Program to live vs. live to program: early hacker critique

Happy Good Friday! In honor of the day when history turned upside down, here’s a keen little insight from the late Joseph Weizenbaum (via helmintholog, via Scott Rosenberg): some programmers are compulsive programmers who, in taking a purely software-centric approach to solving problems, set themselves up for failure and take the organizations in which they work hostage. Weizenbaum cites some nifty examples of this, such as the programmer who can’t be bothered to write documentation for his mission critical hacks.

Weizenbaum goes on to cast this critique of hacker culture—the concept that everything can be explained by the computer, and that no external skills are needed—in the context of scientism, the belief that science alone, without external belief systems or other human considerations, is sufficient to explain everything about the world around us.

I may have to go and dig up a copy of the book. It sounds like a thought provoking read along the lines of Winner’s The Whale and the Reactor.