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Biweekly links for 01/04/2010

by Michael Nielsen on January 4, 2010
  • How We Miscalculated | Print Article | Newsweek.com
    • Andy Grove on the Intel floating-point bug. Interesting throughout, including this comment on how insulated most CEOs are: “But most CEOs are in the center of a for-titled palace, and news from the outside has to percolate through layers of people from the periphery where the action is. For example, I was one of the last to understand the implications of the Pentium crisis. It took a barrage of relentless criticism to make me realize that something had changed and that we needed to adapt to the new environment. We could change our ways and embrace the fact that we had become a household name and a consumer giant, or we could keep our old ways and not only miss an opportunity to nurture new customer relationships but also suffer damage to our reputation and well-being.”
  • Dive Into HTML5
    • From Mark Pilgrim, of the superb “Dive Into Python”.
  • Industry of Change: Linux Storms Hollywood
    • How Linux won in Hollywood.
  • Linux at the movies
    • In Hollywood, Linux has apparently almost completely won: “In this upside-down world where Windows and Mac are minority operating systems, Linux evangelists would be hard-pressed to find anyone left to convert. The free operating system built by the people for the people has been embraced foremost by film studios.”
  • Magnus Carlsen’s Blog
    • Arguably the strongest chess player in the world, Magnus Carlsen has a blog.
  • How I Work: Bill Gates
    • I was surprised by how email-centric his life sounds.

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5 Comments
  1. Iztok permalink

    The link ‘Industry of Change:’ is outdated: it is claimed in the comments that Linux will never be able to compete with IRIX on SGI. Now, after 8 years, IRIX has retired and all SGI machines run Linux.

    [MN: Note the other link on this subject, which makes similar points. I linked to the 2002 piece because it was an excellent action summary on the ground as the change to Linux was actually taking place. It’d be nice to have a similarly detailed retrospective now.]

  2. Superb links as always, Michael … thank you!

    The Grove story also is excellent. Much more material relating to the Intel/Moore/Grove narrative (which is *very* carefully designed) can be found in the Burgelman/Grove book Strategy Is Destiny (BibTeX below).

    P. 65: “One of the toughest challenges is to make people see that self-evident truths are no longer true. I recall going to see Gordon [Moore] and asking what a new management would do if we were replaced. The answer was clear: get out of DRAM [computer memory]. So, I suggested to Gordon that we go out through the revolving door, come back in, and do it ourselves.”

    Here what Grove is saying about Intel’s cultural adaptation is similar to what Zeilberger is saying about mathematics, namely, that changing times require new narratives.

    Also, I had no idea that anyone but me was a fan of Magnus’ chess blog! For which, thanks too! 🙂

    —–
    @book{***, Author = {Robert A. Burgelman and Andrew S. Grove}, Publisher = {Simon and Schuster}, Title = {Strategy Is Destiny: How Strategy-Making Shapes a Company’s Future}, Year = 2002}

  3. John – I suspect you’d enjoy Robert Colwell’s book “The Pentium Chronicles”, if you haven’t already read it. Great account of a big engineering project.

  4. Thank you Michael. May I say that (along with many folks) I am looking forward very much to your book The Future of Science?

    My generation was taught that mathematics, science, and engineering are more-or-less isolated creative activities, whereas narrative “just happens” … and historians write it about later. But reading between-the-lines of the links that you post, it seems that you take an interest in a two-way flow between narrative and science.

    Certainly (for example) Gordon Moore and Andy Grove left very little of Intel’s corporate narrative to chance … and this constructive attitude (it seems to me) is spreading more broadly in mathematics, science, and engineering … and in the popular culture too … with consequences that are (for me) hard to foresee.

    Anyway, please let me again express my thanks for the wonderful links you provide … and my eager anticipation of your book!

  5. John – The futurist Peter Schwartz has commented, wisely it seems to me, that science fiction authors write the stories that shape what children who grow up to be scientists and engineers want to do. Narrative certainly matters!

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