And the society we want.

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr propelled me into technology. I first read this writing as an undergraduate in Journalism school. As someone learning about the science and arts of communications, the internet — I mean everything underneath the hood — seemed like such a far-off world. It bothered me what a paradox it was on how little I knew of the tool I use the most.

And so, five years later — I myself am now carving out a space to learn about technology as a software engineer.

I really do love this book because of the questions it draws out in my responsibility as practitioner in technology and a thinker in communications theory. …

My primary trade is communications. I took up code to become a better communicator for our brave new world.

Lately, people have been coming to ask me for advise on making a similar career switch. They come for all reasons of all kinds to take up code — money, ego, passion, curiosity, escape.

I’m excited to see so many people willing to catch up with our times. I’d like to say I’ve become a maven of sorts when it comes to — “How do I get into I.T. ?”

Computers and Servers

When you first start exploring the world of computers, it’s helpful to realize computers and servers are one and the same. …

My grandma was admitted into the hospital today.

My family at home was taking care of her. They send messages all day long. And tonight, I just received a photo of her, thin, in the hospital bed, doing her best to smile.

And it’s such a bright smile, my grandma.

She had a bone fracture.

I am breaking.

It’s haunting.

I’m shaking.


I miss her so much.

When I was growing up under her care, she was relentless. She broke me. She completely destroyed me. She shamed me. She never pardoned me. She never praised me. She never told me things were going to be okay. She told me to be smart. She told me to remember others. She never let me see my self as anything less than a man. …

This is my experience at Jury Duty.

The sun still hasn't colored the sky. My eyes struggle to peel open.

A crack of light meets my eyes only to filter my room in a cool tone of gray. I take a deep breath. My back seems to have attached itself to the bed, and my legs to the fluffy blankets. Everything’s comfortably heavy. It’s been two months since I had to roll out of bed so early.

I have to serve jury duty today.

I stare at my phone. Slide, tap, tap, tap, tap. I unlock it and open Instagram. I stare at photos of food, over cluttered, over filtered, wonderfully clumsy. I keep scrolling until a cup of coffee stares back at me. There it is, coffee in its mundane beauty. I want one too. …

The belief that China is straining itself to lure scientists home

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I work for a new drug research institute in China and have been in and out of China’s academia for the past year or so at Tsinghua University, whose name for some reason cannot be stated without mentioning Harvard or MIT.

My research center hopes to develop medication and other treatments for diseases most harmful to developing nations, diseases like, malaria, diarrhea, and bronchitis — most are diseases that already do have treatments, but they’re too expensive to reproduce and distribute in say, Uganda, India, and yes, even China.

Most of my colleagues here are scientists who have been working in American institutions for all of their professional lives. It’s easy to put them all into a box and say they simply went to America for a better life and are suddenly coming home out of some political ploy, but me, I see it cutting deeper than that. …

I was catching up with my cousin, Korina.

We’re only a couple of years apart, both recent college graduates. We were chatting about how we were getting by in life. I’m in Beijing. She’s at our hometown in small Midwestern America, Milwaukee.

“We’re really lucky to have family — that we have such a strong sense of family,” I said.

There was a pause.

“It kept me grounded.”

“You say that family grounded you, but how does that lead you not caring about how people think about you? I agree, but it seems too simplified.”

Korina sighed. …

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When I have too much free time I dig through the pantry and fridge and challenge myself to make something to eat.

I made a cool, refreshing, iced grass jelly bowl — a street food dessert you might find in East Asia, Southern China especially — dressed in lemon juice, raw green tea leaves, sweet basil, dragon eyes (the translucent bits) and a touch of sugar, garnished with lemon zest.

I imagined the sweet tea leaves playing off the bitters of the grass jelly and melding into the sweet basil while the lemon flavor helped cut the sweetness of the dragon eyes. …


Tammy Tian

I love to write prose and code.

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