I promise to work for a better world, where science and technology are used in socially responsible ways. I will not use my education for any purpose intended to harm human beings or the environment. Throughout my career, I will consider the ethical implications of my work before I take action. While the demands placed upon me may be great, I sign this declaration because I recognize that individual responsibility is the first step on the path to peace.

Student Pugwash Group pledge, as quoted by Sir Joseph Rotblat (1999).


I've been ruminating on craft – a.k.a. craftsmanship. [If I refer to someone as a craftsman, please do not imagine I am saying or assuming anything about their genitalia – or, indeed, about any other characteristic of them that would be a distraction from the discourse.] It's a topic I've discussed with my programmer friends and includes generic truths that yield fruitful discussions with my elder brother (James, antique watch wright) and my friend Kim, a civil engineer. Along with other denizens of chaos, I have an avowed intent to articulate any useful thoughts I can muster on the topic.

I aim to explore the form in which craft appears for me, as a toolwright: I leave it to hackers to identify any commonality between this and hackerdom – and, indeed, to decide whether to call me a hacker. As for hackers, so for practitioners of any kindred craft.

Extant fragments (all, like this page, waiting until I know how to improve them):

Blog posts and talks

Elsewhere (up to 2023, always for work) I've written some blog posts; some of which start life as talks.

Bang head on keyboard to continue.
Hit any director to quit.
Your mileage may vary

Keep It Straightforward, Simpleton

Straightforward needn't be naïve – it provides facilities which it makes sense to use straightforwardly, allows that these may be used otherwise, but specifies how it will respond in such plain terms as to leave it as clear as even these cases could hope for – just like python, in fact. While keeping things simple is generaly a Good Thing, making something useful needs to allow for non-simple things.

I won't pretend to understand the heated debates about init systems on Unix variants, but Rich Felker's critique of systemd includes a delightful example of straightforward at the end, in his proposed C code for a Unix-style process 1. Even I can make sense of that, and I don't know anything about the low-level machinery of the kernel.

See also

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