A philosophical moment.
Continuation of lines from A Proverbial Attempt at Wordplay.
- If I cannot see further, it is because giants are standing on my shoulders.
- Even if we can kill two birds with one stone—that’s still a lot of stones to ground Twitter.
- Repartee is what we wish we had 24 hours earlier said; procrastination is what we wish we had 24 hours earlier not done.
- If I had a dollar, I would spend it. Perhaps that’s why I had to say “if.”
- A stopped clock is correct twice a day; a stopped nuclear bomb is correct.
- Nothing speaks louder than a sword.
- Facebook status updates are both common and important. But unfortunately, those that are common are not important, and those that are important are not common.
- The Internet is like the electromagnetic force—without it, our world would collapse.
- If all the world’s a stage, then who or what is controlling the curtain?
- A sword with no blade is just as mighty as a pen with no ink.
- Football is like tennis—only the rules, players, and equipment are different.
- Pi contains an infinite number of digits, but my digits contain only a finite amount of pie.
- A mistake is a mistake; an error is an error.
- Do not worry about the meaning of life; just make yours a life of meaning.
- We are just as excited for the celebration of a new decade as we are for the celebration of a new millennium. Why not celebrate every day?
In the last three months of 2009, I have used all of the above. So what is the point of this post? Well, I wanted to reflect over my usage of each of these sites. Originally the title was WordPress vs. Blogger vs. Tumblr vs. Facebook vs. Twitter, but then I realized, no, that would be comparing ballads and limericks. Blogging vs. Micro-blogging. But I digress. Here is how I now view each one.
I’ve had one since September 2007. Facebook is distinctly a social networking site, not a blogging one. One posts short status messages. At this time, there are two actions, “like” and “comment,” that can be done on these. It is very personal; massive amounts of individual pictures are uploaded. People can be tagged in pictures. Because of this, privacy is a large factor in Facebook.
Me? I suppose I use Facebook a lot. But much differently than I used to. My Facebook status updates right now are, ironically, links to WordPress posts from here. Automatically, of course.
This one is what its name suggests: a blogging site. I’ve actually made two product blogs back in 2008, to provide official information for two WarCraft III maps, one that I started from scratch, and another co-edited. Sometime in October, I decided to create another one, a personalized one. I didn’t use it very much; in fact, I switched it over to WordPress. This very blog.
A friend suggested it in October of this year, so I tried it out. It has some nice concepts. It’s for blogging, but the catch is, you can’t comment on other people’s blogs, at least not directly. This makes it a unique, non-linear system. However, I don’t like it very much. I’m used to forums and normal blogs, where, to respond to a point, you simply make a comment. With Tumblr, you can instead “Reblog” a post, so that the original post will show up in its entirety on your page, and your comment will appear below it. Unique? Yes. But is unique necessarily good? No.
I know it only takes a few clicks to post a reblog, but it seems a waste of space to have the original post keep popping up. This is both Tumblr’s strength and weakness. It’s hard to make a conversation, let alone see one. Debates don’t work. Especially for an outsider trying to view the debate: on a forum or normal blog, one simply scrolls down through comments, but on Tumblr, one has to forage through a convoluted mess.
Right now I don’t use Tumblr.
Dislike. Yes, it’s concise. But I find I use it right now solely to provide links to WordPress. To me, it seems Facebook is just a better version of Twitter.
Amazing. It’s simply more powerful than Blogger. Plus, it doesn’t have the disadvantage I mentioned with Tumblr. Moreover, WordPress allows you to do much more than write a blog—it pretty much lets you design and contruct a full website.
If I had to rank these five sites for myself, it would be in this order:
This is a totally subjective ranking, and may not be true for you.
After going through The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce and some other collections of funny, clever, witty quotations, I felt inspired to conjure (amateurishly) some of my own. So, here we go:
- The early bird gets the worm, but the late bird gets the moth.
- You can hit two birds with one stone, but never a stone with two birds.
- What one fool can do, another can. What one genius can do, another can’t.
- There are three types of flies: flies, damned flies, and mosquitoes.
- All bugs come with software. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
- I believe everything, except lies.
- Theorems are true, unless proved false.
- Don’t give up on your realities—they may become your dreams.
- If imagination is normal, then reality is parallel.
- If a stopped clock is correct twice a day, then a stopped program crashes twice a minute.
- The moon outshines the sun, at night.
- When stuck, try to move on.
- With every step we take, we come closer to putting the future behind us.
What’s that?, you say. Why, it’s a theory of physics known as quantum electrodynamics, or in short, QED.
It’s also a book I have read recently. And by recently, I mean today. The book is by Richard Feynman, of course. Its full title is QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Andrew Widener gave me it as a birthday present, but other than its being a book on physics by Feynman, I didn’t really know what to expect from it. So, I decided to read it. And I found it so compelling that I read it in one day (though it wasn’t really a long book).
Feynman is by no means a modest author. But he has every reason not to be modest. QED is a collection of four lectures for the lay audience and explains a theory—quantum electrodynamics—that is super-accurate, super-applicable, and super-amazing. It doesn’t explain QED mathematically. That is for third-year grad students, he asserts. Instead, Feynman does what he excels at doing—and there are many things in which he excels—serving as an extraordinary popularizer of physics. That isn’t to say that he didn’t actually do physics, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him and haven’t looked him up by this point. He is a Nobel Laureate, which he briefly (and modestly) alludes to in the book when he nonchalantly tosses in a solution to a calculation problem found independently by himself and two others, and he then inserts, in parentheses, “we got prizes for that.”
In this blog post, I’m not sure how to write a response to this book. Should I attempt to summarize what Feynman brilliantly explained, or share personal thoughts? Since Feynman already wrote QED for the nontechnical reader, such as myself, I will focus on the latter idea.
I start by pointing out the obvious, namely, it was no coincidence that Andrew decided to give me this book. I’ve always been a math/science person, whatever that means, and especially into physics. Well, sort of. I would definitely have to explain myself a little more. You see, physics in school—high school, that is—is a rather dull subject. The curriculum is geared towards the memorization of formulas and definitions, the calculation of unknown quantities in perfect, ideal situations, and, dare I say, the performance of superficial experiments whose results we (should) already know, and in which we only try to verify the already-known laws of physics. For me, at least, that contains little fun. On the other hand, the class is great, for we have an awesome teacher with great understanding for both the subject and his students, plus a quirky an interesting sense of humor (see “The Physics Teacher” webcomic). But, as to the subject, I digress.
It seems that we do very little “real science.” We learn in our history classes that the great scientists used imagination, hard work, as well as sheer genius to advance the knowledge and understanding of the day. But in high school physics, there is little room for imagination. Sure, in our homework we might come across a hypothetical projectile motion problem that requires the application of five different kinematic formulas. But is that really physics? Is that how Newton, or Einstein, or Feynman unlocked the laws of Nature?
That objection I have—and no doubt many of you may have—is why I read math/science outside of school for fun. QED was very fun. Feynman presents the concepts of the theory so elegantly that the basics of quantum electrodynamics (what a horrendous name!) are actually by no means difficult to understand. And he didn’t just say, we know this, we know that, here’s a formula, etc. He leads the reader on a journey, a journey of inquiry and discovery. He is patient, not afraid to take time to draw analogies, answer any reader concerns, or qualify his statements. He makes sure to explain precisely what is is known and what is unknown—and how physicists, including himself, are trying to turn that unknown into the known.
Referring to The Riemann Hypothesis comic. (Ironically, I am neither one.)