It seems like he’s approaching this with the right mindset, so hopefully it works out for him.
People change careers late in life all the time, we just don’t glorify those people as much as the 20 year old who drops out of law school to start a web site that connects fans of Railroad Tycoon with actual railroad engineers or whatever.
We worship precociousness as a society because it excuses our mediocrity. If someone achieves something that would be mediocre by an adult standard, but while young, we put them on “30 Under 30” lists and they get venture funding. This also helps perpetuate the socioeconomic status quo, because ageism puts such a high weight on parental lift. Thus, we get people like Holmes and Spiegel and Duplan running the world.
The reason we value precociousness instead of upper-tier excellence is because people of average skill can evaluate precocious people whereas it takes decades to separate excellence from the chaff. College admissions officers can make a reasonable guess when it comes to the most precocious 17-year-olds, whereas the people tasked with spotting adult excellence are usually not up to the task (because the excellent people are out there doing stuff, instead of evaluating others' work, leaving that job to someone else) and it often shows, not only in the corporate world but also in the arts and politics.
I disagree that he has the right mindset. I find it a bit sad that, at 56, the author doesn’t “like activities that don’t pay” and that he “can’t keep doing something just for the fun of it.” While most folks in capitalistic societies grow up desiring money and all it represents, they eventually realize these material things only bring fleeting happiness. Lasting happiness comes from enjoying things that you are spending your time on, and finding an activity that allows one to enjoy the moment is a gift. Most young children and older folks know this. He has found that gift, but will ruin it if he doesn’t make it pay, in money, apparently.
If you can get monetarily rewarded for doing something you love, great. But insisting that every waking moment must bring a monetary reward is very limiting and likely a proposition that will only bring disappointment in the long run.
Disclaimer - I went to law school in my 40’s as a second career, and a couple of folks in my class were in their 60’s, however they were there primarily because they always wanted to go to law school, not because they thought they would be monetarily rewarded for doing so. Going to law school was the life-long dream, not the “making piles of money” afterword.
I find it a bit sad that, at 56, the author doesn’t “like activities that don’t pay” and that he “can’t keep doing something just for the fun of it.”
I think that’s part of his personality rather than his mindset, so while I disagree with his views there I am not going to make judgment calls on his own personal motivations for doing things.
Thanks - I wasn’t aware of a measurable difference between mindset and personality. I’d like to hear your perspective on the difference(s).
Here’s a start: http://www.progressfocused.com/2015/06/mindset-and-personality.html
Maybe I can illustrate the difference like this:
Mindset: “I am going to this conference to learn about Node and meet people in the community.”
Personality: “I love conferences, Node and meeting new people.”
The first example is how I’m thinking about going to the conference, the second is how I feel about the subjects. It’s about how you choose to approach something vs. what/how you think/feel about something.
Now this article I can get behind! While I often find Mr. Raymond’s opinion pieces objectionable and occasionally out and out wrong, but in my view his work really shines when he strives to educate, and this article is a great example.
I wish there were a bit more depth on UUCP, but overall - great article. Thanks for posting it.
Indeed. In pre-Wikipedia days, the Hacker Dictionary was a valuable source of computer history: as an undergrad not near MA or CA in the late 90’s, who would know about ITS or TOPS-20, why EBCDIC was feared, and what “Dragon book”, “PEBKAC”, or “molly-guard” meant?
Even if an original version has since been found, ESR’s was valuable at the time since it was on the Web and at least pointed out next steps for looking.
The only thing I’ll note about this essay is that Field/Record separators have made a slight comeback in certain situations. I’ve been using FS in some shell scripts where I can’t guarantee that commas, pipes, or other text chars won’t show up to mess with CSV delimiters.
I still own my NHD 2nd edition :)
It’s got some stuff that’s since been removed, like the Friar Tuck & Robin Hood story :) (Old multiprocess exploit for a Xerox computer)
I found it on the web here: http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html
My sentiments exactly. I stopped visiting his sites a few years ago; the signal to bombast ratio was just too low for me. If it weren’t for postings on aggregators, I’d miss great articles like this.