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Fiction adds flavor that can help the point of a story stick in your head.

I don't think the hacker koans are necessarily retellings of actual events, but they get their points across concisely and memorably. Aesop's tales have the same quality.

Tangential: I recently re-read a book of Aesop's fables that I had as a child. I was surprised that the 'morals' of the stories are often not what we might regard today as good advice.


They were good advice for most of history... I'll be happy if my articles are still providing valuable advice in decades, let alone millennia! :-)

Ha, true. Although I honestly think in some ways your posts are 'more timeless' as I think they're more considered. From what I remember most of the fables are sound advice about morality in general but there's also a recurring theme of not getting above one's station and knowing one's place in the world. It irked my inner entrepreneur.

But now that I reconsider it, perhaps Aesop was right. Ambition has never guaranteed happiness. Perhaps accepting one's lot in life is something to aspire to. In fact it most probably definitely is.

Ah bollocks. Now I don't know what to think.

Actually, the hacker koans are as far as I can tell, all real. The one about the neural network can be found almost identical but with real-world detail in Levy's Hackers book, the one about turning on and off the Lisp machine will be familiar to anyone whose aid has been beseeched only for the problem to disappear when you arrive, and the toaster koan features a Drescher who I recently realized is the philosopher Gary Drescher and who was indeed at the Lab in the right years.

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