Open Source in Corporate Code Bases

Craig Hale reports that “It’s official – open source software has never been more important”. [2]

What exactly does “important” mean in this context?

For Hale, that means that it is important to big companies.

Sigh.

I mean, I don’t want to discourage companies from using open source software, especially if they are funding open source software.

Github reports the usual huge numbers of contributors and contributions over its site, though most projects have a handful of contributors and users (often the same people), and vast numbers are dormant.

According to Github, perhaps 90% of Fortune 100 companies “use” open source [1].   Something like 1/3 of the companies have an official “open source program office (OSPO)” in their bureaucracy.  Not exactly a free-wheeling open source vibe, but again, if it comes with funding we’ll take it.

Of course, these numbers aren’t quite as Earth-shaking as the enthusiasts make them.  For one thing, several popular programming languages and related tools, notably Python and R, are open source.  A lot of web stuff is open source, especially server-side and network protocols.  And so on.

So, yeah.  You’re gonna use open source or you’re gonna go home.

However, the bureaucratic commitment is pretty important because it generally comes with a commitment of staff and money.  Open source can sometimes be a strategy for capturing market by promoting your own software or protocols, and for attracting users to your commercial offerings, as well.  Good software that works well and does something useful is a great bit of swag!

This can’t help but affect open source communities.  As the Github report notes, “Big tech builds big open source communities”: some popular software attracts massive numbers of users and many contributors.  And, obviously, decision making will be influenced by commercial interest.  Which features to implement and which bugs to fix will be strongly influenced by the contributions of paid corporate programmers.

When done right, this is generally a good thing.  Unfunded hobbyists may not get their cool features merged in, but the software will be kept up to date.

Which is not true for all software.  A “synopsis” report on “Open Source Security and Risk Analysis” is rather sobering [3].  Despite their optimistic spin, the fact is that open source software has just as many bugs as any other software (which is a lot).  This is particularly tricky because open source software is often a component is a larger system, so even solid software may be at risk because bugs in some obscure library is relies on. There may even be malicious attacks on dependencies (i.e., on the software “supply chain”).

Many contributions to open source projects are basically just keeping it up to date with current patches and fixing known bugs.  But many open source projects, 88% according to the report, are dormant, abandoned and adrift.  Which means they have not been patched, and still contain old bugs.  Which means than anything that uses them has bugs.

I expect that a “open source program office” will have to spend time keeping track of just what open source software they are actually using, and what can be done to mitigate risks.  If this is done right, it will benefit everyone.


Yes, open source software is very important, and not just to big companies. And big companies are very important to open source software.


  1. Github, Octoverse 2022: The state of open source software. GitHub, 2022. https://octoverse.github.com/
  2. Craig Hale, It’s official – open source software has never been more important, in TechRadar, November 13, 2022. https://www.techradar.com/news/nearly-all-apps-around-today-are-using-open-source-software
  3. synopsys, OPEN SOURCE SECURITY AND RISK ANALYSIS REPORT synopsis, 2022. https://www.synopsys.com/software-integrity/resources/analyst-reports/open-source-security-risk-analysis.html?intcmp=sig-blog-ossra22

Look! Its a Wormhole, Man!

The headlines are astonishing, e.g., “Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine” [4].

Wha-a-at?

After checking to make sure it’s not datelined “April 1”, it turns out to be true, or tru-ish.

The actual study is a simulation of a specific kind of quantum entanglement through a wormhole, which was run on a 9 qubit quantum computer [3].

(No, I don’t really understand this stuff.)

This did not involve a black hole, nor was there an actual wormhole, let alone a traversable wormhole. Rats!

As Adam R. Brown and Leonard Susskind comment, this experiment doesn’t, in itself, show anything that couldn’t be understood by existing theory and computation [1].  But if these results stand up, they do show a phenomenon that theories involving “holographic gravitational description” offer the simplest explanation.  I.e., the entangled message traversed the (simulated) wormhole.

These results come out of recent theorizing, which I hadn’t heard about, which conjectures that “that wormholes are equivalent to quantum entanglement, summarized as ‘ER = EPR’ [2] <<cite and link>>  (I.e., Einstein Rosen wormhole are equivalent to Einstein Podolsky Rosen entanglement.)  Dr. Spiropulu describes this as “a very daring and poetic idea” [2]. 

(This seems to be another crazy case of “There are two things we don’t understand. Maybe they are really two sides of a single thing we don’t understand even more. Hey, look!  That works.”  : – ))

The limitations of the available QC required a very simple wormhole.  The experimenters simplified their quantum system using machine learning to prune it down until it could be simulated with 9 cubits, while still conserving all the properties of the whole system.  This approach actually worked, which “surprised” the research team. Machine learning can do anything, man!

I note that a lot of information is available on the website called “Wormhole2022”, which suggests that (a) there is a lot of wormhole research and (b) there will be a Wormhole2023.


  1. Adam R. Brown and Leonard Susskind, A holographic wormhole traversed in a quantum computer. Nature, 612:41-2, December 1 2022. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03832-z
  2. Whitney Clavin, Physicists observe wormhole dynamics using a quantum computer, in Caltech – News, November 30, 2022. https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/physicists-observe-wormhole-dynamics-using-a-quantum-computer
  3. Daniel Jafferis, Alexander Zlokapa, Joseph D. Lykken, David K. Kolchmeyer, Samantha I. Davis, Nikolai Lauk, Hartmut Neven, and Maria Spiropulu, Traversable wormhole dynamics on a quantum processor. Nature, 612 (7938):51-55, 2022/12/01 2022. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-05424-3
  4. Dennis Overbye, Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’, in New York Times. 2022: New York. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/30/science/physics-wormhole-quantum-computer.html

Book Review: “A Restless Truth” by Freya Marske

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

I read Marske’s first book, Marvellous Light (2021), so I kind of knew what to expect.  But this was even better.

Robin’s plucky sister Maud is off on an adventure to New York, aiming to retrieve the second member of the Forsythia Club.  Mrs. Navenby is keeper of “the cup”, another piece of the secret Contract that Robin and his great love, Edwin, must guard.

But the first day on the ocean liner, Mrs. Navenby dies; leaving Maud a deadly mystery to solve.  And mayhaps a bit more adventure than she bargained for.

But Maud is extremely plucky, and secretly primed with her brother’s foreseeing, she pulls together a group of friends to help find the killers and search for the hidden artifact.

If you have read Marvellous Light, you won’t be surprised that Maud also finds a bit of the other, too.

Things happen.  Magic happens.  First lesbian love unfolds.  The ship eventually reaches Southampton.

Marske describes this as “a bubbly Wodehousian romp”, written in the time of pandemic.  I hesitate to compare anyone to Wodehouse, but it is definitely a fun read.

I liked it. 

I’m looking forward to a sequel.


  1. Freya Marske, A Restless Truth, New York, Tom Doherty Associates, 2022.

Sunday Book Reviews

Book Review: “Magnificent Rebels” by Andrea Wulf

Magnificent Rebels by Andrea Wulf

Back when the world was young, I was once a psychology major.  And I have always been a romantic—the whole hippie counter-culture thing was a late twentieth romantic movement.   

So how could I not be intrigued by the subtitle: “The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self”. : – )

Of course, I was not a philosophy major nor a poet, and have not one word of German.  So, I knew essentially nothing about the Jena Set, per se.

Actually, that’s not quite true. 

As Wulf makes clear, the psychology, ecology, and literature I learned in the late twentieth century was deeply touched by this gang, and by their many nineteenth century disciples across Europe and America. As noted, much of the late twentieth century “counter culture” descends from these ideas.  And so on.  Wulf is right: their fingerprints are all over contemporary thought, politics, and culture.

The story of the Jena Set is an interesting story.  For a short, shining moment; only a few years really; Jena was the home of the most exciting thinkers in Germany, and possible all of Europe.  These remarkable thinkers and writers collaborated, cohabitated, argued, and produced a remarkable burst of philosophy, poetry, criticism, and science.  The group notably included not only eccentric young men, but a handful of remarkable women. 

This creative burst was a bit of a fluke.  The University of Jena inhabited an administrative seam in the Balkanized political geography of Western Germany at the time. With weak formal supervision and the unofficial patronage of the mega celebrity Goethe, Jena was relatively free of censorship and adult supervision.  The kids got away with comparative murder for a while.

The Jena Set could be a paradigm for every nerd’s fantasy of what life ought to be like.  A group of really bright, articulate, and energetic men and women meeting every day (and night), partying, reading, arguing, collaborating on anything that interested them.  They published scholarly journals and books, created poetry and novels, did some science, and, above all, developed and taught a new philosophy. (And don’t forget the sex and drugs and rock and roll.)

No one will be shocked to hear that this marvelous, exuberant conclave soon disintegrated.  Squabbles broke out.  Sexual tensions broke up marriages and friendships.  And eventually, some of them went too far, and the grown ups found out what they were up to. 

The often observed exclusion principle applied here: too many geniuses can’t occupy the same space. The Jena Set dispersed, and shortly thereafter Napoleon invaded and fought a major battle at Jena.  Napoleon’s victory conquered Prussia and destroyed the town, and there could be no going back.


The results of this brief burst of creativity set off the Romantic movement across all of Europe and the US.  Alexander von Humboldt was inspired by his visit to Jena, as was a whole generation of poets and explorers. 

The people we learned in school followed these guys. The opium eaters in Britain and Transcendentalists in Boston learned German just to read (and steal from) these guys.  Mary Shelley was writing about the Jena Set when she wrote Frankenstein.  Freud had them on his bookshelf. And so on.

The ”invention of the self” was a bunch of ideas about nature that recognized and argued about a self-determined, imaginative, “Ich”—an individual, personal identity.  The French Revolution was happening next door, and part of the excitement was the overthrow of old notions of identity and worth based on birth and hierarchy in favor of what we now recognize as the independent, responsible, sovereign citizen–a modern person. 

As Wulf notes, we tend to take the notion of personal identity and personal sovereignty as a starting point for philosophy, psychology, and politics, at least in “the West”.  But it wasn’t always so, and these folk are one of the places where this concept started.

Hot stuff!  And they knew it.  They created (and named) what became Romanticism, which they considered nothing less than a total revolution in thinking about everything. No false modesty in Jena.

This movement was not just about synthesizing poetry and science, the psychology of free will and political revolution.  It was a reaction to the mechanistic reductionism of the old ideologies and newly emerged science, which they replace with a vision of a unified and beautiful nature, including humans.  You can’t do science without poetry, they would say, nor study nature as if it is separate from the human mind.

It’s all here.

Wulf has a point.  This small group had a immense impact, to the point that it is hard to even understand just how revolutionary it was at the time.  We are so used to the concept of individual identity and the autonomy of a self-determined “I” that we are unaware of its origins.

Now, I’m not as fond of Romanticism as Wulf seems to be, but it is true that the wholistic, systematic view of Nature, the perception of humans as part of nature are the bedrock of my own concepts of science and psychology, not to mention philosophy.

On the other hand, a lot of the subjective psychological thinking of this group are just plain inscrutable to me,. Much of the “Ich” stuff is not just obscure, it is nonsense to my eye.

Worse, their explorations of the meaning of culture led to path to the disasters of nationalism and racism.  Idealism (a la Kant) is one of the roots of fascism and the primacy of the self is the foundation for the worst sorts of extractive capitalism.

Obviously, this whole story is very Eurocentric.  Many of these concepts have been thought of and lived out in many parts of the world, likely unknown to these folks in Jena.  For that matter, many of the ideas were thought of by the ancient Greeks and Romans, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of Chinese, Indian, Muslim, and who knows who, with similar ideas about nature, mind, and “Ich”. 

So, did the Jena Set “invent” the self?  Hardly.  But they definitely injected a powerful version of it into the European formal academic tradition, which was just becoming a vast, global cultural network. 


This is a big, long book, with good points and weaknesses. 

Wulf does her best, but it’s impossible to make much sense of this nineteenth century German philosophy, at least to me.  Honestly, I still couldn’t tell you what any of these guys were really trying to say.

For that matter, the soap opera about the individual lives was awfully hard to follow.  There are far too many Carolines and Friedrichs in a six block area for me to keep straight easily.  There is a lot of sickness and brutally incompetent medical care.  Several cases of serious depression.  Giant egos. Petty fights. Jealousy and backstabbing.

It’s all possibly more than I really needed to know.

Wulf emphasizes the women in the set, several of whom shine in their own right; even if they were required to publish under their husband’s name.  I don’t know enough of this history to evaluate Wulf’s coverage here, but I’m pretty sure she provides an unusually nuanced view of the experiences and attitudes of these women.  Marriage, free love, and divorce were no cureall for women then any more than they are now. 

Wulf is a good enough historian that she does not project our own attitudes and expectations on these women’s lives.  And this part takes work, because Wulf has to carefully explain the legal and cultural shackles of the times to us, not to mention trying to make clear what was scandalous and what was not scandalous in that time and place. 


The bottom line is that this is a pretty detailed story about an interesting group of European intellectuals.  Wulf argues the case that their contributions were seminal to contemporary culture. 

Honestly, I’m not as fascinated by these people or their work as Wulf is.  But the book is well written, so I stuck with it all the way.  


  1. Andrea Wulf, Magnificent Rebels:The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2022.

Sunday Book Reviews

Mars Copter Software Update – Success!

Much of my career was basically preparing, releasing, and installing software updates.  This is hardly a new thing, though we’ve gotten a lot better at it over the last fifty years.  We can do it without human supervision, remotely.  Not a problem.

Still, it’s good to have a carbon based unit on hand, just in case.

Except when you can’t.  Like when the computer is on Mars.

This fall NASA’s Ingenuity Mars copter did a software upgrade.

Apparently, Ingenuity is still flying, at least a little. 

This isn’t the first software update to space craft or planetary explorers.  In fact, remote patching and updates are routine these days.  Still, it’s got to be at least a little tense.  If something goes wrong, there’s noone there to restore from backup or even push the reset button.  It’s gotta work the first time, or the mission is over.  Gulp.

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration, intended to experiment and learn about coptering on Mars.  Along those lines, the software update has two new experiments to demonstrate. 

As Joshua Anderson explains, the original demonstration was intended to fly out in the flat, level Martian plain.  The rover has moved into rougher terrain now, and the copter is operating outside the original design, so it has encountered problems [1].

One upgrade is software to help the copter detect obstacles when landing.  Now that it is in rocky country, it has to find decent landing zones.  The new software analyses the downward looking camera data to identify problems before landing.

Another upgrade is software to use digital elevation models in it’s navigation.  Again, the original mission aimed to fly in flat country, so there was no need to worry about hills or holes.  But in the current area, the terrain is definitely not flat, and the irregularities have confused the navigation software into thinking the copter is veering, and veering itself to correct.  The new software will help the navigation system distinguish between slopes and skewing.

These capabilities are widely used on Earth and elsewhere, so they aren’t new in themselves.  But it is neat to be able to retrofit this stuff into a tiny copter with limited capabilities.   I’m pretty sure these were not designed for in the original plans, so it is remarkable to be able to rewrite the system so extensively.

The big news is that this hacked up, V2.0 actually worked just fine.  After the update, Ingenuity executed “Flight 34”, which was “short but significant”.  Basically, it was an 18 second hop, and back down. 

It’s not what happened, it’s the fact that it happened at all!

As Tereza Pultarova put it, “Mars helicopter Ingenuity aces 1st flight after major software update” [2].  Or as we used to say in our weekly reports, “it worked”.

Well done, all!

Flight 35 is scheduled for this week, a minute-long level flight, which will test out the new software in a bit more realistic flight.


  1. Joshua Anderson, Flight 34 Was Short But Significant, in NASA Science – Mars Helicopter, November 23, 2022. https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter/status/420/flight-34-was-short-but-significant/
  2. Tereza Pultarova, Mars helicopter Ingenuity aces 1st flight after major software update, in Space.com, November 23, 2022. https://www.space.com/ingenuity-mars-helicopter-flight-34-new-software

How Much Plankton is Under the Antarctic Sea Ice?

The Arctic and Antarctic oceans are covered with ice all winter, and in some places all year round (at least until recent melting).  These areas are little explored by land bound tropical primates, and have generally been assumed to be empty of light and life. 

In recent years, observations have shown that the Arctic Ocean has considerable amounts of phytoplankton living under the ice, not just in ice free locations.  This indicates that there is more light penetrating the ice than earlier assumptions.  It is possible that this reflects effects of anthropocentric changes to the northern sea ice letting in more light, though there are indications that these plankton blooms were present decades ago.

But what about the southern sea ice around Antarctica?  The ice in the south is more snow covered than in the north, and therefore higher albedo.  On the other hand, it thins and breaks up in the spring, and, of course, anthropogenic changes are surely impacting the south.

This fall researchers from several institutions report substantial amounts of phytoplankton even before the spring ice retreated [2].  The study used data from ICESat-2 to map the ice and water samples taken by Argo floats.  The water samples can indicate phytoplankton blooms, though the Argo floats do not measure close to the surface where the most phytoplankton would be.  So these samples under estimate the presence of plankton.

The study also modelled the light and ice conditions in the area.  The theoretical model suggests that there is enough light under the ice, which presumably could support widespread phytoplankton blooms.

These conclusions are plausible, though there are relatively few measurements in this inaccessible region.  The researchers urge surface ship studies to look carefully for the signs of plankton blooms. They remark that earlier expeditions may have missed this difficult to detect phenomenon.

These results along with the related studies of the Arctic suggest that the polar sea ice may be home to considerably more biological activity than realized.  This might impact global models of the oceans and Carbon. 

(From [1])

  1. Michael Carlowicz, New evidence shows that a sufficient amount of daylight penetrates the ice to sustain blooms of floating, plant-like organisms, in NASA Earth Observatory – Image of the Day, November 29, 2022. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/150671/phytoplankton-may-be-abundant-under-antarctic-sea-ice
  2. Christopher Horvat, Kelsey Bisson, Sarah Seabrook, Antonia Cristi, and Lisa C. Matthes, Evidence of phytoplankton blooms under Antarctic sea ice. Frontiers in Marine Science,  2022. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2022.942799

Online Ads Suck Power

I have long complained about the power consumption of Bitcoin.  Nakamoto’s primary innovation was a the “proof of work” protocol, which creates a pseudo timestamp in order to try to assure a distributed consensus on the order of events in a shared ledger.  Nakamoto’s technique itself is essentially a scratch off lottery, which burns CPU time to prevent replays.  I.e., everybody deliberately wastes electricity until someone wins this round.  Then the race starts again.

The idea is simple, and like most simple ideas it becomes monstrous when scaled up.  These days Bitcoin mining world wide consumes as much electricity as a small country.  This electricity is completely wasted, in the sense that it is doing no useful computation. In fact, the work it is doing is literally wasting time.

Nakamoto’s protocol is even more wasteful because it is not the only way to achieve consensus.  Notably, Ethereum has just finished a multi-year long conversion to a “Proof of Stake” protocol, which accomplishes the same end and has cut electricity consumption and related Carbon emissions a lot.

Bitcoin apologists would dispute the description of this computation as “useless”:  to the degree that Bitcoin is useful, the computation is useful.  They will also demand that the usage be seen in context.  For example, emissions from cryptocurrency should be compared to emissions from equivalent conventional technologies, such as banking.

Along this line, this fall researchers at Santander-UC3M Big Data Institute in Madrid report a new estimate of the electricity consumption of online advertising [1]. This isn’t easy to evaluate because ads are decentralized, undocumented, and quite varied.  They are also ubiquitous.

The researchers measured ads on different platforms and made plausible assumptions about the distribution and number of executions.  This is actually a complicated thing to measure, because ads are delivered through automated systems, guided by software that matches ads to recipients, often via a bidding process. 

In the end, the ads are rendered as part of the HTML on a user’s device.  The research focusses on the rendering process, to estimate the energy used by the ads on each device.  This is actually only a small part of the overall energy use, so the current methodology measures only the tip of the iceberg.

The results suggest that online adverts suck down as much power as a small country: over the whole internet and millions of adverts delivered, there is probably 5-250 kWh per day consumed just rendering ads [2].  This doesn’t consider the servers that deliver the ads.

Sigh.

Now, I can’t say advertising does nothing.  But I personally view advertising as harmful and targeted online advertising as especially harmful.  So, it’s not really that this is useless computation like Bitcoin, it is computation put to wicked uses. 

So, I guess you could say that Bitcoin uses about the same amount of electricity as advertising.  And if you consider Bitcoin positive or at least harmless, then it is “no worse than online advertising”.

Sigh.

Of course, saying the Bitcoin isn’t any worse than advertising isn’t exactly a huge compliment.  They are both arguably useless-to-harmful activities, which makes their enormous resource consumption a horrible waste.

But, sure.  I’ll grant that Bitcoin and friends aren’t the only or even necessarily the most evil waste of the Internet.

Congratulations, I guess.


  1. José González Cabañas, Patricia Callejo, Rubén Cuevas, Steffen Svatberg, Tommy Torjesen, Ángel Cuevas, Antonio Pastor, and Mikko Kotila, CarbonTag: A browser-based method for approximating energy consumption of online ads. arXiv  arXiv:2211.00071, 2022. https://arxiv.org/abs/2211.00071
  2. Jeremy Hsu, Online adverts estimated to use as much energy as a small country, in New Scientist, November 18, 2022. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2347683-online-adverts-estimated-to-use-as-much-energy-as-a-small-country/

A Tensegrity Flyer

…or at least hopper.

Tensegrity robots.  I mean, obviously, we have to build tensegrity robots. : – ) Because: tensegrity!

This fall, researchers at UC Berkeley report on a small UAV that is a tensegral icosahedron.  The bucky body is light and strong, of course, but it is also bouncy.  So collisions are no big deal.

The other thing is that the icosahedron design can “walk”. Which means that the UAV can move (slowly) on the ground, and can right itself to get the fans into the desired position for takeoff. 

This bouncy design is used to navigate via blind hopping.  The UAV doesn’t try to fly to the destination, it hops repeatedly, bouncing off of obstacles, and righting itself after collisions.  Simple autonomous navigation—apparently without sensors or complicated route finding.

Cool.


  1. Jiaming Zha, Xiangyu Wu, Ryan Dimick, and Mark W. Mueller, Design and control of a collision-resilient aerial vehicle with an icosahedron tensegrity structure. arXiv  arXiv:2211.12045, 2022. https://arxiv-export1.library.cornell.edu/abs/2211.12045

Robot Wednesday

How Many Workers Really Can Work Remotely?

The pandemic saw a surge of involuntary working from home. Vast numbers of workers learned how to work from home, for better or worse.  We are all still readjusting, deciding when and how to work remotely.

For a decade and more before that, remote work had been popular with some workers, especially digital workers (e.g., Berkin’s “Year WithoutuPants“).  Remote work is also the key rationale for contemporary coworking, and most of contemporary freelancers are remote workers, i.e., connecting to a larger organization from a coworking space.  Indeed, the “gig economy” drives coworking.

One thing that has become abundantly clear over the last couple of years is that not every kind of work can be done remotely, and not all workers can or should work remotely. 

So, if remote work is “the future of work”, just how prevalent will it ultimately be?

This fall, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report on its survey of “Occupational Requirements” for workers in the US [1].  There is a lot of information here, but one of the items or interest is “telework available”, i.e., jobs where regular remote work is formally approved by employer,i.e., not as part of temporary emergency measures.

In this survey, 10.6% of workers reported the formal option to telework.  This number was extremely variable depending on the type of work, as one would expect.  Many categories such as food preparation, construction, or firefighters (!) reported no remote option.  On the other hand, 78% of “web developers” reported remote work options.

There are a few surprises, such as lawyers (61%) or customer service (21%).  The former is higher than I would expect, and the latter is lower than I would expect.

But the overall point is that, to date, the vast majority (90%) of work in the US is not amenable to remote work, and in many cases cannot be.

Now, this survey is, by definition, backward looking, reporting what is done now, not what may happen in the near future.  Experience during the pandemic certainly revealed that remote working can be done if necessary in a lot of cases we would never have chosen to try (e.g., elementary school). 

So, there certainly could be more telework in the future as the expectations and methods evolve.  Even stuff that sucks today (again, elementary school), might work better if we work on it.

And, I’ll note that, as robots come online, some jobs will effectively become teleoperation, which might become remote work. No need to actually ride on the remote operated garbage truck, just operate it from home.

So who knows.

But for now, it is pretty clear that there is a limit to the number of routine remote workers, and that these workers are concentrated in a few occupations.

Which brings me to coworking.

Coworking spaces have spread everywhere in the early twenty first century.  The backbone of coworkers has generally been digital workers (programmers, data analysts, etc.) and heavily digitized “content developers” (writers, commercial artists, advertising honchos).  These are prime “teleworking” occupations, and coworking is, basically organized, group teleworking.

Coworking enthusiasts imagine their workplaces will continue to grow.  Many seem to imagine that many other types of work will be done in coworking spaces.

This survey offers little support for these rosy scenarios, at least in the short term.  Coworking spaces are well suited for many digital workers, and that will continue for sure.   And it wouldn’t be surprising for more office workers to go remote, and therefore to join coworking spaces near their home (but probably not near their current office).  This might even include lawyers, accountants, and some medical workers (though I would think that privacy and security will be an important issue for these folks).

Heck, we might even see teachers teleworking from coworking spaces, if remote education becomes a norm.

But I’m not seeing pharmacists, firefighters, or farmers spending much time in a coworking space.  Not any time soon.

So, what is the future of coworking?  

To the degree that coworking spaces are filled with teleworkers, there seems to be a distinct limit to the potential demand, because there just aren’t that many workers who actually can work remotely from a coworking space or from home or anywhere.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey Summary. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington DC, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ors.nr0.htm

Bison Are Good For The Planet

I’m a big fan of reintroducing Bison to tribal lands

Bison are cool, Bison roaming free are cool.  Bison roaming free on tribal land is more than cool, it is the way the world is supposed to be.

This week, Eric Galatas discusses some of the wider benefits of free ranging Bison [2].  Unlike cattle, Bison grazing is good for the grasslands.  Bison are part of the coevolved ecosystem, helping many plant and animal species to thrive alongside the wandering herds. 

And, of course, Bison are an important part of indigenous cultures.  Bison were a crucial economic resource and an important symbolic element in many cultures of North America.  These days, the recovery of the Buffalo from deliberate near extinction is a fitting symbol the survival and regeneration of indigenous peoples, striving to come back from the same deliberate extermination campaign.

As tribes across North America work to restore free ranging Bison to tribal lands, they face increased resistance and harassment from ranchers and other anti-indigenous interests, as well as historical and legal inertia [1].

My own view is that tribes should appeal to the current US Supreme Court’s “religious freedom” principles, to demand the unassailable right to free Bison on traditional lands.

Buffalo are the cultural and ecological heart of the Plains. Photo: Janey Fugate (From [1])

  1. Janey Fugate, Bison on Wind River, in Western Confluence, August 5, 2022. https://westernconfluence.org/bison-on-wind-river/
  2. Antonia Gonzales, Friday, November 25, 2022, in National Native News, November 25, 2022. https://www.nativenews.net/friday-november-25-2022/

A personal blog.

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