Legacy of _why: Joy of Programming

From What we can learn from “_why”, the long lost open source developer:

For _why, code literacy wasn’t about training the next wave of professional developers. “It was about sharing something he was passionate about,” Zmuda says. “It was about this journey of exploration, not about making money.”

Perhaps most importantly, he taught countless people the joy of programming. _why showed veteran coders and n00bs alike a curious, adventurous, and creative side of programming. He demonstrated that code could be more than just a form of technical problem solving: it could be a form of self-expression and of art.

“His attitude was ‘just look at this wonderful world of programming,’” Mizerany says. “You don’t need to be a computer science or math major going through years and years of schooling. This is just a fun activity, you can do a little bit of it or a lot of it. It’s interesting and worth checking out.”

When people ask me if I do any kind of art, depending on who’s asking, my answer is sometimes: programming. I hesitate because it can sound pretentious–like I’m some snobby artsy hipster. But I enjoy it so much because it’s a way to help encapsulate thoughts I have and express them in software.

I like to have fun with building systems, naming things, and conceptualizing how information moves through an application. Even writing tests is fun for me, as it’s a way for me to practice my craft. When I encounter bugs, it’s like I’ve discovered a missing piece of a puzzle, and I’ll only be satisfied when I’ve found it and placed it in the right slot. Sometimes, this involves tearing the whole puzzle apart.

When I meet for drinks (or pair programming) with other nerdy friends, we chat about programming languages, different architectures, editors, and cool tricks or hacks that we’ve recently come up with. It’s so fun to hear old war stories of accidentally bringing down huge sites or dealing with weird bugs. We love this stuff.

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