P16: a blog by Matt Kangas home archive
15 Apr 2008

Why is this blog called "P16blog"?

Since I've already started down the path of "what is this blog about", I suppose I should comment on the name as well.

"P16" is my abbreviation for "Practical Progress", not unlike I18N which is a common programmer's abbreviation for "internationalization"... the letter "I", followed by 18 characters, then the letter "N". No, I'm not counting the space, and "P16" sounds better than "P15S" or nearby alternatives.

This begs the question, why "Practical Progress"?

It stems from a conversation I had a year ago, with James, a good friend and former HotJobs colleague. We were at the Dublin House on West 79th, sampling some of the finest Guinness pints in the city. I think I was talking about maybe writing a book, which led to a discussion about what's good and what's awful with technical books. The obvious example: any O'Reilly book versus any academic textbook. I voted strongly in favor of the O'Reilly approach, because textbooks are so known for inducing "my eyes glaze over" reactions in readers.

I think it's a difference in presentation, "theory-first" versus "application-first". James said he enjoys theory-first presentations. Me, I can't stand 'em. As I see it -- I'm going to have to make space in my mental toolbox for this new idea. Why should I bother if the author can't give me one compelling example of how to apply this idea?

James replied, "You're such an engineer". This made me smile. The difference between science and engineering has always been... one focuses on theory, one focuses on getting things done. I'm proudly pragmatic. Reminds me of Phil Greenspun's EE-vs-CS explained parable. :-)

So there you go. This blog is about new technologies, but not for technology's sake. It's about putting better tools in our hands, so we can do more.

And... I will always try to remember to give a motivating example before I dive down a techno-weenie rabbit hole! :-)