In the late '90s, when dot-coms were flying high, Ellen Ullman wrote an interesting if flawed book about programmers and their work, Close to the Machine. The title alludes to the fun and frustration of low-level computer languages, whereby one can directly manipulate processor registers, flip bits in arbitrary memory locations, and otherwise get intimate with computational iron.

And a few days ago during a local trail run I suddenly understood one of the reasons that long-distance walking and jogging have so much magical power. Intense exertion gets me closer to the human machine—it strips away many of the levels of indirection and abstraction that separate mind from muscle, head from heart. When I'm panting and flushed, when old ankles ache, when thighs chafe, when blisters start to form, when salty sweat drips into the eyes ... those are moments when flesh and soul touch.

(cf. ImproveMentation (11 Jun 2002), AchieveNewBalance (17 Jul 2002), NetfreeProgramming (21 Octd 2003), BozoBit (29 Oct 2003), CloseToTheMachine (6 May 2004), RealProgrammers (22 Jul 2004), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicLife - TopicProgramming - TopicScience - 2005-08-04

(correlates: NoSweat, FlyHigh, TrailTrial, ...)