[TUHS] Were all of you.. Hippies?

Nick Downing downing.nick at gmail.com
Thu Mar 23 08:35:45 AEST 2017

Programming is actually an addiction. What makes it addictive to a certain
type of personality is that little rush of satisfaction when you try your
code and it *works*... and while this is still true to an extent of batch
systems from the 50s and 60s it was the interactive systems of the 70s
onwards that really spurred the development of the hacker subculture. It
was not just the convenience and productivity improvements but that the
'hit' was coming harder and faster.

This theory is well known to those who design slot machines and other forms
of gambling, it is called the theory of occasional rewards. With this in
mind, frequent long debugging sessions do not make the process any less
addictive, indeed MORE addictive since the occasional rewards are less
predictable etc. With this in mind it is unsurprising that programmers tend
to have other fixes too such as coffee, harder drugs or even gambling. Some
personalities seem to be quite susceptible to occasional-rewards things.


On Mar 23, 2017 4:49 AM, "Noel Chiappa" <jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu> wrote:

>     > From: Tim Bradshaw
>     > I don't know about other people, but I think the whole dope thing is
> why
>     > computer people tend *not* to be hippies in the 'dope smoking'
> sense.  I
>     > need to be *really awake* to write reasonably good code ... our drugs
>     > of choice are stimulants not depressants.
> Speak for yourself! :-)
> (Then again, I have wierd neuro-chemistry - I have modes where I have a
> large
> over-sppply of natural stimulant... :-)
> My group (which included Prof. Jerry Salzter, who's about as straight an
> arrow
> as they make) was remarkably tolerant of my, ah, quirks... I recall at one
> point having a giant tank of nitrous under the desk in my office - which
> they
> boggled at, but didn't say anything about! ;-)
>       Noel
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