February 2001 Archives

Hybrid Vigor Revisited


The below is an impromptu rant. Post-bubble stray thoughts, a elegaic lamentation on the demise of America's unique, imperiled, indigenous hacker culture, in search of polish…

The Vision Thing: Hybrid Vigor Revisited

Programmers are concerned about the cultivation of software. What do we have in common with Farm Aid? It’s that for us, cultivating software is a way of life. I remember asking, only half in jest, why not save the programmers as well as the farmers. It was not a promising time to be in the bit cultivation business. The specter of Japanese software factories and fifth-generation job killers loomed. Ugly stereotypes had driven us from the breeding pool. And yet, there is a beauty in what we do, and in where we do it, and in, well, that way of life. Consumers don’t always see it when they sit down at their dinner tables, but its there, the caring. It’s there for us too, sometimes.

There are sweatshops as smelly as Carolina Hog Factory Farms. There are truck patches, and vanity vineyards, and vast corporate expanses the size of several counties. There is Hooterville, and the Provinces, and the Dacha Plot and the family farm of yore.

And then there is the product. Organic carrots, genetically modified soybeans, dairy cattle, corn by the bushel… Herbs, spices, fodder, and staples, and treats. These places we live are like that too.

Then there is the community. A dying way of life. A way of life is always dying, as others are being born. The cloud of dust metamorphosizes.

Some are vessels of conservatism. Some are buzz junkies. Some are novelty vampires. Some are producers. Some are selectors, consumers, cullers, rewarders, nurturers, customers, supporters…

The noble rustic as a metaphor: it’s entrenched. Just look back at Toefler.

The epic tale of Lewis and Clark: we really do make their arduous journey in hours. I’ve flown from St. Louis to Seattle. The progress we’ve made since the industrial revolution is astonishing indeed. It continues. Unabated. Indeed, it is accelerating.

The web, the thicket, the mélange, the beast, the Leviathan, is becoming more dense, more nuanced, more intricate. It sprouts fruit never seen right before our eyes, and begs us to taste them, and to name them, and to describe them. This is what we do.

The figs and the wasps: programmers and languages and their code. Only RPG programmers can allow RPG programs to change. The symbiosis is beautiful. The figs get sperm that can fly. The wasps get an abundant chow line, tailored just for them. Life is good.

Hillside: the National Geographic of Code. The Architectural Digest of Bits. Look at What We Have Done!

The Power of Patterns: We’re a bundle of four billion year old information. Did atoms learn? Are they themselves a record of the stability of the unlikely? A nice idea. You may not get there very often, but once you get there, you can stay there.

--BF, Back Down on the Farm

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