This article is part of a series gently interviewing a few of the more colourful Python characters, to try and find out what makes them tick when not in front of a PC. It is also a blatant attempt to plug the Python UK conference 2003 (April 2-3 2003, Oxford) which has Guido van Rossum as its keynote speaker and various talks on subjects ranging from jython to XP. The conference is being held alongside the ACCU conference, where C and C++ luminaries will be attending.
click here for details and bookings

Eric S. Raymond

Eric S. Raymond is the author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” and a well-known writer and speaker on open source issues.

You are often seen as a spokesperson for open source software, and your support for Python has brought new “converts”. Do you ever feel like public property ?

No. It can get pretty damn stressful nevertheless.

To help on the stress front, if you could ban anyone from asking you one particular question about open source ever again, what would it be?

“What’s the future of open source?” Cripes. If I knew how to do prophecy I’d found a religion or something. Er, no, wait, I’ve already done that. Twice.

(that was the next question – ed.). OK, Given the choice between life with Python (and your family), and life as a Pina Colada tester on a beach in the Carribean (with your family), which would it be?

Python. Beaches are cool but I don’t drink.

OK – some rapid fire questions if you don’t mind.
“The last time I hand-wrote a real letter was …”

Oh, around…1975, I think.

“Its still a shock when …”

Hardware just keeps getting relentlessly cheaper and more capable.

“I can still remember …”

The musty yellow paper rolls on ASR-33 teletypes — my first interactive computing, back around 1972.

“My partner and I dislike …”

Stupidity. Television. Easy-listening music. Bland food. Victimology.

Sorry – what’s victimology?

The manufacturing of grievances, especially through politics, and *especially* through identity politics.

Thank you.
OK – “I first realised I was in the right career when …”

I found myself marvelling that I was getting paid for what I was doing.

“Artists should always …”

remember that if they’re not reaching an audience, they’re just masturbating.

“The most beautiful thing I saw today was …”

My wife Catherine.

Bonus points there I think. 🙂
“Plants in my house survive for ….”

Pretty much forever. I have a green thumb. Yes, I know that’s odd in a hacker.

“I couldn’t live without …”

Um. Food? Water? Oxygen?

Silly question. “My worst sporting moment at school was …”

Every single one of them.

“My first home computer was …”

An Osborne-1

Have a look here
“I miss that computer because …”

Pull the other one, I don’t miss it for a nanosecond.

The PC, unlike the Osbourne-1, might seem ubiquitous, but is still unused by 5.6 bn of the Earths’ population. How do you see the other 5.6bn progressing – will we all have a Dell or is there another way?

There’s another way, yes, but it’s not here yet. Handhelds with a 24/7 wireless internet link. Do most people buy computers to run Mathmatica? Nope. They use them for email, for the Web, for word processing. Most people have more need for communication than computation.

Very quotable:-)
So, what is most important to you outside the world of software ?

Freedom. That I have it, and that others have it too.

And with that thought we shall leave it. Thank you Mr Raymond.

Thank you.

eric s raymond was kind enough to allow himself to be interviewed by paul brian. Cheers.

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