Stephen D. Williams
Sun, 03 Mar 2002 15:40:36 -0500
You found the perfect venue for this kind of discussion, IMHO.
Michael Watson wrote:
>Hi, this is my first post to this list. I am a technologist whose focus has
>recently shifted . I am looking for a place to discuss issues related to my
>new focus. I have spent the last 20 years writing 68K asm/C/C++ code; I was
>one of the original authors of Microsoft Works for the Mac. Having
>established my street cred, as the hip-hop people would say, I would like to
>ask if this list is appropriate for what I want to talk about. First let me
>describe what shifted my focus,
>listed in chronological order:
Catch up on our writing and tells us what you think.
In particular, what do you think of the recent article about
Muslim/Islamic culture and reasons for resulting hate-for-the-West?
>b) a near death experience, being dead for a period of time
Not interesting to me. I concentrate on living at all times and assume
that I could die at any time. I'm not mystical about death at all.
It's just the 'Great Deactivation'. IMO, you live a better and more
satisfying life if you don't fall for a myth about the 'next life' being
the real carrot/stick.
>c) a series of amazing sychronicity events as defined by Carl Jung
>d) shaving off all my brown hair and having it grow back gray
>e) my daughter turning 18
My daughter is 18, married, with 2.5 years of college under her belt.
My oldest adopted stepson is 21 and can barely keep a job.
>f) a recognition of the profound spiritual sickness at most hi tech companies
In my mind, there is an honorable, constructive, civilized way to go
about working, developing, and competing in the marketplace. Often this
gets infected by a particular brand of corporate culture-control that
sours everything. Early AOL (up to 1996) was very cool, then new
management ruined the moral everywhere.
>g) a sequence of powerful and magical dreams
>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?
Of course. Don't know. Open Source, setting a standard, and having
great systems. I have thought that teaching others to program, etc.,
would be a good way to expose them to the art of programming. This is
why I conceived of 'Tech Scouts', although it is currently triaged
below my active project level.
>2) Are Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy irresponsible for scaring people, for
>playing to Mary Shelley's most powerful Frankenstein meme to sell books.
Yes, they are not helpful. They have watched 'The Matrix' too many times.
>3) Is Ray Kurzweil even right, can man create consciousness?
>4) Can we find meaning in writing code or should we look elsewhere?
Meaning, to me, is being constructive in one or more senses. This has
multiple levels to me:
Inventing, discovering (math, science, bio, psych), creating methods
(manufacturing, culture, design), art (literature, music, media), and
just doing in general (building, sports, theater), etc. Software design
and programming fits into all of these simultaneously.
Support of such. ("If you can't do, teach.", Testing, sales,
management, finance, legal, etc.)
Support of society. (Propagation of the species, culture, gov.,
society, medicine, social work.)
Above all, do no harm.
One way to measure a society is by the progress they make on all fronts.
China had a period of scientific persuit that invented gunpowder, etc.
Then, because of a shift in the psycho-philosophical-cultural dynamic,
they basically stopped innovating for thousands of years.
Since doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, and just existing approaches
not existing at all ("It's a Wonderful Life" notwithstanding since he
WAS making progress, the movie was about recognizing subtle progress and
staving off of losing ground), I choose to do the opposite to the limits
of my ability.
>5) Can a lunatic like Ted Kazinski still have something important to say?
Misguided self-delusionist. See answer to 4. His manifesto
specifically railed against change. He should have moved to Afganistan
where they were trying to go back 1000 years.
>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?
His one goal has always been monopolization. Sad that people don't
remember the fights about Microsoft Basic, C compilers, etc. I remember
in the 80's when Microsoft seemingly had a product, no matter how mickey
mouse, for every category. Remember Microsoft Fortran?
He hasn't been a true Alpha Geek for at least 15 years.
>7) What happened to the kid that loved writing code for his first computer
Hey, I'm still here. ;-) It was a Radio Shack Pocket Computer II. Then
an Atari 400 (16K, cassette, membrane keyboard).
>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.
>PS I will leave you with the lyrics to a song that captures some of the
>feeling I used to have writing code. My recent discovery of this band, cd
>purchased for $1.99 in the bargain bin, was one of my schronicity events,
>combined with another event I won't go into. For me it captures the
>technology/spiritualy combination that I am looking for.
I gotta hear this song. On a different tack, have you heard Weird Al's
"It's all about the Pentiums"? Funny.
>Supercollider by Tribe
>got the call just yesterday
>and now it seems as if
>it's always been this way
>hasn't told his wife
>hasn't told his kids
>if there was anything left
>he's forgotten it
>under the texas soil
>under the texas sky
>it sits and waits and grows
>it runs for fifty-four miles
>he's gone to texas
>to watch the holy fire burn
>he's gone to build
>he's gone to build the supercollider
>and in his ears
>the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation
>admiring handshake from the king of sweden
>a brighter future for all God's children
>late at night
>with no one else around
>he sits there staring at
>the atoms bouncing 'round
>live your life
>let's go to texas
>and watch the holy light shine
>let's go to see
>let's go to see the supercollider
Stephen D. Williams 43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622
703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax Dec2001