On August 19, 2009, Why the Lucky Stiff withdrew from the online community. We in the Ruby community wish him well, but we really miss him.
Why gave us a lot of cool software and other things, but what he really gave to the Ruby community was a spirit of freedom, whimsy, and creativity. When Why took the stage at the first RailsConf, in 2006, he strapped on his guitar, walked to the microphone, and yelled "Put your best practices away!"
Discipline, care, and responsibility are important; we owe our customers, employers, team members, and families to take our work seriously. At the same time, though, we need to play. If we don't occasionally break out of the mold of our "best practices," we can easily miss many wonderful ideas, some of which can bear rich fruit (just as Camping and Hpricot led to Sinatra and Nokogiri).
On August 19, 2010, the Ruby community celebrated Whyday. We set aside that day to remember Why's contributions to our community and culture by hacking just for the fun and joy of it.
Please continue to celebrate Whyday! On August 19, but not only on that day. The things Why brought to our community aren't just for one day each year!
- See how far you can push some weird corner of Ruby (or some other language).
- Choose a tight constraint (for example, 4 kilobytes of source code) and see what you can do with it.
- Try that wild idea you've been sitting on because it's too crazy.
- You can work to maintain some of the software Why left us (although Why is more about creating beautiful new things than polishing old things).
- On the other hand, Why is passionate about teaching programming to children. So improvements to Hackety Hack would be welcome.
- Or take direct action along those lines, and teach Ruby to a child.
On August 19—or whenever you can—put your best practices away and celebrate Why's contributions to our unique culture. Create something wonderful.