(Warning: Long post. Executive summary: Do not feed trolls, but hug them tenderly until they feel comfortable enough to speak about their authentic selves, and then they turn into beautiful princes(ses).)
Surprisingly, yesterday's short conversation on #padre got turned into a lovely textual analysis and then into collaborative deconstruction.
That seems fun, so allow me doing some of my own textual analysis here, based on the same channel's log, about 28 hours later. The relevant lines-of-conversation are in bold:
22:32:49 --> asdgasd ([email protected]) joins #padre
22:32:52 <asdgasd> hello
22:32:59 <asdgasd> i'm an experienced programmer posing as a newbie
22:32:59 <Alias> hi
22:33:04 <Alias> :)
22:33:10 <asdgasd> so how about that C++
22:33:12 <GabrielVieira> Alias: it refreshs each time the editor or the directory browser gets focused
22:33:18 <asdgasd> i hear its microsofts best product
GabrielVieira: Not for me it doesn't
22:34:00 <GabrielVieira> Alias: try to minimize and restore Padre window and see if it updates
22:34:06 <asdgasd> so how do i make an object execute another object, in imperial mode
22:34:09 <asdgasd> i mean, imperative mode
22:34:18 <asdgasd> declarative programming
22:34:20 <Hyppolit> svn: r7558 | szabgab++ | http://padre.perlide.org/trac/changeset/7558
22:34:20 <Hyppolit> add several recent posts to the about page
22:34:20 <Hyppolit> trunk/template.padre.perlide.org/data/
For the first two minutes, we can see asdgasd free-associating on the subjects of programming, without apparent on-topic concepts with the #padre channel. Instead, they were coined to invite responses that address their own personal concerns.
Here we see a brilliant response, using the non-sensical "mtfnpy" meme to remind that asdgasd's questions did not make sense among this channel's participants.
22:34:37 <asdgasd> i can't think of anything funny to say
22:34:42 <GabrielVieira> when editor gets focused.. it calls directory->refresh; the same occurs when directory gets focused
22:34:46 <Ryan52> mtfnpy?
22:35:03 <asdgasd> wow is that anything like sprintf???
22:35:41 <Ryan52> oh, right, that.
22:35:51 * Ryan52 forgot about mtfnpy
22:35:58 <garu> silly Ryan52
22:36:33 <asdgasd> mtfnpy totally fucking now pwns you
22:36:36 <-- SvenDowideit ([email protected]) quits (Ping timeout: 360 seconds)
22:36:54 <Ryan52> I still don't understand it tho...
<Alias> You arent' meant to
<Alias> You're just meant to be pwned by it
However, discussion quickly re-focused on the nonsensical concept itself. People formed relations with the new meme, but they did not form relationships with asdgasd.
22:37:14 <asdgasd> now just so i'm clear, this is some sort of perl 6 compiler right?
22:37:18 <Ryan52> that's what I expected.
22:37:42 <asdgasd> an IDE huh
22:39:01 * Alias ponders who we know that is privvy to that kind of in joke in NY
22:39:20 <asdgasd> i'm god of the internet
22:39:30 <GabrielVieira> Alias: did you trie?
22:39:42 <asdgasd> cpan ponders, another night?
asdgasd: Clearly, but which one...
Having tried memes as a transitional way of conversation-by-proxy, asdgasd now googles up relevant concepts, trying to form more memetic links, which are unfortunately far beyond what the channel's main focus is, namely getting Padre 0.44 properly released and tested.
Alias gave another witty response, but the annoyance came through: By re-affirming this proxied, inauthentic personality "god of the internet", asdgasd is again without ways to properly bond with other people in this channel.
22:39:56 <GabrielVieira> try
22:39:58 <GabrielVieira> :)
22:39:59 <asdgasd> perl elicits, receptive, loving
GabrielVieira: Of course I tried, I'm just using Perl normally, switching between different files
22:40:36 <asdgasd> monks open night, kimonos & seduction
GabrielVieira: It's possible that it's not firing if changing between different editors in the same project?
At this point, asdgasd became /ignore'd by pretty much everybody.
What we saw here may be described as "troll formation"; the subject is encouraged into replicating more and more delinquent memes in order to solicit attention, but those memes became more and more distracting, ensuring a negative feedback cycle.
At around 22:40, I context-switched into the #padre channel, and quickly scanned the backlog.
22:41:44 --- audreyt|work is now known as audreyt
audreyt: What timezone are you living in these days?
22:42:07 <audreyt> asdgasd: hey. I sense that you come here to be hugged properly.
22:42:14 * audreyt hugs asdgasd. there. please, be happy.
People who knew me before in #perl6 might recall I've recruited many perl-bashers into Pugs contributors by listening to what they have to say, and then offer them commit bits to fix those concerns; that has been variously labelled "judo" or "aikido" or other memes related to martial arts.
Personally, I prefer "hugging", as it captures the idea of immediately forming a surface on which real relationships can form, so the other person can comfortably talk about why they made attention-seeking utterances.
22:42:19 <asdgasd> audreyt: i came here right after reading your name
22:42:20 <asdgasd> actually
22:42:23 <asdgasd> funny story
22:42:30 <asdgasd> i'm not going to tell it though
This had immediate impact; asdgasd can now relate something about themself, and welcomes my inquiry via a puzzle.
At this point, had I said "oooh! pray tell, what is the story?", then I'd be a perfect correspondent (aka "feeding the troll"), and probably paralyze the entire channel for quite some time.
Instead, I tried to be a good-enough correspondent (cf. Winnicott's idea of a "good enough mother"), allowing some time lapse before providing feedback, and only replied to utterances that aids in genuine human contact.
22:42:31 <audreyt> Alias: GMT+8 Taipei
22:42:35 <Alias> ok
22:42:40 <audreyt> you?
22:42:46 <Alias> Australia/Sydney
22:42:49 <GabrielVieira> Alias: maybe
(DateTime.pm only here) :)
22:42:55 <audreyt> lol
22:43:01 <audreyt> ah, back at home. you parents doing ok?
22:43:10 <Alias> Yeah, fine
The above was not really about delaying the response time. I genuinely care about Adam(Alias)'s parents, as they have been very kind to me when I stayed in their home; it was Christmas back then, and they gave me a wonderful holding environment to begin reflecting about my gender identity.
Then Alias and I started discussing technical issues about PAR reentrancy bugs, why Padre doesn't yet have a clear use case of a PAR-based .xs plugin repository, and what Moose.pm's startup time costs mean in the context of Padre.
While the technical points were nice and fun, I'll spare you the details, and simply paste what asdgasd continually tried to say inbetween these discussions:
22:48:06 <asdgasd> i wrote this http://pastebin.com/d2c1fcca5
22:48:11 <asdgasd> and padre won't compile it
22:48:32 <asdgasd> also it's missing a few functions
Here we see a real improvement. The pasted code is in Haskell, which makes funny beeping noises. It is a very good analogy of what asdgasd is trying to do in #padre. It's also somewhat relevant; Padre can conceivably some day become a IDE for Haskell via a GHC plugin.
But the relevance was too weak, so we still can't establish meaningful conversation. As the text says itself, we're still missing a few functions.
After a lengthy discussion on the importance of being closer to Wx wrappers rather than building too many abstractions over it, I suddenly recall that the Chandler team had faced a similar technical dilemma:
22:51:03 <audreyt> assuming you've read Dreaming In Code (the book) that deals with Wx?
22:51:05 <pece> Adobe has Speed Launcher ;)
22:51:12 <Alias> Nope
22:51:24 * Alias has mostly been reading economics, marketing and stats books
22:51:27 <audreyt> please do in your spare cycle. Chandler is a lot like Padre technically.
22:51:48 <audreyt> Python/Wx with ambitious but not well charted goal, top-notch programmers
22:51:57 <audreyt> only difference is they didn't run it as anarchy, so they failed, like, utterly.
22:51:58 <audreyt> :)
22:52:14 <audreyt> (and DIC chronicles all the lessons in painful detail.)
Now that was very unfair of me, and I'd like to apologize publicly.
I've been in #chandler for months now, and there were still some traffic every now and then (about once a week), so it was wrong for me to say the Chandler community has failed utterly, any more than Pugs had failed utterly.
Chandler the desktop client was simply dormant (and is functionally usable), and the server-side Cosmo had lived on to be a very nice calendaring server.
The point about anarchy is valid, though; like #perl6 and #parrot, #padre is constantly revamping their own methodology and infrastructure, while Chandler used a very top-down design model which discouraged outsider involvement.
In any case, this proved to be a close-enough memetic bridge for asdgasd to start communicating collaboratively:
Anarchy isn't necesarily the answer :)
22:52:25 <Alias> It's just a great answer for when you are faced with an infinite scope :)
22:52:35 <audreyt> sure, it's a beginning of an answer. :)
22:52:53 <asdgasd> anarchy is always the answer
22:52:57 <audreyt> or rather, the welcoming of answers, rather than forcing answers on everyone...
22:53:09 <asdgasd> the people with the worst judgment always end up in power
Now we know something about asdgasd, and we do share the same critical attitude toward authoritarian structures. So I tried a direct intervention-by-example:
The hope here was that asdgasd would come out of unconscious phantasies and join us in a bounded-rational reality. It worked!22:53:18 <audreyt> but let me not distract you further with random ramblings. it's great to see you here :-)
22:53:25 <Alias> Ditto
<Alias> I phear a little for the sanity of the Padre codebase, but welcome :)
22:54:17 <jq> Alias: are you familiar with the project part of padre's code?
22:54:20 <audreyt> I'll keep phantasies to my new field that is psychoanalysis and cog. science, so your project will be spared of insanity :)
22:55:04 <asdgasd> hey audrey, want to write a linguistic engine with me
22:55:07 <asdgasd> i'm doing it in haskell ;)
22:55:15 <audreyt> asdgasd: url?
Well, my habit of asking "url?" had not changed a bit; descriptions of objects cannot be resolved into real ideas without a pointer, and URL is a very good and precise way to motivate people putting their ideas into resolvable entities.
22:55:22 <asdgasd> i wrote a spec a year ago
22:55:27 <asdgasd> but it's shit compared to what i have now
22:55:55 <asdgasd> it's only a skip and a jump from AI
Seeing that we now enter a shared meme-space, namely the natural-language processing branch of AI, the only remaining step is to leave the transitional zone and begin discussing reality:
22:57:14 <audreyt> asdgasd: let's take this conversation off #padre and into /msg -- what is the url to your spec?
What follows are private conversations, so I'm not at liberty to paste here.
Suffice it to say that I learned a lot about asdgasd's aspirations, the state of the art in structural grammar models for western languages, the AI:AMA book and their excellent googlecode-hosted repositories, two pieces of nicely composed living poetry, and briefly shared our thoughts on Joyce's writings.
In short, it was warm and nice; I learned about the real name of asdgasd, and they is a rather likable fellow.
So I was glad that I hugged a troll, and it made my day. Would you agree?
(Originally posted as a reply on Miyagawa's blog post on _why's disappearance.)
I miss collaborating with _why, too, and it was sad to see that one of _why's parting (re)tweet was:
I had such an emotional breakdown in Brazil, when chromatic rather insistently pressed me on use.perl about why I have not released Perl 6 already, but instead taking up precious mind-share from the Parrot project.
He made it all sounds like it's my fault that Perl 6 was delayed, with my well-intentioned but ill-fated attempt at trying to implement it.
He had apologized swiftly the next day on IRC -- I was paralyzed and cannot log in, but I read the logs from #perl6, but it hurt a lot, and burnt for a very long time.
Back then all I could think about is, well then, let my identity be cancelled; code never lasts more than a decade anyway, and I can transfer my hard disk -- and my memory -- to Flavio, and disappear from this particular belief circle entirely.
It's been years ago, and I've reconcilled with chromatic when I was extremely ill with Hepatitis. He didn't really mean it that harshly; he was just anxious. Also, the same words just don't mean the same meanings to each of us.
Then I found some other fixation point, and simply disappeared; I'm glad, though, that I did not leave a self-destructive note like David did with Darcs; though I'm sure David didn't really mean it that way, either.
Well, such is The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.
Now I'm (gradually) back to hacking, and tweeting, and githubbing; I can't really say "what didn't kill me made me stronger", but when one resurfaces, one brings newly dived/drived/derived wisdom from other worlds -- underworlds -- as well.
So I hope that _why resurface some day, not neccessarily in programming, but in life. Soul-shards like the emails you quoted also kept him alive in each of _why's collaborators, and that -- a tradition of human memories -- may last longer than code, if not as precise as code.