Of algorithms, apps and autism

I know that everybody who gives a damn has been reading the March issue of Wired magazine (much discussed for Chris Anderson’s preview of his forthcoming Free) about a month and a half ago, and I know that for someone who used to read it in the pre-Condé Nast days it is considered uncool to be still reading it, but what the heck, I still find it interesting and I still like to wait (forever) until my paper copy comes in the mail. Three articles on topics I found interesting, if you’d just like to skim through the highlights:

  • “This Psychologist Might Outsmart the Math Brains Competing for the Netflix prize, on how devilishly difficult it is to create a noticeably better recommendation algorithm – even for something that comes with a lot of descriptive variables and data points, like movies; but kudos to Netflix for opening up the data and trying the crowdsourcing route;
  • “The Brash Boys at 37signals”, on the latest personality cult in the software industry and on David Heinemeier Hansson’s and Jason Fried’s endearing disdain for growth, venture capital, and other people;
  • The somewhat overpromisingly titled “The Truth About Autism” (for one thing, we still don’t know where it comes from), a look at the achievements of autism activists Amanda Baggs (more about her here), Michelle Dawson and others, which highlight the uncommon cognitive strengths of at least some autistic people and may be close to sparking a new civil rights movement  (a stretch? remember, until 1974 homosexuality was a mental illness for the psychiatric establishment).


One thought on “Of algorithms, apps and autism

  1. Hi Paola,

    I ran across your blog a few months ago and find it amazing. How do you find the time? In two languages, no less. It is also amazing that despite our very different lifestyles (career vs stay at home mom) we still have the same taste in fiction.

    Thanks for your postings on autism. As you remember, my son David is a nonverbal, “low-functioning” autistic who types for communication. He writes beautiful poetry and is very talented mathematically. He has a website davidteplitz.com.

    My regards to you and O. I often think of you.


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