There should be a guide somewhere which lists all the material that a software craftsman should read. And the works by Eric S. Raymond should definitely be on this list. I’m not sure how I arrived at his site, but his writings are very interesting and engaging. And he has very strong views which he’s not afraid to expose to the world. This are the articles that I read from his site:
- The Cathedral and the Bazaar: interesting historical tale and analysis of the “bazaar” development model that became popular with Linux and is now very standard in the open-source development community. The “bazaar” comes as the opposite of the “cathedral” development model where there is a very strict hierarchy of system engineers/architects, developers, testers, etc. In a “bazaar”, everything is open, anyone can contribute, ownership is collective. My comment: although I agree in many things with ESR, the “bazaar” still has to have some “guiding head” so it goes the right way. Linux always had (and still has) the guiding head of Linus Torvalds, and ESR’s own fetchmail had his guiding head. A bazaar is good but it must have some sort of governance to make it work. Total chaos is never good.
- A Brief History of Hackerdom: the name of this article is a bit misleading. IMHO, it tells the tale of the evolution of the hardware and software that started as bit computers in universities and became what is now the internet.
- How To Become A Hacker: from ESR’s point of view, a hacker is a problem solver with infinite curiosity, patience and persistence. I love his introduction: “Being a hacker is lots of fun, but it’s a kind of fun that takes lots of effort… to be a hacker you have to get a basic thrill from solving problems, sharpening your skills, and exercising your intelligence. If you aren’t the kind of person that feels this way naturally, you’ll need to become one in order to make it as a hacker. Otherwise you’ll find your hacking energy is sapped by distractions like sex, money, and social approval”. Oh! how true! and how distracting :-). Related to this article is the “Loginataka“, which is written in old English style, and shows that knowledge in programming is probably not the (only) reason why ESR became what he is. See the references at the end of the text, the sources come from a wide arc of disciplines from music to philosophy.
There is still more material to read on the site, and a blog to which I subscribed as soon as I saw the link. Thanks Eric for all the material!