No. 33 — 🧭 Year in Review 2021
My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9558 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.
to sit at desk
If last year was a microscope, this year was a telescope. Paris, where I moved mid-August, was one of the curved lenses. Finishing the Hello Ruby bind-up was another one. Both freed up space to look far.
During the past year I’ve been thinking a lot about public spaces, play and computers. I think I found my style and rhythm to the bi-weekly letter writing. I worked a little less publicly, which was new, with many projects still under development or for a private audience. Made my reading goal of 100 books (and did six books in French!). Failed my running goal, with something like 600 kilometers ran.
This is the eight time writing this. Almost a decade. Sitting, condensing.
Here’s 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. And here is 2021:
Changed the year at M’s and V’s. A tiny party, but felt like a lot after the holiday season in very small circles. Before, while cooking, listened to the live Haruki Murakami New Years radio special straight from Tokyo. It felt like I was actually back in Japan.
Did an arts residency in Fiskars: endless snow, writing, running the Rissla trails, drinks at Cafe Bar Pesula in pyjama pants, pumpkin kimchi, Mörby Gård wheat to make cinnamon buns in the blue morning light, YLP.. We lived a lovely, quiet life, punctuated by a few friends visiting. Eleven ways of smelling a tree. Tokashi Millenium Forest.
Started my 100 books a year challenge. Made many improvised soups: borsch, cauliflower, butternut squash. And tea cake! Loved the Halt and Catch fire syllabus.
One of my children’s literature heroes Sinikka Nopola passed away. Kept thinking about how Pippi and Moomin, how somewhere, someone is writing about this time. Health scares in the family.
Wrote one letter: No. 11 — Handwork 🖐️ Choreographer of Robots 🩰 Touchmap. The themes of touch would keep coming up throughout the year.
(I tried adding links to my Bookshop, but at least now the ISBN search is so broken I won’t do it. Maybe I’ll update these later.. )
Pienen hauen pyydystys by Juhani Karila.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Tietotekniikan alkuvuodet Suomessa by Martti Tienari. This sparked the investigation into female programmers later in the year.
Margarita by Anne Kytömäki
How to Speak Machine: Lawes of Design for a Digital Age by John Maeda
The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in The Age of the Computer by Seymour Papert
Homo Irrealis by Andre Aciman. Spent time with this one throughout the year.
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
Storyboarded, wrote and starred in a video about a Helsinki Internet Rescue Team. It was a freezing cold two days with many tiny catastrophes (starting from lice!) but loved every minute of the action. Hope we can soon share it.
Tried to understand Paris and it’s different neighbourhoods. Spent a lot of time daydreaming about who I wanted to be in Paris. Found a park named after Armi Ratia right from my own neighbourhood. Another Silly Typing Error, a sweet poem hidden inside Ursula Franklins book.
Grew pink oyster mushrooms. In hindsight it was a bit too warm for them. AK built me a futuristic, post-antroposcene computer ecosystem out of mushrooms. Also, what computers should look like.
Went to Porvoo with T & J. Celebrated B. Skated for the first time in ten years with K’s and A’s family. Then watched a two year old learning the skill without any fear. Had breakfast almost every Sunday at H., a tiny ritual I now miss. E. turned 1.
The playground project got its first tentative steps through the steadfast guidance of H. Lots of learning and reading about playgrounds.
Wrote two letters: No. 12 — Scriptwriting for online learning 📜 Teaching into the Void 🧑🏫) and No. 13 — Teaching the history of computers🏺Lineage 👪 History as Wall Art. Clearly a year of teaching and history.
The Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin. Thought about this book a lot.
Flâneur: L'art de vagabonder dans Paris by Federico Castigliano
The Story of China: A Portrait of a Civilisation and Its People by Michael Wood
Toven matkassa - Muistoja Tove Janssonista by Helen Svensson
The Powerful and the Damned: Private Diaries in Turbulent Times by Lionel Barber. Enjoyed this a lot!
Known and Strange Things: Essays by Teju Cole
Tove Jansson’s exhibition at Didrichsenin was the only place where I dressed up. Otherwise it was a lot of bread runs to Lapinlahti, making galettes, watching the ice melting in pyjamas. Was excited about Haruki Murakami x Uniqlo collaboration. B. would practically live in his shirt for the rest of the year. Many outdoor walks, but slowly starting to meet indoors too. Visited A. and R. in Nuuksio. Had a lovely dinner at T’s.
At some point during the year I started to notice my Instagram becoming too current (meaning same trends showing up too quickly). So I made a very conscious effort to follow museums, cultural institutions and other places that are focused on long-term visual ideas. (Two non-related favorites: Present and Correct and Where I would like to read)
“In a sense that’s what grief is: you turn love inside out, like a sock or a glove, that’s what you find, isn’t it? Grief is just the other side of love.” - Maggie O’Farrell.
Andy Matuschak’s work is a joy and his reflections made me stop to think about my own career path as well. I would return to this piece many times throughout the year. Also, artisanal integers. Computing as pop culture.
Wrote two letters: No. 14 — Svalbard 🌲 Tech Tree 🐁 Computer Mouse Conference and No. 15 — Sherry Turkle 🧸 Transitional objects 🏛️ Wes Anderson x Kunsthistorisches Museum. I think both Svalbard and Sherry Turkle will pop up again this year.
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mes chères filles, je vais vous raconter... by Marisa Bruni Tedeschi
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner
The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir by Sherry Turkle.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Linnunradalla – Kapellimestari Hannu Linnun matkassa by Pekka Hako
Wonderful easter break first visiting my family, then B’s. Al fresco lunch outside. Had a lovely birthday brunch with friends, followed by an Uunisaari adventure picnic with a boat, fireplace and a few toddlers running every which way. Was proud of H. and her fundraising milestones. Baby N. was born.
Found a word that would help me a lot throughout the year: unconventional computing, the “unorthodox hybrid of computer science, physics, mathematics, chemistry, electronic engineering, biology, material science and nanotechnology. Another interesting placeholder for thoughts in upcoming years: permacomputing.
Sat in Kansallisarkisto and moved pieces around in my head for my history story. Started contacting people to interview. I love this phase of a project, when there is still early momentum and things are just starting to take shape. Had my last board meeting for OP bank, a three year run into the world of finance was a great crash course on how big companies.
Spent a few weeks inside InDesign to work on the bind-up version of Hello Ruby. Even though it is an edited version of the four books, it was somehow more consuming to make than any other books before. Balanced also work on the playground project. Felt at times like Moomin. “I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream!”
“The achievement of coherence is itself ambiguous. Coherence is not necessarily good, and one must question its cost. Better sometimes to remain confused.” - Iris Murdoch
Wrote two letters: No. 16 — Homescreen Helsinki 📦 Lo-fi girl 🇫🇮 Winter Book and No. 17 — Marginalia 📝 Fred Rogers ❤️ Palimpsest
Des yeux de soie by Françoise Sagan
The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. My favorite Towles!
Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi. Loved this!
Säkenöivät ja oikukkaat – Suomen kultakauden naisia by Hanna-Reetta Schreck
Urban Playground: How Child-Friendly Planning and Design Can Save Cities by Tim Gill
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Märta Tikkanen - tyttö joka halusi juosta vetten päällä by Johanna Holmström
Celebrated Mayday in restaurant Palace with a group of friends (and wonderful waffles & champagne by T. before!). Even crashed an afterparty! Life was returning to Helsinki. In the middle of the night, sneaked to our favorite park bench to add a small memory. Park benches are the best.
Went to Billnäs for the long weekend and visited the beautiful Ramsholmen and Mustio. Watched NYC Ballet directed by Sophia Coppola. Celebrated Norway’s Independence Day with K + A and took part in a traditional egg race (or else they trolled me!). Dictionary of IBM is a treasure trove.
A French cafe called Sandwich de Kuurna opened up in our neighbourhood and we became locals. Made very greasy prototypes of pancakes for my video on pancake stacking algorithm.
Followed the entire spring the discussion around geopolitics, talent and computer hardware with growing interest. In addition to Svalbard, I think I would love to visit a chip manufacturer. But first, more reading.
Collected my very first korvasieni (or brain mushrooms!). Teletext sardines.
Wrote two letters: No. 18 - Pancake sorting 🥞 Dates and history 🔩Shortage of chips and No. 19 - Hajimete no Otsukai 💠 Shape of stories ⛏️ Software archeology
Jää by Ulla-Lena Lundberg.
New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess, and Transformation by Thomas Dyja
Bechi by Koko Hubara
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Suuri illusioni by Mika Waltari
Tyttö ja teeseremonia by Nokiro Morishita
Summer arrived. It was very hot for the entire month, which meant oysters and aperol spritz outdoors at the newly opened Kasarmitori. Celebrated E. getting her degree. All of my photos look very light. A few happy weeks, then a loss I’m still figuring out.
Visited Bärösund with A & E to think about future projects. Then a mad dash to get the Hello Ruby bindup finished and into print.
Visited Helsinki Biennal twice. Went to Lonna with B. Enjoyed the summer yard of Rikhardinkatu library tremendously. Libraries creating new public spaces.
Imagining the future is just another form of remembering, was a title for an Atlantic article. But it also became a mantra for me. Fermenting Philipp Glass: Rene Redzepi on Cooking and Music might have been my favorite interview of the year.
Terrible reading month. I think all in all this goal of 100 books show how consistency wins - even with a month of only three books.
Wrote one letter: No. 20 — Acorns 🌰 Packet switching 🤝 Dancing drones
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks
Monimuotoisuus - kertomuksia katoamisesta by Juha Kauppinen
Went to a lovely and legendary vacation to the South of France with friends and family. Visited finally La Colombe D’Or, got to see Fondation Maeght and did a quick stop in Paris. Lots and lots of cooking, the produce was gorgeous and it was easy to dream colorful and big menus. Water balloons made at least the grownups happy.
The playground project was finally public! Did also a little bit of press for the bindup Ruby book. Wrote the last lines of my punchcard operator story.
A trip to Tammisaari with family and to see my grandmother. Tampere with mom and sister, the Moomin museum. Jane Austen’s concept of information.
Got my second vaccine! Felt glorious and invincible. Lonna with H. and lazing around in Harakka. Seeing Tony Vaccaro at Taidehalli. Being very inspired by Kids London guide.
Wrote one letter: No 21 - Playgrounds 🤖 Public Spaces 📐 Architects for the very young. I’ll continue with the playground theme this year.
A theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson
When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids by Gregg Behr
Papyrus by Irene Vallejo
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman
Double Blind by Edward St Aubyn
Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Överlevarna by Alex Schulman
The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells. One of the best fiction books for me.
Nature morte by Louise Penny
Went to Hanko and walked to the southern most tip of Finland. J’s garden party. Lonna with H. Goodbye dinner at Savoy on the last night in Helsinki.
Bonjour Paris! We’re spending the first six months at the residency in Cité des Arts in Marais. Started ordering Financial Times for the weekends. Fell in love with Mirabelle plums. Visited La Bourse and bought Baccarat champagne glasses from 1950s from the fleamarkets of Saint Ouen.
Started working on an audiobook version of Ruby and learned a lot about how books behave when formats change.
My article on pioneering female programmers in Finland came out. It was my first stab at long-form writing and taught me so much. It also gave me confidence to keep working on the book project.
Wrote three letters: No. 22 — Paris 🇫🇷🗼 Pattern Language 🏙️ Kid City and No. 23 — Compositional Patterns 🖋️ Comments on punchcards 🏛️ Winamp Skin Museum and No. 24 — Tiny portals 🔗 Revolving bookshelves 💙 Why are hyperlinks blue?
Glöm mig by Alex Schulman
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
Crying in H Mar by Michelle Zauner
After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made by Ben Rhodes.
Lähdin veljeni luo by Karin Smirnoff
Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Autumn by Ali Smith
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Loved this.
Started to find a routine in Paris. During weekends either to went museums (in September it was Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and Musee d’Art Moderne for Josep and Anni Albers) or picked a street to wander (Rue Cler, Rue Montergeuil, Rue Mouffetard).
Many friends I haven’t seen in years visited (or were already in Paris!). Had also family here. Bought apricot jam from Tour D’Argent. La Fée Électricité at MaM was a surprise favorite mural with all the historic characters of science, electricity and mathematics.
Things I learned: Six year olds laugh and average of 3000x a day. Adults only laugh 15-100x a day. Wendell Berry: Why I am Not Going To Get a Computer.
At times felt very stuck in life, maybe a combination of work, life in a new city and other stuff. “Like I’m sitting in a vestibule”, I would describe to anyone who cared to listen. I started to have weekly coaching calls with M. and continue therapy with H. Both structures I think were much needed. “Nothing in your education has taught you that what you notice is important” - Verlyn Klinkenborg
But it was glorious to be back in Helsinki immediately for a few days! Saw my godmother for the first time in forever. M’s birthday party. A Tove Jansson festival. E. & A. and a very lively dinner. saw Dune and thought of the filter sweep. Not sure what this game is, but I need it.
Decided to let go of my office space in Helsinki. A great reading month: the Hockney, Rovelli and Kimmerer books all still rotate in my mind. Algoloop toy. Brian Eno’s principles made a lot of sense.
Wrote two letters: No. 25 — Copernicus and Bologna 🔭 Octopus intelligence 🐙 100 tabs of madness and No. 26 — Anni Albers 🧵 Weaving 🧶 LOL memory
Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy by Martin Gayford, David Hockney. A favorite of this year! 2-3 thoughts that are in constant rotation.
Kaikki oli heidän by Juha Itkonen
Rakastan sinussa ihmistä – Aino ja Alvar Aallon tarina by Heikki Aalto-Alanen
Mary Gallen-Kallela – Olisit villiä villimpi by Helena Ruuska
The Paris Hours by Alex George
Winter by Ali Smith
There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness: And Other Thoughts on Physics, Philosophy and the World by Carlo Rovelli. Likewise a favorite.
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This too.
Tämän naisen elämä by Helmi Kekkonen
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Paris fall was gorgeous. We got sunlight and summer when Helsinki was already dark and rainy. I was walking so much. Many of the books are now forever entangled with different parts of the city. I found an asian grocery store and ordered produce straight from the Arpege farms. And found a favorite lunch spot near my office (Gramme!)
Lots of great culture. We saw Play at Palais Garnier and fell in love with the ballet. The Morozov Collection was definitely once in a lifetime. And David Hockney at L’Orangerie made me smile for the entire weekend. I watched Björk one late Monday evening play live in Iceland. Plant humanities lab and Biodiversity Heritage Library gave me ideas.
Visited Madrid quickly for a live event! First in a long time. Fist bumped the Spanish king and Rafael Nadal, with masks. Royal etiquette!
Was still meeting many old friends. L. & R. visited for a weekend. We saw Damien Hirst at Cartier Foundation and admired the views of the city on the rooftop of Cheval Blanc. Best miso cod on a glitzy Saturday.
Visited C. at Ada Tech School and joined A on a Colori Montessori workshop. Many of my close friends gave birth. It seemed my life was measured in two week intervals. Figured out a career maxim that had been gnawing at me. Bought a bottle garden.
Wrote two letters: No. 27 — Footnotes🦶Fall teaching ⬛ Rut Bryk and No. 28 — Isoprenes ⚗️Think Like a Bot🦿Grand jeté
On Time and Water by Andri Snær Magnason. Loved this a lot.
The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture by Juhani Pallasmaa
Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Surun kartta by Kira Poutanen
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Syyskirja by Johanna Venho
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Visited Les Arcs for La Toussant. It rained the whole weekend, but it didn’t matter, because the town was magical, we met saints and winemakers and had adventures of all kind. Some closed loops, too.
Many back-to-normals: went to yoga for the first time in two years, took the train to London for a weekend with H, S and N. My parents came to town for almost a week, as did J. and M. Had brunch with P and M and dinner with L. We had a little Beaujoulais Nouveau evening and saw candlelight concert Bach, Schubert. Bought an airfryer! (Our place doesn’t have a real kitchen and I’ve been missing an oven so bad). Paris felt very full, in the best of ways.
Discovered Beatrix Potter was a mycologist and came up with scientific theories!
Throughout the year a theme that I seem to have been very interested in was new ways of creating and organising knowledge. Whether through fellowships, institutes, labs or research organisations. I think the work on playgrounds fits in here somewhere.
Went to Zurich to see L, and caught also the first snow. Visited Basel for Fondation Beyeler and the Goya exhibition. Meeting of families in a Christmas market. Beautiful views over Lake Zurich at R’s and L’s place.
Teaching started again with a new batch of teachers-to-be. This time we could meet twice face-to-face, rest was Zoom. Organised several workshops and surveys for getting feedback on playground design in schools, kindergartens and community centers. Maybe I should have made it into a cardgame? I like the premise of this one.
Saw French Dispatch and it maybe became my favorite Wes movie, even past Moonrise Kingdom. Vonnegut’s shapes of stories.
Wrote two letters: No. 29 — David Hockney 👀 But to see like this 🐈 They All Saw a Cat and Living in a rectangular world and No. 30 — AMA 🙋 Mesofacts ⛰️ Hyperobjects
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson
Kuinka puut kasvavat ja miksi antilooppi ravistaa by Saku Tuominen
Laserwriter II by Tamara Shopsin
Barrikadeilta pankkimaailmaan - Eräänlaiset päiväkirjat 1952-1992 by Björn Wahlroos
Holly by Maisku Myllymäki
Pour une révolution délicieuse by Olivier Roellinger
Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit
An Editor’s Burial: Journals and Journalism from the New Yorker and Other Magazines by David Brendel
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Sinun, Margot by Meri Valkama
I was invited to A’s home in Paris which felt very nice, like I had made a real friend. Reminded myself to invite more people over to my place. We also got an invitation to the Independence day reception at the Finnish Embassy in Paris. One of my last day in Paris was ridiculously great: lunch at Le Mary Celeste, Picasso museum, wandering around the stores of Marais.. It felt like a joyous season 1 ending.
Many end of year activities: student presentations. One big speaking event. Christmas lunch with A and E. Walk with T & J. Christmas wreath making with my girlfriends. Björn Weckström’s machines/men at Didrischen.
Robin Sloan’s Notes on Web3 made me ever so slightly curious about Ethereum. Finnish pronouns.
Best tv-episode of the year: Master of None S03e04. Best movie: My Dinner with André. Best playlist: chez baldwin. Best purchase: The Fritz Hansen series 7 office chair.
Omicron cancelled many of my work and life plans in December and I was stuck in Helsinki. A few anxious weeks of almost daily testing. Spent Christmas (again) with my brother and parents. Maybe next year there will be finally room for bigger celebrations?
Wrote two letters: No 31. — 15 ideas for CS ED week 💡 My favorite book 🔊 Noisy computers and No 32. — Twelve questions 📟 Nokiawave 🎄 [little tree]
Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien by Georges Perec
Eurooppa – Poliittisen yhteisön historia by Timo Miettinen
The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann by Ananyo Bhattacharya
Naiset katsovat vastavaloon by Joel Haahtela
Outoja kaloja by Amanda Palo
Traumbach by Joel Haahtela
Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami by David Karashima
Matrix by Lauren Groff
How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
Paris by Julian Green
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
Pariisi — kirjailijan kaupunki by Kristina Ranki
Akvarelleja Engelin kaupungista by Jukka Viikilä
Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald