Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Atmosphere, at work

Screenshot of Sim Earth's Daisyworld


I performed lots of Sim Earth as a child. It had a mode known as Daisyworld primarily based on the “Gaia Speculation”:

proposes that residing organisms work together with their inorganic environment on Earth to type a synergistic and self-regulating, advanced system that helps to keep up and perpetuate the situations for all times on the planet.

In Sim Earth’s Daisyworld, that was simulated by populating the Earth with totally different shades of flower. Darker flowers survived at decrease temperatures and absorbed daylight, warming their speedy setting; lighter flowers survived at hotter temperatures and reflecting daylight, cooling their speedy setting. Working the simulation would, ultimately, normally, result in a dynamically altering, however nonetheless steady-state setting; in Conway terminoloy: nonetheless lifes and oscillators.

Often your Earth discovered a gentle state, until:

  • geographical limitations prevented regulating adjustments from spreading, like mountain ranges or island archipelagos; or
  • disasters like volcanoes or meteors considerably disrupted the setting earlier than the flowers may adapt and reasonable it; or
  • you plopped some bunnies or herbivores that ate the flowers, as a result of the Gaia mode didn’t lock-out the opposite Sim Earth instruments. Sandboxes!

Often your Earth discovered and will get better a gentle state! That’s homeostasis:

Homeostasis is led to by a pure resistance to vary when already within the optimum situations, and equilibrium is maintained by many regulatory mechanisms: it’s regarded as the central motivation for all natural motion.


From Vicki Boykis’s “The Artwork of the Lengthy Goodbye” :

A number of years in the past, I learn the Southern Attain trilogy, by Jeff Van Der Meer….

One of many principal ideas of the books is the concept of a terroir, a self-contained pure setting that shapes every part within it. Often after we discuss a terroir we’re referring to wine: a wine from a given area tastes like wine from that given area ought to style due to the grapes and the soil and the way in which the daylight hits that individual spot. Since I left my final job, I’ve been considering so much concerning the thought of terroir because it pertains to the office.

Each office, like each Tolstoyan household, is exclusive in its personal manner. Once we begin a job, we enter that terroir with the intent to form it. However in flip, we’re additionally formed by it.


A landrace is:

a domesticated, regionally tailored, conventional number of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, by means of adaptation to its pure and cultural setting of agriculture and pastoralism, and on account of isolation from different populations of the species.

As I’m now within the land of massive corporations, it’s quite common to listen to somebody described as “from Amazon” or “from Microsoft” and like, I do know what they imply!

Considered one of my challenges as an engineering chief through the pandemic was this: how a lot will we adapt our values and practices to be inclusive to the present fucked-all-over scenario whereas preserving what made us, as an engineering group, us. I feel my outcomes had been blended.

An instance: pair programming. We had been lots of people from Pivotal labs (there it’s!) with a powerful perception in Excessive Programming: shared possession, an active-closeness to the customers of our software program, and closeness to one another by means of frequent pair programming. And we went from largely in-person pairing, to distant pairing. I discover pair programming to be exhausting in the most effective of circumstances, and the continuing pandemic didn’t assist. So we tailored our values and practices, and de-emphasized pairing and went from an expectation of “more often than not” to “a device that’s out there a few of the time”. It was a stretch (aide: it wasn’t simply pairing that acquired stretched both, the entire XP factor)

A crew is rarely static. Individuals had been leaving, we had been hiring, groups had been forming and reforming. It was tenuous for everybody, to check out the bounds of inclusion and identification. And as an engineering chief, it led to lots of robust conversations about how… we… work… collectively. It was onerous; I feel we misplaced that cultivar.


Will Larson writes about this concept of a “Values Oasis”:

A number of years in the past, I heard an apocryphal story about Sheryl Sandberg’s departure from Google to Fb. Within the story she apologizes to her crew at Google as a result of she’d sheltered them an excessive amount of from Google’s politics and hadn’t ready them to succeed as soon as she stopped operating interference. The story ends together with her whole crew struggling and ultimately leaving after her departure. I don’t know if the story is true, nevertheless it’s a wonderful abstract of the Values Oasis lure, the place a pacesetter makes use of their private capital to create a non-conforming setting inside an wider group.


The connection between folks and setting is a problematic metaphor.

I used to be a member of the Boston Pubic Backyard’s Rose Brigade for variety of years, caring for the roses. The Boston Public Backyard’s type is Western, specimen, decorative: giant, well-spaced bushes with well-defined blooms. They’re attractive. And.

There’s lots of waste. Trimming, dead-heading, opening up, clearing leaf drops. Numerous waste.

There’s a trope, Cincinnatus, wherein the tyrant/basic/magnate retires (or needs to retire, after the current disaster, in fact) to have a tendency backyard. I feel it normally seems to melt them: see they are often light too. However I dunno, gardens aren’t light. There’s lots of centering the gardener, and lots of will to be exercised in a backyard. Different folks aren’t vegetation, don’t take it too far.

I’m reminded of Nirgal’s (spoiler!) fated ecopoetic basin in KSR’s Blue Mars:

Nirgal wandered the basin after storms, trying to see what had blown in. Often it was solely a load of icy mud, however as soon as he discovered an unplanted clutch of pale blue Jacob’s ladders, tucked between the splits in a breadloaf rock. Examine the botanicals to see the way it would possibly work together with what was already there. Ten % of launched species survived, then ten % of these turned pests; that was invasion biology’s ten-ten rule, Yoshi stated, virtually the primary rule of the self-discipline. “Ten which means 5 to twenty in fact.”

And shut on it out with a quote from Seeing like a State:

Up to date improvement schemes… require the creation of state areas the place the federal government can reconfigure the society and financial system of those that are to be “developed.” The transformation of peripheral nonstate areas into state areas by the trendy, developmentalist nation-state is ubiquitous and, for the inhabitants of such areas, often traumatic.



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