Hello 2015

Bill Humphries bill@whump.com
Sat, 2 Mar 2002 11:17:34 -0800


On Friday, March 1, 2002, at 05:05 PM, Michael Watson wrote:

> Having
> established my street cred, as the hip-hop people would say,

There's a little bit of Vibe.com and Blaze.com in all of us OnRadio vets. 
<buffalostance/> werd.

> f) a recognition of the profound spiritual sickness at most hi tech 
> companies

Laboring in my little IT vineyard at Apple, I'm far away from the whole 
digital hub business, but it has people excited. And heck, we've even 
gotten The Mouse to denounce us by Name. We're in a battle for the Vision 
governing the world.

> Here are some questions that now seem a lot more interesting:
>
> 1) Can good code be art? Am I a software artist? How to display this art?

I'm reading _The Pragmatic Programmer_ which appeals to me with the idea 
of developer as craftsperson. I know lots of 'crafty' people through 
fandom and related communities, so I think that building code can be like 
building furniture. You and your users are going to live with it everyday 
so you want it to be elegant, but livable. For example, "Gurnica" is an 
awesome piece of art, but even if I could have it in my living room (and I'
d need a bigger apartment for that) it's not something you put in a living 
room. It belongs in a setting where the viewer can see it, and feel it's 
full effect. That won't work in a room full of books and chairs. I think 
developers should look to William Morris, Goudy, Wright (his glasswork, 
not his roofs), Eric Gill, and Judy Chicago as potential models.

Also dully noted is the example from the recent discussion of the brains 
of coders where a Microsoft QA engineer visualized the raw source in their 
head and looked for bugs by seeking the symmetry breaks.

> 2) Are Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy irresponsible for scaring people, for
> playing to Mary Shelley's most powerful Frankenstein meme to sell books.

No, I think they ask good questions. Kurzweil's thesis, from what I've 
understood (and I still need to read _The Age of Spiritual Machines_) 
seems hopeful. I think some of Bill Joy's worries were born out on 
September 11th.

Anyone else here read John Barnes' _Candle_? How does that world sit with 
you all?

> 3) Is Ray Kurzweil even right, can man create consciousness?

I'd like to think we can. We'll need it if we're going to venture out of 
our little corner of spacetime.

> 4) Can we find meaning in writing code or should we look elsewhere?

I wouldn't look just at writing code.

> 5) Can a lunatic like Ted Kazinski still have something important to say?

Yes, but his acts dillute what he said. Alternatively OBL's crimes against 
the world indirectly said something important, even if his own words and 
videotaped statements were so much hogwash.

> 6) Why does Bill Gates have such a profound lack of imagination? Why 
> doesn't
> he buy a space shuttle and take all of us who made him rich up for a ride?

He has a vision, in an inversion of Umberto Eco's essay on OSes, .NET is 
the Universal Church triumphant. It's fine if you're Catholic, but not if 
you're a cranky Protestant or Freethinker.

If he bought a shuttle, there's a long line for seats on the orbiter. And 
he'd probably be better off buying up a bunch of Soyuz orbiters and 
boosters. The tradition of taking a leak on the back tire of the bus to 
the gantry is mythic,

> 7) What happened to the kid that loved writing code for his first computer
> (4k ram)?

He became rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Hell of a story there. 
Friends who know him say he's still a stand-up guy.

> If you get my drift then maybe you can point in the right direction and 
> send
> me on my way. Back in the 80's, I met the lead genius on the Excel
> spreadsheet, a small quiet man. I went into his office and it was dark and
> bare like a chapel. Above his computer was a large, beautiful oil painting
> of Jesus. Even though I am not a christian, that man is still my hero.

In my imagination, I sometimes script scenes for movies. Though, after 
OnRadio, I think it'll be hard to deal with Hollywood, they and I come 
from two different religions.

I wanted to introduce a group of developers, so there's a scene where the 
camera slowly rolls down a line of cubicles, looking in, while Nusrat 
Fateh Ali Khan's "Mustt Mustt (Lost In His Work)" plays. It's a play on 
the notion of monastic. In one cube a group of people sit cross legged on 
the carpet while another draws UML on a whiteboard. Other cubes are dark 
and light by flat panel displays while a person works or blasts away at 
the avatars of other coders.

But that's just one vision.

Let's get Mr. Willats, Mr. Kite, Mr. JM, Mr. Ocharan, and Comrade Director 
of Engineers Sadowsky in here.

-- whump