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Gabriela Rodriguez
Lives in Portland, OR
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Gabriela Rodriguez

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Getting ready for food truck rock n roll!!!
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Gabriela Rodriguez

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Nils Hitze originally shared:
 
Jesus Christ, WHAT? Damn it. I so have to shut up on the Internet if i EVER want to visit an IO again
Leigh Van Bryan wrote the message weeks before he was due to go to Los Angeles with friend Emily Banting and it was picked up by American special agents.
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Este lunes 14 de Noviembre a las 18hrs charla sobre Datos Públicos en Uruguay y hackaton del 3 y 4 de Diciembre.

http://gaba.protest.net/blog/2011/11/11/desarrollando-america-en-el-dia-del-futuro/
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Awesome. I was there three years ago. Beautiful. 

Gabriela Rodriguez

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Dizzying but invisible depth

You just went to the Google home page.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit of about how browsers work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play HTTP, HTML, CSS, ECMAscript, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just connected your computer to www.google.com.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how networks work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play DNS, TCP, UDP, IP, Wifi, Ethernet, DOCSIS, OC, SONET, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just typed www.google.com in the location bar of your browser.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how operating systems work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a kernel, a USB host stack, an input dispatcher, an event handler, a font hinter, a sub-pixel rasterizer, a windowing system, a graphics driver, and more, all of those written in high-level languages that get processed by compilers, linkers, optimizers, interpreters, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just pressed a key on your keyboard.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know about bit about how input peripherals work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a power regulator, a debouncer, an input multiplexer, a USB device stack, a USB hub stack, all of that implemented in a single chip. That chip is built around thinly sliced wafers of highly purified single-crystal silicon ingot, doped with minute quantities of other atoms that are blasted into the crystal structure, interconnected with multiple layers of aluminum or copper, that are deposited according to patterns of high-energy ultraviolet light that are focused to a precision of a fraction of a micron, connected to the outside world via thin gold wires, all inside a packaging made of a dimensionally and thermally stable resin. The doping patterns and the interconnects implement transistors, which are grouped together to create logic gates. In some parts of the chip, logic gates are combined to create arithmetic and bitwise functions, which are combined to create an ALU. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bistable loops, which are lined up into rows, which are combined with selectors to create a register bank. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bus controllers and instruction decoders and microcode to create an execution scheduler. In another part of the chip, they're combined into address and data multiplexers and timing circuitry to create a memory controller. There's even more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Can we simplify further?

In fact, very scarily, no, we can't. We can barely comprehend the complexity of a single chip in a computer keyboard, and yet there's no simpler level. The next step takes us to the software that is used to design the chip's logic, and that software itself has a level of complexity that requires to go back to the top of the loop.

Today's computers are so complex that they can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. In turn the computers used for the design and manufacture are so complex that they themselves can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. You'd have to go through many such loops to get back to a level that could possibly be re-built from scratch.

Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work.

For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. That is the reason why many people can find computers so frustrating to use: there are so many things that can possibly go wrong that some of them inevitably will, but the complexity goes so deep that it's impossible for most users to be able to do anything about any error.

That is also why it's so hard for technologists and non-technologists to communicate together: technologists know too much about too many layers and non-technologists know too little about too few layers to be able to establish effective direct communication. The gap is so large that it's not even possible any more to have a single person be an intermediate between those two groups, and that's why e.g. we end up with those convoluted technical support call centers and their multiple tiers. Without such deep support structures, you end up with the frustrating situation that we see when end users have access to a bug database that is directly used by engineers: neither the end users nor the engineers get the information that they need to accomplish their goals.

That is why the mainstream press and the general population has talked so much about Steve Jobs' death and comparatively so little about Dennis Ritchie's: Steve's influence was at a layer that most people could see, while Dennis' was much deeper. On the one hand, I can imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Jobs did and the people he inspired: probably a bit less shiny, a bit more beige, a bit more square. Deep inside, though, our devices would still work the same way and do the same things. On the other hand, I literally can't imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Ritchie did and the people he inspired. By the mid 80s, Ritchie's influence had taken over, and even back then very little remained of the pre-Ritchie world.

Finally, last but not least, that is why our patent system is broken: technology has done such an amazing job at hiding its complexity that the people regulating and running the patent system are barely even aware of the complexity of what they're regulating and running. That's the ultimate bikeshedding: just like the proverbial discussions in the town hall about a nuclear power plant end up being about the paint color for the plant's bike shed, the patent discussions about modern computing systems end up being about screen sizes and icon ordering, because in both cases those are the only aspect that the people involved in the discussion are capable of discussing, even though they are irrelevant to the actual function of the overall system being discussed.

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Gabriela Rodriguez

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Plataforma de monitoreo basada en datos públicos y destinada a visualizar la problemática ambiental de la Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo.
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Leslie Poston originally shared:
 
Ugh
Mississippi's "Personhood" measure could outlaw birth control. And it's not an accident.
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You've GOT to be kidding.

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FOR those who question whether global warming is really happening, it is necessary to believe that the instrumental temperature record is wrong.
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Software Developer / Open Source Advocate
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Mom, programmer, woman, activist, partner, friend
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Currently
Portland, OR
Previously
Montevideo - San Francisco - Rome
Gabriela Rodriguez's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
MIT Media Lab: Ganging Up on Cyberbullying
blog.media.mit.edu

Ganging Up on Cyberbullying. This week, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer from New York ended his life after being persistently bullied on a socia

diagram-editor-for-google-plus
code.google.com

Diagram Editor for Google+ Hangouts

Inspector de Intereses
app.inspectordeintereses.cl

¡Estoy fiscalizando! El inspector de @votainteligente te muestra posibles conflictos de intereses.

La información es hermosa (o al menos útil)
tanconectados.com

Hace un tiempo dí con un blog (bastante famoso) que se llama Information is beautiful (la información es hermosa). Éste muestra de manera út

DATA - Google Groups
groups.google.com

Fwd: Lanzamiento, Fabrizio Scrollini, 8:38 AM. Re: organismos públicos que trabajen con software libre para dispositivos móviles? Gaba, 9/7/

Zia Montessori Elementary School
www.montessoriscout.com

Montessori EducationAll You'll Ever Need to Know. Montessori Introduction · The History of Montessori · Montessori in the News. For Pare

Montevideo
www.loosecubes.com

Check out Montevideo on Loosecubes. It's awesome!

Carsabi - Used Car Search
carsabi.com

Carsabi is a search engine for used cars. We add more than 15,000 new listings every day, from hundreds of dealerships and classifieds.

¿Qué pasa, Riachuelo?
quepasariachuelo.org.ar

Plataforma de monitoreo basada en datos públicos y destinada a visualizar la problemática ambiental de la Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo.

Hangout Pad for Google+ ALPHA - Chrome Web Store
chrome.google.com

Working prototype for collaborative coding on Google plus Hangouts. This is ALPHA

Plansharing
plansharing.com

This is just great, seriously. Plansharing doesn't eliminate face to face meetings, it just makes them less frequent. Every day a design