When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.


No one knows why


This site is dedicated to more than the memory of _why, an individual hacker of both art and science, it is a dedication to those who believe that art and science should be married in all human pursuits.

It’s like this: while science has gifted our species with specific answers, or convergence, it’s much more difficult to measure the cognitive value that artful thinking, or divergence, offers. Indeed, in the “real” world (the world of money), convergent thinking has brought about standard templates for specialized jobs and roles in our society, while ignoring the potential benefits of creative, divergent thought. Instead, we are left with tiny explosions of creativity: sparks of insight which are then recorded, categorized, and placed into convergent boxes for mass production.

Perhaps this is part of the paradox of an individual in a collective society, for only individuals are able to explore diveregent ideas. Or perhaps it is a systemic result of the embedded industrial-age idea of mass-production. Whatever the cause, _why showed us the way to a solution:

Be free. Become more than a read-only user: create.

Realize that your individuality is the product of other individuals working together in mutual arrangements. If you are not learning something new when you use this gift of the Internet, you should be teaching something. And when you’re not teaching or learning, you should find a better use of your finite, mortal seconds.

On Infosuicide

_why was not the first programmer to commit infosuicide (the act of destroying one’s online identity and works without regard to the result). Indeed, he was not the last programmer to do so either.

It has been stated that _why committed infosuicide after being outed (having his real identity revealed). In doing so, _why deleted his personal code and work from the web, including his social media accounts and github account.

Mark Pilgrim is another individual who committed infosuicide. Without giving any notice, Mark Pilgrim deleted his online tutorials and social media accounts.

In both cases, the majority of these authors’ content was recovered and mirrored to new locations. In both cases, there were warning signs; these decisions only seemed spontaneous, but were the result of many months of thought and frustration. _why’s warning signs were made clear in his last set of tweets, for example:

Programming is rather thankless. you see your works become replaced by superior works in a year. unable to run at all in a few more.


Mark Pilgrim also left his fair share of foreshadowing when he went on a blogging hiatus:

It’s time for me to find a new hobby.

Mark Pilgrim

A New Exit

I had originally purchased this domain name in order to make an online directory and dedication to _why’s work. I wanted to curate his many creations in a database, but this work was quickly carried out by people more competent than I.

So now I’m offering something new. No one knows why exactly programmers commit infosuicide, but I’m sure there are a number of ways we as a community can help prevent future infosuicides; or at least minimize their impact.

The Infosuicide Hotline

This site serves to be a place for programmers to vent their frustrations about code, computers, and life. It also serves as a refuge for programmers wishing to responsibly transition from information technology to new, less digital fields.

For example, if Johnny is the package maintainer for the FooBar library which is used in other projects, Johnny can use this site to find a new maintainer and announce his suspension from programming. Then Johnny can go move to Alaska and start a new career path as a school teacher without worrying about other programmers scrambling to recover his latest work.

If you’re feeling like you’re sick of computers, or if you just need a pick-me-up, just stop by the on freenode’s IRC: #infosuicide

Coming Soon (October 2012): If no humans are present, a bot named phaedrus will temporarily archive your links and messages for you.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps I am being too presumptive in thinking that anyone would want to use this service. Perhaps I am offending those who disappeared themselves, for their intent was spiteful. In that case, allow me the luxury of being productively spiteful. Individuals have the right to choose their own paths in life, but without an understanding of their consequences impacting the paths of others they become selfish and dangerous.

The Internet is a tricky place. On the one hand, we have a collective understanding and mutual trust which allows all the parts to work together. On the other hand, this congregation becomes an echo-chamber of accepted ideas, rather than pursuers of facts and knowledge. _why and Mark are very different people, yet they both shared a passion of art. They are true hackers: finding the art in science and becoming emotionally attached to their work. I argue that this attachment is what made them world-class hackers. It is also what caused their introspective downfall.

So, if you’re presently finding yourself in a darkened room staring at a particularly frustrating line of code whilst pondering your reason for existing as a human in this mixed-up progressively crazier world, go take a walk. Seriously. It might be pouring rain outside, but those 5 minutes you spend in contemplation of your freedom and surroundings – no matter how ugly – will help fire off some additional synapses in that depressed, self-possessed head of yours. Take it in. Believe me, life’s too short.