Interests: history of science and technology, emerging technologies, weblogs, silicon valley, futures, contemplative computing, user experience, human-computer interaction, calming computing
Recent Activity
At least that’s the impression I get from this Atlantic piece by David Wheeler, which describes issues facing new clergy that would sound very familiar at the AHA: older pastors are retiring but not being replaced with full-time positions, the... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Relevant History
I just came across this 2006 Publishers Weekly piece about Jim Harrison. I confess I’ve never read any of his work (I’m dreadfully ignorant in the modern fiction department), but the article made me curious about his work. Here are... Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at Relevant History
Ulysses S. Grant on his musical ability: “I know only two tunes. One of them is Yankee Doodle. The other isn’t." Source: Sally Reis, “Ten thousand hours of practice, musical aptitude and inner fire: developing musical talent in young people,”... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Relevant History
I published a short piece on Medium about digital Sabbaths. I was inspired to write it by Jessica Valenti's entirely unobjectionable piece in The Guardian about how deleting the social media apps from her smartphone gave her a little distance between herself and "being told daily that you're a slut,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Contemplative Computing
"I happen to believe that you can’t study men, you can only get to know them, which is quite a different thing.” (C. S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength, quoted in Humphrey Carpenter’s J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography) Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Relevant History
Ned Resinkoff, writing in The Baffler: For the most part, tech punditry has yet to reckon with the coming era of hard limits, which is why it can get away with extrapolating current First World consumption habits into the indefinite... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Relevant History
My friend Anthony Townsend points me to this great piece by a New York restaurant owner who was trying to figure out why fewer customers were being served per night, and service was slowing down. "We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike,” the piece say. Having... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I hope Mason Currey’s book Daily Rituals, on the daily schedules of various creative people, is selling well, because it’s the volume that’s launched a thousand infographics. The most recent one I’ve found is by Podio (which does some kind... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Relevant History
From the preface to Richard Gabriel’s book Patterns in Software [pdf]: In my life as an architect, I find that the single thing which inhibits young professionals, new students most severely, is their acceptance of standards that are too low. If I ask a student whether her design is as... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I think it’s fair to say that unless you’re an academic*, everyone who writes a book hopes that it’ll do well enough for them to start writing full-time. But the reality has always been that that unless your living expenses... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Relevant History
This weekend Le Nouvel Observateur ran a front-page article on binge watching that features a couple quotes from me. If you didn’t know better you’d think I spoke French. Anyway, thanks to Marjolaine Jarry, who did a great job with the subject. This is the second time I’ve made it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
My wife and I are in Cloverdale, California, a town about 90 minutes north of San Francisco, for the Fourth of July. We're on our way to pick up our kids from summer camp, and it's much more pleasant to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2014 at Relevant History
David Pecotic flagged this New York Times piece about the "backlash against mindfulness," which mainly is a backlash among Buddhists against the corporatization of mindfulness, rather than a backlash among corporations against Buddhism (though I'm sure that'll come eventually.) As Anna North writes, At the core of this debate is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
San Francisco-based Minna Life has a Kickstarter campaign for, not exactly a wearable device (I don't think), but certainly one that takes exercise and self-monitoring to new places: kGoal, "the world’s first smart Kegel trainer." Apparently, the first Kegel trainers were developed in the 1940s using "an air pressure balloon... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
On Tech Crunch, a rather sensible rant against taking pictures of fireworks. You’re never going to look at those firework photos or videos anyway. The courteous, pity-likes you would’ve gotten on Instagram mean nothing. What matters is if you were truly alive, awake, and inspired by the spectacle, not some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
…the problem of “jewelry that doesn’t make noise when something in your digital life” has just been disrupted by the perfectly-named Ringly, a Brooklyn company founded by eBay alum Christina Mercando. Wearable tech is a natural extension of the subjects she studied at Carnegie Mellon, though, she said, Fine Art... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Since the publication of their now-classic study of deliberate practice in a Berlin conservatory, Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer’s 1993 article has been the subject of a lot of discussion. It was the key source of Malcolm Gladwell’s "10,00 Hour Rule”... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Relevant History
Novelist Ted Thompson has a good interview in Salon about the writing business. Well worth reading. Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Relevant History
Forgive me if I've referenced this before, but I find this new Wellcome Collection project too interesting: The urge to be busy defines modern life. Rest can seem hard to find, whether in relation to an exhausted body, a racing... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2014 at Relevant History
Sand is used in everything from silicon chips, to toothpaste, to glass, to buildings. It’s our most-used natural resource after water and air. Huge amounts of sand are used in construction— 200 tons to build a house, 3000 tons for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2014 at Relevant History
There’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein that “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.” I’d heard it a number of times, but today I ran across a note by Carnegie Mellon psychologist David... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at Relevant History
Two recent articles talk about the complexity of boredom. In The Telegraph (as well as the New Zealand Herald), Kate Bussman notes the relationship between boredom and creativity. Boredom is something we avoid and even fear. We associate it with idleness, so, as we consider idleness a vice, it gets... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
David Auerbach writes in Slate about “coder’s high,” an “intense feeling of absorption exclusive to programmers:" [O]ne of the things I miss about programming is the coder’s high: those times when, for hours on end, I would lock my vision straight at the computer screen, trance out, and become a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
High-frequency trading has long stood as a great example of how the physicality of computing really matters, contrary to companies’ breezy declarations that everything is in The Cloud. Take for example this great anecdote from a long article on an impending class-action suit over HFT in The Guardian: The NYSE... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This afternoon, I ran across this bit in Thomas Kuhn’s interview with Werner Heisenberg: [Arnold] Sommerfeld would always have very definite opinions as to what people should do and should not do. And so also about this game of chess. He said, "Well, you shouldn't waste your time by playing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at Contemplative Computing