Legendary Programmer Why The Lucky Stiff's Strange, Fascinating NovelS

Ruby programmer Why The Lucky Stiff (or _why for short) vanished in 2009, deleting his whole online identity. But the other day, his website (reborn in January) started serving up print spools, so your computers' printer could produce a novel that I couldn't stop reading.

Actually, maybe it's a novella, or novelette. Probably not the full length of a novel. In any case, WhyTheLuckyStiff.net is down again, but you can find the whole thing on Scribd. It's ranty and complex, with lots of stuff about how all code is bad code and the endless unwinnable battle against NULL.

(Some of it is also archived here, and Steve Klabnik was following the whole unspooling text on his Twitter feed.)

But it's also, in parts, a really great surrealistic novel that includes things like a group of "jerktoasters" (people who have chosen to delete their whole identities) going on Oprah and meeting a horrendous fate. And an island full of people who all look identical to Steve Jobs. And another island, owned by rich people, where one crazy relative has ruined things to the point where all the horses swim away. Honestly, there's no point summarizing the book — you should just read the whole thing. _why does things with formatting, juxtaposing different kinds of text, that make the whole thing feel much richer than just a regular book.

At its root, this text seems to be about how the Internet, and programmers like _why, have created a world where everybody overshares, there's too much information too readily available, and even introverts have to become "soft extroverts." But there's a lot more to it than that. Definitely download a copy while you can.