hacker culture, permaculture


Here's an idea: of everyone out on the ether brushed by these bytes, there has to be a good number of us that are in "it" not just for the game, but for life: in the sense that our actions can be life-affirming, that our interactions can help bring about a more beautiful world.

So, with that realization in mind, I call "book club". Let's read a book together!

What book, you ask? Here's mine for now: Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. It's by David Holmgren, one of the originators of the permaculture design system.

I think that Holmgren has as much to say about how we live life as Alexander. He's also a builder, in a way. It really seems to me that Holmgren's work fosters Alexander's quality-without-a-name. All that is by way of introduction, to say that people that like Alexander, of whom there are many in the hacker world, might well enjoy Holmgren.

But why this book now? The answer is that Lyn Gerry, the host of the radio show, Unwelcome Guests, is reading it to us: an hour every week. It's nice to hear a book. It's also nice to hear it like this, over time, so every part has a chance to seep in.

So. For the first installment I'll give a direct link to the MP3: here. It starts with a poem and a tune, then the reading. I'm not sure where the reading starts in second installment, from this week's episode, because I just downloaded it. Usually it's at the start of the second hour -- the hours are separated in the direct downloads -- but I always listen to the whole thing anyway, so I download them both. There's a podcast link too on the archives page.

I would like for our conversations about the book to be open, in the sense that radio is open, for people to tune in and listen to if they want. By that I mean to say let's not have a mailing list -- what do people think about seeing if we can have a cross-blog-and-comments, cross-identica/twitter discussion? That could fail of course, but it sounds like a nice thing to try.

Anyway, let me know if you want to join. I know that if you're interested, that will make at least two of us.

cold, cold part of the world

I'm off to Sweden tomorrow for the 2009 GNU Hackers Meeting, co-located with FSCONS, the Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit. I'll talk at the GHM about recent developments in Guile, and Guile's place within the GNU universe. If you're going to be at FSCONS, let's meet up!

4 responses

  1. bubo says:

    happy hacking in Sweden and greetings to all the other GNU hackers! p.s: alcohol is VERY expensive in Sweden. if your an alcoholic you'd probably want to buy some at the duty free shop...

  2. Federico Mena Quintero says:

    [Federico mailed me to say he tried to post this, but my blog software had some kind of error, so, I'm re-posting it -- wingo]

    I don't have Holmgren's book, but instead I have Bill Mollison's
    "Permaculture Designer's Manual".

    This *is* exactly the same as Alexander's design principles, just
    applied very practically to productive natural/human environments, not
    just construction. Both talk about patterns in space and time.
    Permaculture talks a lot about flows of energy, but you could see that
    as "gradients" and "strong centers" in Alexander's parlance.

    Thanks for the link to the podcast; I'll be listening :)

  3. jaime says:

    hiya andy, i grabbed the first one maybe i can listen on a train ride herein poland.


  4. Vladimir Sedach says:

    "All that is by way of introduction, to say that people that like Alexander, of whom there are many in the hacker world, might well enjoy Holmgren."

    There is a very fundamental difference between how Alexander views his work, and how people who claim to follow his ideas in the software world view their work.

    Alexander's pattern languages are meant to take people's experience and condense them into a form usable by both architects and the people (see for example his project in Mexicali).

    Almost without exception (spreadsheets and Emacs being the most prominent exceptions) this is not the case in the software world. There are the extremely crude OO pattern languages, which consist of just encapsulating experience from previous software projects into copy-and-paste templates, made by programmers exclusively for programmers. There's UI design, which by its very name labels a group of people as "users" and others as "designers" and basically consists of taking the assumption that the former are idiots that need to be protected from themselves by the latter.

    Even Free Software has remained almost exclusively for the hackers by the hackers, Stallman's original motivation.

    A book worth reading about the broader implications of this problem is Ellen Rose's _User Error: Resisting Computer Culture_. The way I see it, this is also a large part of the reason behind the gender issues in computing (Margolis and Fisher's _Unlocking the Clubhouse_ is on my reading list - I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who has read it).

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