Skip to main content

Readings: 19 May 2016

Aurynn Shaw, on language/editor/tech wars in “Contempt Culture”:

I was taught to be contemptuous of the non-blessed narratives, and I was taught to pay for my continued access to the technical communities through perpetuating that contempt. I was taught to have an elevated sense of self-worth, driven by the elitism baked into the hacker ethos as I learned to program. By adopting the same patterns that other, more knowledgable people expressed I could feel more credible, more like a real part of the community, more like I belonged.

I bought my sense of belonging, with contempt, and paid for it with contempt and exclusionary behaviour.

There’s a lot of fashion and trendiness in programming, as though adopting Y will prevent you from making any of the dumb mistakes that users of X kept making over and over again. New technologies can and do open up better paths for problem solving, but we will use those new tools so much better if we synthesize the lessons and experience of the past instead of rebuilding on scorched earth at every opportunity.

One of the best things I’ve learned from my mentor Kevin is the concept of having used a tool in anger: after the honeymoon fades, when you’ve come out the other side of your first outage and patched up your faulty mental model. When you’ve been pissed at something you didn’t know about the tool, that’s when you start to learn how to solve problems with the technology rather than expecting the technology to solve problems for you.