Author Archives

Letter to my doctoral advisor, in flight during the COVID crisis

Dear Hervé, It sounds from your latest post as if you have landed in Wyoming, where the speech acts of the pandemic have at last captured your flight-by-car. Can you describe Wyoming? You said it was beautiful. I don’t know how much of its scenery you might be able to access at present, but my […]

Red Glare

The Fourth of July never feels right without fireworks, for me, but not for patriotic reasons. My father’s birthday is the Fourth of July. When he was small, he says, he thought the fireworks were for him. One of my nephews, born the same day, may now grow up to believe the same thing. Fireworks […]

Open letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, 12/20/15

Douglas Merrill of ZestFinance is quoted in the article Beyond Mere Numbers, on new measures being used by credit scorers, as saying he finds the use of social media data to determine creditworthiness “personally creepy.” He ought to be thinking harder about the metrics his firm is deciding to use instead. The use of borrowers’ […]

A 1994 interview with John Linnell of They Might Be Giants

Much of my life has been driven by an unstoppable desire to see what I could get away with. When I was seventeen, and editor of my high-school literary magazine, I decided to see if I could get an interview with They Might Be Giants. At the time, TMBG were not yet the creators of […]

Working notes on expert users and mental models of the Internet

Researching users’ mental models of aspects of the Internet is one of the things I’m supposed to do for my fellowship this year. I’ve done some work on mental models myself, both informally and as the secret pilot for my dissertation. I’ve been following the work of my colleague Arne Renkema-Padmos on the same topic […]