Ben Langhinrichs

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August, 2006
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Thu 3 Aug 2006, 10:42 PM
My son recently turned sixteen, and as some of you may know, has spent the summer working for me on the ever so secret Ali Baba project.  He is a good worker, and learning quickly, but I am always trying to communicate more than just what I do, but also why I do it.  Today, I had him read The Graphing Calculator Story that I mentioned yesterday, because I wanted him to get some of the ethos of the job.  He read it all, but seems more confused than ever.  

"Why would they work like crazy that way when they weren't even getting paid?" he asked, shaking his head.

"Because it was awesomely cool stuff," I explained in my sophisticated, adult way, " and besides, now it is available to thirty million people, and how many programmers get a chance to say that."

He didn't seem very convinced.  "But, Dad, you write software that actually makes money.  Why would they work on something that didn't make money?"

I imagine it would have been funny for a fly on the wall listening to an ardent capitalist like me explain how I wouldn't need to make all this money if I didn't have a family, and that I love the idea of having no bosses or deadlines and flying under the radar screen, but I did my best.

"But, Dad," he hesitated, and then went on, "you don't have any bosses or deadlines, and you just create whatever software you like anyway, and you still make money at it."

I guess he has a point, but I still like the idea of sneaking into the building without a pass.  Maybe it is like Pippi Longstocking, and you just can't have school vacation if you don't go to school.

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