20.373 help locate utility

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 16:18:05 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 373.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 16:15:15 +0000
         From: lachance_at_chass.utoronto.ca
         Subject: help locate utility


The following excerpt put me in mind of some of the discussions about the
value of learning to program and the place of services in field. I thought
it would appeal to a few of the subscribers of Humanist. The passage is
fictional but very functional for its truth value.

Pat Cadigan
Tea from an Empty Cup
p. 167

The guitar-player smiled. "What you want is simple. All you had to do was
state it in the proper place at the proper moment. In the proper form, of
course. That's just elementary programming."

"Programming," Konstantin said, giving a short, not terribly merry laugh.
"I should have known. You're the locator utility <i>and</i> the help
utility, aren't you?"

"Avatar of both, but yeah, that's about what it comes down to," he said

"And I only had to ask."

"[...] The usual players don't want anything so simple. The usual players
come down here to look for the secret subroutine to the Next Big Scene, or
even the mythical Out Door. Then my job becomes something different. Then
my job is to give them a little thrill here and there, play to their
curiosities and their fondest wishes and desires, without actually
promising anything impossible to deliver."

"But still making them spend more billable hours."

"The more hours people spend in here doing complicated things, the more
interesting the Sitty becomes for everyone."

"Why don't you just tell people that, then? [...]"

"It's not my job to explain the business plan. It's my job to answer
questions. I can only answer what I know. [...] I'm a utility avatar, I
wasn't created to determine whether my universe is finite or not."
Received on Mon Jan 01 2007 - 11:39:04 EST

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