Hacker Archetypes

There’s a book about martial arts called On the Warrior’s Path that tries to understand the differing psychologies of martial artists through the lens of half a dozen archetypes – Seeker, Ronin, Tribal Warrior, and others.

I have not yet read the book, but my friend and regular A&D commenter Susan Sons reports having found it very effective for motivating young and newbie martial artists. “It gave them their first glimpse of what they were trying to become,” she reports, “They both knuckled down not just in the obvious physical parts of training, but in the mental aspects, far more than they had before and far more than their age/experience peers.”

So, Susan had the idea that it might be a good idea to develop a parallel gallery of hacker archetypes to help motivate newbies. We brainstormed this on IRC for a while. One thing that had been blocking Susan is that, by her own report, she sucks at naming things. I, on the other hand, am pretty good at that; I was able to come up with names that helped the archetypes develop more definition.

We don’t think this is a complete set, and some of the names might change. But it’s enough of a start for some public brainstorming.

Also note: no hacker is only one of these, but in talking about a number of mutual friends we found it was always pretty easy to agree on both the friend’s dominant archetype and the secondary one that they display most after it. I think this is an indication that we are, even if imperfectly, zeroing in on real traits.

Here they are. Descriptions mostly Susan, names mostly me.

Algorithmicists: Very good at algorithms and sustained, intricate coding. Have mathematical intuition, and are one of the two types (with Architect) that have the highest tolerance for complexity. They like the idea of correctness proofs and think naturally in terms of invariants. They gravitate to compiler-writing and crypto. Often solitary with poor social skills; have a tendency to fail by excessive cleverness. Never let them manage anyone!

Tinkerers: Hackers who are drawn to crossovers with the physical world – will design hardware as cheerfully as software. One of the two types (with Prankster) most likely to be lockpickers and locksmiths. Know practical electronics (including analog and RF), adept at reverse-engineering. When you can get them to pull their heads out of the details (which they may resist pretty hard) they make terrific whole-systems engineers.

Architects: The guys who are fascinated by, and very good at, blocking out architecture in complex systems. Kings of the productive refactor. Have an acute feel for design patterns and can see around corners in design space. Strong drive to simplify and partition; “It’s not done until it’s elegant.” The Architect failure mode is to lose sight of the ground. Architects don’t necessarily have communications skills; if they do, they can make worthy team leads.

Sharpshooters: Tenacious detail-obsessives who are most comfortable with a bottom-up view of code and like rifle-shooting bugs more than almost anything else. In past times they would have been happy writing assembler. Polar opposite of the Architect, very productive when paired with one (and vice-versa). Not a good bet for managing anything.

JOATs: The great strengths of the jack-of-all-trades are adaptability, fast uptake of new ideas, and mental flexibility. The JOAT doesn’t do any one thing better than the other types, but can do a bit of everything – including people and social engineering. The JOAT failure mode is to try to do everything themselves. A JOAT is more likely than other types to make an excellent team lead, as long as he or she remains aware enough to delegate deep technical decisions to others.

Pranksters: Their natural bent is adversarial – they’re great at thinking up ways to disrupt and subvert systems (or just put them to unexpected and hilarious uses). They gravitate to infosec and test engineering. The really good ones can social-engineer people more ruthlessly and effectively than any of the other types.

Castellans: Supreme control freaks who get their power from focusing on what they’re responsible for and knowing it inside out. Castellans memorize manuals; they love language-lawyering, process automation, and vacuuming up domain-specific knowledge about whatever they’re working on. Old-school sysadmins are often castellans: “That will never happen on my system” is their promise (and of course Pranksters love to prove them wrong).

Translators: The type that bridges between human and machine: tends to excel at UI/UX development, documentation, policy and supply-chain stuff, requirements analysis, user training, and so on. Highly social, less hard-core technical than others, but in a way that helps them help other hackers understand how non-hackers see and interact with technology. Some of them make good project managers, but like JOATs they need to understand their technical limitations and mostly leave the hard decisions to types that naturally swim in deeper technical waters. Of all the types, Translators are the least likely to self-identify as hackers even if they are intimate with the culture and working within it.

What archetypes, if any, are we missing? Are there places where the boundaries need adjusting?

(Oh, and me? Mostly Architect with a side of Algorithmicist and a touch of JOAT.)

Final note: This post is being edited as we collect more feedback. “Translators” weren’t in the first version at all.

266 thoughts on “Hacker Archetypes

  1. Interesting. I wonder if these could/should be arranged into a sort of Hacker Enneagram.

  2. >Interesting. I wonder if these could/should be arranged into a sort of Hacker Enneagram.

    The thought occurred to me. You’re welcome to try.

  3. Flying Architect”?

    How does that differ from plain Architect?

  4. You forgot one, Eric, as yet unnamed:

    The type that bridges between human and machine, tends to excel at UI/UX development, documentation, policy and supply chain stuff, requirements lawyering, user training, and so on. Highly social, less hard-core technical than others, but in a way that helps them help other hackers understand how non-hackers see and interact with technology. Especially indispensable on infosec teams because they help reduce friction with controls enough that your own people won’t circumvent them before a malicious actor even arrives. Often skilled social engineers.

    Some of them make good project managers but ONLY if they understand and accept their technical limitations, leaning heavily on their social strengths and trusting more-technical types for hard technical judgement where it counts, and can accept the lack of social acumen in others and compensate for it rather than complaining about it.

  5. Hmmm. I’d have to call myself JOAT first, Architect second.

    The Architect role evolved from JOAT – I tended to wind up doing a variety of different things, and became curious about how those things fit together, and what the overall view of the domain I was working in looked like, This often led to becoming more effective at JOAT because I could see areas where the architecture (which had often developed ad hoc over time), could be improved and simplified, and what I needed to do as JOAT could be made easier.).

    The biggest asset I possess is good communication skills, in person and in writing, so while it hasn’t always been my role I can be an effective team lead. (And this has manifested in my hobby activities more often than in professional life. Given the hobbies, that’s not a surprise.)
    ______
    Dennis

  6. >How does [Flying Architect] differ from plain Architect?

    It was an early version of the name that I later amended to match the other one-word tags. The idea was that the architect is really good at getting useful information out of the view from 30,000 feet.

  7. >You forgot one, Eric, as yet unnamed:

    We didn’t develop that one enough that I felt I could write it up.

  8. FWIW, I’m a JOAT with a bit of extra Architect in me.

    Lots of jumping in to messy scenarios to figure out what expertise is needed, and leaning on my more focused colleagues and friends as necessary, lots of looking at big, multi-discipline problems and finding patterns and systems, lots of dissecting and refactoring code, systems, and organizations, all while handling the human side (project management, politics, teaching/mentoring, whatever) as needed.

    It should not surprise anyone, given that I work in infosec, to find that Prankster is also strong in this hacker. :)

  9. >Hmmn, I love simplifying complex kludges and unknotting balls of string.

    That is diagnostically an Architect mindset. See: Kings of the productive refactor.

  10. > @HedgeMage: Perhaps that kind should be called Translators.

    I think I like it.

    Independently arrived at the same name. Not really ideal, but possibly ideal for the purpose of communicating with Those Who Are Not Yet, since something like Adapters would need explanation.

  11. I’m a JOAT, with my career forcing me to wear the Architect and Castellan hats lately.

    I’m a guy working at a place that’s very heavy front-end (an ad agency), and I’m the one guy that really knows how to actually administer servers, security, automation, database modeling, authoring web services, and a whole host of other stuff that gets swept into the “best practices” bin. That’s not to say my co-workers are dullards — they’re quite brilliant. They’re just all specialists, most of which came from a discipline other than computer science.

  12. My perspective as a former systems administrator and devops guy who has watched hackers at work: would you count this as a hacker, or a hacker in the making?

    Marathoner: this is the invaluable team member in early stages who, once the plan is laid out, just seems to keep going and going in the right direction at running speed with relentless focus and maintained quality and good spirits nonetheless. Shares with the algorithmicist a talent for the right kinds of patience and impatience. Often a young but not green hacker, still possessing an unusually large amount of “I can’t believe I get to spend my days doing this!” enthusiasm and youthful energy, and no need or desire to be in charge of anything yet. Everybody else is delighted that the marathoner turned up on the team. Note the “marathon” does *not* imply long hours, sleep-deprivation or other similar misconceptions: it’s just unusually protracted periods of productivity at speed while focused. The most showboating thing the marathoner might do is close a discussion by solving a problem in a high-quality way while other people are still discussing the possible approaches.

  13. @Just Another Commenter: I like to hire smart marathoners. They’re real easy to manage. You just have to pop in every day or two and make sure they haven’t gone off course.

    The one downside is they don’t always ask for help when they need it, and because they haven’t seen a lot yet, they don’t know a lot of “known solutions” to common problems. Again, checking in every day or so to make sure they aren’t expending too much energy on easily fixable problems.

  14. I’ll accept Translator as another archetype, and since it’s been defined, I’ll refine my self description as JOAT, Translator, and Architect, since I can straddle the user and developer worlds. Some of what I’ve done that classes as Architect is an outgrowth of understanding user requirements and being able to present them to developers in ways that allow specifications to be developed. (“This is what the users think they want. Let’s talk about what they actually need, and how you might provide it…”) Architecture tends to evolve from those discussions.
    ______
    Dennis

  15. Translator is good. Also maybe:
    Ambassador
    Minister

    At another level of abstraction:
    Half-blood
    Mud blood
    One eyed man

  16. In terms of dominant archetypes, I thought of people I know who fit the Tinker and Castellan profile almost immediately. Prankster, Algorithmicist and Jack-of-all-trades seemed a little less clear cut to me, but I could think of people I know who match the description. I think I’ve only ever met one person who stands out as a Sharpshooter.

    The most competent Architects I know all seem to have Algorithmicist as their strongest secondary archetype.

    Personally, I think I’m mostly Algorithmicist, but aspiring to be more of an Architect and JOAT.

  17. >I think I’ve only ever met one person who stands out as a Sharpshooter.

    I’d say they’re not one of the commoner types. They’re pretty unmistakable when you meet one, though.

  18. Oh, this is a really small subset, but I just started wondering which archetype best becomes a language designer?

    I think they need to have strengths in several of these, perhaps all of Architect, Algorithmicist, Castellan and possibly Translator. But is there a special archetype that can be abstracted from them, or is it just a blend of various such strengths?

  19. Sharpshooter++ (Currently employed as senior dev in a global leader maintenance team)
    JOAT++ (Owned a dev business, currently freelancer and business advisor)
    Algorithmicist (Veracity is mandatory, simplicity is paramount, complexity is as fun as it is bad for future maintainers)
    Architect (Veracity is mandatory, simplicity is paramount, unnecessary complexity is costly incompetence)

  20. Is there any reason to restrict these categories to titled hackers vs. software people in general?

  21. >Is there any reason to restrict these categories to titled hackers vs. software people in general?

    You tell me. I’m writing about what I know.

  22. > You tell me. I’m writing about what I know.

    Then I say no, there’s no reason to restrict it. I’ve seen all these at my small ~20-person shop over the years. If where I work is representative, then these categories describe “software people”, regardless of whether they’ve actually been dubbed “hacker”.

    Perhaps others here can up the sample size by reporting their experiences.

  23. Interesting. Looking at it, I think I’m primarily Sharpshooter, with a good helping of Tinker and a bit of JOAT.

  24. >Looking at it, I think I’m primarily Sharpshooter, with a good helping of Tinker and a bit of JOAT.

    Interestingly, Cathy thought you might be a Castellan.

  25. If I am, it’s in the service of finding and fixing obscure problems.

  26. This may not justify an archetype because of its rarity, but there could be a classification for “Gamechanger”, e.g. a programmer that fundamentally changes the paradigm or alters the course of programming. One could argue that open source is such an example.

  27. >> Is there any reason to restrict these categories to titled hackers vs. software people in general?

    > You tell me. I’m writing about what I know.

    It generally matches all the software and hardware cultures I’ve worked in. Other than tuning and needing a another archetype or two, I would say it applies.

  28. > there could be a classification for “Gamechanger”, e.g. a programmer that fundamentally changes the paradigm or alters the course of programming

    From my experience, those people are usualy Algorithmicists or Architects. The ability to grasp complexity and simplify or redefine it is what creates the paradigm change.

    Eric, coud I suggest Teacher as an Architect or JOAT sub-type? As an architect/JOAT, I find those with the ability to simplify and communicate have enough traits in common to be a distinct group. But also doubt that it is a distinct enough group to be a truly separate type.

  29. For me, Gamechanger doesn’t fit here. It may be an archetype, but it’s not a personality (or perhaps style) archetype like the others.

  30. I think I have little bits from many of these, but mainly Architect-Algorithmicist. I baulked at the phrase “often make strong team leads”, before realising that I kinda-sorta am leading a team. Of two people, myself included, but still. The other person on this team doesn’t fit into any of your categories; I’d characterise him as a Plodder: is reluctant to initiate a design on any but the smallest scales, but once given a good way of looking at the problem, will diligently grind through all the annoying special cases that make real-world code less elegant than the design, and can be relied upon to get them right. That may possibly mean he’s not a hacker, but he’s definitely a very useful companion for a hacker to have!
    You might try to conflate my Plodder with your Sharpshooter; “detail-obsessive” might fit, but “would have been happy writing assembler” doesn’t seem like the example I have in mind, and not especially into “rifle-shooting bugs” (that really makes me think more of Al Viro).

    (Oh, and, do the Architect and Algorithmicist traits really occur independently? In my experience, they seem to be fairly well correlated, though I don’t know whether that’s due to common skills, some kind of g-distribution effect or just chance and small samples.)

  31. Oh, this is a really small subset, but I just started wondering which archetype best becomes a language designer?

    Not sure that there is a particular archetype–but, OTOH, that different archetypes produce different languages. LISP is definitely Architect/Algorithmicist, while C is Tinkerer/Castellan.

  32. Just Another Commenter on 2017-04-03 at 17:04:22 said:
    > Oh, this is a really small subset, but I just started wondering which archetype best becomes a
    > language designer?

    Thinking on it… Most languages of non-trivial complexity are developed by *teams*, usually heavily weighted toward Algorithmicists with some varying amounts of Architect, Castellan, and Sharpshooter talent. Exceptional teams also have at least one Translator and probably a JOAT in an ancillary role, pushing the language into early adoption and bringing back what they’ve learned from doing so.

    That said, it’s also my experience that Architects and some types of Algorithmicists just crap out DSLs left and right over the course of their careers like it’s a nervous twitch.

  33. >Oh, and, do the Architect and Algorithmicist traits really occur independently?

    I have known many algorithmicists who were not architects. They could code like crazy but lacked the ability to do (or the interest in) reasoning about systems in the large.

  34. >That said, it’s also my experience that Architects and some types of Algorithmicists just crap out DSLs left and right over the course of their careers like it’s a nervous twitch.

    I resemble that remark!

  35. >> Oh, and, do the Architect and Algorithmicist traits really occur independently?

    > I have known many algorithmicists who were not architects.

    And I am an example of an architect that is not an algorithmicist. My interest in that area is limited to my JOAT secondary. I.e. git ‘r’ dun and git a movin’.

  36. >And I am an example of an architect that is not an algorithmicist. My interest in that area is limited to my JOAT secondary. I.e. git ‘r’ dun and git a movin’.

    Right. I almost replied to an earlier comment that if you think all architects are algorithmicists, this probably means you live in a programming shop or a subculture centered around heavy-duty systems (or, possibly, scientific) programming. The tie isn’t as close in other specialties.

  37. esr on 2017-04-03 at 22:36:02 said:

    I resemble that remark!

    Heh. I was going to go with “Guilty as charged”, but… yes. You win.

    Then again, I cheat: my DSLs are almost always written in sexprs nowadays, so I don’t have to deal with irritating details like “parsing” and “syntax”. (Something something cancer of the semicolon.)

    Furthermore, esr on 2017-04-03 at 22:51:51 said:

    If you think all architects are algorithmicists, this probably means you live in a programming shop centered around heavy-duty systems programming.

    Guilty as charged again; when the kernel hackers are roughly in the middle of the stack, even the non-systems work (e.g. in-house tools) tends to show the algorithmicists’ stamp. It’s no wonder we have so many maths majors here (my co-worker, the Plodder I described above, is one, as am I).

  38. What would you call someone who is happy writing in assembler, likes drawing up instruction sets and memory management architectures (but isn’t necessarily keen on being the one to implement them in silicon), but doesn’t have the love of bug hunting of the sharpshooter?

  39. >What would you call someone who is happy writing in assembler, likes drawing up instruction sets and memory management architectures (but isn’t necessarily keen on being the one to implement them in silicon), but doesn’t have the love of bug hunting of the sharpshooter?

    Sounds like an architect/tinker.

  40. I read this and went over to Slashdot, where I learned about the “6 Terrible Tech Managers.” It seems to be a day of lists.

    Now I want to invent some kind of D&D-like game so the 8-Archetypes* of successful hackers can fight the 6 Terrible tech managers.

    * Personally, I’d add the “plodder” and make it nine, mainly so the hackers can be likened unto Nazgul, but this ain’t ma blawg.

  41. Hmm…

    I’d say my major archetype would have to be the Algorithmicist. Tertiary studies (and lifelong interest) in maths may have some bearing here. System and local invariants are very comfortable tools in my hands. Needless complexity enrages me, given I load up heavily on the essential stuff.

    To quote an email I sent a couple of days ago to someone I’m working on a general-ledger system with:
    “Each particular movement of resources or allocations thereof is a transaction (eg cash in, raising an invoice, journal entries, etc) and has to maintain accounting invariant in its own right.

    This trivially composes into systemwide invariant. Initial condition – no debits, no credits – maintains invariant. Only being able to commit a balanced (ie, invariant-maintaining) transaction ensures any given transaction can’t change system’s invariant state. Given system invariant holds on an empty general ledger, and only balanced transactions can be committed, by induction, system invariant is maintained.”

    Secondary archetypes in greater or lesser evidence:
    – Architect. Can pull (whether by decrufting, refactoring and/or rewriting) a serviceable design out from under accumulated cruft, but damned if I can do that from a clean sheet. Take a system, beef it up to handle 10x original throughput while increasing time-between-module-crashes by 4 orders of magnitude? On it like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Design said system from scratch? Good luck.

    – Castellan. On top of hoovering up data and letting later experience turn it into information, I get a bit of a kick out of automating away the more boring parts.

    – Sharpshooter. This varies – gnarly, even multithreaded, algorithmic bugs I can chase down and grind into dogmeat comparatively easily. UI bugs, not so much.

    On top of all that, I’m a tech lead. Can translate between technical and business sides. Nowhere near enough to qualify as a Translator. I do grumble from time to time that it takes brainwidth away from hacking, but some poor sod’s gotta do it, and I’m it for us mob.

  42. I’ve been trying to think how I fit in to your archetypes. I think I’m a mix of Algorithmicist, Architect and Sharpshooter. It’s possible that I’m a JOAT instead though.

    I love the details, and still write assembler on occasion (sharpshooter), and I can handle a fair bit of complexity. The “gravitates towards crypto” part of the algorithmicist felt like you were talking about me — I have a strong interest in that area. I also think I’ve got a good feeling for overall architecture.

    Though I know electronics, and have built stuff in the past, I don’t feel like a Tinker. I’m definitely not a Prankster, or a Translator (though I’m alright at UX design, I’m not highly social). Some parts of Castellan mesh with me (e.g. language lawyering and domain-specific knowledge acquisition), but I tend to know “there’s a function for that” rather than remember exactly what the details are.

    I definitely embody the JOAT failure mode of “trying to do everything myself”.

  43. I like the idea of pointing out D&D-like character classes in IT.

    Oh, and, do the Architect and Algorithmicist traits really occur independently?

    I have known many algorithmicists who were not architects. They could code like crazy but lacked the ability to do (or the interest in) reasoning about systems in the large.

    That’s because the Algorithmicist’s primary stat is Int. The Architect’s is Wis. (Leading a team requires high Cha, of course.)

  44. I’ve got one.

    The Virtuoso: Someone who doesn’t really care about the practical or economic utility of their code; they hack to create something beautiful. What they produce may be utterly useless but a marvel to behold — or, it may be just what the project needs in order to stay within tight memory or speed constraints. May have an optimization fetish; may abuse the hardware, OS, or underlying systems in ways nobody anticipated and few wish to contemplate. Has aspects of the Sharpshooter, Algorithmicist, Prankster, and sometimes Tinker all in one. Failure modes include spending much of their time bumming instructions out of code that offers little or no marginal value for the work invested; or violating essential constraints such as breaking software-engineering principles, using undocumented CPU instructions or API calls in unreliable ways, etc.

    Examples include many demoscene programmers, many top-tier game developers, Fabrice Bellard, Mel Kaye (yes, that Mel).

  45. ’tis the most idiotic essay, the prototype the esr’s hacking pen produces.

    Zero basis of science, fully qualified with i wanna believe.

    it’s, the unspoken hankering that weaves, the classification of belonging — a land that nerdy diddlers fancy.

  46. That’s because the Algorithmicist’s primary stat is Int. The Architect’s is Wis. (Leading a team requires high Cha, of course.)

    Interesting.
    What would be the stats for the different types?

  47. ESR,

    Hm, from my angle this helps understanding the difference between hackers and other people who write code. “people who write code” is an awkward term, but if I would use the word “programmers” or “software developers” that would likely mean people whose job is to ship software for others to use. How do you call people who mostly use software but also can code to customize or automate it? In some subsets, “consultant” tends to mean such a person. “Scripter” does not really describe this, nor does “power user”.

    Castellan is fairly close. When you are the expert of a complicated software and you know it down to code level and can change or extend the code but your job is not 9-17 coding, just when needed.

    Hm. Can castellans really count as hackers? Isn’t fairly frequent software shipping a prerequisite of it?

    I find this incredibly common in the smaller to medium business. Like there is some complicated package and then one guy is a generic responsible for it, everything from operating it, training people to use it, drawing reports from it, troubleshooting it, and customizing and extending it via code. But it is not something I would associate with hackerdom.

  48. @Susan it is probably not a coincidence that Translators are often female. Empathy, communication skills are a big plus there. Generally speaking Translators need to be able to predict what users will do, including what kind of mistakes they will make. Otherwise you got software that looks good only on paper or only as long as the programmers themselves try using it. This tends to suit women well. Often they are not called programmers though, but functional consultants.

    Generally speaking whenever there is a case of dealing with enraged customers on the phone, I typically want 40+ years old women functional consultants to take the call, calm them down, and turn the incoherent rambling into actionable, testable specs. Then test the finished product, predict user mistakes etc. then when it all seems fine communicate it back.

  49. >Hm. Can castellans really count as hackers? Isn’t fairly frequent software shipping a prerequisite of it?

    “Hacker” is a posture of mind and a culture. Release-early-release-often has become a characteristic method of that culture, but it’s no t the only thing we do.

    >one guy is a generic responsible for it, everything from operating it, training people to use it, drawing reports from it, troubleshooting it, and customizing and extending it via code. But it is not something I would associate with hackerdom.

    People with the hacker mindset are often drawn to knowledge-is-power jobs like that. The particular package might be something you’d ever associate with the hacker culture, but that role – the wizard of knowledge – is one that people like us seek out and want.

  50. xah lee on 2017-04-04 at 03:55:11 said:
    > ’tis the most idiotic essay, the prototype the esr’s hacking pen produces.
    > Zero basis of science, fully qualified with i wanna believe.
    > it’s, the unspoken hankering that weaves, the classification of belonging — a land that nerdy
    > diddlers fancy.

    Dear reader, you have missed the point entirely. Perhaps I can explain more clearly:

    No one thinks this is based on science. It was never meant to be. This is a rhetorical tool intended for a specific social purpose. I’d once found a book about martial arts that laid out a few archetypes of warriors, and some overlay models to go with them, and blown it off as “cute and fun but not useful”, until two very inexperienced martial artists I was mentoring also read the book. The effect on *them* was remarkable, as stated in the beginning of this post (I’m not quoting ESR quoting me):

    “It gave them their first glimpse of what they were trying to become,”…“They both knuckled down not just in the obvious physical parts of training, but in the mental aspects, far more than they had before and far more than their age/experience peers.”

    What I observed was that, for my bright, young, directionless students, these archetypes provided jumping-off points for reflection and discussion that helped them to build mental models of what they were trying to achieve through martial arts training, and in a broader sense in life. As a result, their pursuit of training was no longer a nebulous one: they very rapidly became more self-directed in a way typical of senior students, they worked harder, they were more motivated.

    The added insight into their own goals, strengths, and values changed how they looked at martial arts. Before the exercise, martial arts had been an activity, a pursuit unto itself for these students. Considering the archetypes, and how they might relate to their own identities, shifted these students to seeing martial arts study as a tool or method they were leveraging to become their best selves–best selves they now had a picture of which was concrete enough for them to feel they could reach for it.

    To see this change in two men around the age of twenty, who are fairly inexperienced in life, simply from reading a book is pretty cool. I brought my observations up with ESR, and we began talking about how we could create a similar tool for exploration to the hacker community. It’s not meant to sum up all of hackerdom, provide a science-backed psychological profile, or any of the things you seem to be complaining that it isn’t. We never WANTED it to be those things.

    What we–especially I–wanted was something narrative and accessible with which to kick off self-analysis in young, inexperienced hackers who aren’t yet far enough in their journey to picture what they’re trying to become. I want them to find bits and pieces of things that they can identify with, to help them see their own strengths and interests more clearly. I want them to be inspired to work hard and try new things. This is NOT science, it is STORYTELLING, which is an incredibly valuable social tool, especially when it comes to teaching the young.

  51. I feel like this is missing the archetype I identify with, something like:

    “The Prototyper”: Will get you from a blank screen to a working system (albeit held together partly by duct tape and chewing gum) before an Architect has finished the first draft of their master plan. Believes in the “write, use, design” cycle of development, where the driving impulse is to bring something to life, stat, so the hacker and their users can actually see it and use it. Elegant refactoring comes later, when the project’s utility is proven, the time can be spared, and the redesign can be informed by experience.

    Prototypers fail when their need for speed leads to design mistakes that turn out to be difficult or expensive to refactor even if (or especially if) their project succeeds. Prototypers generally make poor managers, as their drive to build fast and often does not match up well with long-term projects (R&D departments are an exception). Socially, prototypers are much more often extroverted than other hackers, but suffer from the tendency to have many shallow hobbies and relationships. ENTP is the “Prototypical” Myers-Briggs Type.

  52. p.s. the Prototyper has the most overlap with the Tinker, but there’s no focus on physical systems. While some Prototypers do love to hack physical one-offs, others disdain them because of how much slower it is to make something from nothing in the physical than digital world.

    Prototypers often have the JOAT skill set because all trades are necessary to build it yourself, but what differentiates them from the other types is motivation. All Prototypers are characterized by the distinct drive to “get it running” and “ship it”. Protoypers learn best by tinkering with a running system, when shown a blocks-and-arrows diagram they groan and say “where’s the repo and what’s the IP of your test server?”.

    When the experimental system you put up for your own testing this morning is getting 100 qps by lunchtime through an API you haven’t yet documented let alone released, you’ll trace the IP to an office down the hall where a Prototyper says “oh yeah, I heard you mention your test server when I was getting coffee, I figured I’d try it out. See – I’ve integrated it into the demo I’m presenting to the CTO on Friday”

  53. Needs a collector type, a person that has a long memory and learns something from just about everything they see. not systematic like a Castilian, they “travel” and sight see often saying things like “that’s neat” and storing away techneeks they notice for future reference, often pulling them out at the drop of a hat like a prankster, often talking about the similarities between systems they have seen before. The less technicality precise (or motivated) of them will often cobble together solutions from their findings bespoke like, often describing things with a qualitative hand. “feels like it needs [this]” somtimes finding it difficult to explain why it will work; viewing hacking slightly spiritually, feeling the flow of data rather than the loop invariants of example.

  54. Interesting how many commenters describe themselves as a bundle of 2-4 archetypes. No one’s classifying as just one. Not even JOAT.

    I feel like I’m an Algorithmicist that applies that to simulating the other archetypes. I recently marketed myself as a JOAT, with a plan to move into whatever’s requested and if given several hours of uninterrupted time, Castellize. I’m currently doing Translator work. I design things as an Architect, then beat on it with a Tinker and a Prankster while a Sharpshooter sweeps up behind – and I think about all of this as an Algorithm. I tend to think of algorithmic approaches as universally useful as a result; as a way to simulate all the others – but to me, that’s obviously caused by my learning to think that way early in life, and doing fairly well at it.

    It might be helpful color to these to add well-known examples – people that hackers would admire when they’re deep into a particular archetype. Architects would tend to think of James Gosling or John Carmack. Translators think of Steve Jobs, perhaps. Algorithmicists think of Edsger Dijkstra. Castellans might think of Linus Torvalds or Guido van Rossum. Curiously, no famous Sharpshooters come to mind.

    I feel like Algorithmicist needs a better name. (I keep wanting to say “Algorithmist”.) Mechanic comes to mind, or Machinist. As in, they’re the ones who fabricate the engine the Architect designed, the Tinker will customize, the Sharpshooter will maintain, and the Prankster will operate with no oil.

    Complaint, offered with low force: Prankster might be more accurately labeled Gamer. Such a hacker thinks about the rules currently in place, and instinctively looks for maximization and loopholes. They’re primarily aware of the rules the way a maze runner is aware of the walls. When I hear “prankster”, I think “agent of chaos” – someone who’s not really interested in building or improving anything. Pranksters don’t really think that far ahead. A Gamer, by contrast, is trying to make something more durable – at least, to me.

    If you like Gamer, and want to keep Prankster, and if you accept my claim that a Prankster doesn’t think that far ahead, then they might be good when your project needs to have a fork stuck in it and proclaimed done – Pranksters would be anti-Sharpshooters, in that they’re anti-perfectionists. …but this doesn’t feel quite right for the Prankster label, either. A Prankster really does come off as the quintessential Red Team. Doesn’t build; rather, beats on what others have built. Which again, sounds more like Gamer to me.

    Architect reminds me strongly of a failure mode, described in depth by Joel Spolsky. He called them Architecture Astronauts (across multiple articles). Indeed, they have a hard time coming to earth.

    Virtuoso might be a good one. If it’s not, I’d say it’s because it’s a Translator crossed with a (true) Prankster.

  55. I don’t self-identify as a hacker- I do a lot of scientific computing (e.g. derive a mathematical model from the theory and write a suite of programs to reduce big datasets in a way that lets me compute the constants and coefficients involved); I have many of the personality traits, but the problem space I work in is pretty different from the systems and user-facing space I see as true hackerdom’s. So maybe these shouldn’t be applicable to me, but if you think they might, I see some issues with the model.

    I think your experience has narrowed your definition of Algorithmicist. While correctness proofs and invariants are useful tools in your field of specialty, I see them as out-of-place in the rest of the description. For instance, one who has to estimate the time offsets between data from multiple sources knows that he can’t expect to prove he has the right value outside of specially constructed test data, but can take great interest in improving the precision and reliability of the computation nonetheless.

    You say that Architect and Sharpshooter are polar opposites. To my mind, they’re both somebody like me who likes to hold multiple levels of abstraction about the code in mind simultaneously. Sometimes, I write the bottom-level functions first and later compose them into suites of larger programs; while I’m working on code that translates between data structures or applies calibration transformations to the raw data, actually typing it out helps me visualise how the overall structure will rely on what I’m doing right now (e.g. “Oh, this will be used later than I thought, because I have to wait until I get the calibration data before I can interpret this temperature data, which in turn requires step X to have occurred…”). Other times I write the top-level program with stub functions first and get around to filling them in later; as I organise the flow of data at a high level, it spurs better judgement about the bounds of responsibility for each constituent component (e.g. “Oh, that function should probably also handle non-dimensionalising the data because the files from facility X are in customary units, and I don’t want this other function to have to understand that…”). My thought process naturally applies a mental analogue to the principle of scope; I can easily focus on a problem independently of how far up the stack it is and hold lower- and higher-level tasks in mind without being distracted. When I’m mostly holding in mind tasks at a higher level than my current activity, it’s sharpshooter-like; when lower-level, architect-like. But I think it’s the same archetype that does both.

    Castellan and Prankster are another set that I think is incorrectly presented as a duality. In both cases, he’s concerned about having control of a computing system. Playing defence and offence are not that different, because an effective player has to “think like the enemy” to anticipate what challenges he should prepare for. A good castellan must consider the different ways users will try to circumvent his restrictions and security measures in order to deploy effective countermeasures. Conversely, a good prankster should understand where the castellan has likely made a tradeoff between ease of use and security in order to target his efforts effectively.

    Just my thoughts.

  56. >“The Prototyper”: Will get you from a blank screen to a working system (albeit held together partly by duct tape and chewing gum) before an Architect has finished the first draft of their master plan.

    I’m hesitant to include this because I feel like it arises from a fundamental misconception about how Architects operate.

    I am a pretty hard-core Architect, and I believe a rather good one. But I never, ever write master plans; the closest I come to that is assembling and then working from ground-truth documents. I tend to start on a design by rapid prototyping; then there will come a point at which I realize what the code is trying to tell me, and I refactor and systematize. I am an ENTP. All this sounds like your Prototyper, doesn’t it?

    But: I’m different from your Prototyper prototype in that I’m not very tolerant of chewing-gum-and-baling-wire kluges even at early stages; I have the Algorithmicist’s love of knowing what I’m doing and moving in logically correct steps defined by invariant preservation. I like to write tests as I go, which doesn’t fit Prototyper at all. And I don’t have a central need for speed, though this could be difficult to tell from outside because I’m naturally an almost ridiculously fast coder. My need is more like “Get it right, where ‘right’ is compounded of correctness, fitness for purpose, and elegance.” I don’t mind slowing down to get that even a bit (but seldom need to).

    I think the term “Architect” has sucked you into assuming a kind of heavyweight front-loaded process that has historically been associated with people called “system architects”. But Architect is not a process commitment, it’s a mental stance: It’s not done until it’s elegant, it’s not right until the factoring is correct, perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away. This mindset can actually go with coding at ridiculous cowboy speeds – I’m not saying it commonly does, but I’m the existence proof that it happens.

    I’m not sure how to resolve this. I’m in some doubt your Prototyper is an archetype at all, I suspect it’s a thing that happens when a very talented hacker reifying any of the types gets good tools and room to run. If there’s an archetype (a story worth telling) here, I think it centers not on “ready, fire, aim” (which, as I’ve shown, can be an Architect’s process) but on the more emotional need for speed and a joy in hanging out right at the edge of what your tools and talents can take you without cracking up. “Racer” or “Surfer” might be good labels.

  57. I guess I am an Architect, though I can be a quite motivated debugger I hate it when the best fix I can come up with makes the code less elegant. Also I think I oscillate between Prototyper (Just banging out something that demos 1% of the planned functionality, expecting to throw most of it out piece by piece by subsequent refactorings which solidify the architecture and add the rest of the functionality) and Algorithmicist (plotting intricate details of a project for which not even a single line of code has been written yet).

  58. What’s the archetype if you observe a problem to solve, and immediately try to build a framework for solving the general case?

    I’m now trying to figure out what questions to ask that would mechanically classify an aspiring hacker. “Do you prefer to build, or to poke at what’s built?” “Do you prefer to design before build, or to build and tweak as you go?” “Do you prefer to code messy, or code neat?” Etc.

  59. > For instance, one who has to estimate the time offsets between data from multiple sources knows that he can’t expect to prove he has the right value outside of specially constructed test data, but can take great interest in improving the precision and reliability of the computation nonetheless.

    I think you might be (very pardonably) overinterpreting what I wrote. We don’t normally get absolute proofs where I live either. We have to settle for conditionals of the form “if correctness property X of this thing A holds, then correctness property Y of that thing B holds”. The art is to construct a chain of conditional proofs back to correctness properties you can’t check yourself but trust (like “does my computer always do division correctly?”). This is not unlike your epistemic position with respect to time management.

    >You say that Architect and Sharpshooter are polar opposites.

    Yes. You follow that by writing a spot-on description of how a capable Architect’s mind works. In fact, as far back as 1981 I remember describing the core architect talent as the ability to hold multiple levels of abstraction about a system in one’s head simultaneously. I think you have misunderstood Sharpshooter, who not only lacks that kind of vision but isn’t interested in having it. (The example I have in mind knows it’s a useful talent but genuinely does not care that he doesn’t have it.)

    >Castellan and Prankster are another set that I think is incorrectly presented as a duality.

    Er, where?

    Your argument about the usefulness of being both is sound, but just points at the fact that a lot of A-list infosec types have that mix. On the other hand, I’ve known Prankster/Tinkers who didn’t have more than a trace of Castellan at most (that kind is…fun at parties). And Castellan/Algorithmicists without a trace of Prankster (these are the guys you want when you’re doing, say, wire-protocol implementation straight from RFCs).

  60. >What’s the archetype if you observe a problem to solve, and immediately try to build a framework for solving the general case?

    Architect is the most likely to jump that way.

  61. People with the hacker mindset are often drawn to knowledge-is-power jobs like that. The particular package might be something you’d ever associate with the hacker culture, but that role – the wizard of knowledge – is one that people like us seek out and want.

    I think he’s referring to customizing an accounting, ERP, or a package like Access for a client’s particular business needs. That’s… er, not a job I see hackers gravitating toward. It means being on call 24/7 to fix the system when the customer munges something and breaks it. It means working in a programming language with circumscribed, and often limited, capability. (In other words, many of the dreary parts of being a sysadmin combined with many of the dreary parts of being a COBOL code grinder.) And it’s a job that relies on business sense much more than it does on technical capability. Hackers tend not to find this work satisfying in its own right, though they often end up taking jobs like this because of the paycheck, or to help out friends or family.

    The person who enjoys this sort of work tends, in my observations, to be a business person who crossed over into development — though they may have hackish proclivities on the weekends.

  62. After ESR’s clarification on the Architect archetype it looks like I’m simply an Architect who sometimes indulges in doing pure Algorithmicist stuff.

  63. I think you might be (very pardonably) overinterpreting what I wrote.

    Maybe so. I’m not sure- you seem to be considering deductive proofs and I’m not certain whether you would allow experimental proofs (“I observe fewer artifacts corresponding to time mismatches when using the new algorithm, therefore it has greater correctness”). In a lot of cases, the correctness properties of the input data are only heuristically valid (e.g. “the first rise of a certain magnitude in signal X usually corresponds to the voltage spike when system Y was activated”), so we look at multiple properties and give our best guess.

    I think you have misunderstood Sharpshooter

    The description seemed to indicate that somebody who holds knowledge of the big picture further down his mental “stack” while focussing on the details should be considered a sharpshooter. If that’s indeed what you meant, then I don’t think it’s distinct from the person who has the details further down the stack to focus on the big picture, because the mental stance is very similar and my experience is that most people good at one are good at the other. On the other hand, if that’s distinct from somebody who just never carries knowledge of the big picture, then yes, I misunderstood.

    >Castellan and Prankster are another set that I think is incorrectly presented as a duality.

    Er, where?

    Where you had them as seperate archetypes. :)

    Your argument about the usefulness of being both is sound, but just points at the fact that a lot of A-list infosec types have that mix.

    Well, you call them the A-list; I call them the reference implementations. The guy who worked security in Israel is the same one who picks my lock if I don’t get to the door promptly when he knocks. He’s the archetype; the mall-cops just mimic the necessary castellan traits to do their job.

  64. >After ESR’s clarification on the Architect archetype it looks like I’m simply an Architect who sometimes indulges in doing pure Algorithmicist stuff.

    That’s what I inferred from your description.

  65. Patri Friedman: likely being a Prototyper is how people with (unmedicated, and likely undiagnosed) ADHD find a good niche for them. What you described – including the different hobby every week part – sounds exactly like the impatience, chase-the-shiny and relatively short burst of lots of creative energy then the attention wanders to something else is really textbook ADHD. Have a prototype before even others finished discussing requirements, and it is great, but on the other hand somehow never get around to finishing all the details. I would call it the Trailblazer type, the first to jump into something new and making a spectacular amount of progress but losing interest when things are becoming more “normal”.

    I am fairly sure a lot of undiagnosed, unaware of it highly functional ADHD people are drawn to programming. In what other fields can you have an idea and instantly, impulsively, immediately (no patience) sit down and try it out?

    Another thing is that while for not true for the older generation like ESR, under 40 or so I think most programmers first used computers as children for gaming, then got interested in how games and other software are made, and computer gaming due to it is constantly arousal and stimulation factor is basically catnip for the chronically understimulated ADHD crowd. So that is also another reason why.

    As a quick self-diagnosis to everybody here: if you love jumping into starting a lot of new things, but have trouble actually finishing them and tying off all the boring loose threads, welcome to the club. This also, typically means that your career sucks in the beginning and gets off later really well. Young people are often treated as assistants, boring detail job pushed on them. You suck at it. Once you get into the position where you can do the interesting stuff and push the boring details on the next generation (maybe we shouldn’t be doing this but any alternatives?) suddenly things work out very well.

  66. >I am fairly sure a lot of undiagnosed, unaware of it highly functional ADHD people are drawn to programming.

    Here in the U.S. you could have said that in the past, but there’s more self-awareness about it today. A lot of bright programmers here are well aware that they have ADHD traits, because diagnostic quizzes are easy to find. This has become as much an accepted fact of life among the geeks as the high incidence of subclinical autism-spectrum personalities.

  67. >Another thing is that while for not true for the older generation like ESR, under 40 or so I think most programmers first used computers as children for gaming, then got interested in how games and other software are made, and computer gaming due to it is constantly arousal and stimulation factor is basically catnip for the chronically understimulated ADHD crowd.

    This is sort of half-right. I’m going to address it because I think my experience was not atypical for my age cohort (people now in their fifties).

    Often our first uses for computers were in fact gaming, but we’re talking very old-school games well before graphics and GUIs. Hammurabi, Wumpus, Star Trek, Colossal Cave Adventure, Star Trek, Rogue. I’m a bit atypical in that I did play something rather like a modern video game on a mainframe in 1969; very very few had ever had that sort of experience then, other than the MIT PDP-1 hackers and their SPACEWAR earlier in the 1960s.

    But mainly our games were not catnip for ADHD types, being turn-based, non-graphical, and slower-paced enough not to cycle the dopamine-reward loop rapidly. That’s the half-right part. In those days what you were probably doing if you were ADHD was dropping a lot of quarters into arcade videogames.

  68. > something rather like a modern video game on a mainframe in 1969

    Which was?

  69. I don’t know if JOAT is a separate type. I would expect it to be either a role you’re forced into by circumstances (it *is* easier to do it yourself rather than explain how to do it to a bunch of gibbering monkeys with the attention span of goldfish and then fix it, re-fix it, and re-re-fix it anyway), or an intermediate stage when you haven’t evolved into your final form yet.

  70. @jsn –

    > > something rather like a modern video game on a mainframe in 1969

    > Which was?

    Check out the fifth paragraph of this, from about 3 weeks ago….

  71. >I don’t know if JOAT is a separate type.

    I’m beginning to wonder about this myself.

  72. >I don’t know if JOAT is a separate type.

    I’m beginning to wonder about this myself.

    If not an archetype, it’s at least a distinct aptitude over and above the usual—both a propensity and ability to do the sort of deep-dive inhaling of a new kind of system that esr did with TeX and then add it to the standard toolbox.

  73. @esr

    I think the term you are looking for would be not “modern”, but “real time”. As anything that could run off of an oscilloscope display would be considered modern about 30-40 years ago. Real time on the other hand refers to a fundamental distinction between the tree containing wumpus hunts all the way up to roguelikes, versus the tree containing everything from Pong to Medal of Battle Duty: Honor Call of the Field 3000.

  74. ESR:
    > I am an ENTP

    Hah, I knew it! I don’t know if you have mentioned this before, but based off of your various observable characteristics (extroverted, generalist, loves to debate, perceived by others to be arrogant) I inferred that you were an ENTP.

    On that note, as an INTJ, I’ve found (both from my own experience and that of others) that ENTP/INTJ partnerships are phenomenally productive, especially for doing innovative software work. Does this match your experience?

    With regard to your hacker archetypes, I am a Castellan/Algorithmicist with a minor in Translator. As a developer I am drawn to complex systems, and I am driven to understand them completely. I may not have invented them, but I end up “owning” them – source code and all.

    On whether Castellans are hackers, I think they are. They can absolutely build things, but they can be slower than other types. However, they do like the whole knowledge-is-power thing, but like to cooperate with other types by using their knowledge to further accelerate the rate at which other types deliver. C/A’s like myself often aren’t super social, but they like being key members in small, highly productive teams. A good name for an experienced C/A is a “Consulting Engineer” – someone who can solve problems in a particular domain that no amount of regular engineers could.

    I suspect that Castellan’s often yearn to build systems from the ground up by themselves, but they are often overwhelmed by the grandiosity of their own vision. Architects are better at this because, while they have the ability to see the big picture, are more comfortable letting the final vision evolve through an iterative prototyping process.

    My minor in Translator comes from the skills I have built up in requirements analysis, user support (i was a help-desk technician at one point) and in explaining complex concepts. I often provide training and documentation for others on my team and for support personnel.

  75. One thing I’ve been wondering is how to classify a trick that I’m able to do—I don’t think it’s quite an archetype, but terminology for it would be helpful.

    Essentially, while I’m by nature mostly an Architect, I can zoom in and out on systems fractally, and then hold the various scales in my head at once to do simulations. One case where this is particularly useful is designing data-transfer protocols for adverse network conditions (especially pathological ones like geostat satellite): I can trace in my head how various choices (UDP/TCP/SCTP, QoS settings, other applications running on the link) will affect on-site industrial 802.11, local STP, satellite/cell uplink characteristics, behavior when retransmitting, and the like, all the way back to the spindles in the data center that are recording everything. Basically, I can turn on Sharpshooter mode but stay aware of how fiddly changes will affect the entire system as a whole.

  76. JOAT as a separate type…

    I think of myself as a JOAT (and a sharpshooter).
    I’ve officially become a JOAT these last 15 years because:
    – why would I ask anybody else to do something if I am responsible for the end result and I have the capabilities to do it?
    – why wouldn’t I have the capabilities if I can learn the deed on the Internet and have a final quality equal or better than what I would have obtained from somebody else?
    – I cannot legitimately rant on the quality of work of my “dependencies” without being able to do it competently.
    That’s precisely why I wanted to do project / team management, then company management, then being my own company boss.
    I need to master the whole chain, and most of the competences.
    I think the JOAT mind stance resides in this need: mastery of the project.
    I link it to the system design competency. The system we design here is the set of processes necessary to complete successfully the project.

    I already was a JOAT before “working”. Good at literacy, maths, everything except random memorizing. I explicitly chose a scientific carrier because marks were logical (from 0 to 20) and not based on the subjective appreciation of a deficient teacher (literacy). The need to master the competency was already here, and the rejection of a flawed way to measure it too.

    Now, exercising the JOAT work isn’t always fun. Some parts are gratifying, others are not (I don’t exactly cherish the job of motivating people).

    These days, I better myself as a JOAT in my not-yet-making-money projects, and earn money as a sharpshooter (most fun).

  77. >I think the term you are looking for would be not “modern”, but “real time”.

    Well, I meant modern with respect to today (2017), but your friendly amendement is accepted as more descriptive.

  78. >On that note, as an INTJ, I’ve found (both from my own experience and that of others) that ENTP/INTJ partnerships are phenomenally productive, especially for doing innovative software work. Does this match your experience?

    It does. It’s hard to avoid noticing this, as INTJs are more common in my peer population than ENTPs.

    >On whether Castellans are hackers, I think they are. They can absolutely build things, but they can be slower than other types.

    I wasn’t in any doubt about this, I’ve known too many of them. It’s true, they are slower – not necessarily because they think more slowly but because they have conservative temperaments and like to be very sure of their ground before taking the next step.

  79. @esr:
    > But mainly our games were not catnip for ADHD types, being turn-based, non-graphical, and slower-paced enough not to cycle the dopamine-reward loop rapidly.

    I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I’m at least nearby in the space of possible brain wirings. Turn-based-ness and slow pace is not an obstacle to catnipness, you just play impulsively, and save-scum when a decision turns out to have been bad. I tend to make multiple keystrokes per second when playing roguelikes. In fact, turn-basednesd is somewhat helpful for anything like strategy, because ADHD-like brain wiring, plus male gender, makes for very poor multitasking ability: When I play real time strategy, I pause very frequently. Lack of graphicality is more of an obstacle, but only insofar as it prevents me from forming a mental model of the game environment. TUI games are fine, and for many turn-based, tile-based types of game are preferable to more glitzy graphics (less distraction ).

  80. > Real time on the other hand refers to a fundamental distinction between the tree containing wumpus hunts all the way up to roguelikes, versus the tree containing everything from Pong to Medal of Battle Duty: Honor Call of the Field 3000.

    I’m not so sure that there’s a “tree”-like distinction between real time and turn based. At an extreme, Bejeweled has game modes where you play essentially the same game (there are a couple other differences between the modes) on either a timer or a turn limit.

  81. I’m not so sure that there’s a “tree”-like distinction between real time and turn based.

    Mea Culpa, bad choice of words.

    s/tree/category

  82. @Paul Brinkley:

    Complaint, offered with low force: Prankster might be more accurately labeled Gamer. Such a hacker thinks about the rules currently in place, and instinctively looks for maximization and loopholes.

    and
    @d5xtgr:

    Castellan and Prankster are another set that I think is incorrectly presented as a duality. In both cases, he’s concerned about having control of a computing system. Playing defence and offence are not that different, …

    I am reproducing here [albeit with some further exposition] an argument I made on ESR’s G+ post regarding this: as a self-identifying Prankster, the mindset is NOT about some sort of game-theory style maximization, or control over systems; furthermore, the Prankster way of “playing offense” is fundamentally different from playing defense.

    Virtually all of the other archetypes accept some set of rules as presented and are willing to work within them. The Prankster mindset is about “re-interpreting” these limits in creative and unexpected fashion. In gaming terms: the Prankster is really playing Peter Suber’s Nomic, when everyone else is settling down to play a “traditional” game like Catan. Of all the archtypes listed above, Pranksters are the ones most likely to evoke the traditional media image of a “hacker” (e.g. a system cracker). This is not because the prankster wants control, but because Pranksters view the strictures which prevent such activities as something which, like any other sort of technical challenge, can and should be “optimized away” when they become too troublesome.

    It’s not a programming example, but I see the Prankster mindset behind Richard Feynman’s glass of ice water demonstration during the Challenger disaster commission. [Direct examination of the science and evidence rather than Congress’ preferred route of questioning “experts”.]

  83. >Pranksters are the ones most likely to evoke the traditional media image of a “hacker” (e.g. a system cracker).

    On the other hand, people more clued in tend to think all hackers are algorithmicists.

  84. > It does. It’s hard to avoid noticing this, as INTJs are more common in my peer population than ENTPs.

    Indeed, I wish I had more around, but they tend to avoid corporate engineering departments (really, anything corporate) like the plague.

    BTW, is Cathy an INFJ? Based on what little I know from her presence on this blog, that is what she seems like to me.

    >>On whether Castellans are hackers, I think they are. They can absolutely build things, but they can be slower than other types.

    >I wasn’t in any doubt about this, I’ve known too many of them. It’s true, they are slower – not necessarily because they think more slowly but because they have conservative temperaments and like to be very sure of their ground before taking the next step.

    Oh, I didn’t think you were. It was more in response to comments by Dividualist and Jeff Read, trying to clarify what the “Castellan as hacker” looks like, and how that contrasts with similar but non-hackerish behavior.

    In sum, I think the difference is whether you accept ownership of a system because no one else wants to and you are a dutiful person who seeks validation by satisfying other peoples goals[0], or you seek to build/adopt systems that satisfy your need to bring order and grow your conceptual understanding of a problem domain.

    I also agree with your characterization of why Castellans are slow.

    [0] Satisfying other peoples’ goals is a fine thing, but contentment with maintaining legacy applications without a desire to gain deep insight about social or technological systems is simply not very hackerish.

  85. @jdb

    > Check out the fifth paragraph of this, from about 3 weeks ago….

    Thanks. But, that doesn’t give a title or any gameplay details.

  86. >BTW, is Cathy an INFJ?

    According to her, INTx. P vs. J varies according to the test. I think she leans slightly J and she considers this evaluation reasonable.

  87. >Thanks. But, that doesn’t give a title or any gameplay details.

    *snrk* It didn’t have a title, It was a sales demo for the Uniscope 3000, one of the earliest VDTs.

    As to how it played…2D outline ship on water. Ship moves across the water. Every once in a while a delta-winged plane enters the view and passes over the ship. Your mission; press the key that releases the little spherical bomb from the plane at the right time that it will fall to hit the ship. If you succeed, the ship breaks up and sinks, glug glug glug.

    <voice style=”Don LaFontaine”> This was. Cutting-edge computer gaming. In 1969. </voice>

    Took an $8M mainframe (that’s $54M in 2017 dollars) to achieve this.

  88. As many people seem to be a mix of archetypes, how about naming some combinations. Could Prophets be rare because they are the result of an odd combination of archetypes?

    As a rough guess, the Prophet would be a mixture of Castellan, Architect, Prankster and Translator. They are familiar with the cultural capital, they are good at productive refactoring, they are able to disrupt and subvert the status quo and they can explain the changes both to hackers and non-hackers.

  89. @Jon Brase

    >because ADHD-like brain wiring, plus male gender, makes for very poor multitasking ability

    I am not 100% sure about this. On one hand yes, frequently pausing RTS because it is too overwhelming to coordinate an attack, unit production and construction at the same time is a bit overwhelming, yes. On the other hand, ADHD-close people often operate better under stress, like deadline stress or urgent problems, as this gives stimulation which leads to better focus. And yes, in my experience, linear, sequential stress works better than multitasking, in fact I tend to get quite angry when I focus on something urgent and important and someone asks a question about something else.

    But I am not sure it has to be so. Maybe it is just a quirk of you and me, but in theory multitasking stress should be able to produce a similar productive hyperfocus as sequential stress.

    Similarly, the male brain being generally poor at multitasking may just be an urban legend. Consider the perhaps most popular hobby of the planet, playing soccer. You must be aware of where the other people are, where they are running, where the ball is, and in what angle to kick so that your buddy will be there by the ball arrives there and opposing players not. It is a massively, massively parallel calculation. And I think parallel routines, parallel calculations are the same as multitasking, right? Or am I wrong at this? On the other hand hobbies like knitting are single-taskey.

    My guess is that when your job / social role expects you to single-task (welder), you stimulate yourself with multitaskey hobbies (watch some form of football) and when your job / social role expects you to multitask (mothers), you relax with single-taskey, meditative hobbies (knitting).

    Granted, I was personally never good at soccer, better at a sports with a more single-minded focus, like basketball. But I am not sure if it is an ADHD trait. After all the typical trait of constantly switching to the next shiny thing is also something similar to multitasking. It is when some new signal comes in before I am ready to switch, that is when I fall apart.

  90. > … sales demo for the Uniscope 3000 …

    Ah. Thanks for elaborating. Now resurrecting that would be fun.

  91. > According to her, INTx. P vs. J varies according to the test. I think she leans slightly J and she considers this evaluation reasonable.

    Interesting! She is a rare person indeed, since INTJ women are so uncommon.

    Seems I still need a bit more practice. My thanks to you both for humoring me.

  92. >>>I don’t know if JOAT is a separate type.
    >> I’m beginning to wonder about this myself.
    >If not an archetype, it’s at least a distinct aptitude over and above the usual—both a propensity and ability to do the sort of deep-dive inhaling of a new kind of system that esr did with TeX and then add it to the standard toolbox.

    When we use the term JOAT, I get the notion of the “competent generalist” – someone who quickly and productively adapt to new problem domains. What we’ve found (I think) is that there are several archetypes which seem to fit that description, but what distinguishes them is the reason *why* they are generalists.

    Architects like ESR are generalists in service to their high-level systemic vision: they need understand enough of the individual pieces to see how the whole puzzle fits together.

    There are also those who are generalists simply because they like to build things, without necessarily needing a strong vision or overriding goal driving what they are building. This is what i would associate with Tinker archetype, of which I would consider those who like to hack on electronics to be a sub-species. In contrast, I know someone whom I would consider to be a Tinker who is happy to work at all parts of the software. He’s not (to my knowledge) especially strong in electronics, but he satisfies his need for kinesthetic work by hacking on mechanical systems (engines, pumps, etc.).

    Of what remains in the original JOAT description, the only thing that stands out to me is the capacity for leadership. I don’t have a good name for it, but I think there is a certain sort of person who likes to “lead from the trenches”. They know enough about each role to manage the work competently, and they are happy to fill in for whatever roles the team doesn’t currently have. However, their main focus is in mobilizing capable people toward a common end. When I think of them, the image that comes to my mind is that of an expedition leader.

    I’ve worked for a couple in the corporate context. They’re great to work for because if you’re competent they’ll tenaciously fight for you, and they drive out incompetence like a crucifix drives out vampires. In the context of open source work, I imagine their great to have as early core contributors. When they see there is a lot of ground to cover they’ll happily organize other hackers around tackling the most important features, fight off trolls, and pitch in themselves where they can.

  93. @esr:
    > If you succeed, the ship breaks up and sinks, glug glug glug.

    I imagine the sound effects were up to the user on a machine of that era?

    Sound effects are what I tend to miss most in terminal games, they can really add a lot. I know quite a few from the games I played in childhood by heart (not to mention music), and several constitute in-jokes between me and my brother. Aside from games, hearing certain sounds can bring to mind, and cause me to spontaneously imitate, the sound of our old family 386 POSTing.

    Ticktickticktickticktick
    *5.25″ stepper motor
    *3.25″ stepper
    Beep!

  94. >>Pranksters are the ones most likely to evoke the traditional media image of a “hacker” (e.g. a system cracker).

    >On the other hand, people more clued in tend to think all hackers are algorithmicists.

    Guilty on both counts.

    In my middle-school and high-school days, I wanted to become a hacker cracker. Though there was a cloak-and-dagger-like thrill associated with the idea of breaking into remote systems, I think I was more drawn by the idea of a technical wizardry, with which i could make the world my bitch if I so pleased. That feels a a bit embarrassing to admit now, especially amongst this crowd. I’m glad I’ve grown up a little.

    Towards the end of high school, I brushed up against the Jargon File for the first time and began my journey toward becoming clueful. And as I became more clued in, I think somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that if I wasn’t an algorithmicist or couldn’t become one, I was a failure, unworthy of aspiring to hackerdom. At the very least, it meant being second rate.

  95. >Aside from games, hearing certain sounds can bring to mind, and cause me to spontaneously imitate, the sound of our old family 386 POSTing.

    > Ticktickticktickticktick
    > *5.25? stepper motor
    >*3.25? stepper
    > Beep!

    Heh. I have a very similar reaction, though for me “Ticktickticktickticktick” wasn’t the sound, it was the simultaneous whine of the HDD’s platter motor, and the PSU fans spinning up. But the sequence of the floppy stepper motors and the Beep! is an instantly familiar sound, especially when followed by the dull clatter of the HDD’s armature dancing about as DOS began to load.

  96. > “Of what remains in the original JOAT description, the only thing that stands out to me is the capacity for leadership.”
    > JOAT: ~ expedition leader leading from the trenches.

    One might structure a team / project without being the official leader. Support the workers, chastise the ones responsible of negative ambiance, project confidence, promote the constructive processes, disavow the ways of doing bad quality, push for excellency, encourage each according to its need, including the official leader, do the difficult work when nobody else can, take the lead when needed and step down after…
    The “product” is only the (final | ongoing) product of a group of people whose (organisation | processes) are a primary reason of the product quality.

    A team is a tool which needs to be optimized, calibrated, bettered and cherished as much as any other hacker tool.

    This vision of the JOAT makes me think to some tribal elders.

  97. Concerning JOAT, I share the curiosity about whether it’s truly an archetype.

    I self identify as a JOAT as primary descriptor, but it wasn’t something I was consciously trying to be in the beginning. I realized over time that the roles I wound up filling at employers weren’t what they hired me for. I happened to have a combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities that filled a void the employer didn’t realize it had till I was there filling it. I was quite happy to do so, but it came about by accident, not design.

    (Some of those abilities had nothing to do with tech per se, like finding myself writing sample ad copy and designing a logo for an employer’s effort, because I could do both and no one else in the area I worked in could. The VP I was working for described me as a utility infielder, which is another way of saying JOAT.)

    In recent years I’ve made efforts to specifically be a JOAT, and tell prospective employers I want the opportunity to broaden my focus and dip my fingers into other pies precisely because I can be a Jack Of All Trades, but consciously making that a focus was the result of a long term evolution.

    I suspect I’m not the only one here who came to be a JOAT in that manner.
    ______
    Dennis

  98. @Day
    > One might structure a team / project without being the official leader.

    Too true. In fact, the “expedition leaders” that I worked for never aspired to management, and aggressively resisted any attempts to promote them. In their minds, they still see themselves as just another engineer/developer/hacker. They are, but they just happen be hackers that have a inclination for optimizing social systems.

    There’s probably some overlap with Translator here, but I’m still inclined to say it’s a separate sort of thing.

  99. Some old PCs would emit a pulse through the PC speaker line for every chunk of RAM they checked and determined to be OK during POST — hence, ticktickticktick… Sometimes it would “buzz” through if the BIOS was set to skip the more intensive checks.

    The 8″ Shugart floppy drives on the Tandy Model 16 had a distinct bass drop when they were accessed, but particularly when they loaded TRSDOS during the boot sequence; at one point, just as initialization completed, the stepper motor would actually tap out a “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm. I still don’t know if that was coincidence or a smart-aleck Tandy programmer.

  100. >I imagine the sound effects were up to the user on a machine of that era?

    ROFLMAO. The only “sound effects” you got on an 1108 were from abusing the line printer. In 1969 sound cards were 20 years in the future.

    >Sound effects are what I tend to miss most in terminal games, they can really add a lot.

    Transitional stage: in 1987 the year before PC sound cards began to appear, I wrote a kernel driver for the IBM PC speaker under System V so that NetHack could have some crude chiming sound effects. A descendant of that code is, I understand, still in use in BSD Unixes.

  101. >I think I was more drawn by the idea of a technical wizardry, with which i could make the world my bitch if I so pleased. That feels a a bit embarrassing to admit now, especially amongst this crowd.

    I believe we were all like that, once upon a time.

  102. @esr:
    > ROFLMAO. The only “sound effects” you got on an 1108 were from abusing the line printer.

    Yeah, pretty much what I thought, though I have run across audio from a PDP-8 abusing a nearby radio by means of carefully timed instruction sequences and inadequate EM shielding to play Beethoven’s 5th. I asked, of course, because of the “glug glug glug” in your description.

    > In 1969 sound cards were 20 years in the future.

    My understanding is that most of the PC’s contemporaries had at least somewhat more capable sound chipsets, and even the PC speaker was enough for a game to give itself a distinctive flavor. Sopwith is a great example that I played as a kid.

    So it’s more like 10 years than 20.

  103. @Jeff:
    > Some old PCs would emit a pulse through the PC speaker line for every chunk of RAM they checked and determined to be OK during POST — hence, ticktickticktick… Sometimes it would “buzz” through if the BIOS was set to skip the more intensive checks.

    Yup. On our machine the ticking was accompanied by a rapidly incrementing “nnnn KB OK” message.

    The other thing I remember from that machine booting is “Starting MS-DOS”. This wouldn’t be noteworthy but for the reaction of my five-year old brain:

    “I wonder if there’s a MR-DOS or MRS-DOS?”

    Of course, it turns out there was a “Doctor” (DR) DOS.

  104. RE: Abusing the line printer, there was a funny little program for DOS called “drain.com”. When run, it would display a C> prompt, and then on any keypress would display something to the effect of

    “System error: water detected on drive A, press any key to continue.”

    “Draining water from drive A.”

    *PC speaker effects reminiscent of gurgling

    “Initiating spin cycle on drive A.”

    *Drive A spins up, and more PC speaker effects

    My dad saw the program in all of its glory. I’ve run across it on the Web, but don’t have any computer that will do it justice (3.5″ floppies are too quiet, so it needed a 5.25″, and it used a timing loop for the sound, rather than interrupts, so even my 20 year old retrogaming Pentium is too fast for it, though you can get the sound effects to play at a decent pace under DOSBox).

  105. I’d say I’m a mix of JOAT/Architect with a side of Tinker, though for me (as, I suspect, with most of us), a lot depends on the environment. I also tend to be better at the Translator side of things than most of the technical people I’ve come across (though for the most part that sample is corporate closed-source software development).

    I’ve frequently found myself in a pseudo-Sharpshooter phase, particularly for the first few days to weeks on a new project (depending on scale). It’s very much a learning phase for anything where there is not a readily-available manual or text (lots of code-diving). I would expect something like this to be relatively common for the Architect, Castellan, and JOAT archetypes when starting in on a new codebase, and not much rarer for Tinkers.

    There is a second common mode that I find myself using, most frequently when writing new code or trying to reproduce bugs; I call this Toolbuilder (described below).

    From what I’ve observed (admittedly a small sample), the Toolbuilder behaviors seem to be both relatively rare in neophytes and relatively common among elders. There may well be a confounding factor here, though: neophytes tend to build tools for themselves (if they build them at all), elders tend to frequently build tools for themselves and often realize that others may find them useful…though frequently I have seen them made available with a disclaimer along the lines of “This is what I use for X. It’s a terrible hackjob, it probably wont’t work for you, and I won’t help you, but feel free to use it if you can figure it out.” (Read: “If you know these tools and are any good at building small systems, you could build sometihng at least as good from scratch in under a week. I’m too $ADJECTIVE to document it properly or actually make it into something you can learn from.”)

    Upon further thought, I suspect that the Toolbuilder may be a subtype of Architect: focused on solving real-world problems (primarily those faced by technical teams). Having the communications skills to work as a team lead would give increased exposure to the types of problems a Toolbuilder would want to solve, but is not necessarily a requirement.

    I have described the Toolbuilder below in more detail as I think it’s an aspect that isn’t really covered.
    ##

    Toolbuilder: Focused on identifying challenging, widely-applicable real-world problems and building robust judgement-amplification tools for solving them. Frequently crosses over to the real world, but in more general ways than the Tinker. Failure mode is similar to the Algorithmicists: Toolbuilders can spend too much time finding robust general solutions to problems. Frequent crossover with engineers, can be a good team lead for larger projects if the problem is interesting enough and they have sufficient communications skills (and, in a paid environment, have learned to avoid the trap).

    The best way I’ve seen to avoid that trap: Build something that solves the immediate problem (and refactor as much as is practical), but only generalize if there is a) a bug – including known instability/pathological cases, b) a similar problem worth the effort of generallizing, or c) someone is paying you to do the work.

  106. >Upon further thought, I suspect that the Toolbuilder may be a subtype of Architect:

    Architects do this a lot. But so do Castellans. I think it’s a stance available to all the types, really. I think you’re near the mark when you observe it increasing wuth age and experience.

  107. > Some old PCs would emit a pulse through the PC speaker line for every chunk of RAM they checked and determined to be OK during POST — hence, ticktickticktick… Sometimes it would “buzz” through if the BIOS was set to skip the more intensive checks.

    This made me aware that the full sound sequence of my parents’ first PC’s startup is still burned into my memory. The RAM check (you could press ESC in the middle to change it to the ‘faster’ mode, rather than it being an option in the BIOS), then spinning up each floppy drive (5.25″ A: and 3.5″ B:, which each made its own distinctive sound – the second one was higher-pitched, but I don’t remember which order it checked them in) to check for a boot disk, then a beep (for “everything okay” perhaps? I don’t remember what was printed at that stage), then hard drive noises.

  108. @Victor Calvert

    Failure mode is similar to the Algorithmicists: Toolbuilders can spend too much time finding robust general solutions to problems.

    Another Toolbuilder failure mode is to realize halfway into building this tool X that it would be much easier if there was a tool Y first. And we need to go deeper…

  109. I still think JOAT isn’t quite an archetype, but I can see two… attributes or maybe side specializations out of which such a label can develop.

    One is being a Control Freak — preferring to manage the entire stack of whatever you’re responsible for. You want/need to do everything yourself and so you become a JOAT.

    The other one is being an Infovore (deep dive and inhale as a way of life) where JOATness arises not out of the need to *do* everything yourself, but out of the urge to *know* everything.

  110. @Jon Brase:
    My understanding is that most of the PC’s contemporaries had at least somewhat more capable sound chipsets, and even the PC speaker was enough for a game to give itself a distinctive flavor. Sopwith is a great example that I played as a kid.

    Eric’s 1987 date coincides with the release of the first Creative Labs SoundBlaster 8-bit add-on card, intended to provide sound capabilities for games. (A variant was sold through Radio Shack as GameBlaster. Same Hardware, but different software.)

    Contemporary systems with sound capabilities were things like the 8-bit Atari and Commodore machines, which were primarily intended for gaming. The Commodore SID chip had interesting abilities. There’s a video on YouTube of a woman engineer who built an electric bass guitar using a C64 as the body, and the SID chip to get string plucks and output them as the appropriate bass sounds. The DIS chip had three voices, so she had to play games with sampling to suipport four strings. The result was impressive.

    The original PC was intended as a business system, and sophisticated sound for games wasn’t a design spec. (It took MS a while to realize gaming was a substantial and profitable market and begin to add support for multimedia in Windows via Direct X.)
    ______
    Dennis

  111. > Ticktickticktickticktick
    > *5.25? stepper motor
    >*3.25? stepper
    > Beep!

    I used to put my hand on the case when the machine was booting and follow the sequence by characteristic vibrations (“OK, we have power, the fans are up… the first hard drive is rotating… checking drive for the floppy/CD… “).

    Unfortunately, SSDs don’t do anything physical when they come online.

  112. I still think JOAT isn’t quite an archetype, but I can see two… attributes or maybe side specializations out of which such a label can develop. [Control Freak and Infovore]

    The trouble I see with these two derivatives is that Control Freak sounds square within the realm of Sharpshooter, while Infovore is squarely within that of Castellan.

    To be honest, I’m also still having trouble seeing enough distinction among the original eight-minus-one archetypes (Algorithmicist Tinker Architect Sharpshooter Prankster Castellan Translator (CAPSTAT? CATSPAT? PATSCAT?)). As we’ve seen, virtually no one aligns overwhelmingly with one; we all self-describe as combos of at least 2-3.

    Beyond that, I can’t quite put my finger on why this pantheon isn’t gelling for me. I think it may be because each archetype appears to characterize both a goal, and a method for getting there, and it’s all too easy for me to imagine a goal for one and employ a method from another, which means I never really feel like I’m wearing one suit at a time.

  113. @Yuri Kahn:

    Another Toolbuilder failure mode is to realize halfway into building this tool X that it would be much easier if there was a tool Y first. And we need to go deeper…

    Yes, that is also a failure mode, though I think it is most common for larger or more complex tools. The only way I’ve seen to avoid it is to try to build the smallest tool(set) that will do the job; trying to build composable tools encourages this (but is the sort of challenge that especially Architects love).

    @esr: s/wuth/with/

    Architects do this a lot. But so do Castellans. I think it’s a stance available to all the types, really. I think you’re near the mark when you observe it increasing with age and experience.

    A guess as to why age is a factor, and not purely experience: people use tools. Older people have more experience in life and are more likely to recognize that nearly any tool can be valuable (depending on purpose and task at hand), which translates into recognizing that some tool built to make something easier for themselves can have value to others. Younger people who do build tools tend to want to reinvent the wheel, or think that theirs is significantly better than whatever is out there (sometimes true, but most of the time it is just the level of expertise with their own code).

    Experience, on the other hand, would tend to suggest a reaction of the form “Oh, I’ve seen JRH do something like that before and it saved a lot of time, maybe I can do something similar.”

    When experience and the value-recognition aspect coincide, the resulting tools are generally of much higher quality.

    I’ve built tools for my own use for years now, but generally haven’t released any as they are either too specific (closely linked with text formats, etc.), or there are already better tools out there that I find after the fact when looking to see if someone else has done anything similar (I usually adopt these). [Working in a closed-source corporate environment also acts as a barrier to this sort of thing.]

    I suspect I have more of the historical perspective than most of similar age since most of my family are or have been toolbuilders of some sort: my great-grandfather was a wheelwright, my grandfather has done many things including engineering R&D, my uncle is an engineer, etc. I’ve also always had an interest in the history of technology, much more than the significantly more common social/economic/political focus in the US educational system (technology seems to be ignored or treated as a side note: “Oh, they wanted to do X, and someone figured out how to do it”—with no further discussion).

  114. @ Paul Brinkley:

    As we’ve seen, virtually no one aligns overwhelmingly with one; we all self-describe as combos of at least 2-3.

    I mentioned this upthread, and while I am not trying to cram these archetypes into a pre-existing system, the similarity to the Enneagram is striking. There, everyone is said to have a dominant personality type, but also a “second side” called a “wing.” (Some practitioners believe that people can have two wings.) In other words, the fact that everyone doesn’t fit neatly into one type does not necessarily mean the overall system is unworkable.

  115. >Eric’s 1987 date coincides with the release of the first Creative Labs SoundBlaster 8-bit add-on card, intended to provide sound capabilities for games.

    I realize this, I just think that Soundblaster is a bit too far along in the history of computer sound to use as a measuring point for the margin by which a given soundless system predated computer sound. The PC-speaker was a pretty crappy sound device, but it still was a purpose-built sound device capable of more than one sound (as opposed to a terminal bell, which was, trivially, a sound device, but could only output one sound).

    That last bit does make me wonder, though, did any manufacturer ever put out a terminal that could ring different bells (say with different frequencies) upon receiving some terminal-specific escape code (in addition to ^G)? Obviously, if it happened, it never caught on, or else it would have ended up in the vt100 series, and thence in xterm and kin, but I’d almost be surprised if nobody tried, given the broad selection of terminals that I gather was around in the minicomputer era.

  116. The PC-speaker was a pretty crappy sound device, but it still was a purpose-built sound device capable of more than one sound (as opposed to a terminal bell, which was, trivially, a sound device, but could only output one sound).

    As I recall, it was capable of rather amazing sound, albeit in the sense of amazement of seeing a bear dance. In 1992, Star Control II was taking sound files of music themes for the various aliens, and managing to pump them through the vanilla PC speaker with quality high enough that you could discern various instrument types. I’m fairly sure there was non-trivial decoding software handling this, but I don’t know how widely used or known it was, if so.

    If I had to guess, I would say there was no combination of a terminal with multi-tone speaker and an escape code protocol for operating it, during the period when terminals were primary user equipment. I imagine that if they did exist, though, they would be pretty close to MIDI in protocol-space. So if I had time, my search would start there.

  117. @PapayaSF: Oh, so that’s what you were on about. I sorta bleeped right over that post.

    Skimming the WP article, I see Enneagram personalities portrayed as converting to one of the others when stressed, and yet another when secure. (E.g. a Reformer basically wants to perfect the system; when resisted strongly, he morphs into an Individualist, presumably settling for perfecting himself; when supported, he morphs into an Enthusiast, seeking to enjoy the perfection achieved.)

    Acknowledging first that this all smacks of sociological alchemy (and that this is fine for the stated purpose), I guess one could speak of what Architects turn into when they get their way, and when they don’t, and so on for the other types.

    Alternately, we might analyze what each type does when faced with a problem more suited to a different hacker, i.e. how does a Castellan behave when she has to be a Prankster for a while?

  118. Jon Brase: Funny you should mention DRAIN.EXE. One of my first C programs was when I got Turbo C. DRAIN was, to me, far too transparent, because the C> was fixed and yellow, no matter what the user had set their PROMPT to.

    So I wrote a replacement, DRAIN2. EXE. I read the PROMPT environment variable, parsed it, went and got the current directory so I could do that right, cleared the screen, and put out the correct prompt before the shenanigans started.

    I didn’t get the sound nearly as right, but the rest was better, IMAO. A friend told me that he’d run into it long before he met me and used it as a prank on others…and so did the GEnie forum he moderated.

  119. > As I recall, it was capable of rather amazing sound, albeit in the sense of amazement of seeing a bear dance. In 1992, Star Control II was taking sound files of music themes for the various aliens, and managing to pump them through the vanilla PC speaker with quality high enough that you could discern various instrument types. I’m fairly sure there was non-trivial decoding software handling this, but I don’t know how widely used or known it was, if so.

    I’m instantly jealous. When I tried to get the vanilla PC speaker to make sounds, I got static-y burbles that were poor imitation of sound. I would love to see the source code, or some kind of reverse-engineering analysis of how Star Control 2 did that. I’d bet there were some simultaneously beautiful and horrifying hacks to make that kinda magic happen.

    Re-reading and reflecting on the archetypes, I think Tinker is probably my strongest. Some electronic hacks of mine that immediately come to mind are on my music gear. None of my guitars have stock pickups, and I have a pickup spliced together from off-the-shelf models that needs to go into a guitar. There’s a practice amplifier sitting behind me that, when stock, was effectively an overdrive pedal strapped across the input of an amplifier chip intended for car stereo use, with a 5″ speaker hanging off the end of that. I traced out the circuit, did some simulations, and then made my modifications, listening to how the sound changed as I did. I altered the gain structure and clipping setup, tweaked the tone filter, and spliced in a speaker cable so it could drive bigger & better speakers. My main stage amplifier got tweaked to improve it’s tone as well (albeit not as much).

    I have other projects and ideas sitting on the back burner: a fan/water pump controller for PC water cooling setups, LED lighting that changes it’s color temperature with the time of day, turning old floppy drives into a MIDI-controllable instrument, and probably half a dozen other things that slip my mind at the moment. Working with hardware doesn’t terrify me. Let me have datasheets and schematics, a multi-meter and a soldering iron, and I should be fine. Though perhaps using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, SPICE is really useful too.

    I’m actually not particularly strong with reverse engineering, but I absolutely love reading about it. When reading about such, I get the notion of a puzzle or a mystery, hunting for clues, and the thrill of finally figuring out how the magic works. I suppose I should work on that more, and start taking more things apart again, as I often did when i was a child.

    The Castellan speaks to me a bit as well. When I find a new thing that is interesting, I tend to dive deep and try to absorb as much information as I can about it. And I feel like I have an affinity for doing system administration.

    I have some question on the Sharpshooter. I briefly studied assembly language in high school, and was having fun doing so, but I don’t know if that alone would qualify me for it. And what is meant by “rifle-shooting bugs”? A seek-and-destroy mindset of “I’m going to find *exactly* where in the code this damned bug is”? Something else?

  120. > DRAIN was, to me, far too transparent, because the C> was fixed and yellow, no matter what the user had set their PROMPT to.

    I’ve noticed the same problems with it, but seriously, do you think that the kind of person who would fall for “water detected in drive A” is going to know how to set a custom prompt, or think anything when they see a discolored prompt other than, “Oh crap, the color’s wrong. There must be something wrong with my computer.”?

  121. >And what is meant by “rifle-shooting bugs”? A seek-and-destroy mindset of “I’m going to find *exactly* where in the code this damned bug is”? Something else?

    That’s it. Sharpshooters are adept at narrow-focus learning of exactly what they need to fix a bug.

  122. > That’s it. Sharpshooters are adept at narrow-focus learning of exactly what they need to fix a bug.

    It seems to me that’s my debugging style, whether with a program I use at home, or at work. I thought that was the only way *to* debug. I’m curious how the other archetypes approach debugging. It seems to me the Algorithmicist might try to write code so bugs are simply mathematically impossible, and the Architect would try to structure the code simply enough that the implementation would be hard to mess up. The others? Hmm…

  123. Speaking from experience as a full-throttle Algorithmicist/half-baked Architect, I try to follow both those approaches.

    Algorithmicist near-obsessively checks inputs and, later on, invariants – giving us, in ESR’s words, “a big flare-lit clue that something bad done happened” when wheels depart chassis. Aggressively try to crystallise latent faults as close to scene of crime as possible.

    Because I’m more of an OO guy, one of my favourite tools for this is humble class invariant – foo.IsOk. I find this makes reasoning about the residual bugs that get past all this a lot easier, as I can rely on various gubbins that pass IsOk checks not waiting to stab me with spatula.

    Architect prefers to strip things back to their running gears (eg, Fork This, We’re Outta Here, by NTPsec Band ft. ESR) to reduce where bugs can hide in first place, and find something approaching correct abstraction.

    Fewer things there means both fewer things to go wrong and fewer ways in which they can interact to clobber you. A better-fitting abstraction between code and problem reduces cognitive frictional costs (and thus misunderstandings in both design and implementation) making column A fit with column B.

    Abstraction I’ve used for a general-ledger system is thinking of each bit of paper (invoice, disbursement, journal entry, etc) as “an accounting transaction, plus metadata”. It’s by no means original, and feeds into my Algorithmicist bent.

  124. @Jeremy, regarding writing code and debugging style:

    When I write code, I try to identify the worst possible ways for it to fail, and ensure that those are correct (and difficult to make not-correct without obvious breakage). Beyond that and following good practices, I don’t necessarily spend all that much time and effort on preventing bugs as such, though it does depend on the project. (Basically, a risk-management approach to programming—and in some cases it’s better that the code not work at all instead of producing bad data.)

    As for debugging, it really depends on what the bug is, but if I have a way to reproduce the issue and know what the correct behavior should produce, I tend to be able to zero in on the bug quickly with minimal effort (if I know the system at all well). If I don’t, well, that’s when narrow-focus learning and tracing the logic comes in.

    This assumes that the bug report is not something silly like “yeah, we don’t really know what it’s supposed to do, but if it seems off we can manually duplicate the work and tell you what we expected”. Those are difficult to deal with under any circumstances.

  125. >It seems to me the Algorithmicist might try to write code so bugs are simply mathematically impossible, and the Architect would try to structure the code simply enough that the implementation would be hard to mess up.

    If you substitute “provably absent” for “mathematically impossible”, you nailed that exactly for both types. (Says the Architect/Algorithmicist.)

  126. Hmm, maybe there needs to be one of those quizzes: What Kind of Hacker Are You? I think this primarily because I’m not at all sure what kind of hacker I am. Here’s one question:

    Which of the following would you most like to hear someone coming to you with a new project say?

    Algorithmicist: “We’re developing a new RFC/specification, and we’d like you to write the reference implementation.”

    Tinker: “Here’s a widget and its closed-source driver. We’d like you to come up with an open-source driver, and the manufacturer is unlikely to give you much/any help.”

    Architect: “Here’s a huge monolithic Swiss Army knife program. We’d like you to refac… oh, you’ve screamed in horror and are already carving it at the seams.”

    Sharpshooter: “We have a tracker full of bug reports, some of them fiendishly obscure. We’d like you to triag… sure you can BYOD, but why do you need to look at your monitor through a scope?”

    JOAT: “Here’s a small business. You are now in charge of everything vaguely involving technology for them. Don’t worry, the owners are capable of listening, and know how little they know. Also, the check’s in the mail. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    Prankster: “Here’s a large business. We need you to audit their security. Mainly the security of their Internet presence, but if you want to ninja up and red team the sucker, that’s fine too. What? Yes, of course they asked us to hire you…”

    Castellan: “Based on your long and enviable history of contributions to alt.sysadmin.recovery, we’d like to offer you absolute and unchallenged dominion over this system. Here’s your cluebat.”

    Translator: “We’ve written this library that could get every luser in the world laid if they only knew how to use it. We need you to put a sensible UI on it so we can all retire, take a nap on our piles of cash and then, I don’t know, open a nightclub or something…”

  127. @lliamander
    There’s probably some overlap with Translator here, but I’m still inclined to say it’s a separate sort of thing.

    Agreed. Acting as Translator to fulfill the need of being a JOAT is different from having a need to be a Translator.

    @A senior citizen
    The other one is being an Infovore (deep dive and inhale as a way of life) where JOATness arises not out of the need to *do* everything yourself, but out of the urge to *know* everything.
    Well yes, I am an Infovore at heart.
    Each time there’s an unanswered question arising, this is particularly noticeable during social times, I turn to the Internet to have an answer. Smartphones, mobile internet, were a dream come true to me.

    Ok, what is peculiar about the JOAT current description is that he is an expedition leader, a hacker optimizing social systems.
    Then, maybe the JOAT label isn’t quite correct and could be divided into two parts:
    – mastery of diverses competences, arising from the need to control / know,
    – social systems hacker.
    It is discutable that the first be an item in esr hackers list,
    but maybe the Social System Hacker (SSH \o/ ) should be added to the list?

    Definition:
    A SSH serves the Project by hacking his colleagues behaviors. He sees human interactions in terms of processes, to be optimized, analyzed, designed similarly to other dynamic systems.

    @Paul Brinkley
    each archetype appears to characterize both a goal, and a method for getting there
    Maybe the primary attributes are what you deeply need to do, and the secondary attributes are what you are adept to do.

  128. >Hmm, maybe there needs to be one of those quizzes: What Kind of Hacker Are You?

    Phil, that list of alternatives was brilliant, hilarious, and spot-on.

    This is helping give me confidence that these archetypes are real – that is, capture stable features of a lot of shared experience. Your answers would be much less funny, otherwise.

  129. Phil, that list of alternatives was brilliant, hilarious, and spot-on.

    Thank you.

    This is helping give me confidence that these archetypes are real – that is, capture stable features of a lot of shared experience. Your answers would be much less funny, otherwise.

    I feel constrained to sound a note of warning, here: a very considerable chunk of my knowledge of hacker culture comes from, um, you… i.e. the Jargon File, this blog, etc. etc. I am also conscious of having drawn on the Daily WTF, the BOFH, etc., but what I’m comparatively short on is actual, independent experience of working or even hanging out with real-life hackers, so you may just be getting mostly your own world-view played back to you.

  130. >so you may just be getting mostly your own world-view played back to you.

    Thanks for informing me of that risk. Confidence level of my estimates accordingly lowered.

  131. Okay, got pointed at this by Jeremy, and I am interested in the discussion about JOAT as an archetype. I suspect that I have a different perspective on this than most I have seen discuss it because I am as close to pure JOAT as I have ever seen. I don’t see any of the others that fit me in ways that JOAT does not already cover.

    I suspect that the discussion is mostly skewed by the fact that there is a disparate skillset likely under many of the archetypes, and I don’t think the key trait of the JOAT is mentioned here, making it hard to distinguish them from any other archetype with a broad skillset. The budding JOAT will be motivated largely by wanting to create X, and have the absorptive mind mentioned in the text combined with great willingness to learn new skills in service of creating X. However, once X exists, there is no urge to continue to polish those skills. Instead, now there is the urge to create Y, and learn whatever skills are necessary for that. Many cycles of this result in the disparate skillset, many areas touched, but none mastered, that is the most visible and iconic trait of the JOAT.

    The main difference between this and any other archetype learning many areas is the motivation pattern. The JOAT is highly motivated when learning or improving skills, rather than feeling pressured, but their motivation is the project, not the skill. You will rarely find a JOAT taking any classes or otherwise studying anything they don’t have a current use for, either professional or hobby. Conversely, you may find them taking a class or studying almost anything, because they have a project that requires that skill. The JOAT does not care what their skill level is in any abstract sense, only if they know enough to do what they currently want to do. In my experience, they don’t actually have the control freak tendency implied in the description- JOATs are completely aware that their skills are not master level, and will happily delegate to someone with greater skill, because they do have enough knowledge to evaluate and tell that the specialist can contribute more in the relevant area than the JOAT can. As long as the project is moving forward, they are just as happy to put their efforts into something no one else is covering, even a completely different project. It is when you get a Castellan or an Architect who have decided that the way to achieve their goals is to do everything themselves that you see someone with a JOAT-like skillset who doesn’t like to delegate.

    The main strength is also not mentioned. Anyone can learn a lot of skills given enough motivation; the JOAT does not mentally divide their disciplines up the way most people would; everything is in service to the project, and their skills get frequently repackaged into new configurations with new projects. The usefulness of this flexibility is that they can easily see parallels between their various skillsets, and thus come up with solutions to issues by using an approach taken from an unrelated skillset. Social dynamics can be approached as load-balancing problems, and vice versa. Bughunting and copyediting can use the same solutions. And so on. The wider their knowledge goes, the more effective they get in analyzing systems in the abstract and using their entire base of knowledge to provide solutions or insights.

    I would rewrite the summary paragraph thus:

    JOATs: The base traits of a jack-of-all-trades are great enthusiasm for projects, the willingness and ability to learn new skills and ideas rapidly in service of projects, and great mental flexibility. The JOAT has accumulated skills over the course of time, and will rarely have mastered any one area, but is basically competent in everything, including the social and people-handling skills some others might lack. They focus on learning or improving skills to match the needs of their current project, and then the next, without any great loyalty to one set of skills, which leads over time to their iconic distributed skillset. They excel at producing out-of-the-box solutions that take advantage of parallells between unrelated disciplines. They also make excellent firefighters, able to quickly produce a band-aid solution for a problem in any area of expertise and determine which skills are necessary to address it long-term. The JOAT failure mode is largely related to their changeable focus; if the JOAT gets bored with their assignment, their output will drop precipitously, and if they find a particularly interesting side problem, they can focus on it to the detriment of the rest of their work. A JOAT is more likely than other types to make an excellent team lead, as long as they remember and are allowed to focus on coordination and translation between their specialists, rather than diving in to make ground-level decisions or solve problems themselves.

    And since there seems to be interest in personality types, I am a female INxJ; I go between the two very different approaches depending on whether I am dealing with a situation in which high empathy or analysis is more useful, and I have found that the insights derived from the INFJ side make inordinately good input for INTJ analysis in many situations. :-)

  132. Also, a suggestion of what a JOAT would love to hear when being brought a new project, related to my interpretation of the archetype:

    JOAT: Your position will require basic competence in a wide array of skills, and you will likely need to update or learn some new ones in order to cover everything; we will, of course, pay for the training and your time taking the relevant courses.

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  134. @Quinn
    Spot on, you’ve described me.
    And if somebody tells me what’s in your description, for the right price of course, I sign instantly.

  135. And I took the liberty, in a Slashdot comment, of saying you disagree with the common assessment of Hendrix as the greatest guitarist ever and would be more likely to argue in favor of Joe Satrianni.

  136. Without Hendrix there wouldn’t be a Satriani. Hendrix’s guitar playing was, at the time, next-level; he opened up entire possibility spaces for the instrument. Successors, talented though they may be, are really exploring the spaces Hendrix created.

  137. @esr –

    > > so you may just be getting mostly your own world-view played back to you.

    > Thanks for informing me of that risk. Confidence level of my estimates accordingly lowered.

    OTOH, I also found them both funny and essentially spot-on. You may wish to also factor that in.

  138. I didn’t identify with any of these in the article, but I did very strongly with the notion of Prototyper from the comments. I would have called it Inventor. It involves borrowing a lot of open-source code and cobbling it together to make something new that would be difficult to share because it’s all “research code”– poorly documented, idiosyncratically named variables, too many of them global, but a working version of something new put together quickly.

  139. Odd. You say the Sharpshooter is the opposite of Architect but I am both. I have architected some really big websites (one was in Quantcast Top 100, another one of the largest UK TV channels etc) and yet were happy to write the answer on StackOverflow on how to debug PHP with gdb.

  140. Factory Worker: people who code for a living but with no interest in the art itself. Their effectiveness is directly proportional to one’s ability specify requirements precisely. Good for bug fixes and minor feature changes to well established code bases.

    Engineer: Developer invested in process as much as code. These developers are typically system administrators. They are also build engineers who understand how to create a Makefile, use GIT and create Bamboo plans. They build test harnesses for QA. They understand the QA purpose, vocabulary and participate willing bug tracking and test case management tracking. They also understand hardware architecture and are network engineers capable of administering edge switches.

  141. Believers: These guys believe that there is one true way of doing things and follow the guidelines laid out by their great thinkers / companies. Where the belief system could be: Java/.Net/windows/open source/object orientation/functional programming etc.

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  143. I break things. I feel that I have a natural talent to do the wrong thing at the worst possible time. In previous jobs I was not welcome in test labs (after my talent became known) because I would be drawn to push some obscure button while thinking “I wonder what THIS does?”. Same with testing software. I consider how I would break the program if I had written it.
    Suffice to say that relationships are ….. difficult.

  144. Interesting indeed. Probably a JOAT with a heavy helping of tinkerer and some architect (I seek order from chaos)

    I write code and design hardware with equal ease because I see no real difference; all that determines is just where the processing happens to take place (although it is certainly easier and less expensive to update a piece of prototype code than a multilayer PCB so it does require at least a modicum of thought).

    In the current era with shedloads of peripherals already on-chip in many circumstances, the need for hardware design has shifted (but not been reduced); interestingly, the older hackers especially with hardware knowledge (and yes, I am one) are in heavy demand because schools / universities give analog short shrift, yet it is a critical skill for a modern piece of hardware (think transmission line theory for a start).

    As a side note, I am ENTP

  145. Theorist: Fascinated by the theory of computation. Not really interested in actually coding anything, but if you have a question about p and np, or computational entropy, you can get an hour’s lecture. They probably know LISP, but consider it a poor substitute for lambda calculus.
    Creative: They have great ideas for insanely cool things to do, but tend to be only vaguely aware of the details of how to implement them.

  146. What about a “proof of concept” programmer? Someone who is mainly concerned with building a tool to demonstrate and evaluate features/ideas. For this programmer type, clean and maintainable code are usually secondary to finding evidence (e.g., user studies, simulations) to support the ideas implemented in the tool.

  147. On slashdot, someone posted a quote and response that may be interesting (edited for brevity):
    ====
    quote: petes_PoV ( 912422 )
    You might call them “perfectionists” because they will never finish anything (…) Although they are enthusiastic, their failure mode is that they never produce an end product and their office, lab or home is full of half-completed projects.

    response: Kjella ( 173770 )
    I think those two are different archetypes. What you describe is a type of “abandonist” that runs into trouble/uncertainty but rather than work through it procrastinates by starting to work on something else, however since almost every project has some hardship they leave a trail of half-finished things in their wake. (…) Perfectionists are people who refuse to deliver anything until they’ve tweaked it to some arbitrary standard of perfection that solves every corner case with every nice-to-have feature. They just don’t know when to stop and deliver.
    ====
    Kjella then adds the “re-inventor”, but I will define it differently.

    The re-inventor rewrites the entire implementation in a new language (or from scratch), believing (justified or not) that it is the correct language (or logic flow) to have written it in the first time.

    BTW: I have been the re-inventor. I don’t have the experience/training/time, so for me to re-write is easier sometimes than to reverse engineer hacky pages of nested IF’s.

  148. @Phil R.
    JOAT: “Here’s a small business. You are now in charge of everything vaguely involving technology for them. Don’t worry, the owners are capable of listening, and know how little they know.

    That rather precisely defined my role at one employer. The SVP who hired me was negative technical. Machines broke when he used them. (I once threw him out of the computer room. “Larry, get out! Everything is up and running fine, and if you stay, something will fail!” “But I just wanted to ask…” “Go back you your office. I’ll come to see you!

    The good part was that he knew he didn’t know anything about technology. So he would come to me and say “I want to do X. Research it, and tell me what I need to buy to do that.” He didn’t try to second guess my recommendations. All he cared about was whether he could get the President of the company to sign off on the budget request.

    At another point we had a hilarious conversation when he realized I really needed a title and business card, and what should my title be? I said “Larry, man responsible for anything with a wire leading to it, plus lots of things that don’t, plus anything you want to get off of your desk” is accurate, but won’t fit on a card. (I also ghostwrote some of his memos because he thought my English skills were better than his.) We compromised on “Technical Manager” as vague enough to cover a multitude of sins.

    On a later occasion, other things landed on my desk, like “We want these cubes built into full enclosed offices. Dennis will find us a contractor.” “We need to get additional A/C installed. Dennis will find us a contractor.” Larry apologized, as that stuff should have been handled by the office manager, but she was having family issues. She would have been lost at sea if she had tried to handle it. I said “It’s okay, Larry. I’m the best qualified person to do this. I can read blueprints. I can talk to contractors in their own language. But I’m already your systems, network, and telecom admin. If you want me to be your Facilities Manager too we need to talk about my title and compensation…”

    The position pretty much exemplified JOAT, and occurred because I filled a void and had acquired various odd skills and knowledge elsewhere that could be applied.

    It was fun, for suitable values of the term, even if I did have to bite my tongue frequently and not say “Larry, take two Xanax and talk to me in the morning”.
    ______
    Dennis

  149. If the “re-inventor” is rewriting from C to Rust, I’d say he’s doing the Lord’s work.

    There is a massive informal project underway in the Rust community — a sort of cybernetic tikkun olam — to get as much of our C-dependent infrastructure reimplemented in Rust as possible — especially in open source. Of course, a lot of stuff (embedded systems, the kernel) won’t be touched for years, but the more we leave C behind the objectively better the situation will become from a stability/secueity standpoint.

  150. There is a massive informal project underway in the Rust community

    Where does this sound so familiar from?

  151. “Flying Architect”?

    “How does that differ from plain Architect?”

    It’s just a matter of spelling. A Flying Architect would be a Plane Architect.

  152. As usual, the archetypes are merely descriptive and not based on any shared characteristics (like Meyers-Briggs). Hence, they are bound to overlap – and not mutually exclusive (as they should). Classic for people with poor methodology skills. But still, amusing..

  153. Kudos on using gender-inclusive “they” pronouns where applicable.

    One exception can be found in the following:
    “A JOAT is more likely than other types to make an excellent team lead, as long as *he* remains aware enough to delegate deep technical decisions to others.”

  154. >Kudos on using gender-inclusive “they” pronouns where applicable.

    For the record, that was not a conscious choice. My reaction to the kind of political correctness that insists on gender-neutral pronouns as a form of virtue signaling is generally to invite it to fuck itself with a chainsaw. But since “he” was not conveying information I have changed the one exception.

  155. The Jarhead: Bulls his way through everything by brute force, convinced his way is the righteous way, everything should be organized in a top-down hierarchy. Usually from a mil background, winds up in IT support positions, with right-wing political views, delights in torturing “snowflakes.”

  156. My rather anal love of applied math in formal methods leans me towards the architect/algorithmicist archetype…but I do find I have a smattering of ‘all of the above’ for good flavor ;)

  157. I immediately regret my use of the formulation “anal love”

    Fuck you and you lack of an edit feature ;)

  158. The fact that gender-neutral pronouns are second nature to you is even better. To quote a famous Chris Rock routine, virtue signalers want credit for shit they’re supposed to do. “I don’t write with a gender bias.” Ignorant-ass motherfucker, you’re not supposed to write with a gender bias!

  159. @Dan:
    Try some 21st century blog tools FFS

    Eric’s blog uses WordPress. It does have an edit function – see Mike Glyer’s SF fan news site File 770 (http://file770.com/) for an instance with a working implementation.

    The version Eric is running lacks that. If you’d like to volunteer to help him upgrade to the version that does, your assistance may be accepted. I think Eric is a bit too busy to fiddle with CMS upgrades.
    ______
    Dennis

  160. >The Jarhead: Bulls his way through everything by brute force, convinced his way is the righteous way, everything should be organized in a top-down hierarchy. Usually from a mil background, winds up in IT support positions, with right-wing political views, delights in torturing “snowflakes.”

    I didn’t like this guy. Until you got to the “torturing snowflakes” part.

    No, I wouldn’t actually torture a snowflake, but…a man can dream, can’t he?

  161. >The fact that gender-neutral pronouns are second nature to you is even better.

    Actually, I might have to stop doing that now. In protest against the Orwellian manipulation of language to promote groupthink, even when I mostly agree with the object-level goal.

  162. >I think Eric is a bit too busy to fiddle with CMS upgrades.

    In fact, I do upgrade every 6-9 months or so. More often when there’s a security bug. None of these has delivered an edit function yet.

  163. Also in support of a revised JOAT description: unlike the others, the original doesn’t say anything about what their motivation or natural niche would be. It’s just that they are Swiss army knives personified, not what about their nature sent them down that path. As I said before, anyone can end up with a JOAT skillet due to necessity, but only some of us actually revel in it and do it on purpose :-J

  164. @esr:
    >I think Eric is a bit too busy to fiddle with CMS upgrades.

    In fact, I do upgrade every 6-9 months or so. More often when there’s a security bug. None of these has delivered an edit function yet.

    Core WordPress may not. But what has made it popular is a huge number of add-on modules from third parties to add desired functionality. I think Glyer is using one to provide the editing function, and you might query him about which it is.

    In use, after you post a comment, you get an edit window for a period of time in which you can read what was posted and make changes if you see errors.
    ______
    Dennis

  165. @esr:
    No, I wouldn’t actually torture a snowflake, but…a man can dream, can’t he?

    It’s a pointless waste of time to even dream about. Snowflakes start out tortured, which is why they are snowflakes. The won’t learn anything from being tortured, even if you can.

    I do invest a bit of time in avoiding such folks.
    ______
    Dennis

  166. Dennis, somehow, I doubt Mike Glyer would give Eric the time of day, considering his politics and Eric’s well-known stances.

  167. @Prankster Unlimited:
    The Jarhead: Bulls his way through everything by brute force, convinced his way is the righteous way, everything should be organized in a top-down hierarchy. Usually from a mil background, winds up in IT support positions, with right-wing political views, delights in torturing “snowflakes.”

    Have you ever met one of these in the wild? I haven’t, and my circles include serving military officers.

    A late friend spent some time in the support trenches for Syncsort, vendors of a sort package for IBM mainframes. He found himself the one getting handed the support calls from military customers. He didn’t find them a problem to deal with. I said “By training and inclination, their desire is to do things by the book. In this context, your employer wrote the book, and you tell them what the book says.” He agreed with that assessment.
    ______
    Dennis

  168. @Jay Maynard:
    Dennis, somehow, I doubt Mike Glyer would give Eric the time of day, considering his politics and Eric’s well-known stances.

    You might be surprised. But if Eric likes, I can ask. He’s not aware Eric and I have known each other for decades.
    ______
    Dennis

  169. @PapayaSF:
    I suspect this is the plug-in Mike Glyer uses:

    I sent an email query to Glyer, but that does look like what he uses.
    ______
    Dennis

  170. No, I wouldn’t actually torture a snowflake, but…a man can dream, can’t he?

    I’ve heard it’s okay as long as you don’t actually therdiglob it.

  171. And by the way, I think it would help for everyone to remember that these are supposed to be positive archetypes, in order to encourage marginal would-be hackers. A Jarhead isn’t exactly positive.

  172. @Paul Brinkley: There’s nothing wrong with including negative archetypes in an instructional setting. Think of Private Snafu or Goofus and Gallant.

  173. >I suspect this is the plug-in Mike Glyer uses:

    I’ve installed it and tested it once. It seems to work.

  174. @esr:
    >I suspect this is the plug-in Mike Glyer uses:

    I’ve installed it and tested it once. It seems to work.

    And I’m testing it. Let’s see…

    Yep, it works.
    ______
    Dennis

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  176. Looking at these, I’m a Translator/Joat with a healthy dose of Tinker. And yes, I’m a sport lockpicker. :D

  177. There’s nothing wrong with including negative archetypes in an instructional setting. Think of Private Snafu or Goofus and Gallant.

    In general, I agree. I’m only speaking to this specific case, in which Susan and Eric are trying to motivate newbies, not corral overzealous ones.

  178. Teachers: People oriented engineers who love the elegance of software as a solution to many practical problems. Enjoy delving into highly technical topics and mastering them, but only find learning worthwhile if they have someone to share their findings with or see a practical application. These people are most likely to be teachers, mentors, or bosses.

  179. > I am an ENTP

    I am too.

    I’m also an Architect archetype, but I can also eagerly switch into Algorithmicist or Sharpshooter mode but I’ll burnout of those tangential roles if I remain mired in them too long. Also I can if I want be a Translator especially in a verbal setting because I find writing much too slow, tedious, and non-interactive communication medium. I’m hyper social when I can jam with and perceive the real-time cues of the people around me, but I’ll be quickly bored if the social interaction is not stimulating and prefer to either go do sports or solitary mental activity.

    P.S. News flash. You’ve been cited by the villainous noble kingmaker in the HF war of crypto-currency. I’m speculating he may be responding to my posts about the Inverse Commons. Alas, your blog post on the Dark Enlightenment seems to become more relevant every day. I don’t think readers yet realize how important this potentially is. I don’t think your magnum opus is completed. Or perhaps I am (not!) just off in left field kooky.

  180. esr writes:
    > So, Susan had the idea that it might be a good idea to develop a parallel gallery of hacker archetypes to help motivate newbies.

    You know…, I think perhaps another important role for such a `gallery of hacker archetypes’ actually has less to do with newbies: making sense out of many of the opinion pieces from older hands about things like `what it’s like to work on open-source software’; like the “What it feels like to be an open-source maintainer” article that I read just the other day, for example; or another “I’m giving up hacking on open-source software because I have kids now” article that I read recently but can’t quite remember the title/source….

    Often these things seem to be unknowingly solipsistic; with an archetype-reference in hand, it’s a lot easier for me as a reader to look at them and say `well, maybe your experience has been so miserable despite mine being just dandy because you’re more of such-and-such personality-type‘. And maybe the people writing these things would find it helpful, too.

    I don’t know. Most of these things also seem to come from people I’ve never heard of, with a collection of projects that I’ve also never heard of despite the authors’ assumptions about their own fame (but then, I’m not really involved with the node.js or Ruby/Rails communities or the like, which it seems is always where these people are coming from). They also say goofy-sounding things like “I finally relented to the programmer hive-mind and switched to a Mac”. So it’s hard sometimes for me to be sure how much of the issue between their writing and my reading is me being an old fart and how much is them really not understanding that there actually exists, say, a world outside of whatever their current timezone is.

  181. ESR:
    > Prankster Unlimited
    > > The Jarhead: Bulls his way through everything by brute force, convinced his way
    > > is the righteous way, everything should be organized in a top-down hierarchy.
    > > Usually from a mil background, winds up in IT support positions, with right-wing
    > > political views, delights in torturing “snowflakes.”

    > I didn’t like this guy. Until you got to the “torturing snowflakes” part.

    I am a former Marine[1] (aka ‘marine no longer subject to reveille) with conservative/libertarian (which is what I assume you wrongly call “right wing”) political views.

    I might, upon occasion, bull my way through something by brute force, but ask yourself, who do you want coming into your data center right after the power fails and the *entire* thing needs to come back up from scratch, and the documentation is on a virtual machine on a low priority server?

    I also don’t believe in the top-down hierarchy. Marines are more-or-less trained that yeah, that hierarchy exists, and it sets goals, but it’s not out there getting shot at, and you are, so take charge and fix that, and sometimes it’s not according to the book. If it’s according to the book and it doesn’t work you are still held accountable for not being flexible. If it’s not according to the book it *better* work.

    DMcCunney
    > Have you ever met one of these in the wild? I haven’t, and my circles include serving
    > military officers.

    I have.

    Usually they weren’t *officers*, they were usaully NCOs (aka “No Chance Outside”) and were the ones dealing day to day with jr. enlisted. They weren’t programmers, and were NEVER hackers in the ESR sense of the word. They were “Information Services” that ran Windows servers, help desks, and the occasional unix box.

    But (especially in the Air Force) everything WAS top down. You had TTPs for EVERYTHING, usually printed as a checklist. Not following the checklist point by point was HIGHLY discouraged.

    This was fair (for the regular military) because most of their people were kids out of highschool who had somewhere between 6 weeks and 3 months of training. After 4 years most of these folks move on to college or private industry because the money is *way* better, you can eat as many twinkies as you want and you don’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning for PT.

    The ones who stick around become the NCOs, and are big fans of the hierarchy.

    Oh, and they were usually either Navy or Air Force (aka “a honorable alternative to military service”).

    [1] And former Air Force Reserves, and a short stint in the National Guard. And defense contractor both in a war zone and otherwise.

    p.s. Oooooh…Shiny. We have EDIT!

  182. Paul Brinkley on 2017-04-10 at 22:11:57 said:
    > And by the way, I think it would help for everyone to remember that these are
    > supposed to be positive archetypes, in order to encourage marginal would-be
    > hackers. A Jarhead isn’t exactly positive.

    The issue is that Jarhead isn’t a *hacker*, not that it isn’t positive.

    Almost every tool has it’s use, and there are certain times and places where a top-down loving bull headed type who’s convinced he’s right and WILL GET THE JOB done is what you want.

    You just don’t want to work for them :)

  183. Pingback: EveryThing is Hackable: – ChykesBlog

  184. Pingback: Hacktivists on the rampage in 2017 | e-Shielder Security

  185. Well….that escalated quickly ;)

    Let’s test this edit thingy…

    YAAAAY

    Bravo Eric !

  186. How would you properly “torture” a snowflake, anyway? If you tried to waterboard them, they’d melt. I think the most you can do is torture AT a snowflake, and hope for triggering to do your work for you.

    Also, there IS an edit feature. You can clearly see it under your post for a WHOLE five minutes. In fact, I’m using it now to add this paragraph. So there.

  187. @Gwen “Also, there IS an edit feature. You can clearly see it under your post for a WHOLE five minutes. In fact, I’m using it now to add this paragraph. So there.”

    Can you post a screenshot of what this supposed edit feature looks like? I’ve never seen any such thing and I’ve often been in the position of wanting to change something (e.g. some markup glitch, or a sentence I’ve messed up the grammar on) within the first five minutes of posting something.

    EDIT: This is new. It would be nice if the timeout were longer (Slate Star Codex gives you an hour), but this was not here last month. I don’t know if Eric installed one of the plugins people have been recommending in this discussion or if this is something that was added to WordPress in a recently installed update, but either way it’s new.

  188. @Gwen
    I think the most you can do is torture AT a snowflake, and hope for triggering to do your work for you.

    Don’t bother. If a snowflake could do your work for you, it wouldn’t be a snowflake.
    ______
    Dennis

  189. I feel that the prankster type is just a tinker with a sense of humor! In my mind tinkers are just the people that can keep the big picture in mind while working on the nitty gritty details (like an architect meets sharpshooter type). We are able to manipulate small things in ways that change how a system works fundamentally. And sometimes, we do it just because it’s funny.

  190. It would appear that reality itself is an unbearable torture for the snowflakes.

    Perhaps simply *ignoring* them would be a way to ratchet up the torture – imagine being so sensitive to all the injustices and anguish of life, yet having nobody to signal your virtue to.

    Dey hed asploded

  191. I think it’s interesting to write about the “failure mode” of those different types, however, what does their “success mode” looks like ? Understanding a problem is just half the solution.

    I can definitely identify with the JOAT, and indeed trying to do everything myself is a big issue that stops me from going anywhere. Great, but what can I do to use this ability to my advantage then ?

    Same questions with the other types. This is an interesting topic.

  192. >I so wish it were “Tinkerer”

    I think I’ll change it. Apparently “Tinker” is pejorative in England. I think I knew that once but had forgotten.

  193. @esr: Apparently “Tinker” is pejorative in England.

    Tinkers as a class were wandering craftsmen, traveling from town to town in wagons and doing things like sharpening knives and mending kettles. See Richard Thompson’s “The Old Changing Way” for a musical portrait: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp6_aLk3anQ

    The fact that it’s a pejorative in Britain is likely a vestige of class structure, especially because the tinkers in question were Irish. See http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tinker
    ______
    Dennis

  194. From page 2 in “The Cathedral and The Bazaar”=> “These are people who proudly call themselves “Hackers” …” but in it’s true and original sense of an enthusiast, an artist, a tinkerer, a problem solver, an expert”
    As far as the artist goes, there is an essay and book by Paul Graham called Hackers and Painters.

  195. J Oats on 2017-04-10 at 14:10:10 said:
    >> Kudos on using gender-inclusive “they” pronouns where applicable. …

    esr on 2017-04-10 at 15:18:04 said:
    > For the record, that was not a conscious choice. My reaction to the kind of political correctness that insists on gender-neutral pronouns as a form of virtue signaling is generally to invite it to fuck itself with a chainsaw. But since “he” was not conveying information I have changed the one exception.

    Jeff Read on 2017-04-10 at 20:00:38 said:
    >> The fact that gender-neutral pronouns are second nature to you is even better. …

    esr on 2017-04-10 at 20:21:06 said:
    > Actually, I might have to stop doing that now. In protest against the Orwellian manipulation of language to promote groupthink, even when I mostly agree with the object-level goal

    It may not be so much about political correctness or virtue signals as about perhaps unintentionally excluding or discouraging solid programmers and potential tech leaders who identify as non-binary (which can mean not even as ‘he’ or ‘she’) from stepping up to those roles and positions. Hopefully, it is generally understandable that any non-majority participants in the tech field are likely to benefit even from subtle awareness and support.

    So this feedback may not be about insisting, but rather about appreciating a discussion which uses language that leaves room for diversity and non-mainstream experiences, something the coding/tech field probably knows a thing or two about. Hopefully, you and other writers won’t stop, and will keep the baby (aka ‘object-level goal’) while letting the manipulative, groupthink-y bath water go.

  196. > Actually, I might have to stop doing that now. In protest against the Orwellian manipulation of language to promote groupthink, even when I mostly agree with the object-level goal.

    Huh? In what way does this “promote groupthink”? Because it sounds like a plural pronoun?

  197. >excluding or discouraging solid programmers and potential tech leaders who identify as non-binary

    This is such bullshit.

    If you have the kind of dreams and drive needed to excel at programming (or anything else that’s real creative work) “non-inclusive” language” is not going to stop you. Conversely, if you don’t, not all the inclusive language in the world is going to help.

  198. >In what way does this “promote groupthink”

    By reinforcing the belief that the most important thing about a person is some sort of ascriptive identity that Must Not Be Offended.

  199. Coraline Ada Ehmke is a GoH at this year’s Penguicon. Here’s a description of one of her panels:

    Join Guests of Honor Sumana Harihareswara and Coraline Ada Ehmke for a discussion envisioning a new future for open source. What would a transformational, rather than affirmational, open source movement look like? What would a gift economy in open source look like if we optimized for hospitality and nurturing and plurality? How would it be genuinely, even shockingly different from what we have now?

    I can’t decide whether I want to go to that or not. Sadly, one reason to go won’t happen: the panel is scheduled at the same time as the NTPsec face-to-face meeting, and so we know Eric won’t be there.

    I’m disappointed to say that this year’s Penguicon, like the last few years’, is full of such crap. Unless I’m seriously blown away by something or other, this is likely to be my last Penguicon.

  200. > By reinforcing the belief that the most important thing about a person is some sort of ascriptive identity that Must Not Be Offended.

    How?

    I mean, by that logic using gendered pronouns at all, even or especially regarding specific known individuals, is claiming that the most important thing about a person is their gender, and we should therefore be using “they” exclusively all the time, not just for the generic case.

    > If you have the kind of dreams and drive needed to excel at programming (or anything else that’s real creative work) “non-inclusive” language” is not going to stop you.

    You don’t think it’s possible for incidental things to affect what kind of dreams someone has in the first place?

  201. Also, frankly, not everyone has to “excel”, and there is no way to select, at an early enough stage for it to be worthwhile to keep everyone else out, for only people who will excel. Without a significant number of ordinary people choosing the career path of ‘programmer’, anyone who has the kind of drive it takes to excel at it may excel in something else instead. Something that may not pay as well.

    Are you really saying that the field of programming should seek ordinary men but only exceptional women?

  202. >I mean, by that logic using gendered pronouns at all

    No, because the use of gendered pronouns is a historically normal part of folk speech that isn’t loaded with political assertions. The cases aren’t symmetrical; nobody who picks up gendered pronouns at a mother’s knee is “making a statement”. Anyway, the example of languages like Turkish that have no gendered pronouns but are nevertheless used in societies that are highly repressive of women falsifies the notion that banishing gendered pronouns is an effective pro-equality hack. In English it’s just virtue signaling, an effectively empty gesture.

    >You don’t think it’s possible for incidental things to affect what kind of dreams someone has in the first place?

    I think I’ll post about this.

    In brief, no. Not in the interesting cases. If your dreams and your ego are fragile enough to be deflected by pronouns, you will never be good at anything that matters. (Note that I am not making this claim about coercion or actively prejudicial behavior; that’s a different case.)

    In the case of a skill like programming, capability is not enough; you have to want it, you have to will yourself to the difficult effort of becoming skilled. If you have enough desire to be anything more than a mediocrity, pronouns won’t stop you; if you don’t, “inclusive” language will not fill that lack.

    I’m not speaking theoretically here. My senior apprentice is female. If she had been so weak that gendered pronouns could block her, she would never have had the courage to get where she has.

  203. >Are you really saying that the field of programming should seek ordinary men but only exceptional women?

    No, I’m saying that (a) genderless pronouns don’t make the difference you think they do (see Turkish), and if they did, pretty much every programmer has to be “exceptional” in the relevant sense. It’s inherent in the difficulties of learning the skill.

    There may be fields where will is not so important to skill. In those, it would be theoretically possible for genderless pronouns to make a difference, if they were capable of making any difference at all, which (see Turkish) they probably are’t.

  204. In the case of a skill like programming, capability is not enough; you have to want it, you have to will yourself to the difficult effort of becoming skilled. If you have enough desire to be anything more than a mediocrity, pronouns won’t stop you; if you don’t, “inclusive” language will not fill that lack.

    I’m not speaking theoretically here. My senior apprentice is female. If she had been so weak that gendered pronouns could block her, she would never have had the courage to get where she has.

    Do you think there are enough people capable of being exceptional programmers that the world doesn’t need mediocre programmers? (And do you think there aren’t mediocre programmers? Who by weight of numbers are mostly men presently.) Do you think that people capable of being exceptional programmers are drawn to the field reliably enough that we don’t need people who don’t know if they will be exceptional or mediocre to start on the path of becoming a programmer?

    I’m trying to figure what your mental model of the concept of ‘programmer’ actually is, how and why it differs from reality, and my theory is that it’s influenced by your own position as an exceptional programmer who is enough of a minor celebrity to be surrounded by other exceptional programmers.

  205. > see Turkish

    You keep saying this, do you have no concept of ‘necessary (or helpful) but not sufficient’?

  206. >Do you think there are enough people capable of being exceptional programmers that the world doesn’t need mediocre programmers?

    No, my claim is actually stronger than that. I think learning programming is difficult enough that without enough drive to succeed to make pronouns irrelevant you can’t even learn to do it competently. (I used the word “mediocrity” before because I was still thinking about other fields where skill acquisition is somewhat less difficult, like English prose composition.) I think this is even more true in some other STEM areas – theoretical mathematics is one of which I have direct experience.

    So no, I’m not speaking only of exceptional programmers, though the drive is most visible there. I don’t think you even get to mediocrity without delight and hunger. And, honestly, I think the notion that the girls bright enough to hack it at all can be deflected by pronouns is not just silly, it’s actually insulting to them – denies them agency. I’ve known a good number of such; they’re not fragile, not that way.

  207. @esr:
    >Do you think there are enough people capable of being exceptional programmers that the world doesn’t need mediocre programmers?

    No, my claim is actually stronger than that. I think learning programming is difficult enough that without enough drive to succeed to make pronouns irrelevant you can’t even learn to do it competently. (I used the word “mediocrity” before because I was still thinking about other fields where skill acquisition is somewhat less difficult, like English prose composition.)

    I suspect contributing to open source projects bears resemblance to freelance writing of English prose.

    In both cases, you are creating and submitting something you hope will be accepted. In both cases, you will be rejected, a lot, as you hone your craft and learn to write stuff that will be accepted. If you are incapable of handling rejection, you will never even achieve mediocrity, and need to find something else to do with your time.
    ______
    Dennis

  208. >I can’t decide whether I want to go to that or not. Sadly, one reason to go won’t happen: the panel is scheduled at the same time as the NTPsec face-to-face meeting, and so we know Eric won’t be there.

    A shame. I think I might’ve enjoyed watching a Eric and the panelists debate.

  209. I was hoping to finally get to a Penguicon for once, and got so swamped with other tasks last month (water use issue in another state – long story) that by the time I got around to setting up, the hotel was booked, and I’d rather not stay in one external to the con. Besides, most of the reason I’d be there is to meet the A&D crowd anyway…

  210. @esr

    Apologies if I missed it, would you share your enneagram type? I’m also ENTP for M-B. Wrt the enneagram, I’m a 9 with a 1 wing (usually .. the 8 can jump out once in a while).

  211. >Apologies if I missed it, would you share your enneagram type?

    I don’t know what it is. I only barely know that “enneagram type” is a thing.

  212. >by the time I got around to setting up, the hotel was booked,

    Well, that sucks. Hey, the rest of you, is anyone who’s going willing to share a room?

    I’d offer half of ours, but such things have to be cleared with Cathy and she’s in court this morning.

  213. Hrmmm. If this happens, it had better be very quick, as I’d have to know to pack and leave early tomorrow morning. (My plan was to reach Michigan by Friday afternoon and see what I can see without a convention pass, find interesting dinner and hotel parties for Friday night, and buy a pass for Saturday only.)

  214. >find interesting dinner and hotel parties for Friday night,

    The Friends of Armed & Dangerous/Libertarian Futurist Society party will be Friday night 9PM.

  215. Not to derail the thread entirely, but WTF is Coraline doing as a “Guest of Honor” at Penguicon?

  216. Christopher: As I said, Penguicon has gone more and more SJW-left over the past several years.

  217. >Not to derail the thread entirely, but WTF is Coraline doing as a “Guest of Honor” at Penguicon?

    Somebody had a fit of insanity. Had I known this was being considered, I would have tried to prevent it.

  218. “Somebody had a fit of insanity.”

    I’d agree with this only if it was an isolated incident. Sadly, it’s not. Look at the last 3 years, at a minimum. Between the panel schedule and the GoHs, it’s now gone on long enough to be far more than a “fit”: it’s an entrenched disease that would take serious surgery to fix.

    It should be telling that Orvan Ox will not be present this year. He couldn’t find anything to deliver or anyone to deliver to that wouldn’t be a case of giving the perpetually offended one more thing to be offended about.

    The concom simply doesn’t see that there’s even an issue. That’s the worst part of all this: they’re so steeped in SJWism that they can’t see that anyone would disagree to the point of feeling unwelcome. Well, they’re damned sure making me feel unwelcome at what I consider my home con, even if it is 750 miles away. This will be my 15th Penguicon. I’ve been to every one. Unless some sort of drastic change is made, it will also be my last.

  219. Penguicon may have fallen to the classic lefty strategy. Per Iowahawk:

    1. Identify a respected institution.
    2. Kill it.
    3. Gut it.
    4. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

  220. >Unless some sort of drastic change is made, it will also be my last.

    I can’t give up that easily. It’s the venue for the annual NTPsec team meeting.

    Anyway, if it comes to it, I will stand and fight rather than being driven away. As one of the co-GOHs at Penguicon I have some standing to do so.

  221. Penguicon has gone more and more SJW-left

    Yeah, but this is to the extreme of, say, seeing local police in the United States sit on the hoods of their cruisers and eating donuts while watching lefties assault peaceful demonstrators.

  222. “Anyway, if it comes to it, I will stand and fight rather than being driven away. As one of the co-GOHs at Penguicon I have some standing to do so.”

    I thought I did, too. I did have enough standing to have the Board convene a special teleconference to hear my concerns. Lithie, this year’s con chair (who once told me that she thought I represented the soul of Penguicon), said that she was saddened to hear that anyone felt unwelcome and promised that she would take diversity of ideas into account while planning the con.

    Take a look at the schedule. Take a look at the GoHs. They’ve got both kinds of music, country and western.

    Eric, if you’ll stand and fight, I will help in whatever way I can. I just don’t think the outcome is likely to change. The folks working on the con are too thoroughly indoctrinated to even see that there’s a problem.

  223. @Jay Maynard, @esr –

    > Eric, if you’ll stand and fight, I will help in whatever way I can.

    I will also. I have the small advantages of being local and one of the members of the staff.

  224. @Jay

    I just don’t think the outcome is likely to change. The folks working on the con are too thoroughly indoctrinated to even see that there’s a problem.

    Maybe, maybe. It wouldn’t be the first, or even the thousandth centralized organization to fall to the liberal march. That is after all their specialty.

    And that is going to continue to happen until people stand and fight. You Conservatives* have been failing miserably for decades at anything that isn’t the 2nd*, and since the Gamergate revolt you no longer even have the excuse of not knowing how to fight back. The path has been lit, and successfully followed by others (Sad Puppies, LambdaConf). It is sad that the moderate liberals are doing a better job of “preserving civilization” than the conservatives, who are the ones that are supposed to be performing that function.

    @ESR (posting this under Foo instead of my real name because Foo has a bit more standing in the A&D community to berate a core member)

    * Libertarians are guilty of this also, but have a pretty good alibi in that they are a far smaller part of the population.

    * The victories on the 2nd are laudable and vital, but hardly the full picture.

  225. @Paul Brinkley –

    > [B]y the time I got around to setting up, the hotel was booked

    There’s a nice enough Holiday Inn Express 5 min. walk from the Westin. It’s one of the informal overflow hotels for the ‘con.
    +1-248-350-2400

  226. I appreciate the tip, and will keep it in mind next year. Much too late now; I ended up going to work as usual.

  227. All right, Foo, I’ll listen. How do we make Penguicon great again?

    And what practical effect can I have from 750 miles away?

    And why did this comment get dropped in the moderation queue?

  228. @Jay

    I have neither the knowledge nor experience to give advice beyond the obvious of “Study what Gamergate and the others did”. I’m squarely an Armchair General :-) I don’t even necessarily mean that you specifically need to fight.

    Who knows, maybe Penguicon will have to burn. Hope not, as I plan on going next year.

    What I can say is that regardless of their rather copious talk, and flashy but ultimately futile gestures (Ted Cruz’s fillibuster comes to mind), Conservatives behave as though they have bought into the liberal line. Just keep your head down and don’t offend your betters y’know. Each time the left decides it wants a new slice of the cake the right sends up a tremendous scream, and then promptly flees the battlefield the moment any of them gets so much as a scratch.

    Then they crucify whoever got that scratch as not being pure enough.

    And if by some miracle no one gets scratched the “leaders” will go into the ranks and scratch someone if they have to: witness the attempted takedown of Milo. The only conclusion I can come to is that Conservatives are less interested in winning, or even doing a half decent job of holding the line, then they are in being seen as holding the line.

    This would be bad, though understandable if Conservatism was a new front, with inexperienced fighters. But they have been fighting for decades at this point, and about all they have to show for it is the Heller Ruling. Worse; they had had at least some political power during the entire period.

    Then August 2014 comes around and Gamergate happens. Run by an alliance of centrists, certer-left, and a nice sprinkling of everyone else, it proceeds to either win or salt the earth in every battle with the SJWs. And Gamergate had all of approximately zero political power.

    Admittedly, much of this is dependent on the specific conditions in each situation. But even there the conservatives can’t catch a break as they did everything they could to lose against Hillary! last election, during a time when everyone else was winning decisively. The only reason they won at all is because the center said fuck it and chose the one guy who, when shit was thrown at him bothered to wipe it out of his eyes (an amazing achievement!), and then threw it right back. It certainly wasn’t for his logical economic policies.

  229. >I appreciate the tip, and will keep it in mind next year. Much too late now; I ended up going to work as usual.

    Con’s not until next weekend. There is still time.

  230. (checks calendar)

    (double-checks calendar)

    (visits the actual site)

    …and now I know what that guy with the ginger honey ice cream felt like… the pain…

    Sigh. Lemme rearrange some stuff.

  231. “You Conservatives* have been failing miserably for decades at anything that isn’t the 2nd”

    The Conservatives won the Cold War, and thereby discredited the ideal the Left was working towards for 150 years. Today the Left is a zombie horde; numerous and highly destructive, but without any purpose or grasp of strategy, guided only by reflex. It was losing the Cold War that made them so, and only the Conservatives stood against them to the end of that conflict.

    Taking down a major political program that was also a quasi-religious cult and leaving its followers with nothing but incoherent hatred is not a trivial accomplishment.

  232. But did they?

    The Cold War consisted of both idealogical and economic battles. The economic battle ended of itself due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The idealogical battle was a progressive retreat by our side, or rather our alliance of sides, until fairly recently. Actually that is being generous; the idealogical battle was a near complete failure on our side, the memetic weapons used by the Soviet Union took very deep root.

    Do you really think that the most insane elements of the left have been acting like they run everything because they have been losing for years? No. Everywhere you look they had memetic locks on The Narrative, and those locks have been systematically broken one by one over the last 20 years. Those locks were broken by technological advance taken advantage of by a new crop of freedom fighters who don’t show up to fights pre-defeated.

    The last 8 years of the left’s behavior, best summarized as: “We have won forever and ever, Amen.”, is not the behavior of a defeated, or even particularly inconvenienced foe. Neither is the death star sized preference cascade that just got detonated.

    And the cherry on top of it all is that most of the “thinkers” on the right had endless advice for Trump and his followers about how he should be polite and willing to bend over whenever the left said boo. Not following that advice is why he won. Welcome to the Future.

  233. Do you think the Soviet Union’s collapse was just a spontaneous event, that happened with no contribution from agencies outside the Communist bloc? If so you are quite mistaken – the Soviet system broke because it could not respond to renewed aggression from the USA over the previous decade. That aggression was led by … Ronald Reagan, the first (and only) Conservative to reach the Presidency.

    You should also rid yourself of the idea that the GOP is a Conservative party. It is a party with a large Conservative faction, but the people who were horrified by Trump’s populism and vulgarity belong to the other faction, the “establishment”.

    Nor are the insane elements of the Left acting as if they’re running everything. Quite the opposite – they are acting like people surrounded by enemies, under siege in the last fortress remaining to them, hoping for nothing more than to take as many foes as possible into death with them.

    Besides, you contradict yourself. First you say the Left had control over political discussion 20 years ago and have now mostly lost it, then you claim they haven’t even been inconvenienced by this development.

    Finally, the ideological war? Real Marxism died in 1991. The modern Left isn’t an ideology at all; it’s an inchoate desire to revolt, to break free of all restraint, to be “free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy.” It’s incapable of presenting itself in rational form, or of giving arguments against the things it opposes. It uses the words of Soviet propaganda because it knows no other, but it has no concept of the thoughts behind them.

  234. @Michael Brazier

    You are of course correct. I got carried away and grossly over exaggerated, over simplified, and over harshified my point. I apologize for that.

    * puts on the Cone of Shame

    But I will quibble with a couple of your points:

    Yes, Regan put added pressure on the Soviet Union, hastening it’s collapse. But the fact of it’s collapse was already certain the moment it formed. Sadly we do not have access to a parallel universe so we do not know how much of an effect he really had.

    Also; of course the GOP is not Conservative. Though that would be a bit clearer if “Conservatism” was a coherent concept rather than about 30 different factions who… tolerate… each other’s existence.

    I might make another post with a more coherent version of what I was attempting to say. I suppose a TL;DR would be something like:

    Conservatism claims to be a defender of civilization, yet all it’s greatest victories are better traced to technological change or economic forces, rather than the heroic exploits it’s followers claim. It’s followers also spend way too much time blowing their own feet off with a gatling shotgun in their purity contests, when the enemy directs their purity contests outwards.

  235. The Friends of Armed & Dangerous/Libertarian Futurist Society party will be Friday night 9PM.

    Thermonuclear ghost pepper brownies to be baked Wednesday morning, transported Thursday.

  236. I managed to unherp some derps, so I imagine I’ll see y’all Friday, too. Just need to know where. Or who to contact.

    Didn’t know there’d be food. Perhaps I should make something.

  237. >I managed to unherp some derps, so I imagine I’ll see y’all Friday, too.

    Yay!

    >Just need to know where. Or who to contact.

    Room number as yet unknown. Cathy has printed fliers, they’ll be visible in the elevators.

    >Didn’t know there’d be food. Perhaps I should make something.

    Snacks. We like to have stuff that’s a little unusual and interesting. An LFS guy is bringing Bombay mix and ginger beer, Cathy is making a different spicy party mix, there’ll be ghost-pepper brownies.

  238. @esr –

    > Snacks. We like to have stuff that’s a little unusual and interesting.

    Did you ever get a chance to try that other ginger beer I was raving about in email a while back?

    Should I try to bring some?

  239. >Did you ever get a chance to try that other ginger beer I was raving about in email a while back?

    I have not encountered it.

    >Should I try to bring some?

    Sure, if it’s not too much trouble.

  240. How well does that beer work in a Moscow Mule? (Not that Eric would have much interest in it, but I might.)

  241. >How well does that beer work in a Moscow Mule? (Not that Eric would have much interest in it, but I might.)

    One of my favorite things to drink is a Virgin Mule – dark ginger beer and lime juice without the booze – so how well a ginger beer supports that is not entirely irrelevant to my interests.

  242. @Paul Brinkley, @esr –

    ….regarding Moscow/Virgin Mules….

    Well, the manufacturer specifically calls it out for Moscow Mules, so I suspect it would be pretty good.

    Note – this doesn’t appear very dark from the website’s pictures. But I can attest that the taste is seriously ginger, so there’s that.

    I’ll make sure to bring a couple of bottles and some limes. BYO ethanol (assuming Our Gracious Host doesn’t object).

  243. >Note – this doesn’t appear very dark from the website’s pictures. But I can attest that the taste is seriously ginger, so there’s that.

    Some light-colored ginger beers are quite strong. The actual light-dark difference is something else – I don’t know what, possibly caramelization.

  244. Getting close to go time. I know the time of the FoA&D party, but not the place, nor of contact info besides a few emails – dunno how often those are checked. Perhaps there will be flyers? Perhaps I will sprout excellent tracker skills? The future is uncertain. All I know for now is my plan to be in the area by the afternoon – some time between 2 and 7 pm, I imagine.

    Bringing two things in a cooler; one will benefit from a microwave or a wand of fire. Also bringing a bag full of games.

  245. >I know the time of the FoA&D party, but not the place

    9PM tonight, room 433. Fliers will be posted.

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  248. I have a theory as to why so many people identify with multiple of these archetypes and thereby doubt their validity: they’re not archetypes at all. They’re flow states.

    * The Algorithmicist flow state is when you’re basically running a theorem-prover in your head.
    * The Tinkerer has a mental model of the hardware in front of them, which includes the degree of partial information about each part — rather like someone solving a sudoku.
    * The Architect, by contrast, has a mental model of the problem space, in a way that makes its joints obvious.
    * The Sharpshooter is a sort of dual to the Algorithmicist: this flow state consists of emulating the machine in your head, allowing you to single-step it and examine state.
    * JOAT doesn’t really fit this model; maybe it’s just the right-tail of some sort of brain plasticity thing. But if I have to crowbar it into my theory, I’d say it’s like the flow state of someone playing a twitch game: as targets pop up, you whack ’em in the most expedient way, without stopping to plan. The accounts from self-described JOATs in the comments sounded like fairly adrenalising experiences!
    * In the Prankster flow state, unspoken assumptions become visible, along with ways they might be violated. This somewhat relates to the Algorithmicist’s invariants, except that the Prankster is trying to spot them in order to break them.
    * The Castellan flow state breaks down the boundaries between long-term memory and the 7±2 registers; when it seems like every relevant detail you ever learned has been prefetched already and is just waiting in cache for you to use it…
    * The Translator is probably something to do with mirror neurons, and I’m unable to guess what that feels like. Someone less autistic will have to fill this one in.

    Of course, many (most?) hackers have learned how to enter more than one of these flow states, because they’re useful for different tasks.

    Oh, and I should probably gesture in the direction of Dancing With The Gods at this point ;-)

  249. >I have a theory as to why so many people identify with multiple of these archetypes and thereby doubt their validity: they’re not archetypes at all. They’re flow states.

    There may be something to this. But it’s still obviously the case that not all of these states are equally accessible to everyone.

    Er, I should add that even if this reinterpretation turned out to be mostly wrong on examination, it would still be a brilliant imaginative leap that leaves me quite impressed.

  250. esr on 2017-05-17 at 19:37:00 said:

    But it’s still obviously the case that not all of these states are equally accessible to everyone.

    Agreed. (But then, if I’m reading DwtG right, the same goes for invoking the Gods.)

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