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paul.j.fenwick

Welcome to my home on the internet! Everything here is free under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license unless marked otherwise.

This site contains various pieces of writing across my various interests, and spanning several years. You can fork this site on github if you wish.

Human relevance in the age of machines

The industrial revolution’s defining feature was the mass-production of machines that could do jobs better than human workers. This was a change so profound that British Parliament passed a law in 1812 making destruction of a robot worker a capital offence. While that law no longer exists, there still exists an ongoing and relevant concern that humans will be replaced with machines.

A lot of the focus is on machines replacing human labour, resulting in technological unemployment; but I’m concerned about something much more frightening: what if machines can do everything better than humans? What if they’re not only better workers, but better authors, better artists, better chefs, and better lovers? What happens when the machines can offer us anything we want… save relevance?

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Noirin

I met Noirin at OSCON, many years ago. Actually, I think it was the community leadership summit before OSCON. I was being me—meeting everyone—and one of those people was Noirin. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but they must have asked me what I was working on, because I do remember giving them a presentation of my Ignite talk (which I was nervous about) and asking for feedback (which they very generously gave). That started a long tradition of Noirin giving me feedback on my talks; ones that I had done, ones that I was working on, ones that were just thoughts in my head. And as part of that process and the friendship that surrounded it, I discovered something wonderful.

The way in which Noirin saw the world was beautiful.

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The Past and Future CKAN

It’s been almost five months since the first version of the Comprehensive Kerbal Archive Network (CKAN) was released. What started as a desire to make it easier to install and manage Kerbal mods has now turned into a system that’s used by tens of thousands of users, along with hundreds of contributors to our metadata and code. The CKAN has been a huge success.

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CKAN needs an infrastructure sponsor!

About six months ago I had this crazy idea that one of my favourite games, Kerbal Space Program, needed a mod manager that did everything right, and an amazing team of volunteers, including myself, set about to make that happen. The result has been the Comprehensive Kerbal Archive Network (CKAN). Tens of thousands of people have downloaded the CKAN client, and we index hundreds of mods to make sure our users can install and upgrade mods with the click of a button.

CKAN has been an overwhelming success. All our code is free, all our metadata is free, and all the work has been done by unpaid volunteers who wanted to contribute to something awesome.

However, the CKAN requires infrastructure to run… and that’s not free.

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