End of 2020

Hi everyone!

End of 2020 seems as good time as any to refresh this newsletter, and start sharing more openly again. My plan for 2021 is to publish four of these, roughly one for every season.

This newsletter is divided into two parts — what I've been up to, and what interesting things I came across this year. I'll try to keep everything brief.

This year was tough and weird for everyone, to say the least. Luckily, everyone here is safe and healthy. Poland has been doing quite well earlier this year and seems to be doing pretty bad right now, especially in terms of share of positive tests.

We've been stuck in the same walls for almost a year now, and living mostly the same day on repeat. But it's ok, my personal take on this is that it's a small price to pay for hopefully much more years when we get to go out into the world again.

Even though the beginning of this year was pretty turbulent, I've been lucky to work on a bunch of interesting projects, in no particular order:

  • a new interface for working with huge datasets for ML-generated molecular synthesis paths for MoleculeOne
  • bespoke layouting system for ground controls screens for European Space Agency (collaboration with Recoded)
  • helping with the research process, and working on new ways of collecting information online at The Browser Company
  • R&D work for a new financial modeling spreadsheet at Causal

...and a couple of other things I can't talk about.

I've been also continuing research at Ink&Switch around the topic of "programming by drawing" for a tablet form-factor (trying to bring some of the Dynabook ideas to life). Latest spin-off work includes in-house Lisp with a projectional editor. This work is not public yet, but if you're interested in these topics, I'm happy to give a demo on a call.

I'm currently working with lovely folks at MakeSpace on a new way to be together, and doing R&D work at Clay.

Earlier this year I gave a talk at Intersection Conference on the process of solving open-ended problems, if you have 25 minutes to spare, you can have a look here:

On the personal project side, I published a couple of things, in order of twitter likes:

  • multi pane "Research Browser" — this one is currently unpublished, I also don't seem to use it that much, I might just publish it as-is soon
  • Archivist — which was technically made in 2019, is something I use a lot, I recently added a way to search through screenshots I take (using OCR) and this had a huge impact on how I collect things, I should probably share an update about it soon
  • Protoboard and Liveboard — another projects technically from 2019, an answer to a prompt "what if programming was more like using a breadboard"
  • FabFungus — yet another 2019 project finally documented in 2020 — an artwork exploring cellular growth and questions of artificial life; selected in the Best Of Poland section at Digital Cultures festival this year (here's me presenting the work)
  • HHANN — a way to doodle on your screen, this is super useful when screen-sharing

I also wrote an article on my note-todo system hybrid, and made a subset of my notes public, if you want to browse through my, even more half-baked, ideas.

Finally, onto something other than myself. One success this year was switching my information diet from mostly web articles, to mostly books (and academic papers). Some of the things I read through this year which I'd recommend:

Various other links worth checking out:

Friends, colleagues, collaborators — thanks so much for everything, wishing you (and myself) that 2021 is a bit kinder to all of us.

Szymon Kaliski © 2021
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