0. Intro 🐙
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
– John Donne
For those in the know, recent happenings in the publication world go to show that going with the flow is the way to go. “What?!,” you ask with justified consternation.
Heh, relax. All I’m getting at is that—coming on the heels of my previous book—a second one is now available for your reading pleasure. Good things do come in packages, big or small, amirite?
Know, too, that—having just got intimations of how it pays to be in the know—I simply couldn’t have done this without you: It is your companionship (by way of blog comments and such) and your readership (by way of your support and communication with me) that have been propelling my writerly self. And I thank you.
1. Why Postcards? Why Not Postcards? 📬
I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth.
― Jane Austen
Before we tackle the question of how we ended up getting “postcards” from an island—rather than “dispatches” from the trenches as we did in the previous book—let me assure you that the spirit that lives here (in our blog) also pervades my books that are available for you to read. (Making a profit is not my thing; I’ve priced them both as low as I could.)
And now for the scoop on, “Why Postcards?”
After the release of the previous book—Dispatches from the Software Trenches—I got to thinking, rather ruefully, too, that the title might have inadvertently conjured up images of drudgery in your mind’s eye, as if all that we software types did was shovel the trenches. If it did, I would be totally sympathetic with you. (Maybe I should’ve chosen a less somber title.)
Anyhow, it was time to make amends…
Now, if you recall from last time, I had hinted at how we just might get a glorious island next time. Well, it’s that time, and yes, we got ourselves one, amirite?
Woohoo! Life can be good. (Yes, the pandemic will end one day; meanwhile, let’s keep on with our armchair travels in earnest.)
So yeah, to “Why Postcards?“, we simply reply, “Why Not Postcards?”
2. The Theme That Binds 🎪
Hitch Your Wagon to a Star
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Where have we seen those ducks before, intent as they seem to be on building a stairway to heaven? Hmm…
If there’s one theme that binds the chapters of the new book—Postcards From The Software Island—it is in the spirit of keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, and to keep reaching for the stars. I’ll let you be the judge, but that is what we try to do on a regular basis, right here on our blog, taking inspiration from Robert Browning’s deliciously evocative sentiment that
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
With that, and especially if you haven’t checked out the new book—details of its coordinates coming right up—please know that it’s for geeks and non-geeks alike: If your interests veer in the direction of the creative, something tells me that your experience of rummaging through its lavishly illustrated pages will be a rewarding one.
Oh, those ducks, our feathered friends…
I wonder if they migrated to the glorious island of our postcards? Or maybe they flew to Cancun, while a polar vortex was wreaking havoc through my part of the world (Austin, Texas)? Who knows. One thing’s for sure when it comes to their intention of building a stairway to heaven: I say, “Good luck, pals, seeing how you’ve nestled into repose, falling sound asleep on the seventh and eighth stair-step, respectively.“)
3. Reclaiming The Lost Art 📬
No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist.
– Oscar Wilde
For a final word: The art of writing creatively about the world of software—not the type that’s tiresome and ponderous, but the kind that is inspiring even as it offers substantial value and learning—has languished for far too long.
Fear not. This book is here to set things straight.
At the heart of this book—and presented in the form of eight “postcards” which I write and dispatch to you from a fabled, undisclosed software island—is the undeniable message that the craft of programming is at once creative and disciplined.
Hear ye, hear ye. In full candor, the identity of the book can now be revealed:
Postcards From The Software Island by Akram Ahmad (ProgrammingDigressions)
The way I see it, writing code and, just as importantly, writing about code, ought to go hand-in-hand. One informs the other, inescapably so: Think of Dutch artist M. C. Escher’s beguilingly memorable “Drawing Hands” lithograph. We need to put the fun back in our tech pursuits. And the story which aims to show how this can be achieved, by way of example, simply could not remain sealed under lock any longer…
And if the past seven years of writing and publishing essays online (right here) has taught me anything, it is this: Readers just like you are thirsty for a draft from the fountain that is at once informed by and suffused with the inescapable partnership—however inscrutable to the untrained eye it may be—which actively remains at play during myriad tech pursuits, writing code notably among them. Now that story has been unsealed and is being told by way of the eight “postcards” which make up the book.
Grab your own copy, and all will become clear.
Meanwhile, we’re going to take one more wistful look at the beguiling shores of the island as we bid it farewell, for now…