Fall 2021 Shipping Log
Data journalism, Updately updates, and writing about thermodynamics, ideology, and excellence
Welcome to my first-ever monthly (ish) shipping log!
Who are you? I’m a Media Studies and Physics major at Pomona College near LA right now. In my last gap year I was an Edyfi organizer, software engineer, and journalist.
What’s the point of this? I love writing. I love making things. But what I end up writing and making ends up scattered all over the place — different publications, my own two blogging platforms, project launch tweets buried in my timeline… This Substack is a space to collect my published work, for the sake of my own reflection and to make it easier to share.
Why should I care? This Substack is mostly meant for me and those already invested in me. But perhaps you share my curiosity about tech ideology, social and cultural change, knowledge management tools, data visualization, or something else below. If so, I’d love for you to subscribe or reach out to me!
Now, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to…
“I haven’t learned something until I’ve published writing about it.” Inspired by Phil Liao, swyx, Sartre, and others, and left without any learning structure during my gap year, I took up this maxim as a personal rule.
If published writing shapes individual knowledge, on a collective level it shapes social reality. “The news…helps us create a common language and common knowledge rooted in reality [and identifies] a community's goals, heroes, and villains,” wrote journalists Kovach and Rosenstiel.
This fall, I’ve helped cover Asian American politics at The Yappie and campus news at The Student Life. In personal writing, I’ve written about class material I want to remember as well as other speakers, strangers, and peers I’ve conversed with and the spaces I’ve been a part of. Updately, in the meantime, has given me space to write several more meaningful reflection essays.
The Yappie and The Student Life
A career preserved in time: Fossil species named for Pomona Dean Robert Gaines, The Student Life, October 8, 2021
Claremont Institute defends senior fellow who advised Trump on overturning election, The Student Life, October 28, 2021
Amazin LeThi is unapologetic about fighting for Asian and LGBTQ inclusion in sports, The Yappie, October 31, 2021
Aftab Pureval wins Cincinnati election in milestone for Midwest’s Asian Americans, The Yappie, November 2, 2021
Bruce Harrell becomes Seattle’s first elected Asian American mayor after bitter campaign, The Yappie, November 4, 2021
“Questioning Revolution”, Postulate, September 29, 2021
“Angela Davis: Tuesday”, Postulate, October 28, 2021
“Angela Davis: third-wave abolition is concrete and ideological, intersectional and international, and the time for organizing is now”, Postulate, October 30, 2021
“Palestinian poet articulates liberation: SJP hosts activist Mohammed El-Kurd”, The Student Life, November 19, 2021
Media Studies, Philosophy, Physics, and Other Reading
Science as Communal Storytelling: Notes from Chapter 1 of *Six Ideas that Shaped Physics*, Postulate, September 2, 2021
Media as the "systematically distorted communication" of meaning: how Stuart Hall's "Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse" lays out a foundational framework for Media Studies, Postulate, October 3, 2021
Jason Farman's Phenomenological/Post-structuralist Model for Consciousness, Culture, Technology, and Revolution, Postulate, November 28, 2021
Diderot’s materialism as one-half of Marx’s historical materialism, class assignment for “European Enlightenment” with Prof. Gary Kates, November 28, 2021
Extracting Work from Heat: Modeling Power Plants and Refrigerators with Entropy Change Constraints | *Six Ideas That Shaped Physics* Chapter T9 Notes, Postulate, December 11, 2021
how to be happy, Postulate, October 1, 2021
river, Postulate, October 19, 2021
a conversation about life with ally and myself, Updately, November 5, 2021
learning to be disciplined and getting work done early, Updately, November 6, 2021
the people of gold mountain, Updately, November 25, 2021
🌧, Updately, December 11, 2021
“Build tools around workflows, not workflows around tools.” Like my writing maxim, this idea from Linus Lee keeps me continuously building.
This fall I’ve felt the satisfaction of building tools that not just me but hundreds of others have used. At The Student Life I returned to data visualization with new web dev skills, building a COVID dashboard and admissions pipeline visualization. Updately, which I impulse built last November, has seen hundreds of posts, comments, and likes each month. And as an experimental tool, I built an iOS stat tracker app in React Native and launched it on TestFlight.
5C COVID Dashboard
The Student Life, data visualization, launched September 20, 2021
Diversity takes a dip in Pomona’s Class of 2025
The Student Life, data visualization, November 5, 2021
Seven: Stat Tracker TestFlight Launch
iOS App, November 16, 2021
Updately 0.6.0 and 0.7.0
Webapp/social platform, December 12, 2021
“Bad questions are questions that aren't well-informed, scoped, or contextualized. For example: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or ‘Why do things stick together?’ They sound like they are being asked by a six-year-old….[but] by asking questions [we are] letting our curiosity drive our knowledge uptake and connection-building.” from an old blog post about how “bad questions” are the root of original thought
Last year, I built a “question journal” app to help with question-centricl earning. You can get on it too at questionjournal.vercel.app.
Here are a few “bad” questions on my mind this fall:
“What makes you happy?” — “simply doing what you love.” More here
Some big-idea definitions: “What is historical materialism? What is post-structuralism?” School papers are great for researching these questions.
“Why do people believe the things that they do?” The biggest, baddest question on my mind. Media studies theory has supplied many interesting ideas, if not a single coherent framework.
“What is a technologist?” In a strain of various questions about “tech” culture and ideology, fueled by Letters to a Young Technologist, among other things. I’ll publish writing about this soon 😁
“What are the qualities of progress/productivity vs. maintenance?” This one, very much still in the progress of exploration, was sparked squarely by Jenny Odell’s amazing How to Do Nothing, which Vivien recommended to me — Jasmine Wang has written about it too.
That’s it for now!
I have lots of exciting projects in the works or lined up, but to not dilute my motivation for completing them, I’ll leave them unannounced until they’re shipped.
The past year has been one of the most transformative in my life, and this fall saw no slowdown in pace of personal growth. In my 2020 reflection I described the year as kaleidoscopic, in which so much of what I took for granted shattered to pieces (the pandemic mostly unrelated to this). I’ve yet to come up with my three words for 2021, but to extend the previous metaphor, this year I’ve felt the fragments swirl around and reassemble in so many new and amazing ways.
I thank you if you’ve read this far. If you want to keep up with my work, whether because of an existing relationship or a newly discovered commonality, once again I’ll encourage you to subscribe below! 🥰
Thanks for reading Samson's Monthly Shipments! Subscribe to receive new posts and stoke my ego 😜