Photo
Competition was especially keen, and they did use my middle name.

Competition was especially keen, and they did use my middle name.

Photo
Short but sweet. And personal, which was nice.

Short but sweet. And personal, which was nice.

Photo
Telling me how pleased you were with the response didn’t really do it for me.

Telling me how pleased you were with the response didn’t really do it for me.

Photo
It wasn’t much comfort. I did feel a bit better when I joined the NYT and realized that we owned the Globe, though.

It wasn’t much comfort. I did feel a bit better when I joined the NYT and realized that we owned the Globe, though.

Photo
I’m so old that I applied for an internship at an *evening* newspaper. Didn’t get that, either.

I’m so old that I applied for an internship at an *evening* newspaper. Didn’t get that, either.

Photo
I had no reason applying for this one except that it was New Orleans. Still kinda disappointed even now.

I had no reason applying for this one except that it was New Orleans. Still kinda disappointed even now.

Photo
When I tell people that I couldn’t even wrangle an internship with my present employer, I don’t just mean *right now*.

When I tell people that I couldn’t even wrangle an internship with my present employer, I don’t just mean *right now*.

Link

antheaws:

While there is real value in making almost any data set publicly available, and the presumption should always be to publish public data sets, we often depend on the argument “transparency is better” without spending the time and energy to flesh out the case that a particular dataset is worth the cost to the public of publishing it. 

(Source: antheaws)

Photo
Best internship rejection letter I ever got.

Best internship rejection letter I ever got.

Text

Magic Removal

After Aaron Swartz’s death earlier this month, my friend Adrian wrote that on Twitter as a way of explaining what kind of software developer Aaron was. The ticket that Aaron filed that led to removing the magic from Django is classic Swartz:
My biggest issue with Django right now is that it’s so hard and heavy to get started….Imagine how many more people would just start using Django, instead of putting it off or giving up. Imagine how people would start using bits and pieces of Django everywhere, instead of just their website.
Not all of Aaron’s suggestions made it into the “magic-removal" branch of Django, and eventually into the main codebase. But his goals - simplicity, a closer understanding between programmer and tool - were enormously influential, as Adrian says.

My friend and colleague Dan Chudnov, a library hacker who met Aaron back in 2001, brought up the magic removal example today at an event he organized to talk about Aaron’s life and work. It struck me, sitting there, just how appropriate the phrase was. When you think about it, much of Aaron’s work involved removing the magic.

We live in a complex time, with more complicated structures and procedures and relationships. There are so many things that we do not understand that we could, if the barriers in the way could be taken down. If we could only remove the magic that keeps us from understanding how things work. I think Aaron tried to do that, by making as much information as possible public information, and by making it easier to organize and share that information.

I’d like to think there’s a parallel to journalism, too. Good journalism - especially good public service journalism - is all about magic removal, about putting the reader in a position to understand why and how decisions are made, and to be able to put herself squarely into the conversation. The best feature writers can demystify just about anything, no matter how unknowable it seems on the surface. I think Aaron was working on the same thing, albeit in a different way.

To the list of descriptions we’ve seen of Aaron in the past two weeks: hacker, writer, thinker, activist, prodigy, friend and son, let’s add one more: magic remover. And let’s think about how we can remove some of the magic that remains.
Tags: aaronsw