Paul Ford (MeFi's Own) looks through the Social Security Death Master File, the federal government's list of U.S. citizens who have died since the creation of Social Security in 1935. (NOTE: Not everyone on the list has actually died. Also, not everyone who has died in on the list.) You can explore the database yourself: The Database of the Dead -- Are You in It?
Paul Ford (yes, yes, MeFi's Own) has created a juggernaut of an article / lived experience / beautiful time-sink about coding. At this point I'll shut up so you can pack a lunch and go immerse yourself now.
Never Better is The Awl’s goodbye to 2014. The most recent one is Last Year's Punch by Dan Nosowitz. Another notable one is Good Things of 2014, a complete list. Including: [more inside]
Paul Ford explains the long road to HTML5 and the web standardisations process in the New Yorker.
In “Gathering of the Player Men at Buffalo,” the Music Trade Review described a heady scene in which Mr. P. B. Klugh, speaking for the Cable Company, said that it had adopted “the nine-to-the-inch scale” and that “they were not open to argument on the subject, as such a scale had given entire satisfaction.” Swayed, the manufacturers resolved the issue in favor of Klugh. As a result, we now live in a world where nine-holes-per-inch piano rolls are the standard. You would be a fool to build a player piano to any other metric.
Of course, the Web page is far more complex. It requires dozens of standards, governing words, sounds, pictures, interactions, protocols, code, and more. The role of Web parliament is played by the W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium. This is a standards body; it organizes meetings that allow competing groups to define standards, shepherding them from a “working draft” to “candidate recommendation” and “proposed recommendation,” and finally, if a standard has been sufficiently poked and prodded, granting the ultimate imprimatur, “W3C recommendation.”
A day in the life, imagined 50 years from now, by ftrain: "It’s interesting when you scan old history scrolls to learn just how panicked everyone was about total global micro-surveillance. They just didn’t see it as a means of liberation, like we do now. Of course they lived in the era of giant government-run spying computers like Multivac. No one could imagine the upside of having every human interaction observed by penny sensors at all times. I’m glad to live in a world where a young woman can hop into a self-driving car with a total stranger and not feel a bit of concern." [more inside]
It’s a standardized room. "Like Diet Coke or iPhones, American rooms are a kind of product, built as quickly and cheaply as possible to a standardized specification. " Article describing the standard American room as viewed through youtube videos.
I do not enjoy Facebook - I find it cloying and impossible - but I am there every day. Paul Ford writes about social media, the ceaseless flow of time, and narratives - or, "Facebook and the Epiphanator".
The Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Paul Ford. When it comes to IVF, in-vitro fertilization, nothing is normal. Your world is upside-down. Your doctor compliments your wife on her monkeys. Then, when every dollar and exertion has gone toward a single hour of hope, it begins to snow.
“Watching the video I thought that it was wise of Major League Baseball to combine this sort of sentimental moment with mass speculative litigation. It kept brand values strong. I felt strangely grateful that I could have a moment to remember that afternoon. Surprised by the evidence of both copyright violation and father-daughter affection.” —Paul Ford, “Nanolaw with Daughter” [more inside]
Paul Ford is back with six-word reviews of SxSW 2009 music (previously in 2008). Also be sure to check out Paul's (another Paul's) SxSW Artist Catalog (previously) for further SxSW music metadata goodness.
Paul Ford's Ftrain has a great piece on Micrsoft Word, writing, and the web. His stream-of-consciousness essay has hilarious nuggets like the "computer science axiom 'all software expands until it can send mail.'" There's a couple illustrations worth noting: the first looks like Word with all the tool bar icons enabled, and the other is Word's paperclip assistant interfering with an especially private moment. Great stuff.