[linux-elitists] New Store: "The Human Hacking Field Guide"
Sun May 29 18:31:13 PDT 2005
In the immortal words of Shlomi Fish <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> This is a new story I wrote about teenage software hackers in modern-day L.A.
> Comments, suggestions, corrections, and flames (bring it on!) are welcome.
I actually read the whole thing, so I guess you can take that as a
compliment. The story demonstrates a good understanding of open
source development, but almost no understanding of the behavior and
motives of teenage girls. In order to fulfill its stated objective,
to "serve as propaganda for getting more youngsters involved in
programming and engineering," the story could use more thoughtful
It just didn't seem consistent for the punked-out, anti-big-business
"Erisa" to transform overnight into "Eve" the homecoming queen
wannabee. All it took was one makeover, and suddenly she's preaching
the Objectivist / Libertarian dogma of "uncontrolled Capitalism" and
listening to Britney Spears. Perhaps if we put the author in punk
drag for one night, he'd get rid of all his Ayn Rand books, start
listening to Crass, and get "Smash The State" tattooed across his
forehead. Propaganda doesn't get much more ham-fisted than this.
In all fairness, though: just as figure studies in art may contain
an unconscious element of self-portraiture, it can be difficult for
fiction writers to avoid the trap of putting their own thoughts and
opinions in characters' mouths. This always happens to some degree.
It's just more interesting when an author allows the characters to be
themselves, even if that means that sometimes they disagree with each
other. An anti-capitalist anarcho-punker can befriend a laissez-faire
free-market libertarian without ever changing her worldview. Friends
can disagree, debate, argue and fight and still be friends.
In the real world, Free Software developers are a diverse bunch,
including folks from the left, right and center of this debate. Why,
then, is the Objectivist / Libertarian propaganda so dominant in this
story? Wouldn't it be okay for Eve to continue dressing as a punk and
opposing Big Business, if only to show that some GNU folk are lefties?
Perhaps the intent was to pitch to the Britney Spears / Powerpuff
Girls demographic. Erisa's punk 'tude creates tension because she's
perceived as a threatening, even alien, "other" by the lip-gloss set.
Her transformation from rebellious teen to conformist fashion plate is
presented as a personal victory. To most actual teenagers, this would
read as the opposite: a capitulation to authority, a relinquishing of
individuality, and ultimately, a defeat.
My favorite part was "RMS is Coming to Town," where Jennifer and
Erisa / Eve lust after the "incredibly sexy" Stallman. That was
actually hilarious; bonus points awarded if intentionally so.
P.S.: Recommended reading from the "Young Adult" section of your
"Please Don't Kill The Freshman: A Memoir" by Zoe Trope
An autobiographical novel written by a precociously intelligent
fifteen-year-old girl. This one might help you to relate, at
least a little bit, to the thought processes of real teenagers.
"Feed" by M.T. Anderson
"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to
completely suck." The teens in this futuristic story have grown
up in a world where everyone has a networked "feed" implanted
directly into their brain, which continually bombards them with
multimedia advertisements. Although the story is set in a
dystopic future world, the teenagers are spot-on believable.
"Stoner and Spaz" by Ron Koertge
Ben "Spaz" Bancroft, a movie-addicted preppie who suffers from
cerebral palsy, narrates the story of his involvement with
drug-addicted delinquent Colleen "Stoner" Minou. Apart from the
drugs, Colleen could be the model for Erisa / Eve, with her
unorthodox beauty (she is described as "pretty in an edgy, ruined
way") and her wisecracking contempt for mainstream culture.
Shlomi: Check these books out, if you can find them in Tel Aviv.
Thanks for posting your story with a call for criticism.
Good luck with your writing!
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