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      _why was influential to me, too. My favorite _why quote:

      when you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.

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        I keep meaning to add this to my quotes file. Thanks

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          Do you have your file online somewhere? I loved that quote and if you got more like it, I’d love to check it out.

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            At the moment I have them written onto blank playing cards but I’m going to digitise them (and figure out the best way to present them to myself at my computer)

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        It’s a beautiful quote.

        But, does it not also follow that if you create, you will then be “narrowed” and excluded by the tastes of other people, in addition to having an ability to create?

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          I think that’s a very clear definition of typecasting. Every creator, artist, and actor fears it and has to push themselves outside of their comfort zone for double down on what they’re good at and own it. This is a false dichotomy. It’s generally advisable not to stay in your lane when it comes to personal growth.

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      I remember the situation when _why suddenly disappeared. It’s not mentioned in the article, but his strictly kept pseudonymity ignited an effort to uncover his real name. Eventually, the efforts succeeded, or at least they pretended to. _why’s reaction was the “infocide” the article speaks about, an act of art in its own right in a way. Would _why still be around if these efforts would have led to nothing? It seems difficult to tell. With his aprupt exit from the programming community, he however has ensured he will long be remembered. And he deserves to be remembered, as he provided an entirely different view on what programming is.

      In this context, I once saw someone write about _why that he was “not a programmer, but an artist whose medium was code”. Does somebody know the source for this quote?

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        I wondered if this was Peter Cooper, as I recall he posted some nice summary in Ruby Inside when _why vanished. Seems not.

        I can’t find an original source for it, but https://priceonomics.com/why-the-lucky-stiff/ attributes it to Steve Klabnik,

        “_why was not a “programmer,” he was “an artist whose medium was code.”

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      I was more into Python at the time, but I read _why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby just for the entertainment. I know quite a few people who got their successful development careers started from that guide. (Usually coming from helpdesk roles, or systems/network administration.) And I exist in a relatively small bubble, so I’m sure the number of lives he markedly improved is well into the tens or hundreds of thousands.

      I wish there were more funny and inspirational guides not just for programming, but all technical topics.

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        You might enjoy Julia Evans’ zines! Not quite what you’re describing, but seems closer than most other reference material.

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      The main impact _why had on my life is that I will never forget that “addiction is like Pokemon!”

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        Whenever people mention _why, I immediately think of Mark Pilgrim. While his book Dive Into Python isn’t nearly as whimsical as _why’s, it was many people’s first introduction to Python. Similarly, Dive Into HTML5 was an critical reference if you didn’t want to have to parse the W3 specification.

        Similar to _why, Pilgrim also removed himself from the Internet. Incidentally, one of his essays is entitled “Addiction is…”; he was fired for writing it.

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          I read _why’s poignant guide, but it was a slog and didn’t actually get me programming again. I read Dive Into Python and that was what set me on the path to professional programming. Mark was a real one.

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          I didn’t know Pilgrim’s story. I miss his posts.

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          Ah. I remember Mark, but wasn’t looped into that community enough to actively notice his disappearance (if that makes sense). I think I read Dive Into HTML5.

          I’m pretty close to joining the “computers were a terrible mistake” club myself, but for the moment, it’s how I keep my family fed.

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      Back in the 00’s I printed out copies of _why’s guide to use as a textbook for teaching kids programming. It’s the most successful literature I’ve ever used for this purpose.

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      _why’s Poignant Guide was my introduction to Ruby. Definitely not a conventional tech book :) But I loved it.