Links #4

Lots of links today! As a quick reminder, these are all things I’ve recently found that are too good not to share. Enjoy!

The Web is something Different - Dave Rupert reflects on how the web has evolved to serve many use-cases over time, and how that’s perfectly ok. “The web is so much bigger than the little boxes we try to put it in.”

Playing to win - This article changed how I look at games. It makes a case that playing to win is the only reasonable way to play games, and that other approaches (avoiding cheap shots, extending mercy, house-rules, etc.) all create outcomes that makes the game less fun for everyone. I read it a while back but I keep finding myself revisiting it as I share it with other people. An interesting read, even if you’re not a serious gamer or particularly competitive (like me).

Live a Life Worth Living - This letter was written by Julie Yip-Williams to her young daughters, shortly before she died of cancer. Williams was born blind in Vietnam and eventually moved to the US where she studied at Harvard, and became a successful lawyer. Inspiring and moving.

In Praise of the Unambiguous Click Menu - A great post on menu design from CSS-Tricks. It walks though several popular menu designs, and basically shows that the unambiguous click menu is the best one. This isn’t one of those “it depends” situations… it’s just plain superior. I found myself nodding my head as I read, and I’m expecting to reference this post a lot in the future.

Science Fiction Novels for Economists - A nice roundup of science fiction novels that feature economics in interesting ways.

The most precious resource is agency - This essay discusses how empowering people to do real things is the true source of learning, growth, and value creation. What’s more, it argues that the way we raise children today has fundamentally failed in this regard. “Instead of an adolescence full of rites of passage, where one attempts to master something and accept responsibility, we have made it full of waiting, and doing work—for school is work—that nearly everyone knows is fake.” Hard agree on nearly everything in here. Important reading, especially for parents.

Algodoo - Algodoo is a free 2D physics sandbox for making machines and simple games. My kids and I have been playing with it and having an absolute blast. The built-in project browser lets you explore projects that other people have built and uploaded, which gives you a sense of what’s possible. Highly recommended, especially for helping kids build intuition about mechanics.

Consume Less, Create More - A guy, fed up with a life of passive consumption, decides he’s had enough and commits to using his bus commute to write essays on his phone instead of scrolling through content. It’s a great story, and it reflects my own feelings about about creation vs consumption.

Modern web apps without JavaScript bundling or transpiling - In this post, DHH talks about the benefits of replacing JavaScript bundling with browser-native ES modules, and the steps they are taking to do it in Ruby on Rails. This could be a major step for moving parts of the industry towards ES modules in production, something which has failed to materialize thus far. Honestly, considering the implications, it’s weird to see how little attention this post has received. To be fair, there’s a LOT of momentum in the current third-party solutions (frontends that rely on Webpack), despite being what Brian LeRoux is calling an “evolutionary dead end.” In the same thread Brian also says, standards based dev always wins in the long run which is hard to disagree with (anyone remember prototype.js? jQuery? Coffeescript? Lodash?).