Earlier this week I found out via Facebook that two friends, Michael H., and Mark R., from different social circles, had died. It struck me, in part because I had been at the conference all day, and was suddenly confronted with this news with all its immediacy
. I cannot say I was particularly close to either but both were the sort of people whose company I enjoyed; great minds, big hearts, and a well-tuned sense of the absurd. What struck me was the realisation that in pre-social media times, weeks if not months or even years could have passed before I would have received this news, and how it cuts in the other direction as well. Connectivity is often stronger, more organic (to use Durkheim's classic dichotomy
), and especially lasting. Once upon a time you could meet someone, form a friendship, lose contact, and in ten years even their name would be forgotten. Now we have the extension of our mind, recorded in digital, replicated on servers worldwide, "Google never forgets", and our digital footprints in the sand are not washed away, but rather become a source for recollections by ourselves and others.
Meanwhile, I am still in Wellington. Multicore World has finished, with the last day of formal proceedings followed by a round-table workshop (I stayed for half of the latter, wanting to see a bit of the city during business hours). From the last day's talks I was particularly impressed with Jeffrey Vetter from Oakridge, talking about their future supercomputers and heterogeneous memory architectures, on which he has a very good paper
. With retirement impending Mark Seager of Intel
gave a heartfelt presentation on being part of a 34-year journey, which he points out included witnessing a 100Bx computational performance improvement in that time.
My journeys on the half-day I had free included a visit to the NZ Labour Party to rejoin (that makes four social-democratic and democratic socialist parties I am a member of in AU, NZ, DE, and FR), followed by a trip to the Wellington City Museum
, which is a truly superb little institution. My favourite of the many stories the place tells is the short documentary of the Tragedy of the Wahine
, overlayed with the hauntingly beautiful sounds of Adagio in G Minor. I have said in the past that this is possibly the most powerful short documentary I have ever seen, and I still hold to that - and that was before I found out that I had been on the said boat several weeks prior to its sinking, in utero
Technically, I am officially on holiday from now until and the coming week. I do suspect that I am going to continue at least some work as that is my nature; I have software installations to complete and impending courses to teach. Nevertheless, I also have my own studies to pay attention to. This morning I handed in a massive mid-term assignment for my MSc, and next week I'm off to Dunedin to attend the opening classes for my MHed. Which means whatever spare time does fall my way I will be making the most of.