Kickoff For November 29, 2021

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I’ve found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:


The Tyranny of Spreadsheets, wherein Tim Harford looks at the history of, and problems with, spreadsheets, and at how powerful data can be when handled well — and how much damage is done when the data are fumbled.

The End of Reductionism Could Be Nigh. Or Not., wherein we discover the conjecture of one scientist that the next big set of breakthroughs in their field might not come from breaking concepts down but by looking at bigger pictures, and why that actually might not be the case.

A biography of the pixel, the elementary particle of pictures, where Alvy Ray Smith outlines the idea of where those little bits of information that make up images come from, and argues that they are the profound and exact concept at the heart of all the images that surround us.


Windows XP turns 20: Microsoft’s rise and fall points to one thing — don’t fix what isn’t broken, wherein Erica Mealy looks at what made XP so popular and how it might have been the apex of not just Microsoft’s operating system but the company’s focus on its users.

Extinct, wherein Barbara Penner and Adrian Forty look at technology which, for various reasons, didn’t survive and how, in pondering that technology, we encounter ghosts of futures that never came to pass.

How Software Is Eating the Car, wherein we learn about the changes to the auto industry in recent years and how software now determines the value of a car.


Alien Dreams: The Surprisingly Long History of Speculation About Extraterrestrials, wherein we learn that humans have been obsessed with wondering about whether life existed off this planet for millennia.

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson’s Space Flight, wherein we learn about some of the safety concerns at Virgin Galactic and how they’re being hushed up.

Asteroid mining could pay for space exploration and adventure, wherein Martin Elvis looks at the benefits, costs, and struggles around extracting resources from the debris of the early solar system.

And that’s it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt