Pattern foramtion

Formerly: Reaction diffusion equations
How the leopard got its spots.

To mention:

Reaction diffusion equations
Turing, the Brusselator, morphogenesis etc.
Can I file Lichtenberg figures here?
Diffusion-limited aggregation?
Lapalacian growth?
Anything involving PDEs?

Patterns produced by electrical discharges on surfaces revealed by dusting with powdered red lead and sulphur. Sometimes termed 'Lichtenberg figures'. These experiments were conducted at Cragside in Northumberland, England, using a Wimshurst machine (electrostatic generator) and two 10-gallon Leiden jars. Current was conveyed to two rod conductors with a spark gap at which coated wires discs or plates were positioned. Lord Armstrong exhibited figures of the type produced at the Royal Society soiree at Burlington House in London on 16 June 1897. Plate 2 from Supplement to Lord Armstong's work on electric movement in air and William George Armstrong and Henry Stroud (London, Smith Elder & Co., 1899). The plate is inscribed below: "Plate II. POSITIVE INDUCTION DISCHARGE BETWEEN SMALL (POSITIVE) AND LARGE (NEGATIVE) DISCS." William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong (1810-1900) armaments manufacturer and industrialist was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1846
  • Team Prigogene
  • Ball, P. (2012). Pattern Formation in Nature: Physical Constraints and Self-Organising Characteristics. Architectural Design, 82(2), 22–27. DOI.
  • Bonabeau, E. (1997). From Classical Models of Morphogenesis to Agent-Based Models of Pattern Formation. Artificial Life, 3, 191–211.
  • Erban, R., Chapman, J., & Maini, P. (2007). A practical guide to stochastic simulations of reaction-diffusion processes. arXiv:0704.1908 [physics, Q-Bio]. Online.
  • Feldman, D. P., & Crutchfield, J. P.(2003). Structural information in two-dimensional patterns: Entropy convergence and excess entropy. Physical Review E, 67(5), 051104. DOI.
  • Halsey, T. C.(2000). Diffusion-limited aggregation: a model for pattern formation. Physics Today, 53(11), 36–41. DOI. Online.
  • Kim, T., Sewall, J., Sud, A., & Lin, M. C.(2007). Fast Simulation of Laplacian Growth. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 27(2), 68–76. DOI. Online.
  • Matsushita, M., & Fujikawa, H. (1990). Diffusion-limited growth in bacterial colony formation. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, 168(1), 498–506.
  • Meakin, P. (1986). A new model for biological pattern formation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 118(1), 101–113. DOI.
  • Motoike, I. N., & Imamura, H. T.(2010). Branching pattern formation that reflects the history of signal propagation. Physical Review E, 82(4), 046205. DOI. Online.
  • Turing, A. M.(1952). The chemical basis of morphogenesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 237(641), 37–72. DOI. Online.
  • Vicsek, T. (1984). Pattern Formation in Diffusion-Limited Aggregation. Phys. Rev. Lett., 53(24), 2281–2284. DOI.
  • Zenil, H. (2012). Turing Patterns with Turing Machines: Emergence and Low-level Structure Formation. arXiv:1210.1572. Online.

See original: The Living Thing Pattern foramtion

Intellectual property

Shoulders-of-giants, communit-of-scholars, market design, scarcity, collaboration, trolls, piracy.
Bioforge, open source, creative commons, DRM.

Nothing but chaos for now.

Chinese vs Western IP models

Bunnie Huang says

This fuzzy, gray relationship between companies and entrepreneurs is just one
manifestation of a much broader cultural gap between the East and the West.
The West has a “broadcast” view of IP and ownership:
good ideas and innovation are credited to a clearly specified set of authors
or inventors, and society pays them a royalty for their initiative and good
China has a “network” view of IP and ownership: the far-sight necessary to
create good ideas and innovations is attained by standing on the shoulders of
others, and as such there is a network of people who trade these ideas as
favors among each other.
In a system with such a loose attitude toward IP, sharing with the network is
necessary as tomorrow it could be your friend standing on your shoulders, and
you’ll be looking to them for favors.
This is unlike the West, where rule of law enables IP to be amassed over a
long period of time, creating impenetrable monopoly positions. It’s good for
the guys on top, but tough for the upstarts.

See original: The Living Thing Intellectual property

Plain-text blogging

Companion piece to academic writing workflow,
wherein I will mention how to make plaintext lifestyle choices available to non-academics, i.e.

  • people who don’t live inside text editors.
  • who don’t need equation support.
  • who don’t need citation support.

How hard can it be?

(long pause)

To mention:

  • gitit:

    Gitit is a wiki backed by a git, darcs, or mercurial filestore. Pages and
    uploaded files can be modified either directly via the VCS’s command-line
    tools or through the wiki’s web interface. Pandoc is used for markup
    processing, so pages may be written in (extended) markdown, reStructuredText,
    LaTeX, HTML, or literate Haskell, and exported in ten different formats,
    including LaTeX, ConTeXt, DocBook, RTF, OpenOffice ODT, and MediaWiki markup.

  • The few hundred other static site generators.

  • Pelican, which I use, and its twin Nikola and cousin Nikola.

  • preview tools such as marked, and restview.

  • Marsedit?

See original: The Living Thing Plain-text blogging

Machine information retrieval

“Searching for stuff on the computer”.

Cunning hacks for digging through word haystacks space with the computer.

Continuous Skip-gram model, bag of words, cunning kernels and vector differences.


  • word2vec

    “This tool provides an efficient implementation of the continuous bag-of-words
    and skip-gram architectures for computing vector representations of words.
    These representations can be subsequently used in many natural language
    processing applications and for further research.”

  • Luke

    “Lucene is an Open Source, mature and high-performance Java search engine. It
    is highly flexible, and scalable from hundreds to millions of documents.

    Luke is a handy development and diagnostic tool, which accesses already
    existing Lucene indexes and allows you to display and modify their content in
    several ways…”

  • whoosh

    “Whoosh is a fast, featureful full-text indexing and searching library
    implemented in pure Python. Programmers can use it to easily add search
    functionality to their applications and websites. Every part of how Whoosh
    works can be extended or replaced to meet your needs exactly.”

  • xapian

  • sphinx

  • lemur

To read

  • Jeff Dean’s CIKM Keynote.
    (that’s “Conference on Information and Knowledge Management” to you and me.)

    “Embedding vectors trained for the language modeling task have
    very interesting properties (especially the skip-gram model)”

    E(\text{hotter}) - E(\text{hot}) \approx E(\text{bigger}) - E(\text{big})
    E(\text{Rome}) - E(\text{Italy}) \approx E(\text{Berlin}) - E(\text{Germany})

    “Skip-gram model w/ 640 dimensions trained on 6B words of news text
    achieves 57% accuracy for analogy-solving test set.”

  • Karpathy, A., & Fei-Fei, L. (2014). Deep Visual-Semantic Alignments for Generating Image Descriptions. arXiv:1412.2306 [cs]. Online.

  • Le, Q. V., & Mikolov, T. (2014). Distributed Representations of Sentences and Documents. arXiv:1405.4053 [cs]. Online.

  • Mikolov, T., Chen, K., Corrado, G., & Dean, J. (2013). Efficient Estimation of Word Representations in Vector Space. arXiv:1301.3781 [cs]. Online.

  • Mikolov, T., Le, Q. V., & Sutskever, I. (2013). Exploiting Similarities among Languages for Machine Translation. arXiv:1309.4168 [cs]. Online.

  • Mikolov, T., Yih, W., & Zweig, G. (2013). Linguistic Regularities in Continuous Space Word Representations. In HLT-NAACL (pp. 746–751). Citeseer. Online.

  • Oz, C., & Leu, M. C.(2011). American Sign Language word recognition with a sensory glove using artificial neural networks. Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, 24(7), 1204–1213. Online.

  • Pennington, J., Socher, R., & Manning, C. D.(2014). GloVe: Global vectors for word representation. Proceedings of the Empiricial Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP 2014), 12. Online.

See original: The Living Thing Machine information retrieval


What do words mean anyway?

To mention: Wierzbicka’s semantic primes, Valiant’s PAC-learning, Wittgenstein, probably Mark Johnson if the over-writing doesn’t kill me. Logic-and-language philosophers, albeit dismissively. Classic AI symbolic reasoning approaches.

To read

  • Stolk, A., Noordzij, M. L., Verhagen, L., Volman, I., Schoffelen, J.-M., Oostenveld, R., … Toni, I. (2014). Cerebral coherence between communicators marks the emergence of meaning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(51), 18183–18188. DOI. Online.

    This one is worth it for the tag alone: “experimental semiotics”

    How can we understand each other during communicative interactions? An
    influential suggestion holds that communicators are primed by each other’s
    behaviors, with associative mechanisms automatically coordinating the
    production of communicative signals and the comprehension of their
    An alternative suggestion posits that mutual understanding
    requires shared conceptualizations of a signal’s use, i.e., “conceptual
    pacts” that are abstracted away from specific experiences. Both accounts
    predict coherent neural dynamics across communicators, aligned either to
    the occurrence of a signal or to the dynamics of conceptual pacts.
    coherence spectral-density analysis of cerebral activity simultaneously
    measured in pairs of communicators, this study shows that establishing
    mutual understanding of novel signals synchronizes cerebral dynamics across
    communicators’ right temporal lobes.
    This interpersonal cerebral coherence
    occurred only within pairs with a shared communicative history, and at
    temporal scales independent from signals’ occurrences. These findings favor
    the notion that meaning emerges from shared conceptualizations of a
    signal’s use.

See original: The Living Thing Semantics

Sundanese Music

To mention:

jaiponganan, celeumpong, karinding, gamelan degung, kendang, rebab, heavy metal, indy rock…

See also Sethares on Indonesian tuning systems generally.

  • Aral, S., Muchnik, L., & Sundararajan, A. (2009). Distinguishing influence-based contagion from homophily-driven diffusion in dynamic networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(51), 21544–21549. DOI. Online.
  • Cook, S. (1992). Guide to Sundanese music. Bandung: Simon Cook. Online.
  • Cook, S. (2001). The song is the thing: Patokan, Alur Lagu and the impact of the female vocal soloists on Sundanese instrumental music. Contemporary Theatre Review, 11(1), 67–97. DOI. Online.
  • Gopinath, G. (1995). “Bombay, U.K., Yuba City”: Bhangra Music and the Engendering of Diaspora. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 4(3), 303–321. DOI. Online.
  • Harrell, M. L.(1974). The music of the gamelan degung of West Java. University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Luvaas, B. (2006). Re-producing pop The aesthetics of ambivalence in a contemporary dance music. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(2), 167–187. DOI. Online.
  • Luvaas, B. (2009). DISLOCATING SOUNDS: The Deterritorialization of Indonesian Indie Pop. Cultural Anthropology, 24(2), 246–279. DOI. Online.
  • Luvaas, B. (2010). Designer Vandalism: Indonesian Indie Fashion and the Cultural Practice of Cut “n” Paste. Visual Anthropology Review, 26(1), 1–16. DOI. Online.
  • Luvaas, B. (2013a). Indonesian Fashion Blogs: On the Promotional Subject of Personal Style. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 17(1), 55–76. DOI.
  • Luvaas, B. (2013b). MATERIAL INTERVENTIONS: Indonesian DIY Fashion and the Regime of the Global Brand. Cultural Anthropology, 28(1), 127–143. DOI. Online.
  • Manuel, P., & Baier, R. (1986). Jaipongan: indigenous popular music of West Java. Asian Music, 91–110. Online.
  • Martin-Iverson, S., Rodrigues, U. M., & Smaill, B. (2008). “C’mon commodify us!”: Commodity fetishism and resistant practice in the Bandung DIY hardcore scene’. Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region, 177–94.
  • Merthayasa, I. G. N., & Pratomo, B. (2008). The Temporal and Spectral characteristics of Gamelan Sunda Music. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123(5), 3198–3198. DOI. Online.
  • Pickles, J. (2007). Punk, pop and protest: The birth and decline of political punk in Bandung. RIMA: Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 41(2), 223. Online.
  • Soemardi, A. R., & Radjawali, I. (2004). Creative culture and Urban Planning: The Bandung experience. In The Eleventh International Planning History Conference. Online.
  • Spiller, H. (1996). Continuity in Sundanese dance drumming: Clues from the 1893 Chicago exposition. The World of Music, 23–40. Online.
  • Wallach, J. (2005). Underground Rock Music: And Democratization in Indonesia. World Literature Today, 16–20.
  • Weintraub, A. N.(1993). Theory in Institutional Pedagogy and “Theory in Practice” for Sundanese Gamelan Music. Ethnomusicology, 37(1), 29–39. DOI. Online.
  • Weintraub, A. N.(1994). Tune, text, and the function of lagu in pantun Sunda, a Sundanese oral narrative tradition. Asian Music, 175–211. Online.
  • Williams, S. (1989). Current developments in Sundanese popular music. Asian Music, 105–136. Online.
  • Williams, S. (1990). The urbanization of tembang Sunda: an aristocratic musical genre of West Java, Indonesia. University of Washington.
  • Williams, S. (2001). The sound of the ancestral ship: Highland music of West Java. Oxford University Press.

See original: The Living Thing Sundanese Music

Discrete Hawkes process

For my own edification and amusement I would like to construct an analog of the
Hawkes process on a discrete index set.

I have no idea if it’s a novel construction, but it is elementary enough that I don’t think it could be.

Call the process \(\{N_i\}_{i\in\mathbb{N}}\).
We will associate with it a conditional intensity process
\(\{\lambda_i\}\), adapted to the history of \(\{N_i\}\),
and defined in terms of a kernel

\phi : \mathbb{N} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^+

Then the analog of the usual conditional intensity process
\(\lambda_i\) will be

\lambda_i := \lambda + \sum_{0 \leq j <i} \phi(i-j)N_i

I will set both \(\lambda_i=\lambda\) and \(N_0=0\) for simplicity.
For fun, I may as well choose a classic kernel shape such as

\phi(i) = \sum_{1 \leq k <K} b_ke^{a_ki}

for some \(a_k, b_k\).

We will then take the increments of the process to be distributed

N_{i+1}-N_i \sim \text{Pois}(\lambda_{i+1})

Note that unlike in continuous time, we may have simultaneous increments with positive probability.

See original: The Living Thing Discrete Hawkes process

Playful politics and politics of play

Protestant work ethic versus dilemmas of collective hyperactivity.
Gamification versus temporary autonomous zone.
PLUR, summers of love, Genesis P Orridge
Situationists, Marcuse, Lettrists, punks, voguers and ravers.
Culture jammers, adbusters, zinesters.
Guerilla gardeners. DIY. Grime and hip hop.
Leisured classes. (I bet Adam Curtis has something to say about this.)
Commodification of dissent.

See also

See original: The Living Thing Playful politics and politics of play


SSH, the secure shell, is the swiss army knife of the internet.
It lets you shunt data from one place to another without very little fuss.
Moreover, anything which is less fuss is in fact a gaping security hole and
should not be allowed.

To mention:

See original: The Living Thing ssh


The language of specialists in a particular area who have forgotten that they
aren’t speaking to specialists from that particular area.
Due to Language log.

See original: The Living Thing Nerdview

GNU Privacy Guard

GPG, the hippy version of PGP, that venerable encrypt-my-email thingy.

The documentation is purest nerdview, but it’s worth it to push through and learn the cool tricks, such as nearly painless encryption and identitity verification.
And it’s worth learning to do properly, because doing it badly just exposes you to other risks.

TODO: actual tips.

See original: The Living Thing GNU Privacy Guard


I am working on an project with with @kultkat and @stahlnow to bring easy sonification of visuals to the masses.

Here is the main sourcecode repository,
but I don’t really have time to fiddle with python webapp that is most of the lines of code in that project, so I have made
my own minimal fork that does only the fun stuff with the core algorithms.
It has the nice feature of being always live online.
You are invited to play with it yourself.

See original: The Living Thing Synestizer

Weaponised design

The plaintive hope that making pretty things can serve ends other than wastage.

Spimes, Viridian, Adbusters, John Robb, Worldchangers, Natural Capitalism

See original: The Living Thing Weaponised design

Astroturf and articifical reefs

Notes towards understanding our understanding of our built environment.

Ideas to discuss

Smart city versus surveillance state.

Development externalities.


To namecheck and dissect


  • Jane Jacobs
  • Herbert Simon
  • Michael Batty
  • Luís Bettencourt
  • Henri Lefebvre
  • David Harvey
  • Adam Greenfield
  • Richard Florida
  • Jürgen Habermas
  • Kalle Lasn

Catchphrases to invoke

  • Right to the city
  • Sous les pavés, la plage
  • Creative Classes
  • Smart city
  • Detournement
  • Culture Jam
  • Society of the spectacle
  • what was the hipster?
  • weaponised design

To read

See original: The Living Thing Astroturf and articifical reefs

Website cheat codes

How to make your internettifying quick,
for those who know enough web development to wish that they knew less.

Handy GUI shit:

  • compiles stylesheets from
    SASS and COMPASS, two ubiquitous technologies that I cannot be arsed
    learning the distinction between, except to note that they are intuitive
    enough for me not to bother.

See original: The Living Thing Website cheat codes