Sometime in the early 1980s my friend Greg Chaitin decided to go digital. He wanted to have all of his own writings, along with some other documents he particularly valued, ready at hand in machine-readable form. This was long before Postscript or PDF; scanners and OCR were exotic technology. So Greg hired a typist. I know about all this because he sent me a printout of his digitized oeuvre—an impressively thick sheaf of fanfold paper, with sprocket strips still attached. (The irony of this mode of distribution was not lost on either of us.)
I’m finally trying to catch up with Greg. Instead of hiring a typist, though, I’ve bought a cute little document scanner, which has been busily transforming heaps of moldering cellulose into shiny new bits. The scanner produces PDFs, which then run through an OCR program to build an index, making the page images searchable. (Bring on the Googlebot!) The result falls short of ideal—files are obese, graphics are low-res, there’s no opportunity to edit or reformat—but still it’s better than rummaging through cobwebby filing cabinets in my basement. And I don’t have to FedEx cartons of fanfold to my friends.
I’ll be adding links to my publications list as I upload the files. Here are a few teasers:
The HP-41C: A Literate Calculator? Byte, January 1981, pages 118-138. PDF (3.3 MB)
40,000 Points of Light. Pixel, Vol. 1, No. 2, May-June 1990, pages 36-41. [On a graphics language in which an image is defined as a locus of points.] PDF (2.4 MB)
Rank-and-File Thinking. Lotus, June 1985, pages 73-77. PDF (1.8 MB)
Theory & Practice: On the bathtub algorithm for dot-matrix holograms. Computer Language, October 1986, pages 21-32. [On patterns generated by severely oversampled signals.] PDF (4.6 MB)
The Information Age: The Numbering Crisis in World Zone 1. The Sciences, Vol. 32, No. 6, November-December 1992, pages 12-15. [On the impending shortage of telephone numbers.] PDF (1.8 MB)
I note for the record that every one of the publications mentioned in the list above is now defunct. I wonder if there’s any significance in that?