I'm Alex Kearney, a PhD student studying Computer Science at the University of Alberta. I focus on Artificial Intelligence and Epistemology.

When I'm not playing with robots, I hang out with the indieweb community, drink tea, and scubadive.

I begin with the [element] which the rough and tumble of life renders most familiarly prominent. We are continually bumping up against hard fact. We expected one thing, or passively took it for granted, and had the image of it in our minds, but experience forces that idea into the background, and compels us to think quite differently. You get this kind of consciousness in some approach to purity when you put your shoulder against a door and try to force it open. You have a sense of resistance and at the same time a sense of effort. There can be no resistance without effort; there can be no effort without resistance. They are only two ways of describing the same experience ....

... The waking state is a consciousness of reaction; and as the consciousness itself is two-sided, so it has also two varieties; namely, action, where our modification of other things is more prominent than their reaction on us, and perception, where their effect on us is overwhelmingly greater than our effect on them (CP 1.32)

This is interesting because it gives a sort-of enactive and embodied approach.


"By an Object, I mean anything we can think; anything we can talk about. By real object, I mean anything of which whatever is true is so whether we think it to be so or not. To this definition, it might be objected that it applies to any object; since if any object is unreal, it is so whether we think it to be so or not: and we frequently think unreal objects to be real, but that objection falls to the ground, since we cannot think an unreal object to be real: we only think of some idea in mind as applying a [difficult to read] predicate to something out of our mind. Or, to state the objection otherwise, the only object of of which nothing else is true except unreality, is meerly the abstract idea of unreal and if we think that to be real..."

From Peirce's manuscripts: Reflections on Real and Unreal Objects (MS [R] 996)


I often focus on the scenes in travel photography, cutting out people wherever possible; however, after binge-reviewing my old albums, I've noticed that the best photos are always ones where people are interacting with the environment--even when they're tourists!


Today I bit the data management bullet and started reviewing old photos. Geeze, I've forgotten how tedious it can be reviewing photos en masse: selecting them, editing them, exporting them, properly arranging them into albums..,


I was on a flight and the guy across the aisle from me clearly took a picture of the woman sitting next to him.

After the flight, I mentioned to him (in private) that I noticed he took a photo of her without her permission.

His response? "It's not even your problem".


Important points about the value and importance of communication in research here.

Other additional factor to note:

  • spending time on outreach will necessarily mean less time on fundamental research. It’s a trade-off that needs to be appreciated more.

I often see this expectation that the people doing outreach and community coordination will just magically be able to do that and produce the same amount of work as people who aren’t taking on these other tasks. Eventually it just becomes expected that some of the students will take on these projects alongside their research responsibilities.

They get burnt out. They stop. The community goes through an outreach drought.

This happens a lot with minority students in STEM get tapped to do community outreach. It’s all good if you’re interested in community building, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to work on these issues. The effort should be recognized as coming at the expense of research.

Moreover, people leading diversity initiatives shouldn't feel entitled to minority student's time when it comes to contributing to diversity projects just because they're a minority. Too many times I see people working on these sorts of projects getting shoe-horned into the roles because they're in an under-represented group.

Even if students are interested in diversity projects, it becomes a balancing act in maintaining their academic reputation: the more they work on these community and diversity building initiatives, the less of a serious scientist they are to some people---even if they're a wildly talented researcher. This is a massive shame that holds the whole community back.


Today we had our first HWC in Edmonton. We had four people in attendance; everyone was either building their own personal sites on the university server, or helping people navigate the basics of building a site.

The plan is to have a weekly to bi-weekly meeting where we provide people with the tools to build their own sites. I'm starting with University pages, as it's something people should just have in general, but I'm going to write up some tutorials to motivate and guide people through the hurdles of getting involved in the indieweb community.



Michael Ignatieff does an analysis of Nick Clegg's memoir, discussing the current plight of moderate rationalists.


By far the best course I've taken was Design for Informatics: I keep finding ways to use #design thinking in interdisciplinary ways.


computers are pretty neat.


@ChrisAldrich I'm glad you enjoyed it! Coming up with something that's easy enough to use consistently is kind of tricky. #indieweb

It worked though! I recently used it to put up two weeks of photos!


Going through some of the boxes my parents packed for me during the move I found not one, not two, but three cork screws.

Clearly my parents have great expectations.


Hello, Canada.


Goodbye Scotland.


Are there any #indieweb people in #yeg ? Are there any local meetups?


Walking up the royal mile asking for flyers is a good way to elicit surprise.

It's like people don't know what to do when you want their fliers, like they've not gotten that far.


Stop one on my post-university adventures: Sofia.


Favourite things: when airport security decides to open sanitary napkins when searching luggage.