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Alexander Grothendieck has died | Hacker News
"In those critical years I learned how to be alone. [But even] this formulation doesn't really capture my meaning. I didn't, in any literal sense learn to be alone, for the simple reason that this knowledge had never been unlearned during my childhood. It is a basic capacity in all of us from the day of our birth. However these three years of work in isolation [1945–1948], when I was thrown onto my own resources, following guidelines which I myself had spontaneously invented, instilled in me a strong degree of confidence, unassuming yet enduring, in my ability to do mathematics, which owes nothing to any consensus or to the fashions which pass as law....By this I mean to say: to reach out in my own way to the things I wished to learn, rather than relying on the notions of the consensus, overt or tacit, coming from a more or less extended clan of which I found myself a member, or which for any other reason laid claim to be taken as an authority. This silent consensus had informed me, both at the lycée and at the university, that one shouldn't bother worrying about what was really meant when using a term like "volume," which was "obviously self-evident," "generally known," "unproblematic," etc....It is in this gesture of "going beyond," to be something in oneself rather than the pawn of a consensus, the refusal to stay within a rigid circle that others have drawn around one—it is in this solitary act that one finds true creativity. All others things follow as a matter of course.

Since then I've had the chance, in the world of mathematics that bid me welcome, to meet quite a number of people, both among my "elders" and among young people in my general age group, who were much more brilliant, much more "gifted" than I was. I admired the facility with which they picked up, as if at play, new ideas, juggling them as if familiar with them from the cradle—while for myself I felt clumsy, even oafish, wandering painfully up an arduous track, like a dumb ox faced with an amorphous mountain of things that I had to learn (so I was assured), things I felt incapable of understanding the essentials or following through to the end. Indeed, there was little about me that identified the kind of bright student who wins at prestigious competitions or assimilates, almost by sleight of hand, the most forbidding subjects.

In fact, most of these comrades who I gauged to be more brilliant than I have gone on to become distinguished mathematicians. Still, from the perspective of thirty or thirty-five years, I can state that their imprint upon the mathematics of our time has not been very profound. They've all done things, often beautiful things, in a context that was already set out before them, which they had no inclination to disturb. Without being aware of it, they've remained prisoners of those invisible and despotic circles which delimit the universe of a certain milieu in a given era. To have broken these bounds they would have had to rediscover in themselves that capability which was their birthright, as it was mine: the capacity to be alone."
math  hackernews  creativity 
3 days ago by vivitsu
News.ycombinator.com: krick's comment on Politicians in favor of upload filtering get channel deleted by upload filtering
I'm not sure if it would we a screw up. I mean, I actually liked early 2000-s, when Internet was kind of place of reigning anarchy as if there was no government and evil corporations, but let's just face it: it's long gone. Maybe there will be something else to offer the same kind of experience in the future, but it will never be the Web again, it's dead, taken by the enemy. Parents are home again. So, speaking about the least evil, you know, I would be actually glad, if Facebook (as it is now) would never enter the EU — and maybe somewhere across the ocean whole nations would be enslaved by it, I wouldn't care, because I don't have to use it, since my friends, local businesses and events don't force me to.

In fact, it seems that it's finally the case when people around might have to be "protected", since they cannot make the right choice themselves, and push me to it, as a consequence. So, being quite a libertarian myself, given the imperfect situation I find myself in, I'm not sure I mind some government interference.

I actually hate all these pop-up banners warning me about the cookie usage, and I'm not sure if GDPR (being vague and undefinitive it is) will turn out to be a good thing, and I sure hate this copyright filters thing. But I kind of like EU trying to force Internet-businesses to behave.
forum-posts  hackernews  netcritique  facebook  socialmedia  law  eu  history  internet  homepages 
4 days ago by mikael
The Trouble with D3 – Ian Johnson – Medium
Via HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17298072

The misconception at the heart of these threads is that d3 and data visualization are the same thing. That to do data visualization one must learn and use all of d3, and to use d3 one must learn all of data visualization. Instead, I like to emphasize that d3 is a toolkit for communicating complex data-driven concepts on the web.

Let’s examine a few common situations where people find themselves wanting to do interactive data visualization and how we might plot a better course for each.
d3  javascript  hackernews 
9 days ago by richardneish

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