Related link: http://c2.com/doc/forewords/beck2.html
In this foreword, er, afterword to Kent Beck’s Guide to Better Smalltalk: A Sorted Collection, Ward Cunningham establishes his rational for a "don’t program a computer you can’t unplug" pattern. The ideas from this come from Kent and Ward working together–and from the same time that they found that they both had Christopher Alexander on their bookshelves.
The "unplug" pattern isn’t about plugs per se–it’s about control. It’s about taking control of the environment in which you write programs. Quote:
I maintain an internet presence that I set up with the help of a particularly enlightened provider. I have a server on my premises with a plug that I own. Although the bandwidth of my connection is modest, it is continuous. I’ve found the character of the whole configuration to be categorically better than simpler arrangements. On my machine I run programs that are unwelcome elsewhere: programs that open their own connections, or just run without stopping. I don’t have to ask permission.
I find this interesting because, even though it was penned in 1997, it mirrors a philosophy that I’ve been chasing for a while now. It gives a random scatter of ideas in my head a focus to lock on to–and a simple way to express themselves. Gosh, I wish I’d found this 5 years ago!
I’ve been working with Derrick on some articles for the O’Reilly Network that stress self-sufficiency and "owning the plug." Since I’m doing most everything with Mac OS X these days, they will be focused on using Jaguar to establish self-sufficiency, but the techniques and thoughts can surely be extended to whatever environment you use.
Stay tuned, the articles start appearing after August 24th.