Thursday, August 13, 2015

Even hackers have epics: Why we need Mel

Mel Kaye. To the uninitiated, a blank stare; within the sept, a folk hero. Mel’s [Free verse, Prose, Gist; Explained] is an epic tale of ‘real’ programming, about a level of heavy wizardry that only the very elite may ever approach.

As with all folk heroes, his tale has two sides.
On the one hand, there is the explicit demonstration of:
  • Supreme technical mastery,
  • Personal integrity, and
  • Code as self-expression.
On the other hand, there are elements which some may find subversive:
  • Intrinsic value of the hack,
  • Subversion of authority, and
  • Apathy to the ‘commercial’ value proposition.
Yet, only through this dualism does the story succeed in addressing the ethical questions developers face…

Is it just for programmers to subvert management?
Yes. Out of respect, our protagonist refused to report the cause of the bug.
Respect is the currency of the realm.
- j.ello

Is it just to rail against proprietary (or obfuscated) source?
Yes. Information wants to be free. Code needs to be free.
If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.
- RMS, see also: GNU Manifesto

Mel encompasses the joys and sorrows of an entire discipline.

Mel does in one short story what technical guidelines and seminars can never achieve.

I say embrace the ethos. I say: What would Mel do?

Grok that.

R.I.P. Ed
23 September 1926 – 13 August 2014

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