Hi y’all. This is a (late) issue of Warm Regards, a short newsletter where I talk about technology and learning and probably digital notetaking systems.
Speaking of this week I was reorganizing a bit of my digital life. I took the notes off of
my website, and dug through some of my old notes I had in org files, scattered
around my computer.
This is a deeply unpleasant task. One of the reasons I’m working on fancynote is
that I just feel like I’m constantly compromising in one form or another with
my notes. Any thing I could go all in on (org-mode, markdown notes, tiddlywiki)
comes with it’s own complexity and baggage. Of course making my own notetaking
software is probably going to result in a system just as complex, but at least
I’ll understand why it got that way.
My secret weapon here is thinking of notes as programs, and note-taking as
programming. As a field programming is almost entirely about managing
complexity, and there are a lot of ideas and tools it’s developed for dealing
with it, from static types to dependency management, that can be applied to
Anyways one of the things I came across in my archives is this incredible blog
post: Bringing magic back to
from Viznut. It starts off talking about bytebeats,
incredibly concise musical programs, and then uses them as an example of
magical technology. Not magic as in esoteric or hard to understand, but magic
as in deeply meaningful.
The magic we need more in today’s technological world is of the latter kind.
We should strive to increase deepness rather than outward complexity, human
virtuosity rather than consumerism, flexibility rather than effortlessness.
The mysteries should invite attempts at understanding and exploitation rather
than blind reliance or worship; this is also the key difference between
esoterica and superstition.
This conception of magic is so much richer than all that “we want to create a
magical user experience” bullshit so readily availble with most consumer
Taking it further:
One definition of magic, compatible with that in the Jargon
File, is that it breaks
people’s preconceptions of what is possible.
This is so cool. This is magic as a learning experience, recasting your ideas
and models of the world.
Seriously. Just listen to these bytebeats:
They’re musical spells. You can’t help but see them and wonder how?!. I’m
fascinated by these kinds of invocations as teaching and learning tools. Are
there spells in any field that can have this effect on people outside of it? If
you can think of any examples in whatever field you work in, I’d love to hear
What’s the most magical piece of technology you’ve used? Something that recast
the way you view the world, or taught you something, or changed how you behave.
It’s an incredibly high bar to strive for, but that’s the kind of technology I
want to make. I want to enable magical learning.
I’ve been listening to: Become a
Mountain by Dan Deacon