Understanding and describing the world

(some coding might be involved)

I am a software developer with 20 years of various experience, a Ruby programming language core committer, author of multiple open-source projects, and a fiction/poetry writer.

I write about Ruby and programming languages in general, and about open data. The range of “my” topics is united by an urge to understand and explain. Or, the problems of knowledge acquiring (with code) and expressing meaning (with code).

Specifically, the topics I see for the next months:

  • Common knowledge extraction from open data sources like Wikipedia: the practical and philosophical outcomes of the project WikipediaQL, and, hopefully, some follow-up projects;

  • Ruby intuitions: how and why my language of choice is designed, how it makes me think, and where it might lead. Not only for Rubyists (and might be repulsive for some of them!), but rather a high-level “how are we thinking with code” studies;

  • How various things work—investigatory/explanatory rewritings of various software. Done irregularly yet persistently. Examples are my 1.5-year-long “Rebuilding the spellchecker” project, or the generative art investigation I’ve started this Substack with;

  • Other assorted musings on how to extract understanding and how to design explanations.

Not super-consistent, but that’s what I do.

1-3 emails a week. Hopefully!

Most of the writing is also duplicated on my old-style Jekyll blog and vice versa. Correspondence is not full though: I use the blog sometimes for quick notices to share with fellow Rubyists, not of enough general interest to send it via Substack; OTOH, Substack list will probably have some exclusive content.

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How to understand and describe the world better—as a developer


Victor Shepelev aka zverok
Programmer and writer. Open source, open data, expressiveness of programming languages, text processing, understanding how existing stuff works. He/him.