Slack has a feature available to workspace admins that lets you suppress the messages that users normally see when people join and leave public channels. (Technically, the feature lets you show those messages, but I believe it defaults to being on.) I think you should disable these messages for all the Slack workspaces you manage, and I shall now take a moment to tell you how and why.

To find and change this setting, select Settings & administration > Workspace settings from your workspace’s main pull-down menu. In the Settings tab of the resulting web page, scroll down to Channel Join & Leave Messages, and hit the Expand button. Finally, if the Show a message when people join or leave channels checkbox is checked, un-check it and then hit the green Save button.

Screenshot of unchecking the described checkbox.

I find the default behavior of this feature well-meaning but subtly harmful. In theory, it makes sense to know when people join a conversation, or when they’ve moved their attention along to other topics. But this, I believe, over-applies physical-world thinking onto the different assumptions of purely online spaces.

While an automatic join-message does have marginal utility, letting others in the channel greet the newcomer without requiring any further introduction, I see only drawbacks in automatically announcing departures. People should have the ability to quietly slip away from a conversation. By instead making every departure conspicuous, a person leaving a channel will at best cause a reaction among those they left behind of quiet surprise and momentary confusion. Some will feel mildly hurt, wondering if the person felt unwelcome, and whether they may have accidentally played a hand in that. Should they reach out and apologize? Is that assuming too much? It becomes a source of small and unwelcome anxiety.

The nadir of this phenomenon happens during more intense conversations, when emotions may run a little higher than normal. This tension happens naturally from time to time in any space populated by people who care passionately about some topic, whether professional or hobbyist. It presents a time when all participants need to navigate carefully to keep things cool. In these situations, a computerized voice butting in to announce a departure resonates like a slamming door.

Too many times I’ve seen an automated message turn up an already heated conversation’s intensity by whole degrees, all by itself. No matter what reason the person had for exiting—maybe they need a quiet breather, maybe they just don’t feel invested in the topic at hand—it becomes far too easy for everyone else to imagine them leaving in an angry, disgusted huff. People already upset can even overtly weaponize these messages: “Now look what you did, you’ve driven off [So-and-so]! I hope you’re satisfied.”

The presence of automated departure messages carry an equally harmful second-order effect for those aware of these problems. If I know that my leaving a channel will likely be seen by others as a noisy storming-out, I will probably choose to stay so as not to make a tense situation worse. And that feels miserable! The best I can do for my own mental health is to put that channel on mute, which often seems disingenuous to everyone else involved, and still keeps a conversation I no longer wish to see just one click away.

Deactivating this Slack misfeature removes this entire bind, freeing people to leave public channels with fewer hurt feelings. While it also gives newcomers the burden of manually introducing themselves (or being introduced), this feels like a small price for the vast relief brought about by changing this setting.

Help keep your Slack workspaces cooler, calmer, and better ventilated. Please turn off your join & leave messages.

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A nerdy but necessary announcement: I have migrated all IRC-based presence for myself and my projects from Freenode to Libera Chat. This means that I have registered the jmac nick on this newer network, and I have updated Whim and Plerd to refer to Libera Chat’s #whim and #plerd channels, respectively.

These migrations come after Freenode’s sudden and unwelcome change of management earlier this month. This article summarizes the situation fairly well, including a brief description of Libera Chat, the overwhelming favorite new home for most late-of-Freenode projects I pay attention to. I learn that it is organized as a nonprofit corporation, which already makes me feel more hopeful about its ongoing health.

Over the years I’ve seen many half-hearted and temporary “mass migrations” from one social network to another in protest of some new policy or misstep, so I initially thought I’d wait this one out. But then, Freenode’s new owners wasted no time making a number of surprising and disappointing actions that ran entirely against the network’s long-standing ethos, including dismantling Freenode’s code of conduct, and automatically hijacking and reconfiguring any channel that announced a Libera Chat migration. I find these actions so odious that this situation does seem like a special case that deserves immediate reaction.

Freenode provided the soil that so many wonderful open-source projects grew in, over the first two decades of this century. I feel so sorry to see the noble, scrappy IRC network forced into such a sudden and undeserved retirement. My respect and gratitude goes out to all the volunteers who ran it so well for so long. It was a fine public service.

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An apple watch.I cannot deny how my blogging pace has evinced quite a slouch, lately. I months ago fell behind my long-held mandate to post one article per week four articles per month. It feels pedestrian to say that I haven’t had the time, so I’ll instead say that my life has felt thick with good things lately, and they are all happening at once. Sometimes it works out that way, and if I did have more wherewithal to write, I would write no complaints.

In January I wrote a post called “I got a job”. One week later I actually started that job—and I would write only a couple of posts per month thereafter. I now spend a few hours every day researching peculiar technology and then writing descriptive documentation about it. I feel so good about this career shift; I put my all into it! And after I wrap my daily labor—well, writing more, even if for myself, doesn’t carry the same level of personal-fulfillment priority that it did before.

A poor excuse, of course, and an incomplete one: I know that I have to learn to balance my time again, returning to the salaried life after more than 15 years away. I’ve also found other activities to fill my downtime—including fighting every day to keep our pandemic-worn apartment clean and decluttered, and spending significantly more time with exercise and meditation.

An Apple Watch I purchased in February guides me through these latter activities; yes, I have become a thrall to Closing the Rings. A newer “Series 6” model, this is my very first smart watch or wearable fitness tracker of any sort, so I get to skip right into the fruits of this technology’s many years of public development. I have to say I like this little glowing wrist-critter very much.

What’s more, it came with a three-month trial subscription to Fitness+, essentially a streaming service for Apple-produced workout videos that lightly interact with the watch, displaying your heart rate and such in an on-screen overlay. That trial ended today, in fact, and I have gladly paid the eighty bucks for another full year of it.

I visit my fitness-trainer “friends” most every day, letting them lead me through HIIT and yoga in 10- to 30-minute sessions. Just like I felt a weird, sweat-induced intimacy with Wii Fit’s animated trainer a decade ago, I have come to know Apple’s actual-person coaches by their names and on-camera personalities. I’ll talk to my wife over lunch about the shade that Kim threw at Bakari that morning when his lateral-lunge form got a little sideways. After years of using only my own homemade workout program, I felt very ready to hand it over to professionals for a while. I’m into it.

So these daily workouts—plus additional hour or so I clomp around the park every evening to hit my wrist-mounted 750-calorie goal—take up yet more time. I regret none of it! The little gadget’s guidance makes me feel more confident that I’m treating my body the way it wants, and that feels great. It just comes back to me to sit that body in a chair a few times a month and write something longer than tweet-length in public—even if I have to treat this, too, as a kind of workout, where once I practiced it as pure pleasure.

I want to tell you about some of those other good things going on! And they’ll have to wait for my next interval at the keyboard. Right now it’s 11:15 PM, and my watch’s red Move ring wants 95 more calories burned up before midnight…

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Cover of Babel-17Babel-17 was my first Delany novel, and long overdue. I liked it a lot!

From the start, it reminded me of the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending in the best ways. I have no doubt at all that Delany himself knew the difference between a star and a galaxy while writing this book, but the book itself does not split any such hairs. Such intentional confusions laid down early on set a tone of wondrous and unworried exploration of a deliciously strange universe.

Protagonist Rydra Wong fits a hypercompetent character archetype that doesn’t usually interest me. But in this case, I found myself quite charmed by the played-straight absurdity of her expertise: a poet of intergalactic reknown, a preternatural empath, a stunning beauty, and an ace starship captain, all while qualifying for a “30 under 30” list. With a name I only now realize might be a play on “right or wrong”, she blazes a trail that Buckaroo Banzai would follow almost two decades later.

Hired by the Handwavy Space Navy to research an alien language linked to interstellar sabotage, Rydra assembles a crew to find answers among the stars. She gathers this crew over a single night of wild partying, climaxing in a sort of bathhouse-arena where she chooses the best pilots after watching them struggle sweatily in nude zero-gee grappling games.

This book was written in the mid 1960s and it’s fantastic.

By the next morning, you see, she has built a crew utterly posthuman in both their individual physicality and their mutual interrelation. If I comprehend correctly, spaceships in Rydra’s world are powered by the lovemaking of bisexual thruples. The bulk of any crew comprises a platoon of rambunctious teenagers overseen by a nursemaid whose name is always “Slug”. And, naturally, the ship’s sensor array is run by a trio of discorporate entities, whom the book’s world refers to as merely “dead”, complete with a penchant for gothic imagery. I understood the author as doing his best to describe mind uploading without either himself or his 1966 readership having a ready vocabulary for it.

Once the plot really kicks in, and we start learning more about the mysterious, eponymous alien language, the more recent science fiction story that this novel foretells shifts solidly to Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”—best known as the basis of the film Arrival. Babel-17, the language, is a hyper-compressed construct that can express staggeringly complex ideas in a handful of symbols. (I assume that Delany took inspiration from real-life “philosophical language” experiments of yore.) As Rydra teases its grammar apart, she starts to think like its speakers.

But unlike the gradual, emotional revelations that Arrival’s heptapods bring, thinking in Babel-17 gives you superpowers by overclocking your brain and helping you see the patterns undergirding all of reality. Rydra, caught in a net-like trap, touches it just so and it unravels. Later, she applies the exact same principles to break through a metaphorical net of attacking enemy spaceships. But, of course, doing that too much is bad for a merely human brain, and none of this gets her closer to her goal, so that’s her work cut out for her. And even though her ultimate discovery becomes arguably one of the few truly dated facets of this novel, I still found it satisfying and delightful.

The 2014 edition I read appears to be part of a set of Delany reprints by Open Road Media, each with an attractive cover by Michel Vrana and a lengthy, uncredited biography of Samuel R. Delany’s whole life and career so intimate in tone that I wonder whether it came from the author himself. All the books in this collection are well represented in both of the public libraries I have ebook access to, and I shall not hesitate to continue my explorations through them.

This article was also posted to the “books” section of

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I awoke today to the news that Perl’s long-time lead maintainer, Sawyer X, has resigned from the project. I wish to briefly and publicly express my gratitude for all he has accomplished for Perl over the years—and, unbeknownst to him, how he has positively affected my own life as well.

Sawyer had performed the crucial (and entirely volunteer) service of leading Perl’s technological development for many years, as well as acting as a public face and ambassador to the project at conferences and online events. However, I see one of his most important actions as one that stood apart from either of these roles: in late 2020, he co-founded the Perl Steering Council, a new, multi-person executive body that guides the Perl project’s ongoing direction.

One benefit that PSC brings to Perl, demonstrated today, is that the project can survive the sudden absence of one leader without becoming headless. While Sawyer’s departure feels like a blow in some ways, I also feel relieved knowing that PSC will keep the project afloat through any coming transition—and I feel grateful for Sawyer at making sure the council began to operate in full authority before he left.

As for how Sawyer’s work affected me personally: In the eternity-ago of February 2020, I noted a grant proposal I’d made to The Perl Foundation. It had its inspirational roots in an address that Sawyer had delivered to 2019’s annual Perl Conference, which laid out a number of challenges that the Perl community had to face in order to keep the language relevant and approachable—with better documentation chief among them.

My long-time friend and colleague Adam watched the same address, and encouraged me to answer that call. I ended up corresponding directly with Sawyer on the topic, where through email and video calls we hashed out the right project-scope I should seek. He insisted I think small, aiming for far more modest and achievable targets than I, straining the leash, had initial patience for. Of course he was correct, and that grant proposal to fix the documentation for a single function proved exactly right-sized for a lead-in project.

And that led to the style guide project, which led in turn to two parallel follow-ups: my own nascent leadership of Perl’s documentation project, and my first full-time job as a technical writer. I haven’t written much in public about either of these developments yet; the first remains under construction, and the second—well, that’s just my day job now. But three months in, I couldn’t be happier with the complete career transition it represents, and I have our Mr. X to thank for that.

So: thanks for everything, Sawyer.

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I’ve been playing a bit of Dicey Dungeons lately. I have various thoughts about the game, one of many roguelikes with which I have an ongoing off-and-on relationship. But today, I just want to mention my peculiar interaction with a tiny detail of its soundtrack.

“Step Right Up”, one of the game’s several background loops heard during combat, features a little blippity-buzzer that makes a repeating motif in a distinctive rising pattern. I can only describe as “Bah d’dah-dah, bah-d’dah-dah”. You can hear it repeated four times around the track’s 16-second mark:

While this feature appears again and again in this looped track, it reminds me so strongly of a vocal feature that appears only once in Talking Heads’s “Born Under Punches”, the first and absolutely not the most well-known track from that band’s seminal 1980 album Remain in Light.

After five minutes of a work that features David Byrne at his most jittery, punctuating his performance with sputters and screams and echolalic muttering, he chants “Don’t you miss it—don’t you miss it!” a single time over a lengthy fading repetition of the track’s only sung verse:

I listened to the whole of Remain in Light again and again as a teenager. I copied a friend’s CD of it onto a cassette tape, and I wore that tape out. Due to inescapable practicalities of time and math, I almost certainly played the album’s initial tracks significantly more than its later ones.

And that’s why, when I find myself having a particularly good run with Dicey Dugeons, my equipment arranged just right, you will hear me chanting “Don’t you miss it—don’t you miss it!” as I plow through one silly monster after another.

That’s all!

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Sometime around 2014, I acknowledged my move from Boston to Rhode Island by adopting a new avatar for my various online interactions. It looked like this:

A goofy-looking purple cartoon unicorn.

This fellow represents the output of “Unicornify”, a program by Benjamin Dumke-von der Ehe, when fed my email address as input. The program accepts any hexadecimal number of up to 64 digits, generating from it a remarkably expressive googly-eyed balloon-animal unicorn trotting across an otherworldly grassland. Here is another example, from a random sequence I just now typed in:

A different goofy-looking purple cartoon unicorn.

I discovered Unicornify by way of some link-du-jour site long ago, and quickly saw how my email address (after conversion into hexadecimal) resulted in that strikingly close-up portrait of a purple dude, its ping-pong-ball eyes looking quite pensive, while a rainbow shone subtly among the golden noodles of its mane. I embraced it as my new online representative immediately.

You can play with this too, I should add! While the open-source repository that once held the software went offline some time ago, a web-based Unicornify service still runs, though it can generate pictures no more than 128 pixels high. And if you simply wish to see a lot of example output, you can wade through the @UnicornOfTheDay Twitter account.

By the time I moved to New York, the purple dude had started feeling a little long in the tooth (lack of apparent mouth notwithstanding). And so—exactly one year into the present distraction—I announced on Twitter my desire to hire an artist to redraw the critter. While needing a change, I had also come to feel attached to the otherwise unnamed unicorn. Not as a “fursona” or true alter-ego, but more of a calling-card, or a coat-of-arms, or even just a logo, without quite being any of those things either. I wanted to preserve its spirit but gift it with a new form, for a new chapter of my life.

I ended up hiring the comics artist Flynn Nicholls, on the recommendation of a friend who’d worked with him before. After confirming that he was currently open for small-potatoes commissions like mine—always ask first!—we traded some ideas around via email, and out came the following majestic creature:

Another goofy-looking purple cartoon unicorn, but this time hand-drawn instead of computer-generated.

Not what I expected to end up with, when I first got the idea to seek an artist, and that makes the beauty of it all the more profound. The new purple dude looks so wonderful when shrunk down to icon size, and I have allowed it to slowly hoof its away across all my networks, personal and professional.

I could not be happier with this outcome—and it would not shock me if, over time, I begin to gather an entire herd of bug-eyed equine representatives, drawn by many hands.

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Look, I have finally read a J.G. Ballard novel! I added this one to my ebook hold-list in early February, and it took a month to become available. For some reason, New York Public Library patrons seem particularly interested right now in satirical stories about people losing their minds while stuck in an apartment complex for months on end.

But is this satire? Ballard shoots the whole book through with such overt and masterful lampshading that he offers very little in the way of explanation for the novel’s true message or motive.

If you pick up the book expecting—as I did—a story about how the residents of the eponymous condominium tower gradually descend into violent madness, the book instead obliges you with inexplicable mayhem on the very first page, after which it never lets up. A protagonist overtly thinks “Huh, these arbitrary divisions of residents by level sure do resemble a racial or class conflict somehow!” before the end of the first chapter, tossing that crutch straight off a 40th-floor balcony lest readers try to steady themselves upon it.

The book has such a pure sense of its own purpose, and a confident manner in which it declines to “make sense”, because it knows it doesn’t need to. Were this a John M. Ford novel, one would read carefully to find the subtle magic-wielders lurking between the chapters to lend at least a supernatural grounding for the otherwise unmotivated events of High-Rise. No such rational explanation here, alas!

The narrative does hand us a single framing clue, at the start. We learn, in some opening dialogue among residents who had lived in the tower for some time, that it had that very day filled its thousandth and final unit. For the first time in its history, the high-rise had no vacancies: a solid layer-cake of squirming, striving humanity. The novel quietly invites us to conclude that this fact alone triggered the ensorcelment of all the tower’s residents, who decide as one to turn their backs on the world outside the building, establishing a new, self-contained anti-society ruled only by the most brutally pure forces of the human psyche. Each considers it an achingly beautiful project, even as it destroys them.

Ballard is clearly not the sort of author to write shadowy scenes of chthonic forces stirring in the basements, awakened by a long-delayed pattern finally snapping into place, ready to insinuate vile notions into the residents’ dreams. Instead, casual bottle-flinging in broad daylight commences without further—and, we must infer, unnecessary—explanation. The first inevitable defenestration happens before we even meet all the main characters.

By the time we arrive at the acts of incest and mass cannibalism which signal the story’s readiness to wrap up (or, anyway, gutter out), my calves ached from all the touring up and down the barricaded stairwells, and I felt as exhaustedly enthralled as any of the battered, bloodied accountants and sound engineers among the nightly raiding parties. Yes, I enjoyed reading this quite nasty little book, even if I could not recommend it without reservation, much less tell you why it was written.

I know nothing else about Ballard or his oeuvre yet, so I can offer very little about his own motivations here, far apart from his characters. Did he find this scenario remotely believable, at face value? If not, did he have a satirical target other than the one he paints a too-obvious bulls-eye on at the start? I dunno, man, it was the 70s! Times were rough. Everybody was a lot more drunk back then, is my understanding, and you didn’t want to hang around the towers of Times Square for long…

I understand that a 2015 film adaptation of this novel exists; it seems highly unlikely that even if a movie narrative could get away with this novel’s level of pure violence and misanthropy, it could never resist the urge to add a layer of rational and visible underpinning to a novel that so flagrantly dares to do without. (I suppose I am doomed to see for myself.)

High-Rise really wants adaptation into a game, of course, with all its talk of violent excursions between numbered floors in search of cat-food loot caches, and psychopathic adventurers who literally “level up” as they gain in power and strength. But its 1975 publication date offers a tantalizing possibility: that the novel has actually and already helped inspire the earliest power-fantasy games. Its fluid-spattered, garbage-strewn, and utterly compelling DNA carried ahead into all the generations since of entertainment that offer escape through bashing one’s way inwards.

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Last week I discovered that Apple will happily replace the battery of out-of-warranty iPhones, even those as old as my first-generation SE. The fifty-dollar service charge offers an attractive alternative to the price of an entire, brand-new phone, but I felt much more interested by the chance to squeeze a few more years’ use out of this marvelous device. I have no desire to upgrade.

Six years ago I downgraded from a shiny new iPhone 6 to my well-worn 5, unable to cope with the newer model’s size and weight. As I wrote at the time, the phone had long since become an extension of my body, with the specifics of its physicality absolutely part of the fact. Apple nonchalantly but profoundly changing its mass and dimensions gave me an extremely modern but very real crisis of personal composition, a Ship of Theseus problem I hadn’t prepared for.

I never did change my tune about any of this stuff! I have only upgraded my phone once since writing that article, moving to the John Gruber-blessed iPhone SE in late 2016. When its battery inevitably became old enough to drain out within an hour or two of daytime use, I resolved to let the phone see me through the entirety of the Trump administration—after which I’d eject it from my life, perhaps like a biblical scapegoat, carrying the troubles of 2020 on its dented, discarded frame.

When we at last reached that happy milestone together, I did look around, skeptically. There is a new phone carrying the “SE” name, even heavier than that iPhone 6 I couldn’t abide in 2015. Apple’s smallest, lightest offering is the brand-new iPhone 12 Mini: about as heavy as the 6, and lacking the thumbprint-scanning technology that Apple abandoned for face-scanning before the pandemic struck. I didn’t want any of these.

Thus did I find myself in conversation with a fellow SE fan recently, sharing the pain of having these fantastic old phones with spry brains but senescent batteries. Since the iPod days, Apple has famously regarded batteries as an internal organ, not something for customers to tamper with, and of course they would rather tempt you with the latest year’s models when any machine’s battery starts its inevitable decline.

The conversation prompted me to finally scope out the iPhone SE battery-replacement landscape, fully expecting to nose around gray-market chop-shops, hopeful I’d find one operating in New York City during the pandemic. Imagine my reaction when the first search-engine hit belonged to that support page, with an invitation to bring my little phone to a nearby store and budget an hour or two for its rejuvenation!

And that is just what I did, and I couldn’t be happier about it. My SE runs the very latest iOS revision as well as any of its younger, larger cousins—and now it can finally do so while sitting in my pocket all day until its bedtime charge, just like old times.

Apple has a reputation, not entirely undeserved, for encouraging a disposable mindset among its customers, and for valuing novelty and fashion over long-lived practical value. But I write this article in early 2021 on the 2012 MacBook whose battery I replaced in 2018, a service that Apple was pleased to extend onto my phone—as soon as I had worked up the gumption to ask, anyway. I feel grateful that the company does continue to quietly support their older, still-excellent models, even if they’d always prefer that you bought a new one instead.

If you rely on an iPhone SE—or another older iPhone model, whenever you happen to read this—do consider rolling into an Apple Store to schedule a battery replacement, as alternative to trading up for the latest model. For a few dozen dollars, really does feel like youthful vitality brought back to a withered limb.

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I quite enjoyed this New York Times feature by Jeremy Lechtzin that investigates the history of Brooklyn’s unusual street labels, filled with duplicate names and fractional numbers. Its current shape owes much to a ramshackle effort, all the way back in 1870, to repair a previous and also-bizarre number-and-naming scheme.

Perhaps the latter system ended up less chaotic than the former, but the project fell far short of its tidy ideal, and cost of huge sums of public money, time, and frustration. And as one with a history in both software development and project management in general, I found myself nodding along in sympathetic understanding to the well-meaning instigators of this 150-year-old disaster.

I also note that one of the main characters of the story, Brooklyn City Directory publisher George T. Lain, was only 24 when he began to agitate for a complete overhaul of the borough’s street numbers. He dreamed of the transformation it would bring to his business, while not caring much at all about how it might inconvenience literally everyone else. And I think: that sounds about right.

I too possessed a twenty-something’s unshakeable self-assurance when, in the middle-aughts, I committed a similar sin at my own workplace, too blinded by the utter brilliance of my own vision to seek input from anyone it would effect. You’ll never read it about it in any journal; unlike the fiasco Lain touched off, the scope reached only as far as a handful of science labs at Harvard. And, happily for those labs, mine was merely a software project, rather than a bureaucracy-laden civic overhaul: in the end, utterly forgettable, with no trace remaining of it today.

The scientists at these labs, you see, kept all their research data in Excel worksheets; innumerable separate documents bouncing around individual hard drives, with more generated by data-collecting robots every hour. The labs’ managers knew that this loose style left a lot of potential for digital publication and collaboration out of reach, and hired me to help invent design and implement improvements for collecting, storing, and sharing this data.

So, you know what I tried to do, of course: throw out those Excel sheets! Have the scientists instead use the glory of a full-stack bespoke web application! It would be glorious! There would be heat maps! I busied myself re-inventing everything that Excel could already do, except slower and harder to use, in the perhaps inevitable pattern of a young Perl hacker who dismissed Excel as software for normies. I may have conducted an interview or two about the researchers’ process, and let them tour me around the labs a bit, but I otherwise went it alone. I did not truly invite the researchers to work with me as co-designers, as I should have from the outset.

You can only imagine what a gut-punch I felt when I overheard a frustrated biologist dismiss my project as “this foolishness”, some time after it had started to roll out for use in the labs. The researchers could not help but see it as an obstacle, getting in the way of their work. Of course they did! I had doomed my effort through my complete failure to involve the project’s would-be users into its creation. They ended up with some weird thing made by an outsider, and everyone hated it. All that work ended up binned—and deservedly so—within a year or two of my departure from the job.

But I have, at least, a happy note to end on. When I read that story about the incompetent Brooklyn renumbering project, I did not think immediately of the quiet disaster at Harvard. I thought instead of my current job, where my hiring carries echoes of it: a technical writer invited to bring some order and focused attention to a heretofore freewheeling, developer-driven documentation process.

And I allowed the devils of Burn it all down! Rebuild in mine own image! to do their little dance, and then I dismissed them so I could turn my energy to asking those developers what’s worked for them so far, and research new ways to use the tools and techniques that the team already prefers.

I’ve learned a thing or two myself, since those days at Harvard, and I’ve built at least a couple of collaborative projects that didn’t collapse as soon as I took my hands off of them. I have a pretty good feeling that this project’s legacy will end up a little more orderly than the hubristic past misadventures of either Mr. Lain or myself.

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