Here's today's "Perl" of funnish wisdom from O'Reilly columnist Geoff Broadwell:
"When Autrijus Tang started the Pugs project to create a Perl 6 compiler, he had an explicit goal: optimize for fun. Fondly referred to as -Ofun -- a typical compiler writer's joke, referring to the standard -O flag used to tell a compiler what its primary optimization goal should be -- optimizing for fun is probably the most important decision Autrijus made...

"As any cognitive science expert will tell you, fun is a great way to focus the mind. Developers that aren't enjoying themselves will slow down, write buggy code, make poor decisions, and eventually leave the project (even one that pays). Conversely, rampant fun will bring coders in droves, and give them a passion for their work that shows in quality, quantity, and goodwill. It's a pretty good bet that optimizing for fun will produce a better product than almost any other method.

"So what's Autrijus's secret for -Ofun? As he puts it, 'the essence of fun boils down to instant gratification and a sense of wonder and discovery.'"
Instant gratification? Well, yes, in the sense that fun brings you more completely and more deeply into the world (and what can be more gratifying than that?). Wonder? Yes, in deed. That's what makes me get religious about the whole thing, that wonder-fun. And discovery? Always new.

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Blogger hmcnally said...

Despite the common view of computer programmers as a group devoid of wit and couth, a great deal of fun exists within this community. What moves me to comment on this specific post is my own first experience with Perl. When first attempting to program in this language, I dutifully printed a bazillion-page tome that was the programmer's guide (written by Larry Wall). Whenever I had to look something up, there was always something funny--an explicit attempt at comedy meant to make my learning experience a little more fun. Making sure I wasn't in some Dante-esque ring of geek joke hell, I asked a non-programming friend if these references were, in fact, funny to non-programmers. They were, and thus we concluded: "Programming Perl... There's a yuk on every page."

To enter the aforementioned Rings of Geek Joke Hell, I suggest you learn about the legendary Jargon File, which is available in print as The New Hacker's Dictionary. In it, you'll learn such belly-laugh-inducing terms as "point-and-drool interface," "marketroid," and "plug-and-pray." FWIW, perhaps the best web version of the Jargon File is the Wiki-based one at Ursine.ca.

Blogger JohnFen said...

What a coincidence. I decided at the new year to quit my current programming job. Although it pays well and my boss has also been a close friend (and now-and-again business partner) for almost 15 years, I can't stand working there. Why? It's not fun (or, in geekspeek, it's not interesting. Same difference.) It turns out that "fun" is the single non-negotiable requirement I have out of whatever I'm doing for income. I'd work in a cube farm for minimm wage if the task was enjoyable enough.

Blogger shinsato said...

Wow, great post! As a programmer for over 20 years, most of which was spent in Silicon Valley in the shadow of the awesome Xerox Palo Alto Research Center - every bone in my body resonates with the content of this post. The best parts of my career were when I was having fun. The team would be creative, relaxed, brilliant, yet full of humor. Rubber band fights would break out in the middle of the day. I was kidnapped from my bedroom for my 22st birthday in my underwear by british coworkers as a birthday joke. We just really enjoyed each other, and the work.

It always resonated that the best parts of my career have been in the shadow of PARC, and that this beautiful acronym, the place where so much of what we use everyday was born - sounds like a playground for kids having fun.

Here's a link that inspired me to read your blog just now. Kathy Sierra and her team write very fun and great tech books in her Head First Series. Her blog, "Creating Passionate Users", is awesome, and her latest post is about "if pets could design users experiences...". It's really all about fun, turning up the "fun" meter in our software and products.

And Hugh, hey buddy! If you get inspired to learn Ruby - there's a bizarre but funny tutorial to learn it at Why's (poignant) guide to Ruby". Your note about Perl reminded me of it.

Blogger Bernie said...

Thanks, shinsato, johnfen, hmcnally, for taking this post further and deeper. This whole fun connection seems to reach into the very heart of technology, and what makes it all worth while.

I followed up on shinsato's link to Kathy Sierra and found this really wonderful post called "Never understimate the power of fun."

It goes on, and, apparently, on.

Blogger hmcnally said...

Funny how us geeks wanna have fun, and do our best work when having it (Shameless self-adulation: The 2400 Baud Modem Heave).

In the immortal words of Clark Griswold, this is a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fun we'll need plastic surgeory to remove our smiles.


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