Why, Programming, and Infosuicide

Annie Lowrey has a wonderful piece about her attempt to learn how to program in the Ruby language, intertwined with the retelling of the legend of Why the Lucky Stiff, a fabled eccentric and beloved Ruby enthusiast who deleting all signs of his online presence in 2009. I’d previously come across Why at SXSW 2006, having chosen to attend his panel because it sounded so weird. It had been one of the highlights of that trip, and I’d thought that he was still running around like Johnny Appleseed, sowing seeds of code across the land. Why did he disappear? What of his vision? Additionally, Lowrey describes just how hard it is to learn how to program without rancor, which might hope to others who are in the same place or—as I suspect is true of many of us—trying to learn how to do something NEW and INTERESTING for the very first time. Take heart! Start reading Where’s _why? What happened when one of the world’s most unusual, and beloved, computer programmers disappeared on Slate.