And now, we take a brief break from the financial apocalypse for some personal notes.
I remain in deep writing mode here — can’t say there’s light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I can say the tunnel is reasonably comfortable!
But I wanted to point those interested to an in-depth interview I recently gave to Geert Lovink, the critic and author of works like “Zero Comments” and “Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse.” It’s all about Dreaming in Code and Chandler. Here’s a brief excerpt:
GL: Most IT books you can buy are propped-up business show cases that only talk about success. Dreaming in Code is so radically different in this respect. The project drags on, and at times, the text is amazing honest, up to the point of straight out European negativity. How did you manage to do this? You wrote the book in San Francisco, not in Berlin.
SR: I’ll take this as a compliment. I started my career as a theater critic. I prize honesty. I can’t imagine working on a book for 3-4 years if I didn’t set out to be honest. When I hear “how did you manage it?” it sort of sounds to me like, “how did you get away with it?” But in fact my publisher and editor were always behind the project. My book proposal was really clear about what kind of book it was going to be…
Some readers were disappointed that Dreaming in Code didn’t give them more bullet points about how to improve their development projects. I had hoped that it was clear from the first page that this just wasn’t going to be that kind of book. If I knew how to solve these problems I’d be busy solving them, not writing about them! But writing about them has value, nonetheless, I hope. Just serving witness to the incredibly difficult and uniquely problematic work that software developers do — that was my aim, in the end.
There are no revisions for this post.
James Ashley Shea
I want to know more about your career as a theater critic. Do you read the About Last Night blog?
In 1961 I was a programmer for the UNIVAC II at an insurance company in downtown L.A. that had never had air conditioning until that machine demanded it. In my next career move I wrote a few programs for the RCA 350.
I wasn’t a good programmer and I was a lousy systems analyst.
After that I took a temp job at the Times-Mirror Press in East L.A. They were still using hot type. To get away from the pounding of the Linotype machines, the proofroom was suspended over the main floor — an innovative idea but not well carried out, as the floor would shake unless we walked softly.
Talk about obsolete machines; in 1960 I was a hotshot operator of a 1250 Multi with chain drive. After that I got into sales for the first time, for the Addressograph-Multigraph Company at 3020 Wilshire Boulevard, where women passing by on the sidewalk wore nylon stockings with a carefully-aligned seam. I never sold anything, but I enjoyed visiting the factory outside of Cleveland, Ohio, where I saw tall walls of greenery unlike anything in Pasadena.
To repeat: I want to know more about your career as a theater critic. Do you read the About Last Night blog?
I have been clicking all over your site. Now I will find out about Say Everything.
Hi — to the point
I am about finish with Dreaming In COde and I have loved every last line of it!!…. but without kissing your ass too much I have to tell you that I am not a programmer; BUT I am interested on the subject and have begun to learn how to program, so the point made in the book about how Projects look so great at the beginning when there are lots of possibilities is so true. For someone like me who just now at this ‘late’ age of 42 is now wanting to learn to program there are thousands of possibilities: over three THOUSAND programming languages, and a few more scripting languages, etc… no one tells you anything when you ask, and after reading your book now I know why: some more than others, but we are all winging it!! I wish someone would write a book about the process of becoming a great programmer like the ones you mention in your book, from COMPLETE beginning to their present: what books they read first, what languages they learned first and how they progress step by step to where they are now; not the financial aspect, but the programming aspect, etc. For someone stating from zero; it seems almost like an impossible climb… I know there are thousands of books for each individual language, plus each aspect of it; but which language to choose, what aspect to concentrate on… or as you said in the book: the most difficult thing in programming is deciding what you want to do!!
Anyhow, thanks for the book– three years!!
One more line about my last post: I meant writing a book about becoming a programmer at a late age; for someone who did not grow up with computers from the cradle; a lot of the books I see which seem like they would describe the process are already assuming too much. Most of these guys and girls grew up USING computers; BUT I HAVE YET TO SE one who started to program at a later age.
I’m just finishing reading your book. Having just retired from a 40 year career as a programmer, software designer and development team manager I think you captured perfectly the psychology, issues, frustrations and joys of the software development enterprise.
Greetings I stumbled on your blog by mistake when i was searching Live search for this concern, I need to tell you your website is quite useful I also seriously like the design, it is great!