Hello, world! My name is Devon. I’m a writer (of code and words). In my free time, I read weird blogs, work on side projects, take public transit, and train for triathlons. I love reasoning about, improving, and designing systems and infrastructure.
I update this page in a sporadic and unceremonious fashion.
Strong opinions, weakly held
- Cities can be wonderful places to live, and they are key to a good future for humanity. Density—when done right—is green, encourages innovation, results in better communities, and makes us happier and healthier.
- We Should Be Building Cities for People, Not Cars
- Subsidizing Suburbia: A forgotten history of how the government created suburbia
- Financing Suburbia: How government mortgage policy determined where you live
- Exempting Suburbia: How suburban sprawl gets special treatment in our tax code
- You can find optimistic art about cities on my Twitter feed
- Romantic urbanism
- The way we live is shaped by our infrastructure, so it’s important to get it right. At the same time, infrastructure is systematically undervalued. This is bad, but on the bright side it means that infrastructure of all types is a high-leverage place to devote your energy.
- Individual liberty is the single most important value that society should uphold.
- I’m more utilitarian and communitarian now.
- I still believe we should be extremely skeptical of sacrificing individual liberties for the sake of a greater good (in practice if not in theory), but I no longer hold liberty as sacrosanct.
- All of your views need to be internally consistent.
- This is still something to aim for, but I no longer believe we should sacrifice all intuitions for the sake of consistency.
- If you enforce consistency above all else, you’re likely to be totally wrong about everything. If even just one of your base assumptions is slightly wrong, the entirety of your world view that is based on these assumptions is now incorrect.
- Powerful type systems make programming more fun.
- Unambiguous Webpack config with Typescript on the Webpack blog
An abridged list of things I want to learn more about:
- Coordination problems
- Urban planning, especially transportation
- Especially things that generalize between disciplines
- Design patterns
- Tools for thought
- Bret Victor’s Ladder of Abstraction
- Michael Nielsen's call to incorporate emotional impact, change habits of mind, and reduce the burden on people's short-term working memory
- Steve Jobs' description of computers as "bicycles for the mind" doesn't go far enough
- Ethics and meta ethics
- What’s your utility function? Really! Let me know!
- Health, nutrition, and fitness
- Synthetic biology
- Bio fuels
- Transhumanism and the idea that humanity is a "work in progress"
- I’m really bad at it, but I like food
- The history of language
- Natural language processing (NLP)
- Rationality and biases
- Group and organizational
- Cryptography, stenography, and information theory