[Edu-sig] Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg (2007)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Mar 28 07:54:57 CEST 2010

> Surprisingly, this book has not been mentioned before on Edu-sig if a Google search of the archives is to be believed.

I believe you're correct.

> Here are excerpts [and comments on the excerpts] which suggest why it might be useful to Python-using Educators:
> pg 41
> Torvalds, who is known as Benevolent Dictator for Life of the Linux operating system, consistently exudes a calm optimism about the long-term prospects for the movement he symbolizes. "In science," as he explained in a 2004 interview in Business Week, "the whole system builds on people looking at other people's results and building on top of them.  In witchcraft, somebody had a small secret and guarded it--but never allowed others to really understand it and build on it. Traditional software is like witchcraft.  In history, witchcraft just died out. The same will happen in software. When problems get serious enough, you can't have one person or one company guarding their secrets. You have to have everybody share in knowledge."

I'd not seen this quote before.

I understand his point of course.

However, having someone proclaimed a dictator in Business Week saying
negative stuff about witchcraft might not be the best PR imaginable.

The guy lives in Portland, you'd think he'd know better?

Note that wizards seem to get off, i.e. Unix culture embraced the
wizard meme (Google for hits), but not witch (hardly any).

I tried introducing "FOSS witch" on Diversity (python.org) and
appeared to get no takers.

Hacker, pirate, wizard, geek, dictator... but not witch.

I realize there are male witches (technically) but thought some
"subversive word" (like pirate) with a clear slant towards women,
might actually be a positive contribution.

Just about all the hits on Google are my own uses of this term ("FOSS
coven" was another).

I think the history here is that both alchemy and witchcraft were
proto-sciences and didn't so much die out as transform.  They became
actual sciences with the spread of literacy and less persecution by
religious authorities.

Witches were herbalists, practitioners of medicinal arts.  Alchemists
were metallurgists and chemists.

The culture witches lived in believed in curses and spells (as many do
today), so countering spells against a client would count as
psychotherapy by today's standards.  Witches were proto-psychologists.

Witchcraft waned in proportion to people no longer taking it
seriously, meaning you could no longer be put on trial for its
practice, any more than for practicing magic or voodoo -- unless
animals were harmed in the process, or you happened to be an
economist. :)

I'd rather cast the Spanish Inquisition as cathedralist and anti-FOSS,
secretive and control freaky:  a priesthood (mostly male and
hierarchical), looking appropriately klannish in those
identity-masking pointy hoods.

Witches and wizards, good people of the forest, are more egalitarian
and self-organizing, are the open sourcery types trading goods and
skills in the free-wheeling bazaar.  They're like faculty at Hogwarts,
more liberal artsy, more collegial.

Just my own bias.

OK, back to regularly scheduled programming...


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list