Links from 2024-01-16
In July 2004 I found myself sitting alone in the dark, on the enclosed deck of a ferry boat oozing between fog-shrouded islands of the Alaskan coast. The scenery was haunting, but after the first three hours, I decided to occupy myself by finally reading Neal Stephenson’s essay about the command-line. Halfway through it I began crossing things out, and scribbling comments in the margin. The essay was five years old, and in dire need of a fresh perspective.
Months later, I learned that Stephenson himself was dissatisfied with the essay. He wrote that it, "is now badly obsolete and probably needs a thorough revision." An "Ask Slashdot" poll quoted him as saying, "I keep meaning to update it, but if I’m honest with myself, I have to say this is unlikely."
Though I have fleshed out my original comments into longer, more structured pieces, it is not my intention to replace or revise Neal Stephenson’s original writing. His original essay is a much more cohesive and entertaining read than my notes are. (He is a Writer, after all. I consider myself a code-monkey by comparison.) In fact, my notes do not hold together unless they use the original essay as a framework, and that’s why his entire essay is reproduced here, with my comments color-coded. And yes, I have sought and obtained permission from Neal to do this.