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What Monty Python Teaches Us About Computing 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the on-second-thought-let's-not-go-there dept.
Esther Schindler writes "Does the computer industry seem just a little too strange? Never fear: Monty Python encapsulated several nuggets of wisdom years ago that summarize exactly what is behind the sometimes-tawdry behavior of vendors, the open source community, and marketing departments."
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What Monty Python Teaches Us About Computing

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Spam spam spam spam........

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:23PM (#35861294) Homepage Journal

    When my interview for a job involved Monty Python humour I should have known it was doomed...

    It's fun to joke and reminisce great Monty Python skits and jokes, but when your supervisor's mind isn't on it should be a warning. The job lasted only two weeks - he was a complete flake, changing mind on specs and ideas almost daily and a 200% turnover before the upper management decided the problem wasn't the worker bees, but their manager. Some solace that was.

    Still love MP, but work is work and when someone wants to just joke around be wary - your probably missing something important and the jokes may be a cover-up.

    • by moco (222985)

      I consider humour to be an important part of management, negotiations, sales and everything that involves other people. Of course as everything it needs to be taken in healthy doses.
      It brings people closer much faster and that is very important when you want to know more about the person in less time, therefore an excellent tool to use in interviews.

      • Humor in a leadership position can be very powerful, but inappropriately applied it can be devastating. Like you said, its knowing when to apply it and when not to that makes all the difference.
      • ... and it makes taking 1/3 of your life away little more bearable.

      • by umghhh (965931)
        as long as humans do the job (I mean really any) there will be stress and if there is one thing that combats stress it is humour - of course you should know where to stop but quite frankly Ihave worked with dumb asses for more than 20years now and if they do not get an odd joke they do not get what is said to them anyway. This said it requires a certain dose of professionalism and social training to manage other people.
    • by PPH (736903)

      When my interview for a job involved Monty Python humour I should have known it was doomed...

      Didn't like the boss singing the lumberjack song, eh?

    • by definate (876684)

      changing mind on specs and ideas almost daily

      He was taking the "and now for something completely different" approach.

      Or perhaps he was just practising for the "upper class twit of the year" contest?

    • by noims (23711)

      I find your lack of faith... disturbing.

      Noims.

    • When my interview for a job involved Monty Python humour I should have known it was doomed...

      "Good niiiiiight, a-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding... FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE! ZERO!"

  • Building a datacenter on a swamp.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:43PM (#35861512)

    I made a MP reference! Now you HAVE to talk about my blog posting that,apart from some lame puns, is just lacking of anything worthwhile, new or insightful.

    But the title made it go to /. so it has to be good? RIGHT?

  • It's (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donotlizard (1260586) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:45PM (#35861528)
    a stretch. I'm sure TFA's author has run out of ideas. Next week he may compare computing to The Simpsons. Doh!
    • It didn't even include two of the sketches more appropiate to CS:

      The one were a medieval monk receives formation about "how-to-use" a book.

      The part of "Holy Grail" where they RTFM for the grenade, about how to be precise in your writing.

      .

    • Matthew 5:37, "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

      It's from the sermon on the mount, no less, so it's, you know, from the big JC himself.

      If that's not an endorsement of binary code, I don't know what is :p

      • by Jaxoreth (208176)

        Matthew 5:37, "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

        It's from the sermon on the mount, no less, so it's, you know, from the big JC himself.

        If that's not an endorsement of binary code, I don't know what is :p

        How about the Code of Hammurabi [duhaime.org]? Those are clearly a one and a zero he's handing down. :-)

  • A: Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swanzilla (1458281) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:54PM (#35861612) Homepage
    However, a post containing both "Monty Python" and "Computing" very well may make the front page on ./.
  • ... an argument and abuse is often less than the machine's floating point precision.

  • Bible codeish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:18PM (#35861886)

    As much as I like Monty Python, their body of work is large enough that you can find support for any idea, ideology, hypothesis, etc. buried therein. It is like the people who comb the Bible for its prediction of 9/11 events.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As much as I like Monty Python, their body of work is large enough that you can find support for any idea, ideology, hypothesis, etc. buried therein. It is like the people who comb the Bible for its prediction of 9/11 events.

      That's interesting, considering Flying Circus consisted of 45 30 minute episodes (22.5 hours) and 3 significant feature films (Holy Grail, Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life) for a total of perhaps 29 hours total. Two other films (And Now for Something Completely Different, Live At The Hollywood Bowl).) consisted of takes or skits taken from the Flying Circus series, so nothing new there.

      • by Dynedain (141758)

        But much of the humor in Monty Python is focused around universal absurdity. That is, inherently absurd situations, that are general enough that most of their viewers can relate and see the humor.

        Much like Dilbert, it's funny to the masses because almost everyone can find a similar situation in their personal experience. I'm certain this connection could have been made with Healthcare, Real Estate, or nearly any other professional industry. It's not limited to IT.

      • You're forgetting the albums: "Previous Record", "Another Record", "Matching Tie, Handkerchief" and "Contractual Obligation". In fact, it was thru album skits played on rock radio that many USA audiences had their first taste of the Python.
        Then there's peripheral material like "Four Yorkshiremen", "The Complete And Utter History Of Britain", "Looks Like Another Brown Trouser Job" and of course "Fawlty Towers" among many others, I'd even include "A Fish Called Wanda" in there.

    • by wrencherd (865833)
      My personal theory goes as follows . . . it's my theory that belongs to me and it begins now––

      As much as I like Monty Python, their body of work is large enough that you can find support for any idea, ideology, hypothesis, etc. buried therein.

      Oops.

  • this skit obviously encapsulates all technical support situations.
  • by bakes (87194) on Monday April 18, 2011 @07:00PM (#35862200) Journal

    Discussions about our IT budget is like listening to the four Yorkshiremen.

    'We yoosed to 'ave a server that was a shoebox in middle o' road'
    "Cardboard box?"
    "Aye"
    "Yoo were looky! We ran a file server for three moonths on a paper bag in a septic tank"

  • Anytime I hear Monty Python and computing used in the same sentence I think of this....

    LiveVault [youtube.com]
    • by PPH (736903)
      Cleese appeared in a number of corporate training as well as advertising films. Hey, if you've got to watch something to check off the obligatory quarterly training box, it may as well be something funny.
  • when passing ruffians can say "Ni" at will to old ladies.

    There is a pestilence upon this land.

    Even those who arrange, design and sell software are at a considerable economic stress in this period of history.

  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Monday April 18, 2011 @09:12PM (#35863540) Homepage

    by value.

  • see subject and stop your silly ICMP filtering.

  • Every time I see an article that tries to tie MP to some industry, philosophy, or miscellaneous tangent, all I have to say is: "Stop that, It's silly!"
  • by thaig (415462) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:44AM (#35865314) Homepage

    The lesson about Symbian and Nokia is one that one could have learned about UNIX when MS brought NT. And it would be true enough but UNIX sort of didn't die like it was told to exactly but spawned a bastard child which grew up to be stronger.

    Life is full of near misses and one doen't know how near they are until you have strained every nerve trying. Even then you never know what could have happened if you had been just a little bit luckier or smarter or, indeed, slower or dumber.

    There is so much w*****g about the Symbian UI but it's a good OS and does a lot of stuff that, e.g., Windows Phone cannot do now but makes up for with much more expensive hardware. What's crapulent is the organisation which wants everything (masses of models at different price points with exceedingly complex features in the OS to try and get around the deficiencies in the hardware, backwards compatibility with all the mistakes of the past etc) and ends up with nothing.

    If you haven't learned that it's the people that matter most then you are missing the point.

  • For some reason I found this article quite difficult to read, almost to the point of loosing the message. Odd breaks? I don't know..
  • All of those Python skits can be used for making commentaries about life in general. They can be used, not just for computing, but for other things (like engineering projects ... or even what happens in government). Nothing particularly singles this out for it to be teaching us about 'computing' as much as simply being truths about life in general.
  • For me the quintessential MP sketch is Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook [youtube.com] , which says a lot about the field of speech recognition and natural language translation at the moment.

  • In a possible nod to Deacon Dodgson, Mr. Cleese, when asked on the Dick Cavett show about how Monty Python came up with their sketches, said:

    "We take an illogical concept, and follow it through to its logical conclusion."

    Sage advice. Any good programmer (at least ones that have to deal with UI's) learns to imagine what some random joe might do to his code.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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