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Love, Internet Style (youtube.com)
242 points by dmoney on Dec 12, 2008 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

This is actually a really great discussion on community support for software development versus "corporate" support, using a really interesting metaphor of a japanese shrine.

I enjoyed the video and am voting it up, but I think you should change the title, because I was expecting some cheesy dating video...

..I know, what does that say about me, that THINKING that, I still clicked through...

Perhaps add to the end of it - The Longevity of FOSS.

+1. By title alone I would have never cared. Only because it's here in HN did I click through to these comments and based on yours I decided to actually watch the video.

It's a 9 min talk by Clay Shirky basically praising the hacker spirit.

It also has some takeaway about how to build your product.

Make a product which the users are going to be excited about and want to preserve, so they will help other people trying to use it.

There seem to be enough people around who don't get that, that it's a non-obvious insight. It's probably because they are just like the "C++ people" in the story, though; they've already made up their minds before you started talking to them.

The sense of community and collaboration has been on the ris for years now. I think it's evident in the open source spirit and the increasing usability and documentation of open source tools. The django and python Q&A communities I'm part of also have this "collaboration" tilt.

Still, when I think "hacker" I think solitary, ego-driven programmer, doing immature things to prove himself. I think of the anger and non-compromise that comes out of some of the old beards.

If "hacker" has been reappropriated that's great. I don't mean to quibble over words--regardless of what we call things, I am very optimistic by the growing team-work and social awareness of internet communities.

Yes, we're asuming different meanings for "hacker", and I was hoping for the one I take is the more accepted one for this site (Hacker News), those who are "trying to write interesting software, and for whom computers are just a medium of expression" (http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html)

In any case, point taken as I probably got a bit carried away on my comment above, the talk referenced is more about the collaborative benefits new technologies bring to us.

It isn't really about community vs corporate support. He is making a much broader point that the internet (and other modern tech) is enabling like-minded people to work together to produce stable and effective systems purely for the love of it, on a previously unimaginable scale.

I agree, this video was a lot better than I was expecting.

This is a key notion with regards to the success of programming languages. Programming languages are only partly a technological artifact. The sociological and cultural aspects are just as important, if not more so.

Perhaps add to the end of it - The Longevity of FOSS.

Good idea. Alas, it seems to be beyond the edit time limit.

What a wonderful sermon.

In today's society, when we want to criticize some kind of discourse we often say it is "preachy," implying like a sermon, which is understood to be the lowest form of human communication or something.

I never understood that mindset. As Clay Shirky demonstrates here, the sermon can be the most uplifting and inspiring and motivating form of communication we have. Turning off the brain is not inherent in the form at all, quite the opposite.

As another example, Barack Obama's oratory is undeniably influenced and inspired by sermons. Particularly, the African American sermon, perhaps the highest form of this art. The obvious example being Martin Luther King, Jr., a good candidate for greatest speaker of the 20th century.

And if you don't think Clay Shirky's talk here is sermon like, may I suggest you just haven't heard many sermons, or at least not many good ones.

I like how your first line is a response and the rest is a preemptive defense of the response.

I do agree with you though.

The most salient point, to my mind, was this line: "they didn't care that they saw it work in practice, since they already knew it couldn't work in theory."

That, and "Perl is a Shinto shrine." Larry Wall himself could hardly spin a better catchphrase.

Is Perl like the shrine in that it doesn't change or improve? I think programming language technology has improved but Perl has yet to catch up. Nowadays one can be much more productive in other languages.

Really? I think you need to look at


- perl5 the core language is flexible enough that you can extend the language up towards the problem from perl-space pretty well. It's one of the things I learned to love in lisp.

Larry Wall might say "Perl is a house-church".

These types of post are the reason I spend hours on HN. It is variable reinforcement really- the really great posts come at pseudo random intervals (make n a random number and assume you hit a great post after n clicks, then reset n). And then you become addicted.

I just hit n. I can finally go to sleep.

Glad I could help.

Clay Shirky is a very insightful thinker about the technology impact on society, and his presentations are top notch too.

If you want the essence of the insights he has to offer, see his TED talk:


I love you guys

Kyle, you're not getting my Bud Light.

I find it slightly humorous that he's assuming 'edifice' and 'process' are different and yet he's working with computers. He even mentions longevity a few times.

Ise Shrine which Clay Shirky mentions:


It is rebuilt every 20 years and is on iteration 61.

See also the Ship of Theseus paradox http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

... It takes a philosopher to create paradoxes out of well understood physical processes.

Philosopher's assume words have meaning this is the root of all their failings.

The fact that a big part of the tradition is "passing on" the techniques used to build the shrine reminds me of this: http://xkcd.com/297/

I should send this to people at work, probably call me gay. :)

Colin Powell: Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.

Same with being gay.

Fact is, "You're gay" is still a common, juvenile slam.

Enough! Grow a fucking spine already!

Islam is religious absolutism. Under an Islamic regime, you're a Muslim or you're a dhimmi or you're a slave. If you self-identify as a Muslim then you are incompatible with every significant ideal of America.

Please stop.

You seem to have very absolutist views about Islam.

Aww.. if they do they're probably using c++

Don't let the crappy title fool you--this is worth watching.

It's interesting to contrast the comments in this thread to the comments on Bruce Schneier's review of the book:


I was really inspired after the video and decided to go help out in some IRC channels and mailing lists.

And then I was reminded why I stopped doing that a long time ago: there is so much snarkiness. None of these lists or IRC channels ever seem to take a stance against this behaviour and it seems to me as if there are often self-selecting groups of snarky "locals" who drive a list or IRC channel.

On the contrary, I do think that HN is fairly close to what he was describing and is the main reason why I've stopped frequenting other similar sites, but remained here.

I agree. I can never really get into IRC as there are always three condescending comments to every helpful one and it's like a high school clique with password protected rooms and inside jokes.

I also agree about HN, it seems to have managed to avoid a lot of that.

No one contributes to the community for the money, yet most of you guys are constantly talking about getting rich -- or at least profitable. Paradox?

Nope. You need to be profitable to continue doing what you love. There's no paradox if your motivation to make money is to continue being able to contribute for free.

Gotta love Shirky. I've spent countless hours listening to his talks on youtube. Dunno what it is about the way he delivers it.

This is off-topic, but does anyone else think Clay Shirky looks like Tom Hanks in this video?

I'm not the only person who thinks so:

  "Clay Shirky looked like Tom Hanks but I didn't ask him about his latest movie role (I hope)."

  "If Shirky ever has a movie made of his life, it’ll have to 
  be Tom Hanks that stars. I think he sounds and looks a lot like Shirky!"

  "Imagine hair on him and Shirky looks, talks and acts exactly like Tom Hanks. Not just similar, but eerily exact."

  "One thing I’ve definitely gotta say about this guy though is that he sounds 
  and looks a lot like Tom Hanks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that."

awesome talk. I love him.

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