I love hearing stories. When I was growing up I used to love when people would visit and my Dad would tell some of his stories. Even though I had heard most of them a thousand times, it was awesome to sit back and watch other people experience them for the first time. I also read a lot of stories growing up, and I developed a special love for short stories in particular (I especially like O. Henry).
While I was in college, I discovered a site that I have since lost many hours of my life to – folklore.org. It’s a site put together by Andy Hertzfeld (not to be confused with Don Hertzfeldt of Rejected fame), and contains “anecdotes about the development of Apple’s original Macintosh computer, and the people who created it.” It is incredible – it combines my love of stories with a topic I find interesting – the early days of personal computing. Best of all, the stories there are written by the people who experienced it, and often contain a healthy dose of humor and humanity. But behind that, there’s some cool technical details about the challenges the engineers faced, and why some of the decisions got made the way they did. I find that part of it utterly spellbinding.
I’ve been on the lookout for other sites like this for other tech companies, like Atari or even Microsoft. The closest I’ve found for Atari is DadHacker.com, written by a guy who worked for Atari back in the day. His blog is interesting in a variety of ways, but I particularly like his Atari posts. In fact, his post titled Donkey Kong and Me was what got him into my RSS reader permanently. It’s good – you should read it.
I actually work with a developer who was also on the team that developed Clippy, and I’ve heard some interesting stories for him about what that was like. Maybe I’ll try to convince him to write up some of his experiences… I am sure there are some more great stories out there… If you know of some sites, please do point me to them.
Because I find this stuff so interesting, I thought it would be good to start chronicling some of the stuff I know about because I’ve been working on SharePoint. Thus, I plan to write a series titled “But Why?” about various SharePoint features that I either worked on or have been exposed to, and why they behave the way they do. These posts will be one part SharePoint history, one part storytelling, and if I do it right, will pull back the curtain a bit so you can see just why things wound up the way they did.
But first, some disclaimers: These posts are my own thoughts and opinions, and do not reflect those of Microsoft or of anyone else who works/worked on SharePoint. Also, my memory may be fuzzy and blatantly incorrect about some things, so everything should be viewed through that lens. Finally, you shouldn’t expect these posts to be as interesting as anything you read on folklore.org.