Ben Crowder / Blog

Blog: #learning

A reminder for my future self: when the making well runs dry, it’s good to spend some time on learning and studying. (Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost creatively, but I’ve started working through QGIS tutorials and reading up on Beziér curve algorithms and it seems to be helping. Thinking and journaling a lot also makes a difference.)

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Links #16

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I recently came across Maggie Appleton’s article on digital gardens. Oh my goodness, this is delightful. I’m sure some small part of it is just nostalgia for the old days of the web, but the idea seems good and solid nonetheless. I love digital gardens. (See Mike Caulfield’s The Garden and the Stream and Swyx’s Digital Garden Terms of Service for more in this vein.)

Exploring some of these gardens led me to the idea of learning in public (also see Gift Egwuenu’s Learning in Public talk). Very closely related to digital gardens, of course, but a different angle to look at it from. It also nicely parallels the working in public idea I posted about recently.

I’m looking forward to adopting more of these practices myself. Not sure yet exactly what form that will take, but at the moment I’m thinking it’ll probably be the notes system I mentioned. While that would be doable with the website engine I have now, it wouldn’t be very ergonomic, so I’m probably going to retool. (And by probably I mean almost certainly, because I am an inveterate toolmaker at heart. I’ve written out plans for a new version of Slash, my blog engine, that will easily support notes as well as blog posts and web pages. More on that soon.)

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Confession: I’ve recently taken up the habit of studying textbooks for fun. (Well, for knowledge and enlightenment, but it also happens to be fun.) While I work at a library and have access to a considerate number of textbooks there, for now I’m sticking with open educational resources, the better to see where things are at in 2019.

For the first round, I chose economics and criminal law, since my knowledge of both is meager at best. Via the Open Textbook Library, I found Economics: Theory Through Applications and UMN’s criminal law textbook.

I’ve been working through both books at a moderate pace, and so far, they’re good. It’s slower going than regular nonfiction, of course, but studying topics methodically like this is something I’ve missed. (Outside of my CS coursework for my master’s, that is.)

Also, thanks to a reference in the criminal law textbook, I’m now also reading Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. While it too is slower going (it was published in 1765), it’s surprisingly readable, and learning about England’s common law of yore is a delight.

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Learning Haskell, day 1

I’ve missed learning new programming languages, so I’m now teaching myself Haskell for fun. I’ll post my progress as I go along.

Initial impressions based off what I know at this point: Haskell is very functional. The code looks different to my imperative-language eyes, though I’m intrigued by how short Haskell code often seems to be. Oh, and there are monads, though right now I have no idea what those are.

I’m excited to delve deeper into a pure functional language — I’ve done some limited functional programming in Python, and I have a cursory knowledge of Lisp, but I haven’t written anything real in a functional language before. (And I do plan to write a real project in Haskell. Not sure what it’ll be yet.)

At this point, I’ve installed the Haskell Platform (I would have done it via Homebrew but it looks like there are issues with the recipe), and I’m planning to work through Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! and possibly Write Yourself a Scheme in 48 Hours.

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