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Welcome to "Unarmed but still Dangerous"

Hi, everyone! "Unarmed but still dangerous" (subtitled "Changing the world one post at a time") aims at providing insights about applied philosophy that one may even find useful at times, from the perspective of computer software and media enthusiasts, who enjoy writing software applications, articles, essays, works of fiction, images, pictures and photos, music and sounds, videos, games, and/or works of science or technology. In short: "hackers" (not necessarily computer intruders, though the more honest, "white-hat" ones are also encouraged to read this blog), be it of software, or of anything from cooking up to rocket science. What you will find here is an attempt to expand the intelligence, wisdom, and insights gathered from hacking on stuff to other fields, including software, of human-to-human or human-to-machine interactions.

The name "Unarmed but still Dangerous" is as a homage and parody on Eric S. Raymond's blog "Armed and Dangerous", which I neither follow nor read regularly, but which does provide some insights at times (or leads one to better insights). I should note that I am very fond of a lot of the stuff on Raymond's old homepage, especially his "How to Become a Hacker" document, and his "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" series.

My name is Shlomi Fish, I'm an Israeli open source and open content enthusiast. I have kept several blogs on various topics, both technical and philosophical/personal, and an actively updated and enhanced personal web-site, which contains many original online resources, including fiction, presentation material, mathematics, essays and software resources.

One myth that I'd like to help dispel in this blog is that philosophy is not practical. The first fact to note is that the ancient Greek called all scholars "philosophers", and that they often dealt in many fields of scholarship that we now consider more sciency. This is still preserved in the expansion of a Ph.D. - "Doctor of Philosophy". Often philosophy and philosophy as applied to different fields can lead one to detect common errors as they are done, avoid bad situations, and win arguments. I am philosophising now and you philosophise all the time.

The main audience of this blog are what Ben Collins-Sussman (of Subversion fame) calls the "20% of programmers" - the alpha programmers, those who love programming, are constantly expanding their horizons, spend a lot of time hanging on various online and offline forums for geeks (including mailing lists, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), Slashdot, Reddit/Digg, various blogs, various open-source clubs), often have their own blog, and who are otherwise brighter and more intelligent (not necessarily in the IQ sense, which does not say a lot of one's mental potential for growth and success). Hopefully, it may also be of interest to geeks of other fields of endeavours who are still computer savvy enough to read and follow a blog.

Hope you enjoy it here and happy hacking!

Update 1: This blog and entry, and this blog in general, had been referenced in Eric S. Raymond’s Armed and Dangerous blog, which like I said inspired the title of Unarmed but Still Dangerous, and had sparked a discussion there. Sorry for not putting it here earlier, but Raymond’s blog had been offline for a while .


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
Practical Philosophy
Philosophy should be practical. But the people who call themselves "philosophers" act as though their discipline is entirely divorced from reality.
Mar. 9th, 2011 05:25 am (UTC)
Re: Practical Philosophy

Hi e3gazette. Yeah, you're probably right. I think it's a shame, of course. What I read somewhere is that over-specialisation of knowledge is a very bad idea and that some of the leaders (who are generally not good men) want that the people who will be able to criticise them (e.g: people who studied "Political Science") to be divorced from enough knowledge and experience to be able to think clearly. I know it sounds a bit like a grand conspiracy, but I think I can agree that it just happened and that it isn't a good idea that it did.

One of the things I like about the Internet is that now people can express opinions on things that they are "under-qualified" to write about. So Eric Raymond (ESR) can write a blog about lots of earth-shaking stuff (a bit weird and assaultive, but insightful nonetheless), despite not being a professional in all these subjects. The whole "blogosphere" concept allow common yet intelligent people to share, collect, and integrate knowledge of various different fields, and to pass them to their peers. I often found a lot of value in a single comment on an obscure blog. This is what Paul Graham describes in his Web 2.0 article and later on in What business can learn from open-source as democratising knowledge and media and giving power to the people (maybe these are my own words). As a result, we may hopefully see a future where a significant percent of the intelligentsia have a lot of diverse knowledge and intuition despite being "experts" only in very few things.

I also suspect that people who are really knowledgeable can convey most of their knowledge in a more accessible language, and in a way that people can understand and remember. But naturally, there's the extreme of the Simple Wikipedia, but I suspect even most children will look down upon this.

Marcio Baraco [wordpress.com]
Mar. 11th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
talking like you want to confuse
Hey, Schlomi, i used to use your fish shell (though i admit i've been using a shell less and less).

Very cool to have you write about philosophy --- though i feel like awaiting for you to say more before commenting too much.

Just wanted to say: As much as part of me wants to agree with the "philosophers act like they are divorced from reality" thing, i did get a LOT from some guys who would be most definitely easy to stuff into that category... I'll avoid name dropping for the time being.

Good luck!
Mar. 11th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Re: talking like you want to confuse

Hi Marcio!

First of all, I should note that I did not write FISH - the Friendly Interactive Shell, and am not affiliated with it - I'm also still using Bash and have not started drinking the zsh or fish kool-aid yet. "Fish" just happens to be my surname, which is that of my father and was that of his late father, named Aharon Fish. "Fish" is a relatively uncommon name in Israel, though there are some variations.

I used to dislike being called "Fish" to myself (which some Israelis still tend to say instead instead of "Mr. Fish", which is sometimes OK), and still do. The fish in my user-pic is UserFriendly.org's EvilPHish after a large amount of image manipulation (using GIMP). I remember seeing it there, and, despite being a fish (or because), it was so me, that I made it one of my LJ user-pics and also placed it as the go-to-homepage icon of my homepage. A few days ago, I decided to standardise on it almost everywhere, because it appears to be my most recognised avatar, and because people may associate it with my last name.

Sorry for the long braindump. Now, regarding learning from "ivory tower" philosophers (i.e: those who are not into practical or applied philosophy much), naturally, you can still learn a lot from them, because a "wiseman can learn from a fool much more than a fool can ever learn from a wiseman", and you should always keep an open mind. Note some very intelligent and even very knowledgeable people can be closed-minded, smug or elitist, while some relatively ignorant people people can often grow in their "enlightenment". That put aside, I'm sure a lot of "impractical" philosophy out there does provide some enlightenment and can be placed into practice. Mathematicians also research a lot of cutting-edge maths that does not always have an obvious practical utility, but often they prove to have some application much later on down-the-road.

And finally, I prefer the spelling "Shlomi" instead of "Schlomi" as well as "Fish" instead of "Fisch" - though naturally you might wish to spell it this way. I don't know why we ended up with this spelling, but it may be a Polish-Jewish thing, but I haven't researched the Polish spelling very well (Polish spelling seems incredibly insane, and I think it's the Latin-alphabet using European language with the second-worst spelling after Irish.

Marcio Baraco [wordpress.com]
Mar. 11th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
Re: talking like you want to confuse
Hey, man, sorry for mispelling your name, it is a very uncommon name to me. Also, i am pretty sure i exchanged some mail with fish's author and that he was called Shlomi Fish. Weird. See you down the road.
Mar. 11th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
Link to this post on "Armed and Dangerous" ( esr.ibiblio.org )

This is just to note that "Armed and Dangerous" has written a (funny) post linking to this one, which sparked an active discussion there (in which I also participated.). Note that I informed Mr. Raymond ("esr") about this weblog by E-mail, just to let him know of this blog's title being a parody and tribute to his own's blog title.

Mar. 11th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
I thought Ph.D stood for "Piled higher and Deeper"

Jan. 22nd, 2012 11:46 am (UTC)

My father says Ph.D. stands for “Phony Doctor”.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )