New York Systems

I'm David. I live in Astoria. During the day I work at a startup. Other times I visit bookstores.
This blog is my curio collection, sort of. I'll have a place of my own for essays... someday.


it’s waiting



The Aftershocks

I was asked to create a .gif of a house interior during an earthquake. The article chronicles the controversial aftermath of the devastating quake that happened in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009. I wanted to capture the movement of the “tremors” before the full-on earthquake, although this tremor is infinite, never resolving.
This image and the all the animation was made in Photoshop. thanks AD Erich Nagler!

Rebecca is amazing!

The president orders drone strikes, but regrets them; commands a military that detains prisoners indefinitely, but feels sorrow over that ongoing act; controls armed forces that candidly go on planning for decades of continuous war, but warns that “perpetual war—through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments—will prove self-defeating.” He pantomimes dissent from his own power, gesturing against the choices he continues to make. Someone should really do something about this unrestrained national security state, says the current president of the United States.

I picked up THE DUD AVOCADO today during my bookstore travels. I could lie and say I was interested in the title, but let’s be honest: putting this image on the cover isn’t exactly going to hurt your sales.



Holy fuck

Is that one of the Manhattan tunnels?!

Anybody Else" - Everyday ChemistryThe Beatles

So, what’s the trade-off here? In general, we are safer (automation makes airline flying safer, in general) except in the long-tail: pilots are losing both tacit knowledge of flying and some of its mechanics. But in general, we, as humans, have less and less understanding of our machines—we are compartmentalized, looking at a tiny corner of a very complex system beyond our individual comprehension. Increasing numbers of our systems—from finance to electricity to cybersecurity to medical systems, are going in this direction. We are losing control and understanding which seems fine—until it’s not. We will certainly, and unfortunately, find out what this really means because sooner or later, one of these systems will fail in a way we don’t understand.
“Fail better,” Samuel Beckett commanded, a phrase that has been taken on by business executives as some kind of ersatz wisdom. They have missed the point completely. Beckett didn’t mean failure-on-the-way-to-delayed-success, which is what the FailCon crowd thinks he meant. To fail better, to fail gracefully and with composure, is so essential because there’s no such thing as success. It’s failure all the way down.