Bookmarked Ten Ways to Lose Your Literature by Ed Simon, Author at The Millions (

All literature is of a similar resistance against time, mortality, finitude, limitation. To write it to commit an act of faith, to pray that what words you’ve assembled shall last longer than you, and that they’ll hopefully be found by at least someone who shall be, however briefly, changed.

Ed Simon explores the world of lost literature. He breaks this down into ten ideas.

Literature as merely a fragment:

Literature as fragment, literature as rough draft, literature as the discarded. The history of writing is also the shadow history of the abandoned, a timeline of false-starts and of aborted attempts.

Lost literature as ‘wish fufillment’:

When it comes to such forgotten, hidden, and destroyed texts, Kelly argues that a “lost book is susceptible to a degree of wish fulfillment. The lost book… becomes infinitely more alluring simply because it can be perfect only in the imagination.” Hidden words have a literary sublimity because they are hidden; their lacunae functions as theme.

Literature as cultural memory:

In A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-day Iraq by Fernando Baez argues that “books are not destroyed as physical objects but as links to memory… There is no identity without memory. If we do not remember what we are, we don’t know what we are.”

Literature and the hope of being found:

There is no discussing lost literature without consideration of that which is found. Just as all literature is haunted by the potential of oblivion, so all lost books are animated by the redemptive hope of their rediscovery.

Literature and the subline:

Because the gulf between printed word and the meanings which animate them is a medium for sublimity, the entirety of all that which we don’t know and can never read as infinite as the universe itself.

Literature and the rhizomatic revision:

A final copy is the result of writing, but is not writing itself. It rather represents the aftermath of a struggle between the author and the word, merely the final iteration of something massive, and copious, and large spreading its tendrils unseen backwards into a realm of lost literature. Revision is a rhizomatic thing, each one of the branches of potential writing hidden and holding aloft the tiny plant. A final draft is the corpse left over after the life that is writing has ended.

Literature and the limits of the inert:

A script is an inert thing, while the play is the thing forever marked by its own impermanence.

Literature, fairy tales and anonymous authors:

So many variations, so many lost stories, whispered only to infants in swaddling clothe over millennia. We can never know what exactly the earliest version of those stories was like; we’ll never know the names of those who composed them.

Literature, fairy tales and anonymous authors:

So many variations, so many lost stories, whispered only to infants in swaddling clothe over millennia. We can never know what exactly the earliest version of those stories was like; we’ll never know the names of those who composed them.

Literature and the tangent of translation:

Translation is feeling about in a darkened room and being able to discern the outline of the door, but it doesn’t give one the ability to step through into the other room (only perhaps to hear some muffled conversation with an ear pressed against the wall).

When a tongue has genuinely stopped moving there is an insurmountable difference separating us from its literature

Literature as a belief in the future:

Literature is a vote of confidence in the future, in the present, in the past – it’s a vote of confidence in other people. The Future Library Project is in keeping with those theorists who are concerned with “deep time,” with the profoundly long view and arc of human history as it rushes away from us.

There are so many interesting ideas in this piece about the purpose and place of literature. It is one of those pieces to come back to and dig into further and possibly beyond just ‘literature’. For example, the idea of the rhizomatic revision has me thinking about music and the act of remixing and remastering.

“Clive Thompson | @pomeranian99
in Clive Thompson on Twitter: “In @The_Millions, @WithEdSimon alerts me to two fascinating books which I’ve just ordered: One is “The Book of Lost Books”, a study of literature that has been lost to time. The idea that Euripides wrote 72 more plays than we have is a gut punch (1/2)” / Twitter ()

CGP Grey talk about focusing on a theme, rather than a resolution or a goal. The argument is that this allows you to think about thinking and work from there. The challenge is picking something that is ‘broad, directional and resonant.’ This is similar to Kath Murdoch’s suggestion of focusing on a word, rather than a specific goal.

“Henrik Carlsson” in 2021: The Year of Music :: Henrik Carlsson’s Blog ()

Replied to Should I blog about my studies? Some thoughts… (Marginal Notes)

I should also mention that you need to think through potential ethical issues. If any posts you write discuss people, whether authors of texts, fellow students or academics, and especially participants (or the groups to which they belong), it’s crucial to think through potential ramifications and the impact your blogging might have. Then there’s how you refer to organisations such as schools, your own university, professional bodies etc). You will doubtless have been issued your university’s ethical code of conduct and will likely have been (or will be) required to make an ethics submission. Revisit these in the light of your blogging.

Thank you Ian for your elaboration. I am really intrigued by the ethical side of things. I often wonder about this in a general sense in regards to sharing online.
Bookmarked Thread by @mcklann on Thread Reader App (

Thread by @mcklann: I’ve been using @hypothes_is for collaborative annotation of both primary and secondary sources since 2018. It is the best digital pedagogical tool I have encountered. Some things I’ve learned: A……

Mary Klann reflects upon her use of Hypothesis in the classroom as a means of collaborative communication.

The best things about @hypothes_is, according to me:
You hear from more students, more often.
It provides a consistent, flexible platform for student-student interaction AND student-instructor interaction.
It is free and open source.
It is easy to use.
IT IS FUN! Use it!

Bookmarked The UX of LEGO Interface Panels – George Cave (

Piloting an ocean exploration ship or Martian research shuttle is serious business. Let’s hope the control panel is up to scratch. Two studs wide and angled at 45°, the ubiquitous “2×2 decorated slope” is a LEGO minifigure’s interface to the world.

These iconic, low-resolution designs are the perfect tool to learn the basics of physical interface design. Armed with 52 different bricks, let’s see what they can teach us about the design, layout and organisation of complex interfaces.

Welcome to the world of LEGO UX design.

Organised chaos

At a glance, the variety of these designs can be overwhelming, but it’s clear that some of these interfaces look far more chaotic than others. Most interfaces in our world contain a blend of digital screens and analog inputs like switches and dials. These LEGO panels are no different.

Plotting the panels across these two axes reveals a few different clusters. Screens with an accompanying row of buttons sit in the top left. A small cluster of very organised switch panels lies to the far right. The centre bottom is occupied by some wild concepts that are hard to understand, even after several glances.

Design positioning with LEGO, in LEGO

Designing a complex machine interface is a juggling act of many different factors from ergonomics to engineering. But we can break down the problem into two key questions:

How can we differentiate between the function of different inputs?
How can we organise the many inputs and outputs so that we understand how they relate to each other?

Let’s take a deeper look at tackling these two challenges in LEGO.

Differentiating inputs

What could cause 400 WWII pilots to raise the landing gear on their B-17 bomber just before touchdown? Catastrophic pilot error, or something more fundamental?

It was the psychologist Alphonsis Chapanis who first suggested that the high rate of crash landings might be the fault of poor interface design. The adjacent landing gear and flap control knobs were identically shaped. The pilots never stood a chance.

B-17 belly landing, and the shape coding that helped to eradicate the problem. Source: Wikipedia

His temporary solution was to glue differently shaped strips of rubber to each switch, enabling blind operation by touch alone. This gave rise to the idea of shape coding and a system of differentiation still being followed in aircraft cockpits today.

We can compare the three interfaces below to see this in action. Ignore the overall layout, it’s the differences between individual switches that matter here. Imagine trying to feel for one of these buttons without looking. The left panel (“Slope 45 2 x 2 with 12 Buttons”) would require careful hand-eye co-ordination. The right panel (“Aircraft Multiple Flight Controls”) clearly distinguishes between the throttle (large, linear vertical movement), toggle switches (round vertical flick) and the push buttons (square push-in).

Left to right: terrible, poor and better input differentiation

Differentiation like this is a still a very real problem today. In 2015, Ford recalled 13,500 Lincoln SUVs because drivers speeding down the motorway were mistakenly shutting off the engine when they tried to activate sport mode. See if you can spot why:

Ford Lincoln MKC before the Engine start/stop button was moved. Source: CNN

Shape coding is one approach to differentiation, but there are many others. Colour coding is perhaps the only one to break into our everyday vocabulary, but we can add four more: size, texture, position and operation coding. Together these six are our allies in the design of error-proof interfaces.

The 6 basic codings. Notice that many of these examples actually combine multiple codings in one.

Size, shape and colour-coding are the fundamentals: quick-wins that can fix a lot of interface problems. Texture is also a great differentiator for blind operation, particularly on small dials requiring precise control.

Position-coding is seemingly straightforward but is often under used. Products with a clear default ergonomic position (like binoculars or a gaming console) can exploit the natural position of the hand to differentiate between primary and secondary actions.

Finally, operation-coding ascribes different types of movements (like a twist or vertical slide) to different inputs. This can be immensely powerful when the switch motion reinforces the operation behind it, e.g. a crane lever which raises the crane when the lever is raised.

The six different codings in use in the LEGO interfaces: size, shape, colour, texture, position, operation

Differentiation is a good first step that will avoid confusion between adjacent switches. But its only with organisation that we can create a clear and accurate mental model of the interface for the user.

Organising inputs

Compare the three panels below. Identical layouts, but the blue one is much clearer than the white. This is the gestalt principles at work, identifying related items with a common region.

Basic differentiation by clustering

Easy. But how are you going to decide which inputs to cluster together?

I like to use Soviet control panels as a starting point. These beautiful walls of nonsensical dials and levers are brought to life when arranged in a giant factory schematic. It would be hard to find a more literal organisation of the information.

Soviet control panels in action. Source: Present and Correct

These panels are what I’d called a consolidated interface. Every piece of input and feedback has been moved onto the same panel. This is the approach that Dyson took with their car. Now imagine the opposite, moving each of those lights and switches to the actual location of that valve in the factory. Sounds ludicrous, but these air vents in the Audi TT show that this distributed approach can also be a great win for user experience. I wrote a lot more about these distributed interfaces last year.

Lego vehicle dashboard: distributed (left) vs. consolidated (right)

Back to the Soviet factories. Those interface panels were great for answering the question “does this valve let water into tank Б?”. But they’re very poor for answering “are all water valves closed?” or “where are all the switches I need to prepare for the shift changeover?”.

LEGO use the Soviet schematic approach for their fantasy orientated designs, because schematics are superb at providing a mental model of the inner workings of an alien system. However for everyday use, there are some other approaches that work better.

LEGO Insectoid and UFO interfaces. I wonder what these buttons actually do?

Feature based organisation is the most common, perhaps even the “default” design philosophy. Group together all the inputs and outputs for each product feature. This COVID-19 ventilator from Cambridge Consultants is a wonderful example but we also see this a lot in cars, with a cluster of switches for the airflow control and all of the lights on one control stick.

COVID-19 ventilator by Cambridge Consultants with clear feature-based organisation. Source: Cambridge Consultants

Organising by operation means putting all the switches that function in a certain way in the same place. I’ve no idea what all the valves in the picture below do, but I bet they don’t all open things that relate to each other. Anytime you see a row of switches that look and function the same, but control disparate parts of the system, you’ve come across organisation by operation.

Source: Twitter @aglushko

Today most interfaces are effectively fly-by-wire, but historically the levers that you pulled in, say, a tractor cabin would literally move the hydraulic pistons beneath the seat to a new position. Routing all these different electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems efficiently can severely compromise your interface clustering, leading to organisation by technology.

The modern equivalent of this is surprisingly common. Any touchscreen with buttons by the side exhibits this technology-based split. In a future world, SpaceX might embed these physical controls right inside the screen next to the information they affect, but for now they sit awkwardly by the side as if nothing is wrong.

Bob and Doug in the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Source: SpaceX

In LEGO we find the feature based organisation in the “Monitor with -19° pattern”. Two clear clusters, perhaps one for temperature control and another for vital signs monitoring. In the second panel below, I don’t know what all those switches do, but they seem to be clustered based on their operation, not because of what they will operate.

There are many LEGO panels with a technology split like the SpaceX Dragon capsule, but I like to imagine that this early 90s police control unit was forced to divide the audio and video playback because the newer tape reel technology was incompatible with the older analog phone line system. This is organisation by technology in action.

L-to-R: organisation by feature, operation, technology and use case

All of our approaches so far: organisation by features, operation or technology, have been grounded in properties of the system, not of the user. Organisation by use-case is the antidote to this, a clustering based on the daily routines and tasks of the user.

Imagine arriving for work each day at the LEGO body scanner factory. Grouping the switches by task (prepare machine, load body, process scan…) would mean splitting up the radiation and scanner buttons into many different regions. More complex for the computer, but more streamlined for the operator. As the designer, only you and your users will be the judge of what works best.

But George, which is the best interface?

I often say there’s no such thing as the best interface, but there are plenty of examples of the worst interface.

However I do have three favourites. Beautiful, visual layouts with clearly differentiated inputs and simple, clean organisation. I’d be proud to sit behind the console of any of them.

Beautiful interface panels

George Cave breaks down the different interface panels in Lego. This includes exploring coding associated with size, colour, shape, texture, position and texture.

“Charlie Owen” in The UX of LEGO Interface Panels – George Cave ()

Bookmarked Les Everett’s epic quest to uncover Australia’s ‘lost’ cricket pitches by Toby Hussey (ABC News)

Many of the long-forgotten pitches Les Everett finds are overgrown, and it’s been decades since they last heard the echo of willow striking leather, but he says they all have a story to tell.

It is fascinating to think that there are so many old cricket pitches out there, lost in time.
Bookmarked Maybe we shouldn’t change the date of Australia Day after all (IndigenousX)

You cannot say that Australia day embraces all Australians while simultaneously saying that people who think the date should change are unpatriotic by “turning their backs on Australian values”. That rhetoric sends a very clear message that diversity of opinion is not an important Australian value, and it is further problematic when Aboriginal people are seen as synonymous with the Change The Date movement. It further reinforces the increasingly common observation that the ideal of free speech is only invoked to defend racialised hate speech, and only in one direction.

Luke Pearson explains that changing the date of Australia Day is only the first step in changing Australian culture.

And just as nobody should give you a Gold medal for Weightlifting just for joining the gym, we can’t just use changing the date of Australia to pretend we have fixed racism and then throw a party to celebrate how harmonious we already are.

In an extract from Truth-Telling, Henry Reynolds unpacks some of the context and concerns associated with Australia Day.

Replied to 2 week social media vacation (

I actually deleted the Apps Sunday night, and I wrote everything above before going to bed. This morning I realized that one thing I’ll need to think about is how I get news? Normally I start my day in Twitter Search looking at the News tab and trending hashtags to get a sense of what’s happening in the world. This has been my strategy for a couple years because television and radio news are not designed to inform as much as to keep you watching and listening. And while I read some print news on my phone, it tends to be focussed on the coronavirus or US politics these days… and it seems to be more commentary and opinion than actual news.

I always find social media vacations intriguing, especially about what is particularly gained. I was particularly taken by the fact that you are only doing it out of curiousity.

There is no specific reason I’m doing this, other than curiosity. I want to see what I miss, and how I will use my time. I think I’ll end up with more audio book and podcast listening time, and I’m hoping that I’ll write and meditate more. Time will tell.

I was really interested in how you start your day in the Twitter Search. Personally, I follow Twitter via a feed in Inoreader. This kind of feels like a semi-vacation, especially when you have the shock when opening the app again for whatever reason. You kind of forget about the additional features and functions that you miss out on. I certainly do not post information as much as I used to.

Replied to

I have always wondered about this Joel. I also wonder about things like ‘Turn It In’ and whether that causes issues when submitting. Ian Guest and Deb Netolicky might have some thoughts.
Liked Nick Cave – The Red Hand Files – Issue #131 – This world is shit. (The Red Hand Files)

As for shitty art, all art is perfectly imperfect — like the world itself — and to some extent value judgments on art are largely subjective and beside the point. Creating art is about growing the world and increasing its reach, and it has more to do with the act of creation itself than what is actually made. Anything that animates us creatively in a positive way — be it the grand design of a great architectural wonder or the Big Bang of a child’s drawing — is a re-enactment of the original creation story. Whether we realise it or not, making art is a religious encounter as it is our attempts to grow beyond ourselves that energise the soul of the universe.

Liked The Monster Guide to Data Validation in Google Sheets: Free Course by Yagi Yagi (
  1. 00:00 Intro to custom formulas in data validation part 2.
  2. 00:27 Greater than the current day’s date.
    1. Formula example: =B6>TODAY()
  3. 02:28 Date must be a weekday.
    1. Formula example: =AND(WEEKDAY(B7) <> 7, WEEKDAY(B7) <> 1)
  4. 04:47 No more than 15 characters in the cell.
    1. Formula example: =LEN(B8) <= 15
  5. 06:08 Must meet specific phone number parameters.
    1. Formula example: =AND(LEN(B9) = 10, NOT(REGEXMATCH(TO_TEXT(B9),"D|s")))
  6. 10:14 Whole numbers between 1-20.
    1. Formula example: =AND(ISNUMBER(B10),
Liked Moral and Refuge (

I want to do better at not alienating people and helping people transition to a better world. I want to help people see the benefits of a healthy planet, a healthy workplace, a healthy society. My first step is to check my assumptions and biases by giving myself a bit of refuge from everyone else’s assumptions and biases.

Replied to The Industry Standard Myth by Chris (

Turns out that, for the most part, a word processor is just a word processor, a spreadsheet is just a spreadsheet, a video editor is just a video editor, and so on. It’s their points of difference that make them interesting, but if you’ve never tried anything else then you won’t know what those difference are.

I enjoyed this Chris. It reminds me of an experience from a few years ago where we moved to Dropbox as a collaborative solution to fit with the ‘industry standards’, rather than grow and morph our expectations.

we can spend forever looking for the perfect fix. However, the fix is only part of the solution. In addition to going through the process involved in coming to a decision, what we actually do once we have made that decision to change is just as important. What everyone really needs to learn is how to overcome various hurdles and hiccups. So often people think that the answer to problem solving is to holla for the nearest technician. Although there are some issues which we can’t solve, there are many which we can with a little nous. No matter how simple the solution, there will always be a problem that needs to be overcome. We need then a change of mindset, not to simply change the program every time we have a problem.

It also has me thinking about my current work. I came into the role without any knowledge of the system we use. I begged, borrowed and listened my way through, tinkering and testing various pieces and processes. I actually think that it has been helpful in not having any knowledge, but instead having the right approach.

Bookmarked Love the world anyway by Anand Giridharadas (The.Ink)

Talking to Hannah Arendt’s new biographer about propaganda, evil, forgiveness, hope, and loving the world enough to believe that it can change

Anand Giridharadas speaks with Ann Heberlein about the life and work of Hannah Arendt. The two explore Arendt’s brilliant, yet complex, thinking. Central to all this is a love of the world.

Arendt had been reconciled with the incompleteness of life, with the fragility of the world. She believes that it is a duty to love the world. Amor mundi, “love of the world,” means caring for life so that it can continue to exist. We must be able to love the world as it is, in all its brokenness and imperfection. To achieve that requires hope, hope that change is possible, hope for the future.

Associated with all of this is the importance of responsibility.

The potential to perform evil acts or to accept evil acts by others is present in us all. The antidote is not, as one might think, goodness, but rather reflection. Another concept that is central to Arendt’s thinking is responsibility. Since every individual is free and has the power to influence the world and other people’s lives through their attitudes and actions, they also have a responsibility.

Reflecting upon the current situation, Heberlein says that people like Eichmann were maintaining order, whereas those storming the Capitol were trying to challenge it all. Alternatively, Richard Evans suggests that Donald Trump is not a fascist.

On Arendt, Jenny Mackness provides a different introduction through a breakdown of the book Between Past and Future.

Bookmarked Why Trump isn’t a fascist (

The storming of the Capitol on 6 January was not a coup. But American democracy is still in danger.

In comparing rise of Hitler and Mussolini, Richard Evans explains that Donald Trump’s roll as an isolationist is counter to the fascist mandate for war and conquest.

The society Hitler wanted was portrayed in the final minutes of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), with endless serried ranks of uniformed SS troops marching across the screen like well-oiled automata. The reality was different, as the majority of Germans retreated from this dehumanising prospect into their own private lives.

Trump by contrast has encouraged a warped vision of personal freedom: a society in which people aren’t subject to government regulation or supervision, where anarchy and confusion reign, self-restraint is abandoned, violence is unchecked, and self-aggrandising corruption permeates politics.

This makes me wonder the use of the word ‘fascism’.

Bookmarked Why Do We Keep Reading The Great Gatsby? (The Paris Review)

‘The Great Gatsby’ is not a book about people, per se. Secretly, it’s a novel of ideas.

In an introduction to the Modern Library edition of The Great Gatsby, Wesley Morris explores the lasting legacy of the novel. Morris argues that it is the sort of novel that you can appreciate without having been there. Instead it is a novel which dives into the world of identity and mystery, a story with so many gaps that it entices us to reread to check. This is best captured in one sitting.

In one day, you can sit with the brutal awfulness of nearly every person in this book—booooo, Jordan; just boo. And Mr. Wolfsheim, shame on you, sir; Gatsby was your friend. In a day, you no longer have to wonder whether Daisy loved Gatsby back or whether “love” aptly describes what Gatsby felt in the first place. After all, The Great Gatsby is a classic of illusions and delusions. In a day, you reach those closing words about the boats, the current, and the past, and rather than allow them to haunt, you simply return to the first page and start all over again.

Sarah Churchwell, Philip McGowan, William Blazek and Melvyn Bragg talk about The Great Gatsby on the In Our Time podcast. They discuss Fitzgerald’s legacy and how it came to be so important within the American literacy canon.

For an audio version of the book, the team at NPR’s Planet Money have done a reading after the book was added to the Public Domain:

“Cory Doctorow” in Pluralistic: 18 Jan 2021 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow ()

Replied to

My society/technology podcasts are: RN Future Tense and Download This Show.
Replied to Blog comments on social media (

There have been a couple instances where a blog comment on social media added enough value to the conversation or idea shared in my post that it inspired me to quote that comment myself, in the blog comments. However, it wouldn’t be sustainable for me to try to do that all the time. I don’t really have a solution, I think it’s just a matter of accepting that people will choose to comment on social media sites, and blogs are not as social (anymore).

I think that comments are really interesting, especially when pieces are POSSE’d across different platforms. Just to add context, Twitter replies are brought back into my site, whereas I need to manually add in any responses made on your site.  That was one of the reasons I chose to also post my short reply (linked to a longer reply) on Twitter.

On a side note, as I collect my comments, it was funny to notice that I have written three comments on your blog in regards to commuting.