I’ve always wanted to learn Ruby, and this is one of the better articles I’ve read about hackers and programmers—and it’s a pretty amazing story of how a journalist for Slate learns Ruby, writers her own program, spends hours reading message boards looking for answers, and asks what happened to the hacker _why and why he was important.
A few excerpts:
Discussions of beauty and elegance and utility seemed to me to be ubiquitous among coders, forever reaching for metaphors to describe how what might seem cold and mechanical in fact can feel like an ecstatic act of creation.
What happened to the ebullient, funny, and prolific programmer who was helping to teach me to program? Where had he gone and why?
Finally, this: a quote from _why:
All you need to know thus far is that Ruby is basically built from sentences. They aren’t exactly English sentences. They are short collections of words and punctuation [that] encompass a single thought. These sentences can form books. They can form pages. They can form entire novels, when strung together. Novels that can be read by humans, but also by computers.
“People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two loves, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel — before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.”—